Allnic 1201 and Herron VTPH-2

I am seeking information on the characteristics of the Allnic 1201 and the Herron VTPH-2 phonostages . This is not a 'which one is better' type of question . I believe that both of these PS's are fine products in their own right .

What I would like to know , from those that have experience with both , is what are the differing characteristics of each unit .

I want use this information to make a decision as to which one to purchase for my VPI Prime and Ortofon 2m Black .

Thank You

Yes, both are fine products. If I were fortunate to be in your position, I would lean toward the Allnic. The Allnic, based on all the reviews, has the superior transformer and associated circuitry.

With your Prime and the Allnic....time to step up to an equal level LOMC. Consider the upper level Orto,Lyra, SS..etc. 

The 2M Black is a great cart. It's a great MM cart. Once you have the new phonostage in place, you've just stepped into another realm. Good luck

Tablejockey ;

Thank you , transformers are important . I have been wondering about MC’s and want to keep my options open .

Anyone else ?

Well I own a VPI Prime and an Allnic H1201, both are very nice pieces.
However, I have not heard a Herron VTPH-2 , so I cannot offer you the difference in characteristics of these units.

I doubt there are many folks at all who have heard both of these units in a system that they are familiar with, but good luck. Maybe you'll find one.
tablejockey -

Please provide the sources for the reviews related to the Allnic vs. Herron transformers.  Did any of the reviews cite the superior performance of the Herron or did they focus on the transformers? 

Thanks jmcgrogan2 . I thought that it might be a bit of a stretch ...but you never know .

Something that I wanted to add ...I am referring to both build and sound characteristics here .

Member Waltersalas (Chris) has owned both, formerly the Herron and presently the Allnic. The change occurred during the course of some unrelated major system changes, and was not due to any dissatisfaction with the Herron. His system description threads include the following comments:

Re the Herron: "Just a fantastic phono stage."

Re the Allnic: "Right there with the Herron VTPH-2 as one of the great-sounding values in phono preamps. Very musical, very quiet."

I am a VERY happy owner of the Herron, but I have not heard the Allnic. I presently use it with an Audio Technica AT-ART9 low output moving coil cartridge, and I initially used it with a Soundsmith re-tipped Grace F-9E Ruby moving magnet.

Regarding the comment by Chris about the Allnic being "very quiet," I would have to say that I am continually amazed at how **totally** silent the Herron is in my system, even in LOMC mode when listened to with my Stax Lambda Pro electrostatic headphones firing directly into my ears with the volume control at max!

Also, as has been widely reported, Keith Herron is an absolute treasure to deal with.

Some additional considerations:

The manual for the VTPH-2 states that for optimal performance the input impedance of the line stage it drives should ideally be 50K or more. Apparently the 400 ohm nominal output impedance of the 64 db version of the VTPH-2 (which is more frequently chosen than the 69 db version that is also offered, which in turn has a 500 ohm nominal output impedance) rises significantly at low frequencies, presumably as a result of its output coupling capacitor. However I recall that in a post here some time ago a member quoted Mr. Herron as saying that 30K should be high enough.

Regarding the Allnic’s output impedance, I’m not certain but I believe its output is transformer coupled, which would mean that its specified output impedance of 1.2K is probably fairly constant over the frequency range. Therefore it may have a bit of an advantage vs. the Herron when driving low impedances.

On the other hand, the Herron provides **much** greater flexibility with respect to loading of LOMC cartridges. Its FET-based LOMC input stage has an intrinsic input impedance that is essentially infinite, so the load impedance presented to the cartridge can be set to any desired value by inserting loading plugs having resistors of the desired value into RCA jacks that are provided on the rear panel for that purpose. Mr. Herron can supply nicely done loading plugs in any desired value. In contrast, cartridge loading provided by the Allnic is fixed at one of four possible values, depending on which of its four possible gain settings is selected, with the four loading choices all being within the range of approximately 30 and 280 ohms. And since it can be expected that for a given LOMC cartridge one specific gain choice will often prove to provide better results than the other three, it could reasonably be argued that as a practical matter the Allnic provides only one loading choice for a given cartridge.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

@saki70, you might try contacting Audiogon member Albertporter. Although he sells Allnic products and others it's very possible that he has heard both phono preamps.
With regards to the allnic having the superior transformer, the Herron uses fets for its low output first stage, which is a better way to do things imho. 
Which one should I choose....Allnic 1201 or the Herron VTPH-2? 

Nice problem to have!! 
"Please provide the sources for the reviews related to the Allnic vs. Herron transformers. Did any of the reviews cite the superior performance of the Herron or did they focus on the transformers? "

bpoletti-my response is only a personal estimation . My speculation reading the company info and reviews, over the years. The Allnic technically, has transformer 
design implementation that suggests it may have thing over the Herron?

My poorly constructed statement may suggest the Allnic is a better product,which I have no personal experience using either. Only have heard both on separate occasion, and different setups. Should have mentioned this initially.

I think the OP will be splitting hairs here, and personally would urge a move up to a LOMC with such an upgrade.

Aesthetically, the Allnic would get my vote. Whichever unit, it  BETTER look good also!

Al is correct. I have owned both of these excellent phono stages, though I had them in different systems at different times and thus cannot comment on precise head-to-head similarities and differences between the two. I thought both of them were, in the context of each system, extremely musical and great values, especially if you find one that has been gently used and well cared for.

As Al mentioned, the Herron will give you more flexibility with regard to loading and the range of cartridges you can use with it, and Keith Herron is terrific to work with if something comes up.

On the other hand, the Allnics tend to come up a little more often and for a few hundred bucks less than the Herron, and if you choose your cartridge wisely, you'll likely find--as many of us have--that the Allnic is a stellar performer.

Sorry I can't give you a clearer answer to your question, but I can say without any reservation that these are two outstanding phono stages. I don't think you could possibly go wrong with either. It just might come down to how much you value the added flexibility of the Herron, or which you prefer in terms of appearance. Sonically, both are superior performers, in my opinion.


You specifically said " The Allnic, based on all the reviews, has the superior transformer and associated circuitry."   That isn't statement construction.  So where are ALL the reviews that you are citing?  Where are ANY of the reviews you are citing?  Without specifically supporting that statement, the rest of your post would seem to have similar credibility.

You also write that you have no experience with either the Herron or the Allnic.  That kills the credibility and value of your entire comment string.  So why did you even bother to post anything?

Some really nice responses !

Almarg ;

Thanks for the technical info...always important but frequently overlooked !

The web states that my integrated is 100k ohms .That looks good for the Herron . How about the Allnic ? At 1.2k , that is quite a jump .

Waltersalas ;

Very insightful , it kind of coincides with what I have been thinking . Thank you for chiming in .

analogluvr ;

Can you expand on your ’fet better than transformer’ statement , please ?

Testpilot ;

We all have crosses to bear ! LOL .

Very good responses...please keep them coming .

Thank you all .

The web states that my integrated is 100k ohms .That looks good for the Herron . How about the Allnic ? At 1.2k , that is quite a jump .
Great on both counts! And in fact I doubt that any reasonably well designed phono stage would have a problem driving 100K.

Also, as a point of information, if I am correct in believing that the output stage of the Allnic is transformer coupled, per my earlier comment it would probably be able to handle lowish load impedances (e.g., 15 to 25K or so) better than the Herron, even though the Allnic’s specified output impedance (1.2K) is higher than the Herron’s (400 ohms). That is because what matters when output impedance is high enough to be a significant fraction of load impedance is how much **variation** in the output impedance occurs across the frequency range. And generally a transformer coupled output stage will have relatively little variation as a function of frequency. While capacitively coupled output stages (such as I presume the Herron uses) will often have substantial rises in output impedance at deep bass frequencies, to well above their specified nominal values. (The impedance of a capacitor rises as frequency decreases).  That is presumably why Keith Herron recommends a load impedance of at least 30K and preferably 50K or more, as I stated earlier.

On the other hand, though, if output impedance is particularly high at high frequencies (high frequency output impedance usually being fairly similar to the specified nominal output impedance) its interaction with cable capacitance can potentially have adverse effects in the upper treble region, if the combination of the length of the cable and the capacitance per unit length of the particular cable type results in high overall capacitance. That can occur even if there is no variation in output impedance as a function of frequency. But that situation arises much less frequently than the effects that can arise in the bass region as a result of the interaction of the low frequency impedance rise of a capacitively coupled tube output stage with a heavy (numerically low) load impedance. And an output impedance of 1.2K is low enough to avoid any such effects on the treble unless the cable length is much longer than would normally be used in a home setup.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

I heard an early version of the Allnic under the worst possible of conditions - an audio show. That unit I would only categorize as satisfactory. But it was at a show and under the very worst of conditions.  Too many variables in other manufacturer's equipment, shoddy set-up, awful acoustics in the rooms, yada, yada, yada.  So my comment on that Allnic must be discounted. 

I have owned Herron Audion phono stages since, almost literally, the day they were introduced. I currently own a VTPH-2 after Keith Herron was kind enough to take my ancient VTPH-1 in on trade. I have heard a number of other "competitive" units include the best ARC has to offer. I have not heard anything better.... No. I cannot recall any as good as the VTPH-2.

It could, maybe, be that it sounds so really wonderful because it is a great match with all the rest of the Herron Audio electronics I have (all my electronics are from Herron Auddio). But I doubt it.

I would like to emphasize that owning Herron Audio electronics is a treat in itself.  The price of admission is great and the performance is comparable or better than anything else on the market.  BUT, the low price of admission also includes the priceless support from Keith Herron himself.  He is always available for constructive conversation about performance, set-up, concerns, related equipment, suggestions....  Or just about the music. 

After reading so many positive comments regarding the Allnic, it is no doubt a fine unit. It has a long way to climb to reach the lofty pinnacle of performance held solely by the Herron Audio VTPH-2.

I’m headed down to listen to music on my own personal Herron Audio system now. I’m not headed down to listen to the equipment. The music exists because of the quality of the equipment.

Disclaimer: I have zero financial interest in Herron Audio. I do consider myself a friend of Keith Herron as do many of his other customers.
Sorry I can't give you a clearer answer to your question, but I can say without any reservation that these are two outstanding phono stages. I don't think you could possibly go wrong with either. Sonically, both are superior performers, in my opinion.

This statement from the only person on this thread who has owned both phono stages under question basically sums up the OP's question.

You'll be happy with either one.
Pick the one that you like the looks of best, or the one that you get the best deal on.
I can’t weigh in on the sonics merits of these two pieces (though I do own a piece of Allnic gear) but have a different observation and a suggestion: the audio press, such that it is, rarely does "shoot-outs" of comparable gear for many reasons. And, as demonstrated by this thread, it isn’t that common for a single user to have had side by side experience with two or more units for comparison purposes. (One commercial magazine review does stick in my mind as a benchmark- it was a shoot-out of high end line stages some years ago by HiFi+- with in-depth reviews, comparisons and second opinions on the merits. It rang true to me because I owned one of the units in question and the observations concerning that piece were ’spot on,’ as the Brits say).
So, my suggestion: Some years ago, a bunch of car enthusiasts wanted to have a serious comparison of aftermarket exhaust systems, something a mainstream car magazine was unlikely to do. By consensus on a forum, owners of various exhaust systems loaned them to a third party who performed the "tests." In a few instances, a manufacturer stepped up to loan their product for review. One piece- a RUF- was quite expensive and I made a deal-- I’d buy it and loan it for the test if I had the right to return it for a full refund if the test didn’t prove out in its favor. RUF agreed. The test was done --- about 1/2 dozen different products were compared by the third party with results published. This was like a "crowd sourced" reviewing process. Granted, much of audio reviewing is subjective by nature, so perhaps it wouldn’t work-- system dependence and all that, but the established audio "press" can’t do any better in that respect, and most of us suffer the same problem of "system constraints"- so why not have the community attempt to undertake this? I suppose the risk of damage through shipping or mishandling of a equipment is a factor, but this could go a long way toward answering some of these X v Y questions, which come up constantly in audio.

Almarg ;

Again  , thank you for your technical expertise . It is always needed .

jmcgrogan2 ;

'Pick the one that you like the looks of best, or the one that you get the best deal on.'

Yup .

Thanks everyone...very much appreciated !

Just a short note...I'm not very eloquent at reviews . 
After watching equipment sales sites since my last post , I finally happened onto an Allnic 1201 for a decent price and made the purchase . The Allnic and Herron units must be well loved because in all this time this is the only one that I saw come up for sale ! 

After letting it settle in , I am very pleased with my purchase . The leading edge of notes are well defined . The trailing edge , if appropriate , just fade off into oblivion . Or , again if appropriate , stop on a dime ! I have not heard so much micro detail , ever . It is easier to differentiate between different base notes and the instrument that they are coming from . I used to occasionally hear some air on a song or two , now it is quite plentiful , very nice indeed .  There is a whole lot of head bobbing and toe tapping goin' on here !
It's as if I am listening to my albums for the first time all over again ! The warts still exist on the toads but the peacocks are sublime !                                                                                                                        Thank you to everyone for your help .          

The H1201 is a very fine phono stage, enjoy the music!