DartZeel phono section...

Was wondering if anyone compared the phono section in the Dartzel with the IO? Current set up is BAT 51SE BAT 75SE with the IO. Parisfal Encore's and SME 30/2 SME V and XV-1S round things out.
Ct; i had the darTZeel NHB-18NS battery powered preamp with phono stage in my system for most of the last three months.

the Aesthetix Io was my reference phono stage from 1999 thru 2002. at that point i tried the Io Signature with 2 power supplies in my system to demo and was all ready to upgrade to that when i happened to have the opportunity to try the Lamm LP2 Delux phono stage. to make a long story short; to my ears the Io Sig was better than my much loved standard Io in most ways; but the Lamm was a good deal better than either. the Lamm had a much lower noise floor, a good deal more detail, and just seemed more refined and had more inner texture and nuance. both Io's had a bit more bloom and were more macro-dynamic.....but the Lamm had better microdynamics.

so the Lamm has been my phono stage of choice for the last three years. about 3 months after i got the Lamm i did have the BAT VK10SE phono in for comparison with the Lamm. the BAT (which had some nice NOS tubes) was quite 'crude' sounding compared to the Lamm.

in the meantime i have heard most of the other contendors to 'top phono stage' at dealers or at shows; including the Boulder 2008, the Connoisseur Definitions 4.0, the Manley Steelhead and a few others. they all sounded good but not clearly better than the Lamm in the contexts i heard them.

forward to the darTZeel phono stage compared to the Lamm. it simply makes the Lamm sound broken. in battery mode the darTZeel phono stage is magnificent in every parameter. the lowest noise floor i've heard; the best detail, best dynamics; total unforced presentation and sense of ease and naturalness.

on my system thread i've posted some of my impressions in more detail if you are interested;

post about the dartzeel phono stage

you can scroll down my system page for more posts about it; i basically have been blown away by the battery powered dart pre.
Thanks for the response. I also had the BAT and Lamm phono (Lamm first). for some reason, which I can't remember any longer I wasn't thrilled with the Lamm. Maybe it was a system thing (think I was running a VAC REN II 70/70 with a CAT pre) Then went with the all BAT set up and was satisfied until I put the IO. Made the BAT sound like it was broken. Scary to think the dartzeel would be som much better. Guessing to get the most out of it would be a good idea to match it with the amp. How do you think they would work with the Parsifals? I'm in a pretty small room so don't need to fill a huge space.
Ct, to be fair to the Io; i had heard later that Jim White had found that he had some noisey tubes (or was it resistors?) so that might have been part of my issue back then. also, the Lamm has only 57.5db of gain and is loaded at 400 ohms so it is not nearly as flexible as the Io. another friend could not make the Lamm work in his system either.

in any case, the darTZeel pre is just on another level beyond anything i have heard. the dart pre does synergize with the dart amp(s) but i would expect them to be great with any amps but at this point that is a guess.

the Parsifals are excellent speakers; i think the dart amps should be a good match for them as your room is not large and the Parsifals are not a particularly difficult load. maybe check with the dartzeel distributor about whether he has any customers with Parsifals.
Great great post from Mike.

I too have the Io and fully agree with Mike on the issues of the Io's higher noise floor. Some of the treble detail deep in the music is a bit lost compared to some of the more highly resolving phono stages out there. But if your Io has the stock Sovtek tubes, you are not hearing even close to the potential of this product. Do a search on A'gon for the Io and Callisto threads as there is much discussion on tube rolling with these. With every pair of Sovteks removed, the musicality of this unit increases significantly.

This all sounds like a pain but in a month or so of time, and for under $1000 or so, you can have the std Io singing to a whole new level. Not having heard the Io Signature, I suspect the "tube-upgraded" std Io would outperform the Io Sig in some key areas such as dimensionality and dynamics.

So before you pass on the Io, try some other tubes. The one nice thing here, you can play a lot to "tune" the sound to how you like it. It may not be as ultra-refined as the Dartzeel or others, but with a little effort, you may be quite surprised with the musical result.

Thanks. my IO has been heavily tube rolled and was a huge improvement over stock. Not real serious, but have been "away" from this hobby for quite some time. Visited the other day and saw all the talk on Dartzeel. Was curious about all the fuss.