Fosgate Signature Phono Preamp

Does anyone have any experience with the new Fosgate Phono Preamp? I'm currently using the Moon LP 5.3 with power supply upgrade which has been great, but I'm intrigued by the Fosgate. I've been auditioning one for the last few weeks and really like it. It has a very natural tone and listening to music with it is very enjoyable.

My one concern is that I hear much higher noise vs. the Moon when the needle isn't on the record. Not sure if this should be a real concern, given that I like what I'm hearing, but would like to hear other perspectives.
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I have this Fosgate Phono pre-amp and would like to offer up some comments. Over the years, several high gain solid state phono pre-amps have passed thru my system. Most were very quiet, but two in particular (shall remain name-less) had a noticeably higher noise floor than the all tube Fosgate. For a high gain phono pre-amp that takes 7 tubes, its remarkably quiet out of the box. IME, I can assuredly state that the rating of 60db is quite conservative.

Speaking of tubes, this pre-amp is a tube rollers dream. As one would expect given its design, the unit responds to each and every tube swap. Very easy to tailor the sound to one's personal preference. Additionally, you are rewarded with an even lower level of noise.( Don't get me wrong, its sounds good with the stock tubes as well.) I have little to no tolerance for noisy phono stages and its a non-issue for me with the Fosgate. My speakers are 90db efficient, and will easily reveal any annoying tube "noise". And yes, I also own a solid state phono stage that is virtually silent to make the comparison. I run my phono stages thru a modified Cary SLP-2002 tube line stage that itself is dead silent.

For those that are serious tube phono stage aficionados , with a large NOS library. I'd say this unit is a must audition.

Here is the tube compliment I've settled on after an evening of experimentation. I'm pretty content right now with the way it sounds with these tubes.

V1- 1966.......Amperex Holland 6DJ8 Bugle Boy
(other various vintage 6DJ8 BB also great)
v2- 1965.......Amperex Holland 6922
(other various 6922's also great)
V3- 1960's.....Telefunken 12AX7 Smooth Plate
V4- 1960's.....Raytheon 5751 Black Plate or Grey Plate
V5- 1960's.....Tungsol 12AT7 Grey Plate
V6- 1960's.....Tungsol 12AT7 Grey Plate

I have not experimented yet with the 6X4 power supply Rectifier tube, but plan on doing so in the near future.
Marlon and would you describe the sonic attributes of the Fosgate amp? Marlon if you could compare it to the Moon LP5.3 with PSX5.3 power supply (I have heard that phono and so the comparison would be veryy helpful). Reb1208..also interested in your descriptions of the sonic attributes of this phono before and after tube-rolling. I am curious about this amp and don't have the opportunity to audition locally. Thanks very much.
Sonic attributes, I'll address regardless of tube compliment. To me, this unit sounds exactly like the circuit its built upon. Have you ever heard the clarity of a DC powered phono stage but wished it had a little more oomph? That's what you get with the Fosgate. A very clear, deep, wide open space that lets an unforced, natural musical flow come through. The signal path tubes are powered by DC fed from large storage capacitors. The power supply is fed AC and high voltage rectification is achieved by a 6X4 rectifier tube. That's where you get the extra little oomph, that's missing in other DC powered stages I've heard.

Rolling tubes, you can really enhance dynamic contrasts, bass punch, extend bandwidth and get the sound field well off the speaker cabinets. With the stock tubes, the unit leans toward a warmer and more relaxed presentation.

Being that this is an all tube unit, don't expect "stump" puller type bass response. So if your speakers are in need of some extra help in the bass, the Fosgate won't add that to the signal- it's a rather neutral and accurate piece. (However, the supplied 6X4 JAN Philips rectifier tube is well known to be softer in the bass. A NOS Tungsol or Raytheon 6X4 will definitely deliver more bass power) Ahh, but if you want to hear a drum kit sound realistic- this unit will give you that in a way that solid state can't touch. It's also quite capable of resolving low level detail, you may hear sounds and vocals previously unnoticed.
Now using a NOS Sylvania BP 6X4 Rectifier and swapped one of the Tungsol 12AT7's for a BP Brimar 12AT7. Dynamics, bandwidth and bass slam beyond belief. Also, unit is now broken in.
Don't you need to match your tube brands, V1,2; V3,4; and V5,6 to avoid
left and right channel discrepancies in gain as well as tone?

That is one of the very reasons I bought this tube preamp. The circuit uses 1/2 of the triode in positions V1-V6 for the left channel and the other half for the right. Matched pairs are not required! All you need is a single tube that has reasonably equal output from each triode per position.

I'm currently listening to a blend of Holland, W. German, USA and UK NOS tube sound and loving the results!!
That's very interesting and quite an advantageous cicrcuit for the user! Your
comment regarding the Sylvania 6x4 producing great bass slam now makes the
Fosgate a real possibility for me.
Hello to all,

I have the privilege to announce that Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings will be exhibiting the Fosgate Signature phono stage at the 2010 California Audio Show.

Thank you.

Constantine Soo
Can anyone make some comparisons between the Fosgate and the Eastern Electric MiniMax phono?
Can anyone compare sound between fosgate, aesthetix Rhea sig, ar ph7, manley stingray, and lamm phonostage?
Very impressive, easily an alternative to the Manley Steelhead or the Aesthetix Rhea, both of which I've owned before.
Quick question on Fosgate phono's break-in time. Can anyone tell me how many hours one needs to put on the phono before it is fully broken in. Does it sound character change materially over the break-in period. My dealer just got a brand new unit to use as a demo. I am going to listen to it late next week and I asked them to put hours on it to break it in. But I just want to make sure it is fully broken in before I listen to it. Thx
hi to all
i'm just enjoing my new phono preamp and...yes, it is really amazing how sensitive it is to tubes rolling and how beautiful it sounds from the really beginning.
i did not want to wait for burning in the new tubes, so decide to use what i had on hand at the moment already burned in: a couple of 6dj8 bugle boy, a pair of miniwatt ecc83 and a pair cv4024 by mullard. i also used the provided 6x4 ge (so actually this need to run for a while before giving out its best).
i did not change anything from my usual analog chain, so to catch any difference from my previus phono preamp that is always powered up and ready to be compared (i had a ugly solid state mc phono black small box with external power supply by sentec, that sound so good for my testing to be winner by far compared to aqvox, asr mini, jasime, and many other i had for comparing).
i'm using At33ptg on Dynavector DV505 with sigma acoustic phono cable.
well the first impression are really really good.
more or less the same timing and speed, seems to be a solid state gear as well, i would say a more enjoiable deep frequencies and something less in the middle, where the sentec just reveals its best with a real "live" presentation i really like (but someone could not). No great differencies in the noise floor. this one has been the gratest surprise. i thought it was not possible for tube state to reach that level, even if of course depends on tubes installed.
even one of the best phono gear i have heard from the Guru Dissanayake (really the best one) did not have this low noise floor.
i'm quite confident that with the right tubes everyone could reach their own best performacies.
so what is wrong with it? minor things: IMHO the artificial blue light that comes out from tube sockets a in someway the layout seems to be a chinese relative and i do not like too much.
but the most important thing for me is how sounds...and this one sound right for my need.
ciao to all
any thoughts of the differences between art audio's vinyl reference and the fosgate? or the art audio and any of the other fine phonos mentioned above?? thanks for your help
Has anyone compared the Fosgate Signature to an EAR 324p or to the new Parasound JC-3?
I just procured the Fosgate and I can say it is as quiet as a 'church mouse'.

I may try a different tube combination once I've gotten totally used to the stock set up.
What did the fosgate replace? What are your impressions about the sound?
I am interested in hearing what all have to say, especially as paired with specific cartridges, as I have been considering this amp to get back to vinyl and tubes. I am curious about how well the Fosgate works with low output MC carts and no input transformer? I am considering the Lyra Kleos, with a 0.5mV output. The rated gain of 60dB is on the theoretical borderline.
I have the Fosgate. I like it a lot with my Lyra Delos. I've done extensive tube rolling with Telefunken 12AT7s, 12AX7s, Amperex 7308s, RCA 12AT7s, Mullard 6922s, Brimar 6X4. After all of that, I think the stock tubes sound the best because whatever minimal differences there were with the NOS ones, they seemed to exaggerate an already fine balance of tonality. The Fosgate really only has one tube that makes a significant change in sound and that is the V3 position. It's stock with a 12AX7, but comes supplied with an additional 12AT7. I prefer the 12AT7. For some reason, the 12AX7 produces way too much bass from maybe 60Hz down (?) (I use subwoofers; it might not be as noticeable without). When comparing a CD with the same mastering of the same album on vinyl, the bass is crazy boosted - like the bass knob is turned all the way up, I'm not kidding. Some titles are worse than others (kick drum on ZZ Top Tres Hombres on Rhino comes to mind). But, strangely enough, using the stock 12AX7 with the KAB Rumble Filter, the exaggerated bass sounds perfectly balanced and sounds amazing. Without the rumble filter, and using the optional 12AT7, the bass sound is balanced, there is reduced glare in the high end (compared to the equivalent CD), sounds somewhat "creamy," but also sounds big and rich. It's not dull, but it's easy on your ears at a high volume compared to CDs. I wouldn't mind using the Fosgate with the Rumble Filter, but the filter does take away the tube bloom in the mids and some of the sweetness in the highs that I like, and I'm not into the fact that it sums all the frequencies from 140Hz down into mono. I've got plenty of LPs with stereo bass and I notice it doing needle drops. I prefer the mids and highs with the 12AX7, but the best overall sound for my system is using the 12AT7. I have noticed that the Fosgate tends to show more contrast between a good recording and a bad one. If it's a boring mix, you'll know it, and if the EQ is too boosted, you'll notice that too. I didn't notice this with my cheaper SS preamps. It's a killer sounding unit and is much more enjoyable to listen to than the other 2 solid state phono stages I've owned. This is my first piece of tube gear and it does sound different from solid state. Some times I like the bloom, sometimes not. I usually don't like it as much on modern recordings that use loud-mastered digital sources. It's still good, but I think it needs some of that SS definition to cut though a smashed master. However, if the record has a decent amount of dynamics, I prefer the sound of tubes. It sounds not only more life-like, but sounds bigger and deeper, at least with the Fosgate.
I am very interested in hearing more about the Fosgate phono preamp. I too am using a SimAudio LP5.3 with upgraded power supply. It will be feeding a newly acquired Musical Fidelity NuVista M3 integrated amplifier into either PSB Stratus Gold or Synchrony One speakers. turntables will be either Sota Cosmos IV, Sme 309, Delos; Oracle Delphi V SE, Sme 345, Ortofon Kontrapunkt B; Transrotor Fat Bob, Audiomods IV, Monster Genesis 2000. Will the Fosgate be a sideways move, or something considerably better?
Does anyone know if the Foz uses step-up xformers (SUTs) for the MC section?  If not, which tubes are utilized for the MC portion of the preamp?
I have the Foz.

Those 2 cans are NOT step ups.

The circuit has active gain. According to the manual, only tube 3(12AX7) makes a noticeable sonic change.

On a side note- those 2 cans are used as footers on my old REL sub!
Hello tablejockey.......can you tell me what your impressions of the preamp are and if you've done any experimenting with tube-rolling?

Hi, just got a used Fosgate Signature Phono V1 that is a little noisy and I am suspecting the tubes. Any suggestions if this is likely? Also, what brand were the stock tubes? The current tubes are: 

V2,V1: 2x Jolinda 12AT7 WA USA

V3: 1x 6DJ8 Unison Research 

V4: 1x Svetlana 12AX7

V5,V6: 2x Mullard 12AT7/ECC81 Russia

V7: 1x 6x4 USA

I would be grateful for any help. Thanks. Frank


Nearly 10 year old thread. I was reminded I dropped in, back in 2018.

Are you referring to tube rush?  Don't  expect dead silence at cranked levels, or have your ear pressed against the speaker, you're going to be disappointed.

My Foz is quiet. till around 12:00 o'clock(MC setting) Past that, once the music kicks in, it's forgotten, and not a deal breaker. I don't listen at concert levels, so at moderate
levels, very quiet, especially the MM setting.

I have a V2, allegedly with improvements to make it quieter. The cheesy blue LED under the tubes were replaced with orange LED's also. I disconnected that front blue LED, which I found too 1980's  looking!

ALL tube units have some degree of hiss. The Foz has active gain, so it's a little noisier than the current popular units which are aided by transistor and step up circuitry.

From the listening position, it should be acceptably quiet at moderate levels.
If you have a spare 12ax7,at7 and 6DJ8 you could swap to see if it makes any difference. I doubt it's a tube. Sometimes just reseating them can eliminate a pesky noise.

Per the manual, V3 is the money tube(12ax7 or at7) for sonic tweaking.It's subtle and naturally subjective. To my ears, the Foz is more similar than different than the current players. I've had a few current,popular tube units side by side with the Foz. They are definitely quieter at high volume .

If you find it too noisey, a Manley Chinook or Herron is in your future.

Hi Frank, I also own the Fosgate Signature V1 that I bought new. I don't know if you have the owners manual but the tube complement you referenced in your unit is way off.

The original tube complement would consist of, V1 and V2 being 6DJ8, then V3 and V4 being 12AX7, and V5 and V6 being 12AT7.

I am not a tube expert but if you have 12AT7 tubes in V1 and V2 that is probably where most of the noise is originating. I would suggest contacting Musical Surroundings and try to acquire at least one of the originally supplied 6DJ8 tubes. The original supplied V1 6DJ8 is very quite, I use it in the V1 position then in V2 I've substituted  a Tungsram E88CC (compatible with 6DJ8 and 6922). 

Next you need to remove the 6DJ8 from the V3 position (you could use it in V1 or V2) and replace with 12AX7 or you can substitute a 12AT7 but you will have less gain with that tube. 

The Fosgate is fun to tube roll and you can alter its sound a lot, I have been at it for years and think (maybe) I've found my preferred arrangement. 

Thanks, Gary. This has been extremely helpful! :) I suspect the previous owner removed his more expensive tubes and just threw a bunch of “left over” tubes on the unit. I will try your suggestions and see if this may result in improvements. 
One more question, Gary. What brand is your original 6DJ8 tube in case I can find a matched pair?
The original supplied 6DJ8 tubes have no markings on them except 6DJ8 printed vertically in red ink. Musical Surroundings was the distributor for the Fosgate Signature and I believe the only place you will find those tubes, I did buy one from them a number of years ago. The last time I spoke with them it seemed they still sold them, suggest you just give them a call, I always found them pleasant to deal with.

Jim Fosgate recommended not to swap out the supplied 6DJ8 tubes saying you would probably end up with to much bass energy. I have tried a number of different brands of tubes in the V1 and V2 positions and I'm happy with my current setup. I will also say that in my system I found the Mullard CV4024 (12AT7) to be to warm. I believe the Svetlana 12AX7 is the original supplied tube for V3 and V4, the Phillips JAN 12AT7WC was the original supplied tube for V5 and V6.

Thanks Gary and tablejockey for the much appreciated support. I talked to Ken at Musical Surroundings and he was Indeed very nice. I ended up getting two EH 6922 and two Tung-Sol 12ax7 to see if this solves the issue. I will post how it turns out! ;)
I know this is an old thread, but just wanted to post my comment.

I recently received a used Fosgate Signature preamp and I am very impressed with what I hear. It’s everything that it has been made out to be. And I want to thank @tablejockey for it was his enthusiasm that led me down this path.