If boulder is tops what is second tier?

If we would assign A++ to boulder, what phono preamps rate as A+?
What would be considered just a notch below the boulder?
Would this include: the Manley steelhead, the Aesthetix IO signature, ASR Basis Exclusive mark II, the BAT VKP10SE super pack, the Einstein?
What others belong to this group or which of these doesn't?
Sorry Pedrillo, Boulder is not at the top of any list except extremely expensive for "decent" performance.

The owner / designer is the same person that told me in his room at CES that ALL cable and ALL power cords are BS, they make NO difference and anyone that says otherwise is fooling themselves.

How can you take that kind of designer serious?

This happened several years ago and I am still mad, what arrogance. Fortunately the company sharing space with them took my advice and never showed with them again.
Just because some audio magazine rag says it is the best, does not mean it is true.
Albert- no doubt he has been breathing fumes from Peter Aczel of Audio Critic infamy.

Wow, I have never seen you come out and blast someone like that!! If true, which I have no doubt that it is, it is very disheartning to know one of the higher profile manufacturers holds this view. Makes you wonder what he voices his gear with, Lamp cord??

I spent some time with the Boulder phono as well as amps. They are really well built and have an abundance of really nice aluminum. They sound really nice too, but so do a lot of other things that cost a lot less. I think that there are more than a few phono stages that might match the boulder very well. If I had unlimited funds the boulder would probably not be on my short list but I can see why it would be on some peoples.
i've listened to the Boulder phono stage a couple of times at shows. it did sound good but certainly not particularly unique.....but until comparing it to another with the same cartridge in the same system who knows?

so far my favorite is the internal phono stage in the battery powered darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp. but there are many i have not personally tried in my system.

based on my personal experience i can say that if the dart is at the top of my list......the Lamm LP2 would be a level or two below that....the Aesthetix Io Sig would be slightly below the Lamm....the BAT-VK10SE would be below the Io. i would add that many have rolled tubes and modified the Io Sig and considerably improved it.....and who knows how that might change my impressions. my experience with the Io Sig was stock.

i am told that the 'big' FM Acoustics ($40k list price) phono stage is similar to the Boulder......and that was the reference used to design the darTZeel.

after hearing what properly implimented battery power does for the dart pre line stage section i would be skeptical that any A/C powered phono stage could compete. but that is just my guess.....until you compare who knows?
I always knew there was a reason I liked the moving force behind Boulder. How refreshing to find a SOA mfg. decrying the cable & pwr. cord cant populating the industry, it`s mags, E zines & attendant forums.
Interesting remark by the Boulder guy, about how all cables sound the same. Maybe, with a Boulder (or some other amp) they do. After all, the cables do something to the electrical load which the amp sees, and some amps handle loading anomalies better than others.

I guess my amps are not ideal, because Goertz cables do sound better than zip cord. Just a bit.
I have a bit of insight in having fairly extensive experience in my own system with both the Lamm LP2 and the Manley Steelhead. I ran the Lamm LP2 as my phono stage for a couple of years (2003-4) and ultimately replaced it with the Manley Steelhead, which I have been using as my phono stage for the past two years. My move to the Steelhead was for the purpose of gaining more flexibility with repect to gain and loading.

From a performance perspective, I found the two components to be very close. To my ears and in my system, however, the Manley was the winner. The bass is tighter and more extended, and the treble is better extended, more refined and airier, resolving that touch of darkness that is a signature trait of the Lamm electronics.

So, in my book, the Manley Steelhead ranks just a touch above the Lamm LP2.
I haven't heard the Boulder but I certainly agree with Albert, Drjoe and Mike. A front cover spash in Stereophile or TAS means nothing, or at least nothing about the sound. A high price correlates to large profits, but not necessarily to anything else.

I've A/B'd the Lamm LP2/LL2 with my much less expensive Nick Doshi Alaap, in the Lamm owner's system. The Lamm owner immediately put them up for sale and placed an order with Nick. Sonically, there really was no comparison.

During an A/B in my system the Aesthetix Rhea/Calypso performed better than the higher priced Lamms, but they still couldn't match Nick's preamp. The Aesthetix owner sold them and ordered an Alaap, just as the Lamm owner did.

The same thing has happened with the Aesthetix Io/Callisto Sig. (I didn't hear that comparison but the outcome was the same.)

Of the commercial preamps I've heard, the VAC Renaissance came closest to matching the Alaap. It didn't have quite the frequency extension for MC and the line stage wasn't quite as natural sounding with digital sources. But the differences were subtle. If I had to own a name brand with an expensive look, I'd be happiest with a VAC based my experiences so far. I presume VAC's top of the line model outplays the Renaissance, it's visually spectacular and it's a lot less money than a Boulder.
Ok,my gear or my hearing aren't in this class to enable any significant input on this subject. However I have read in mag. interviews, several quotes from designers, of this very nature. (for big expensive products) I doubt any product could not be tweeked/improved upon no matter who made it or how expensive it is. I also think some of these highend guys would be embarrassed to have quotes they made 10/20 years ago,read back to them,today.
Well since you mentioned the ASR Basis Exclusive, I will provide some input on that particular phono preamp, and how it relates to one or two of the other phono preamps referred to by one of the others.

The ASR is the best phono preamp I have heard. It is quiet, dynamic, and musical. (Feel free to substitute P.R.A.T for musical, or whatever term you refer to as that certain something that gets your toe a'tapping!) It elevated my friend's system to a whole new level.

It clearly bested the Aesthetix Rhea. The Rhea has some really nice, user friendly features (the remote control is incredible!), but sonically, it is not in the same class, IMHO. The Rhea has quite a bit of tube noise, that with tube rolling, can be reduced, but not quite eliminated. This noise floor prevented it from really acheiving top notch status. (However, for the money, and especially if you like running more than one tonearm, and auditioning different cartridges, it is a reasonable choice.)

I have heard the Lamm LP2 as well. It is a very good phono preamp, but having its gain and loading fixed, very much limits its use, IMHO. (However, for a tube phono preamp, it is amazingly quiet, surprisingly so!) That being said, I would never buy it myself, as I prefer to have more flexibility as to which cartridges I can use.
(I preferred the ASR to the Lamm, as it was easily adjusted to match the cartridge requirements, although I feel the Lamm is better than the Rhea sonically, but only if the right cartridge is used, and there are few cartridges that are truly "right" for the Lamm.)

My two cents worth anyway.

BTW, are you actually in the market, or just opening up a topic for discussion? (I don't care either way, as I like the topic and the discussion!)
I am in the market most defenitely, and want to thank you all for chiming in.
As most of you already know, I have been beating this topic to death, but I feel that this is probably the most important part of the chain in our systems!
Not changing the subject, I just recently purchased a Graham 2.2, and can't be more pleased with the improvement of sound in my system. I can only imagine how much further I can go by upgrading the PHONO PREAMP!
I get the idea that spending more on a phono preamp in relation to other components would yield excellent results, no?
So to reiterate my initial question. Which phono preamp should I get that would be considered a top player? I would like to make this a lasting purchase.
My price range would top out at about $3k.
thank you all.
Maybe the Boulder guys can hear instead of hearing what they want to hear.
Albert…that is an interesting comment coming from Boulder’s designer. What is even more interesting to me is that Boulder is not the only high-end amplifier manufacturer who has made this comment or one similar to it in private to me or to others whom I know in this hobby. It is little wonder that there is so much controversy when it comes to cable. I don’t think there are too many of these engineers who do not acknowledge that properly designed audio cables are important in an audio system, but they are all too aware of the fact that good cable is readily available and inexpensive except in high-end audio where it has been cleverly masked behind beautiful cosmetics and very slick marketing that often generates profit margins in excess of 1000% or even 3000%. Generally speaking it seems that amplifier manufactures tend to stay out of these arguments.

There is a clear ‘carriage trade’ that has developed over the years in high-end audio and the Boulder phono preamp fills this market nicely, as do Wilson loudspeakers and numerous other products we are all familiar with. Of course the audio rags always say this is stuff is the best, especially the ones that receive huge advertising revenue from such manufactures, but as many of us have discovered it just isn’t always true. And as I think most of us know there are those who will only buy the most expensive equipment with the highest status and ‘perceived’ excellence. Many high-end manufactures take advantage of this quirk of human nature and price their product accordingly.

That said, I have no personal experience with the Boulder phono preamp. Maybe it really is excellent. But could it possibly be worth $30K, and cost anywhere near that to manufacture, or is more like that $100 pair of interconnects that retails for $3000? And by its cost alone does it earn its rank of A++? I think not on both accounts. Unfortunately it is difficult not to equate higher performance with higher cost because that is they way we have been taught (manipulated) to think.

Whatever the case, I did want to add one more phono preamp to the discussion that I believe falls into this category, even though at $3250 its price is not as extreme as some of the others mentioned. That is the Herron Audio VTPH-1 MC Plus. While Keith Herron’s preamps have garnered their fair share of rave reviews over the years, Herron does not throw a lot of money into advertising (or Rowlandesque cosmetics) and perhaps for that reason they seem to fly a bit under the radar. None-the-less the VTPH-1 is worthy of any serious analog audiophile’s consideration and will compete favorably with some of the products mentioned here.
Dear Peter: " +++++ My price range would top out at about $3k. " +++++

It is out of my sense to understand the tittle of your thread: "If boulder is tops what is second tier? ", when your budget is 3K. The very best phonolinepreamps are between 15K to 50K.

You posted: " but I feel that this is probably the most important part of the chain in our systems! " and latter: " I would like to make this a lasting purchase. "

If like you say ( I agree ) the phonolinepreamp is the most important part of the chain and you are looking for the last purchase about then you must to have a wider budget and if you don't have it a this time my advise is that you wait a little till you have a serious money for a serious phonolinepreamp.

Regards and enjoy the music.
All of your opinions on phono stages are valid, I posted my comments because regardless of the phono stage chosen, cables play a big role in the total performance package and should not be ignored.

Does anyone really think the Boulder phono would work just as well with the blister pack RCA's provided with a $149.00 DVD player? Can you imagine a Koetsu, Benz, ZYX, Denon or any other high end, low output moving coil cartridge passing through China blister pack cables from your turntable to the Boulder phono stage ?

Anyway I thought the designers comment, which was made with a sneer and in anger, was totally vulgar especially coming from high end company that charges what it does for their equipment.

As for performance differences between these various phono stages, I have not heard the DarTZeel that Mike enjoys. I do agree the Lamm and Steelhead are great products, I have auditioned both of them and prefer either over the Boulder.

That being said, the latest version Aesthetix IO Signature with dual power supplies and all NOS tubes is magic in my system and in the end each of us must choose what works with the rest of the equipment that makes up our system.

To further clarify the EXACT situation that occurred at CES and caused the blanket comment from Boulder, I walked into a room displaying Sound-Lab A-1 (their top line) speaker fed with Boulder electronics. I noticed that the left Sound-Lab speaker was plugged into the electric razor outlet leading from a table lamp, which was wired with 18 gauge lamp cord.

I ask Boulder (who was answering questions for all the equipment in the room at that moment) if I might check into borrowing cables from Purist, Cardas or another nearby cable exhibitor that would reach the (existing unused) wall socket with a grounded connection (NECESSARY!) for the 20K bias of the Sound-Lab speakers being displayed.

THIS is when I got the snide remark. All I can say is even if the lamp cord, table lamp, and lack of ground was not at issue, respect for the fellow your displaying with would require at least a stock 16 gauge Belden for this type of high end set up.

Over many years I've experimented with many aftermarket AC cables with Sound-Lab speakers and can promise you there ARE sonic gains to be had with premium AC cords.

Anyway, good luck Pedrillo in your search regardless of what you decide.
hahaha $30k for a phono preamp, irregardless of how good it sounds, its silly money.

There are plenty of good phono stages around with the resurgence of vinyl. I suppose this thread took a turn with the mention of Boulder, which actually isn't what the threadstarter was looking for, so really, I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Anyway, with the quoted budget, I would agree with Tswhitsel on the Herron. I have never regretted buying one.
Raul sez:
you must to have a wider budget and if you don't have it a this time my advise is that you wait a little till you have a serious money for a serious phono...
I would generally agree; maybe a diy (if you're into that sort of thing) would be an interim and affordable solution for now. Or modding an existing unit --for example people have improved on the EAR.

Speaking of branded finished goods out there, I can mention certain units that were in the "superior" league (i.e. better than a "good phono" that has some magical strengths and a few weaknesses):
*FM acoustics: undoubtedly one of the best I've heard, and very versatile. The "cheap" offering must cost ~10-12k (?). It's "cheaper" because it's single-ended input (not balanced).
*Manley Steelhead; see above
*Clearaudio "reference" s/thing or other -- the one that comes as two mono boxes each with an external PS.
*A Goldmund stand alone from ~8yrs back. It was also included in certain pre's they sold back then (one being the Mimesis 7.1 or s/thing close).

Now, there are many I've heard and do not wish to go into here. There are also many I haven't heard and can mention two here: the latest Aesthetics, for example (see Albert above); the Dartzeel (see Mike, above).

It seems that the only way to have a great phono within financial reason is to diy; but, unless you're ready to research, you need an excellent schematic...
Coming to think of it, try Raul above -- send him a case of wine, maybe it'll work: he has built a good one:)
I would put the Einstein up against any of them, not just because I'm a dealer.
Again I want to thank you all for the help, I am really into the analog portion of my system.
Yes Rauliruegas I know $3k is not much but I beleive that there are many phonopreamps out there that can be bought used at this price range that will compete with or come close enough to the best, for example: Xono, Herron, Evan's The Groove, E.A.R. 324, JLTI, K&K and so on.
Would I be asking too much if I asked the a-goners here to make a short list of 3 or so phonopreamps that deserve to be mentioned?
I now own the E.A.R. 834p and cannot believe how goood it is and that means also how good the sysytem as a whole is.
I would like to push the envelope to a higher level.
Am I missing something here or am I making sense?
I've owned the Lamm and Audio Research Reference and replaced them with the Shindo Giscours pre with built in phono. To mey ears it wasn't even close. Works extremely well with my Zyx UNIverse cartridge.
Since you have recently made other changes to your system and you also state that your think your current phono preamp is quite good, I would recommend you leave things alone for awhile. Give yourself a chance to really get to know the strenghts and weaknesses of your current setup before making any changes.

But then again, assuming you ignore my above advice, $3k is plenty of money to spend on a phono stage. It will not buy you state of the art, nor even the next best, but it will buy you a very high quality phono preamp.
Albert you always have good directions, advise and at times a very interesting experiences you have shared with other members here on the AudioGon in the past...I would like to add a recent experience with a V.P.I. tonearm and junction box wired with Nordost Valhalla.The newly designed arm turned out to be a huge leap in performance over the older design. After along thorough burn in of the wire,I thought the next step was to carry on with more Nordost wire from the junction box to the phono section of my preamp. I expected some better results. However what I did not expect was another MAJOR leap in performance...This single interconnect change literally transformed my system...Wires make a difference all right. The right ones in the right place.
You mentioned a lot of nice phono preamps. You might want to add the Hagerman Trumpet to the list if you're set on buying one to replace the EAR 834P. Then again, if its Steelhead or ASR Basis territory you're eventually shooting for, maybe sending the EAR off to Mitch Singerman for mods will allow you get even more pleasure from a phono stage you already like, while giving you some more time to save up for the big purchase.
Thank you Stiltskin.

I'm not surprised that a quality rig like that responded positively to a high quality cable. Perhaps someday it will be considered "common knowledge" and all audiophiles will be vindicated for having heard the difference :^).

I hope you're enjoying your music more than ever. It's an emotional high when you're listening to one of your favorite tunes and hear things you never knew existed.
While I have heard most of the top contenders several times in show settings I have not had the opportunity to listen to most of them either in my home or in a system that I know well enough to draw conclusions. In my home, I have compared the phonostage in the Crosby Spectral DMC 10Z, the Jadis outboard separate phonostage, several versions of the Vendetta Research including a SCP2T(eflon) with updated power supplies and the Curl Blowtorch with integrated phono and most recently the Einstein. In general, the Vendetta exceeded the Crosby modded Spectral and each newer version of the Vendetta was an improvement over earlier iterations with the 2Teflon being the best of the stand alone Vendetta's but the very similar phonostage in the Blowtorch being audibly better, but not earthshakingly so. The Vendetta which can often be found on the used market is very clean and fast with significant layers of detail and very good focus and staging. Think of the Vendetta as the benchmark for solid state. I recently purchased an Einstein on a friends' suggsetion. In many ways it retains the better attributes of the Vendetta but then builds on those strengths. The Einstein has better bass(tighter with more impact), more depth, more dynamics, more fully fleshed images and a warmer frequency balance that is more accurate. Undoubtedly the best which I have heard in my system. Of other units which have impressed me to date, The Aesthetics units are quite revelationary in the right system.If I had $3 to $5 to spend, I would try to audition the Einstein. For less, I woulk look for a later Vendetta.
Interesting stuff, all, until the topic veered off into other subjects.

There are a number of things that were likely said at CES (and what in the world, exactly, was a consumer doing at CES, and why in the world was someone attempting to grasp sound quality at a trade show?!?) that were or could have been misconstrued, none of which really needs to be gotten into too deeply here. Suffice it to say, there are a number of things regarding the engineering of electronics that should prevent them from being affected by the cables connecting them. That's not to say that every cable, whether power or analog or digital, is not a filter - that's exactly what they are due to a number of things in their makeup, such as capacitance, inductance, etc. If a product is properly engineered, it shouldn't care less what's used to connect it and the given product's response should remain stable with any reasonably designed cable. Any changes in sound are simply the losses, omissions, or distortions of that particular conductor's filter characteristics and should NOT be the result of a cable's electrical characteristics affecting the electrical operation of a piece of gear. Some affect things much less than others. None, if designed by someone with any degree of technical knowledge, should be life altering. If anyone wants any further explanation, feel free to contact me at the e-mail address below.

As for what manufacturer makes first, second, third, or last tier products, simply look at the number of products listed by the respondents - there is no Holy Grail and just about every product will have a following. Judge and listen with your own ears and ignore the preferences of others, especially those based on emotion and not rationale. Your own ears are, after all, the only ones you should be concerned with satisfying. Listen to what your ears tell you to listen to.

Cheers, guys, and relax.

Rich Maez
So, Rich, what cables does Boulder use/recommend? That is to say, which cable design do you think filters the least and how do you determine that? I guess I'm asking how did you determine that your products are doing their best without attaching one of these "filters"? Did you somehow connect directly to the grid?
There are a number of things that were likely said at CES (and what in the world, exactly, was a consumer doing at CES, and why in the world was someone attempting to grasp sound quality at a trade show?!?)

I assume that's directed at me since I am the person who described the situation. In addition to being hired by Audiogon to cover CES, I do advertising photography for dozens of high end audio manufacturers and I'm a reviewer for Positive Feedback.

I believe I had a right to be at CES, visit the Boulder room and subsequently offer help (out of my personal schedule) to resolve an issue I thought was important.

Suffice it to say, there are a number of things regarding the engineering of electronics that should prevent them from being affected by the cables connecting them.

Regardless of you (or you're companies) view on the value of aftermarket interconnects, digital or AC cables, you cannot deny that lifting the ground on electrostatic speakers that operate at more than 10K volts bias is not a good idea.

The accessory outlet on the table lamp is not the proper connection for a Sound Lab M-1 speaker. If you check with Sound Lab you will find the supplied AC cord is heavier gauge and supplied with integral ground via the IEC design.

Regardless of whether you (or your boss) agree that aftermarket power cords are of benefit, sloppy set up at the most prestigious audio show in America shows blatant disregard for those sharing the room, just as much as the attitude that was shown to me when I offered to help.

I will try to follow your sage advice and be cheerful and relax, but the thought of an amplifier company like Boulder being so arrogant and rude does anger me and I am generally considered to be a gentleman among those that know me.
I am glad to see a-goners write about their experiences and what their exact feelings are.
We are all here to learn and these experiences that are mentioned are priceless. I am hoping the industry is listening to what we are saying, because afterall we are their lifeline.
I am by nature a skeptic but when I see proof that something is really improving the sound then I become a fan of that product/idea.
It just spurred an idea for a new thread that I will start soon.
Rich; you said;

"Suffice it to say, there are a number of things regarding the engineering of electronics that should prevent them from being affected by the cables connecting them."

i am one that has a great deal of experience with different gear and lots of cables. no matter what gear or combination of gear i have tried the sonic performance has always varied with the cables i used. cables are a component.....whether one likes it or not. OTOH if someone sees it different no problem.....i feel no need to convince anyone. it is typically the cable non-believers that have some inate need to convince people differently.

i have recently had an experience that does say a bit about cables/gear interaction though. Herve Delatraz, the darTZeel amp and preamp designer/manufacturer, wrote an article for Stereophile back in November 2001. this was prior to him introducing any commercial products. this article focused on how impedence interaction between electronic gear reduced the ultimate performance of any cables. he theorized that impedence matching would basically eliminate most cable differences.

a year ago i recieved his new preamp (i already had two of his amps). both his amp and preamp are designed to work with 50 ohm BNC cables both in and out (he calls this design a 'zeel' connection). he represents that any length up to 1 kilometer will sound the same (which is to say much better than standard cables due to impedence matching). after listening i must agree with his representation.

the only thing is that even though the Zeel connection outperforms any standard cable approach......after comparing various 50 ohm BNC cable brands there is still a variance in how each type sounds (i prefer Herve's version).....and the differences are quite easy to discern.

conclusion; we are not finished learning about what cables do.....but there is no doubt in my mind that different cables many times sound differently. which does not mean that everyone can/will hear the differences in their situation.

one more issue; there is no place in the audio chain where cables have more effect than the phono cable.....the tiny signal that the cartridge produces combined with the need to boost it 40db to 70db will multiply cable influence many times. if you can't hear phono cable differences look to your system performance and resolution and not proof that cables don't matter. it is very clear.
Rich Maez sez:
Any changes in sound are simply the losses, omissions, or distortions of that particular conductor's filter characteristics and should NOT be the result of a cable's electrical characteristics affecting the electrical operation of a piece of gear.
Goodness me, Mr Maez, *everyone* seems to have noticed that: i.e. a change in wire seems to affect the (sonic) end result... The causal reference you make is of little import isn't it?

Even IF you are referring to the power connection, the result seems to be the same. Whether this "(affects) the electrical operation of ... gear" is a moot point really unless you define what you see as "operation". You seem to be saying that a component's sonic result should not, on paper, be affected by the power chord variable IF that component's PS is implemented properly -- and, amazingly at the same time, that it does --

{BTW you obviously know that the connection to the wall socket is not always directly linked to the "operation" of the component (if that's what you mean by operation)... It is directly linked if by operation you mean switch on and remain on.}

Again, that's what most people are saying: that changing a wire often changes the sonic result. Uncanny, no?
Dear friends: I think that what Albert was questioning to Boulder was the Boulder people attitude ( not the Boulder performance ) where Albert offer his help about and they give not only a wrong answer but in a not very nice way.

Now, what Rich posted: +++++ " If a product is properly engineered, it shouldn't care less what's used to connect it and the given product's response should remain stable with any reasonably designed cable. Any changes in sound are simply the losses, omissions, or distortions of that particular conductor's filter characteristics and should NOT be the result of a cable's electrical characteristics affecting the electrical operation of a piece of gear.... " +++++, is absolutely right. One of the critical factor ( between others ) in the design of electronics and in particular with a phonolinepreamp is that its output impedance remain at less or around 100 Ohms and in an amplifier less or around 0.05 Ohms, these electronics figures almost asure that the pre/amp will not suffer any change in their design performance response, obviously all the quality sound changes that we could percieve from those gear comes from the different cables/connectors that we are running.

We can go on and on: a not to good phonolinepreamp design could react ( change its performance response ) not only with the cables but with the amplifier input impedance, in the same way the amplifiers react not only against the cables but with the electrical speaker impedance.

I have to say that there are many " big names " out there that react against other audio devices in the audio chain and only a few of them really are on target on these subjects.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Rauliruegas...In my experience vacuum tube preamps, typically with output impedance around 600 ohms, are much more sensitive to interconnects than are solid state preamps, typically with output impedance lower than 50 ohms. Not to say that tube preamps can't sound good, but they do like short interconnects and power amps with input impedance higher than 100K.
It seems that the only person who read my post carefully and understood exactly what I said was Raul.

Very simply: cables can affect the sound of the audio passing through them via their unique characteristics, however they should never affect the operation of electronics if those electronics are properly engineered. If the function of an amplifier is changed because of the cable attached to it, then the amp has either been designed with a specific cable in mind and should ONLY be used with that cable, or it is an unstable product.

For those who wonder what audio cables we think are the most neutral, we really don't go looking. We're not in the cable evaluation business. Most of the sonic changes wrought by any sort of cable and its internal winding are inversely proportional, meaning that as one goes up, another goes down, etc. Because of that, the choice of cable is really user dependent - we all pick our favorites.

How do we do measurements? Everything is connected directly to a variac and tested on the bench. AC is supplied at either 50 or 60 Hz only, so there would be no issues regardless of what is used to carry power as long as it does not limit current delivery.

Power cables: most products do not build line conditioning and filtration into the AC line input sections of their products. We do. We have extremely high common mode rejection in our power supply designs, so there is little that a power cord can achieve with our designs other than greater possible current delivery if a smaller gauge cable had been used. We believe that any product that claims to be of high performance should take external factors into account (and in the real world, not just on paper) as well as internal operation, thus we do everything that we can to eliminate the need for external tweaks. For what you're paying, it should be optimized right out of the box.
Dear Eldartford: Right on target!!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Which sort of begs the question-What should cables do? The easy answer is to pass the sgnal so it is the same on both ends. It would seem to be simple. It is clear that many cables are acting as filters/equalizers. Either intentionally or as the result of poor design.

Albert seems to argue that Boulder should not be taken seriously because they don't take cables seriously.
Boulder seems to arguwe that they do take cables seriously. But that there serious conclusion is cables are not important if the electronics are properly designed.

The question of course is that many make the same argument against Bouders extremely expensive products. BTW a cursory tabulation of the of Albert's cables could be used to purchase some Boulder products. I assume Boulder is not a rip off comapany. No doubt using internal components that many would deem overpriced and uneccessary. To go through all that and have the signal lost in zip cord seems foolish to me.
I have examined a lot of scientific equipment. Nobody begrudges there use of quality power chords and connectors.

There should be some standadrs regarding cable. At this point it just seems to be to much emotion involved.
It seems that the only person who has not read carefully what Mr Maez wrote is Mr Maez: the interconnecting wire may affect the sonic result -- but it's not (or shouldn't be) affecting the operation of the circuit...

Well, of course it isn't, or shouldn't, for goodess sake. No one's complaining about that.
No one's complaining about the purported quality of Boulder products either.

Albertporter was not very happy about Boulder peoples' attitude -- not the design of the electronics power supplies.

The wire (and attachments thereof) seem to be affecting the signal transfer. That's what everyone's complaining about.

Raul notes:
a phonolinepreamp (...) output impedance remain at less or around 100 Ohms
Excellent point. In fact, try a max of 60 ohm, with the next stage at standard.
I am going to do something shocking, specifically, respond to Pedrillo's question.

You may wish to consider a used Rowland Cadence phono stage, especially if it is run from the Rowland battery power supply as opposed to the A/C power supply (it works with either, but better from batteries). The Cadence is flexible, offering four loading / output options. Used, it runs around $2,000-$3,000. In fact, what you may want to consider is running the Cadence with the Rowland Coherence II preamp, whereby both are run from the Rowland battery power supply. The Coherence II was Rowland's best preamp and goes for +/- $6,000 used (expect to pay $7,500-$8,000 for the Coherence / Cadence combo). I believe that Rowland was the first high-end manufacturer to go to battery power for components, the Edge, ASR, Sutherland and darTZeel designs coming years after.

If your budget is $3,000, I doubt the Cadence idea will get any argument from Rich Maez, as he was with Rowland during the Coherence / Cadence years and does not have a Boulder phono stage in this "modest" price range. I believe Raul likes the Cadence as well. So there, no more arguments.

Disclaimer: This combo is a personal favorite, as I run the Coherence II / Cadence.
I am happy with my Krell KPE.
Tell me your cartridge choices and because of their "sound" and "price" and I'll likely predict what phono pre-amps will fit your top and second tiers.

My tops are Mares Connoisseur 2.0 and Aesthetix's Io Signature (NOS tubes) with two PS (NOS tubes). They sound so different and yet are both so right. Maybe ASR or the new Wavestream should be up there but I haven't heard these at home in my system. I have heard excellent ARC Reference, Lamm, Jadis MC-80 MC-200, Spectral and CAT Signature pre-amps. But, the Aesthetix's Io Signature is my love.

My second tier would be a Vendetta 2c or Manley Steelhead.

Best buy may be ther new Wavestream.

Have fun and always enjoy the music first.

Maybe Boulder suggested that Cables do nothing so that you can save your pennies to be able to afford their equipment. Lord knows it is expensive. : )