Marantz PH-22 Music Link phono stage arrived today
A week or so ago I was asking if anybody knew anything about this Marantz PH-22 phono stage. It was part of their highly regarded Music Link series of components from the early 1990's. I posted here and a couple of other forums, and found very little information about it, other than it was a nice piece of equipment, and that it is fairly rare.
It arrived today, and I have been listening to it for several hours. It is considerably better sounding than the phono stages in either of my two full featured preamps. Most noticeably is much better imaging. The instruments all have a distinct place in the soundstage, especially in small group recordings. The clarity and balance between the different instruments is also better. I am able to hear some instruments that I never knew were there on some of my reference recordings. This is probably because of the greater separation in the soundstage. Even my older, worn out classic jazz records sound better, with less intrusive background noise.
Since it did not come with a manual and I have no specs for it, I am not certain of the exact function of the front panel switches. It has inputs for two turntables, one labeled MM and one MC. The front panel has a 4-position switch with both High and Low for each of the MM and the MC inputs. It also has another 4-position EQ switch.
I first tried it on the high MM setting and listened at all of the 4 different EQ positions. Position 1 sounded the best, as each succeeding position added more highs to the point where there was too much sibilance on vocals and overall harshness. This is with my Ortofon VMS 30 MKII cartridge. I then changed the phono cord to the MC inputs and tried the high MC setting. I was hoping that this would work as I am currently using two turntables with MM cartridges. It worked fine, but the output level was just slightly less than the high MM setting. However, there was a huge difference in the EQ settings on the MC position, compared to the MM setting. The 4th setting was the best sounding, and the 1st and 2nd settings were not usable at all because the sound was tilted far too much towards the bass frequencies. Is this because MC cartridges are typically weaker in the bass and therefore need some boost?
Anyway, in the MM setting the 1st EQ position is best, and in the MC setting the 4th EQ position sounds the best.
The unit mutes the sound for a couple of seconds whenever any of the switch positions are changed, which is a nice feature. This keeps any loud pops, etc. from getting to the speakers. Also, I think that the phono stage has a standby setting. When the unit is plugged in and the power switch is "off" the power light still is lit up, but not as brightly as when the power switch is on.
I would like some opinions on one thing I noticed. I also tried the Low MC setting with my MM cartridge. Since the High MC setting was working great, I expected the Low MC setting to have a lot more gain and I turned the volume knob way down on my preamp. What I actually heard, though, was a much lower level of volume. This is opposite from what I expected. I thought that the Low MC position would need to boost the signal more, to compensate for a low output MC cartridge, so I expected greater volume when using a MM cartridge.
Any thoughts on this would be helpful. I have no MC cartridges at this time to try on the PH-22.
I am very pleased with the quality of this phono stage.