New Gold Note PH 10


I had posted a question a while ago about hearing from anyone with experience comparing the Gold Note PH 10 vs. the Bryston BP2 or Clear Audio Smart V2 phono preamps.  I never heard anything back about this subject, so I decided to just simply purchase a new PH 10 and compare it against my Clear Audio preamp.  

First impressions:  As much as I love my Clear Audio Smart V2 and in particular its sound stage and imaging qualities, I have to say that the PH 10 was considerably better at detail and picking out the instruments, especially the low and mid range ones.   The Clear Audio seemed to be a little better at the upper end imaging and the sound stage.  But keep in mind this was with the PH 10 new right out of the box.

I was told the PH 10 needs at least 50 hours of run in time to open up, so I used it for two nights and left it on for several days.  After allowing it to settle in and enjoying a lot of music, I still thought the Clear Audio had a leg up on it in the sound stage/imaging department.   So I decided to listen to a well known record to me with excellent recording and a lot of dynamic range on the PH 10, then switch the wires over to the Clear Audio (which I had not heard in several days by this time), and replay the record.   YIKES!!!  it was like a blanket was draped over my speakers.  I had become so gradually accustomed to the new PH 10 that I had not noticed the slight changes going on with the break in.  When the Clear Audio was swapped back into the system (it took me about a minute to do this), it was night and day the differences.

The PH 10 was by far a much more detailed, pronounced signature with a superior sound stage and the imaging was hands down better.  I am using it with the Audio Technica AT20ss vintage MM cartridge which has an extraordinary frequency range of 5-50K hz, so I was able to take advantage of the Enhanced RIAA curve the PH 10 has.  It is pretty outstanding.   Make sure you break things in!   I love this phono preamp.
Cf91c9e5 e6a3 4979 b562 058e70859cc2slimpikins5

I did a review a few weeks back with the AudioNote Kit 2, Alnic 1201, and the PH10. I agree the PH10 is a great bargain for sound quality to cost even approaching the more then twice as expensive Alnic ($3800). I bought the PH10 myself. I'd like to know the difference the optional power supply makes.

 I am using it with the Audio Technica AT20ss vintage MM cartridge which has an extraordinary frequency range of 5-50K hz, so I was able to take advantage of the Enhanced RIAA curve the PH 10 has.

Very nice cartridge! However, i use my PH-10 with MC cartridges.
For MM cartridges i love the JLTi phono stage, some MM must be loaded at 100k Ohm instead of 47k. The Gold Note loading for MM is fixed to 47k which is also ok for some cartridges, but not for all cartridges. 

I've bought the external PSU for my Gold Note and it was a nice updrage. 

I think Gold Note is superb phono stage for LOMC cartridges, but not superb for MM cartridges due a lack of optional loading for MM. 



Actually you can cycle through any of the impedance loading options for use with the MM cartridges.  I found that 47K ohms works best for most with my AT20ss, however on some recordings the 22K ohm setting is warmer.   The main thing with MM carts is the capacitance loading.  I have used multiple settings with the Clear Audio and found that the 250pf input was best by far (but that takes in to account the capacitance of my cables from the cartridge to the phono preamp).   Audio Technica suggests input capacitance settings of 100 to 150 pf for the AT20ss, but when I tried the lower values, it was muddy sounding.  250 pf was the number.   The PH 10 is factory default at 220 pf and that is so close to the 250 pf I was using and happy with that I decided to just buy it and not worry.   Since I didn't have an option to try the Clear Audio at anything between 150 or 250 pf, I don't know what 220 pf would have sounded like in the CA.   The bottom line is; the PH 10 is wonderful at 220 pf and either 22K or 47k ohm input.  It really is outstanding and I'll put my AT20ss up against any MC for high dynamic range music; I suspect the AT20ss will come up on top.   
Oh yes, one other interesting item to keep in mind with the PH 10, which is really important. I have read and heard that some people have had issues with noise in the PH 10. Mine had what I would consider a lot of mid range/upper range 60 hz. noise and I was not happy. Since I have an excellent earth ground system (I am not talking about the ground in the house for the electrical service entrance), it’s a deep in ground copper ground system around the perimeter of the house and it ties back into a lot of high power RF radio transmitters; I decided to run a ground strap from the earth ground over to the PH 10. I suspected I had a ground loop issue going on and after installing a soldered spade connector to the back of the ground terminal on the PH 10, all noise disappeared, I mean gone. I suspect the amplifiers in the PH 10 are very sensitive and can pick up noise easily if not grounded. That’s just a tip for anyone who is having noise issues. The CA did not have this issue.

I would deem this as a typical ground loop problem and the ground I put on was at a different state from the electrical ground.
Chakster, what was the main observation you have by using the PSU 10 power supply?  I have read some say it's a great improvement and others say that it's not worth paying for.
@slimpikins5  hey, i paid really great price for both PH-10 and PSU-10 buying them from official Italian dealer who does not charge VAT when exporting the items outside of EU, that was serious discount for a brand new units with warranty. I think i had amazing deal on Gold Note stuff, so i can not complain. Also i think it's well worth the investment. I don't trust my power outlets and when it comes to power supplies i just need a proper PSU. Actually i was so impressed by the quality of PH-10 so i made my next purchase - the PSU. 

I have ZERO noise with PH-10 with any LOMC cartridges, except for the Ortofon MC-2000 with 0.050 mV output (extremely low output, the lowest ever). The unit is dead quiet, especially with PSU-10. 

Yes, i know that i can replace the resistors, i did that with 2 other phono stages, Vishay Naked Foil resistors are the best ever. 

I just don't want to do that with PH-10, because i use it for LOMC and it's damn good for LOMC and fully adjustable. 

My JLTi phono stage is customized, so i can plug-in any load resistor from the backside (RCA plugs) in parallel to very high internal resistors in my phono stage. I have not find yet any MM that sounds better with higher loading such as 22k Ohm, but unloading the cartridge to 100k Ohm is superior for Victor, Grace, Stanton cartridges from my collection (as i've posted long time ago: 47-100k Ohm is recommended even by the manufacturer for those models of Victor and Grace in the original manual).  

 
I suppose like anything, it's equipment dependent and certain cartridges like specific impedance.  As I stated, the AT20ss seems to enjoy either 47K or 22K ohm input.   I know that if it were to go any higher than 47K, it would be far too bright sounding.  If I have a recording which is too emphasized on the upper end, I drop the loading to 22K and it really mellows out.  That is what is so nice about the PH 10, you can do it with the turn of the front knob.

I suspect the PSU10 power supply is a nice addition for LOMC as you are depending on a lot more amplification due to the low output vs. a MM with 2.7mv which requires far less, hence the signal to noise ratio is very different.
My ex Audio-Technica AT-20Sla impressed me with 100k Ohm load on this phonostage, at that time my main arm was a tube one. Now i have much better resolution with First Watt F2J power amp and Aleph L preamp. It's system dependent, you're right. But Gold Not does not allow to unload MM cartridge using higher numbers that 47k for MM.

In my experience every phono stage is better with 100k Ohm for MM, here is what i've had from cheap to expensive. 

In other words i would like an MM phono stage with optional loading (lower and higher than 47k) - this is a great option and every user can choose what's the best.  
Slim,  it’s fine to use a 22K load resistor on your MM cartridges, but just realize that you are probably rolling off the high frequencies below 20 kHz. Also, I was not sure what you were saying about the ground cable you have around your house. Whether it’s made of copper or not, I would not think it’s a good idea to have Audio equipment share its ground system with RF generators, as you seemed to indicate. Or did I read it wrong? Like Chakster, I have found that many of the best MM cartridges sound best with a 100 K load. But unlike Chakster, I have no problem using a 47K load, when the preamplifier presents that load as a matter of course. Yes, everything is a little bit better at 100 K but it’s not a deal killer to use 47K, in my system, to my ears. Maybe that’s just me being too lazy to get out the soldering iron and change the resistors. I also agree with Chakster that the nude vishay  TXresistors are THE resistors to use for phono loading. Cheaper Caddock TF020 resistors from Michael Percy are a close second.
A couple of comments:

First, Clakster's  AT-20Sla if I recall was a Shibata diamond on an Aluminum cantilever; this was very similar to the AT15s Universal.  I had one of those last summer which I tested against the AT15ss/20ss which is a super Shibata on a Beryllium cantilever and there is quite a difference in upper end performance.  The aluminum item sounds much more mellow, almost muffled in comparison.  Therefore I would understand why a 100K ohm input would be helpful as it opens up the high frequencies more.  Since I am using the AT 20ss which has a huge frequency excursion of 5-50K hz, it's much more detailed on the upper frequencies and when I run it on 47K ohm input, it's superb.  If I were to get any additional boost in upper range by going to 100K ohms, I think it would not be a good match at all.  The Audio Technica factory suggested loading for the 20ss is 47k with 100-150 pf.  They are probably assuming some average for capacitance in the audio leads from the cartridge to the amplifier at some average user length which may be 3 to 6 feet.  I am using around 2.5 feet, so my capacitance is lower, hence the 220 pf I have works.

The other comment from Lew pertaining to grounding, I am not using generators.  I have an Amateur Radio station with very extensive antennae and high power amplifiers.  Since one HF antenna I have is a 7 element mono band LogYagi with very high gain and coupled to a 1.5kw amplifier, an excellent ground system is an absolute requirement to avoid RF feedback into the transmitted signal and also avoiding RF burns.  I have a few hundred feet of 1/4 inch diameter solid copper running in damp soil about 8 to 10 feet under ground and this ties back into the 'radio shack'.   I use this same ground to ground the cable TV line which is full of 60 hz. noise and my main audio system.  This is what I connected to from the PH 10 which eliminated all noise from the audio circuit. 

Also, I usually run 47K not 22K.  Only on some recordings do I find the 22K to be preferable, but that is not too many of them.
OH, one other comment on the AT20ss and 47K ohm... I have a NOS stylus installed with probably not much more than 50 hours use.  Its very fresh, so it has a lot of upper end compared to a well used stylus, that probably is playing into some of why I like it at this setting.
Slim
loading MMs is about both C and R.  Optima are different for every cartridge or certainly every brand of cartridge. So for sure I would not say that every single MM cartridge will sound better at 100 K ohms. I have found that my old Grado TLZ and my Grace cartridges definitely do sound better with 100 K load and no added capacitance, over and above the cable capacitance and the input capacitance of the phono stage. Testimony from others like Chakster and Raul leads me to believe that 100 K might be best for the majority of MM cartridges, but certainly I do not know that for a fact.  Also, it’s not only about opening up the high end. The entire audio frequency bandwidth  comes through with a greater clarity for cartridges that prefer 100 K to 47K. Like I said if you keep lowering resistance below 47K there is the risk of rolling off your high frequency response. Even your own testimony suggests that the beneficial effect you perceive at 22K may be related to rolling off hf. Like a tone control.

Thanks for the clarification regarding your grounding system. Even with your more detailed description, however, I am not sure it’s a good idea to attach your phono stage ground and your general audio ground to the ground system you use for your other devices. I guess only your experience can vouch for that.
I've mention At 20SLa just because it is the closest to your SS which must be better )never had that one). However, i have AT-ML180 OFC and OCC and both are fantastic with 100k Ohm. Grace F-14, Grace LEVEL II and Victor X-1II are superb at 100k Ohm, but all of them are also OK at 47k Ohm, so no problem with that. All those carts have extremely wide frequensy response and the most advanced cantilevers/styli. 

I'm just trying to say that adjustable MM phono stage is a good idea, fixed MM phono stage is not as good as adjustable for those who own too many cartridges. 
I totally agree with both of you; adjustable input for MM is critical.  As said above, I have found for the AT20ss the 200 pf range just works out great (again with my audio cables) and the 22K or 47K ohm input is also very nice.  Just that from what I am hearing, I am not sure I'd go much higher than 47K as I can definitely hear a little too much accentuation on the upper range.   I might have to send a note to Italy and inquire if I can get a schematic of the boards and see where I could couple a series 47K resistor in line which would put things up near 100K just for fun.  Or perhaps I could use one of the loading resistors on the input RCA's which might do the same thing.  It could be fun to play with.

As far as grounding goes, I just want to make sure that my ground is a top notch earth ground and no worries, I do not run the audio system while running the on air transmitters :)


BTW Clakster, the AT20ss is really superb, I am not sure anything can touch it. :)


Makes very good sense not to run the audio at the same time you run radio transmitters.  You know what I was getting at. 
Or perhaps I could use one of the loading resistors on the input RCA's which might do the same thing.

No, you can't. But it depends. The reason i asked Joe to modify my JLTi phono stage with 500k Ohm internal resistor, so i can add any lover value in the dedicated pair of RCA plugs on the back. This is how it works if i want 100k Ohm:

The formula for parallel resistors is simple if you have a calculator.

R=(R1*R2)/(R1+R2)

If R1 is 500K and R2 is 100K, then multiply the two. You will get a large value.

Next step, add R1 and R2. You will get a much smaller value.

Now divide the larger value with the smaller value and you will get the final value.

In the above example, it is 500K x 100K = 50,000

And 500K + 100K = 600

Now divide 50,000 by 600 = 83K333 or 83.333K if you prefer.

If the value of the loading is way under 500K or 1M, then the value in the
loading plug will completely dominate.

I would not be surprised if my transmitters cause interference with the audio system and vice versa, if I were to play my music as loud as I usually do, I know it would interfere with my transmitted signal :)  And it's illegal to transmit any music over amateur radio frequencies as they are not broadcast bands.   
I will send an inquiry off to Gold Note to ask about the idea of increasing the loading to 100K for MM and see if there is a simple solution to trying it without getting into the guts of the unit.

@slimpikins5 did you buy your PH10 new and get one of the updated lower noise units? I hear it's 12db lower in noise than the original.
@slimpikins5 I think Gold Note should just make a an new revision with an MM 100k ohm loading feuture, it has so many options already , why not just add this one.
They are more concerned about capacitance options for MM than an additional 100K load option (which is not widely popular).

There was an early bunch of PH-10, then the regular production (which i have, serial #58009) and then they blabling something about new version in the future.

The original current production PH-10 is DEAD QUIET phono stage and not noisy at all. With external PSU-10 it’s absolutely amazing.

Of cause anyone can screw up the PH-10 to locate 47k Ohm resistors to replace them with 100k Ohm Vishay Naked Foil.

But since i alreay have a better MM phono stages (already upgraded with Vishay Resistors) i am using the Gold-Note primary for LOMC cartridges and i love it! I’m happy to use the 47k Ohm MM input on Gold Note PH-10 for my Luxman Toroidal Silver SUT for extremely low impedance MC cartridges (under 3 ohm). My Fidelity-Research FR-7fz on Fidelity-Research FR64fx arm via Luxman SUT to Gold Note's MM input (47k) blew my mind.
To answer the question, yes I have a fairly new PH10, I got it around a month ago, but I am not sure if its the latest version with the lowered noise floor.  That  was not really of interest to me as I was told the improved amplifier section for lower noise was on the MC side, not the MM.  Since I only use the AT20ss MM, I am not too interested in finding the latest model and I got a deal on this one.

On another note, I was e mailing with Maurizio in Italy this morning and he told me that they are indeed coming out with a high power version of the PH10 around June.  It will be called the PH1000 and it will have very extensive adjustments for capacitance loading and Clakster will love this, it will have a whole array of impedance settings for MM from 47k up to 100K including some ranges in between.  It will also have three turntable inputs and balanced XLR inputs.  It will not be a compact size case as the PH10, it will be a full 17 inch width case and will have an option for external power supply, but will have an enhanced internal power supply circuit.   Price?  Gulp, 6000 euros. 

He told me that changing the loading to offer a 100K impedance can be done, but only at the factory as they'd have to change one of the other impedance selections over to the 100K and probably have to write new software for the display to show it.  I am not sure I'd want to send my unit in to have this work done as I am sure it would not be inexpensive and I don't know how it would play with my AT20ss.  But I did suggest that they come out with a PH100, an upgraded version of the PH10 for MM users; he said he'd pass that on to his engineering team.   

User feedback is obviously welcomed by them.  They remind me of Axiom Audio in Canada who loves to work on projects with customers.... I have one sub woofer with a custom DSP algo and a switch to kick it in or out and they even engraved the switch positions with my "Bourbon Smooth" for flat and "Gin Gut Punch" for the 6 db boost.    Fun stuff.  In fact they are building me a new amp for my Bryston Model T sub with the "switch" for the DSP algo and a variable phase control as I have on two others from them.  Axiom builds the Bryston speakers to Bryston's specs, so they are the go to guys for experimentation.


Price? Gulp, 6000 euros.

Oops, i'm happy to stay with my PH-10 :) 

@chakster  you stated 
and then they blabling something about new version in the future.

Here is part of an e-mail I received from a dealer direct from GN.

"....The second more radical solution we will introduce since the production of 1st of February 2019 included in the NEW PH-10 will in fact regenerate the negative feedback of the unit reducing the noise a lot 12dB making the MC set-up quite as the MM set-up was!"

 So yes they have updated the very fine sounding PH10 although I have not heard this latest version myself. 


@rsf507 thanks for clarification

upgrade is an endless quest, any LOMC cartridges i have tried with my PH-10 is dead quiet, i mean really all my 10+ (MC) cartridges (with output of 0.15 mV and higher), except for the only one with an output of 0.05 mV (this is the lowest output in existence). So i have no problem with my PH-10 which i bought in the summer 2018. Really don’t even need this 2019 upgrade.
I just picked up a new Musical Surroundings Nova iii phono amp which is $1500 retail and that's without the fancy Linear Power Supply option.  I wanted to try it as it has two input capacitance for MM loadings at 100 and 200 pf, also, it has the 'standard' 47K ohm and 100K ohm.  The PH10 is only a 220 pf fixed capacitance and 47K ohm or 22K.  

I only have around 15 hours on the Nova iii, but with the 100k input on an Audio Technica AT20ss all I can say is wow!   I have tested it at both 100 and 200 pf, both work nicely.  But the 100K input impedance is simply outstanding.  The increase in upper range detail, clarity and smoothness is far better than what I heard with the PH10.  Not to mention a substantial increase in the soundstage and holographic imaging.

I plan on ordering the Linear Power Supply once this is fully broken in as I am told it opens up all of the ranges that much more with further improvements in soundstage/imaging. 
Latest UPDATE:

I got in the Nova III linear power supply and used it for a few weeks. It definitely opened up the upper range, sound stage, imaging to a large degree over the standard as is Nova III. I’d say that I found the Nova III to be superior to the Gold Note PH10 in all aspects except for the mid range. The PH10 has a much more powerful and detailed mid range. I was not happy with the lack luster mids on the Nova III and I was equally unhappy with the lack of lower end/upper end in the PH10 compared to the Nova.

I had read so much good about the Whest phono stages out of London that when I saw a good deal on a used Whest Three Special Edition which comes with a dual mono external power supply (extremely heavy to say the least... like pounds), I bought it! I did an a/b against the Nova III (which I thought was superior to the PH10) and I was blown away. The Whest puts both the Nova and the PH10 to shame in my opinion. It has it all; low end, mids upper range and simply jaw dropping detail. The sound stage and 3D imaging is superb. The Nova and its power supply went back to the dealer and the Whest is a keeper, not looking to make any changes at this point :)

For cost comparison:
PH 10 is around $1600 (I didn’t try it with the optional external power supply)
Nova III is $1500, external power supply adds in another $650
Whest Three SE with the included dual mono high voltage PS is around $4K

The loading on the Whest is fixed at 91pf input capacitance, and the impedance is at 47K ohms. It works wonderfully with my AT20ss MM.  James at Whest suggested that I change out my phono cables which are at 120pf at .7 meter length for a cable with much lower capacitance, such as 50 or so pf. This would dial in the total capacitance to around the 140 to 160 pf range which my AT20ss would really enjoy.
Interesing @slimpikins5
What i’ve noticed about my Gold Note PH-10 is a lack of bass slam compared to my WLM Phonata Reference (a mosfet phono preamp).

Actually i feel the lack a bass using all phono stages in comparison with WLM Phonata with whatever cartridge.

Both the Gold Note PH-10 and my JLTi are great with everything, except the deep bass.

Listening the WLM with Miyabi MC or Grace LEVEL II i become addicted to bass. That phono stage was away for a long time, i got it back with replaced 47k Vishay Naked Foil resistors in MC section (with built-in SUT) , the independent MM section has been upgraded beforw with 100k Vishay.

I have no idea why other phono stages can’t reproduce the bass in such a good way as my WLM. The difference is huge in low register!

I wish to have same bass response on all my phono stages.
WLM was my first serious phono stage and still unbeatable in many aspects, i wonder how many phono stage we should try to find what we like. 

Chakster,

You should try to get your hands on a Whest phono stage; the low end and lower mids are just simply outstanding.  I have never heard such detailed, powerful articulate bass and lower mid range.  And from there up through all the rest of the ranges its just mesmerizing.

I think that if I ever were to sell the Whest Three Special Edition, it would be move up to one of their next higher level offerings as I read that they are even that much more resolving; but the cost is very high.  These are not inexpensive phono stages, however if you were to look at the build quality of the boards and the amount of discrete components used, you would understand why.  Plus they use Clarity Capacitors in their construction which is exactly what Bryston uses and why Bryston gear is so expensive.   I recently picked up a new Bryston PX1 external crossover for my Bryston Model T main speakers which have been modified to the fully active platform and I now use the PX1's.  These things are beasts!  And you should see the build quality.


Great, thanks for the tip (got clarity caps in my zu audio speaker)

Seriously, how many phono stages can reproduce bass very well, not every phono can do that. Gold Note is not special in lower register.   
When I got the PH10 initially, I really liked it; however I was coming up off of a Clearaudio Smart V2, which is a very nice unit, but it’s restrained; what can you expect out of a $700 unit? With time on the PH10, I found that it was better at the mid range and not much different in the upper range/sound stage/imaging. That was what prompted me to try the Nova III which blew away the PH10 in low end bass and upper end. The next move was to try to improve the mid range and retain the low/upper ranges. That motivated me to try the Whest which I have heard so many great things about. It was the best move I made. It has not only as much dynamic low end power as the Nova, but it’s far more detailed and articulate. And that smooth well defined response carries throughout the ranges. I love it.

This has been a very interesting journey over  the past few months and it has given me a healthy appreciation for how some electronic pieces can perform so differently from each other.


Chakster, just to give you an idea of how powerful the bass is; with its beautifully detailed articulation....  My ex-wife who still works for me and runs the business office at a location around 150 meters away, down the hill from my home made a comment to me two nights ago.   She said "I could hear your music down at the office over the sound of the cars passing on the main highway in front.   I was somewhat perplexed as I was not really playing it very loud.  I had my Anthem AVM60 preamp set at around -25db level which is robust, but certainly not blistering and all I had open were the two French doors to the deck.  I said what exactly were you hearing and she said the music and 'that bass'.  It was just pounding.  

I guess that tells the Whest story well :)
 I am getting interested in this phono stage, as a secondary unit because I need more phono inputs. I went to the gold note website to read more about it. There they say that the phono inputs present a fixed capacitance of 330 pF . That seems rather high as a starting point, especially when you consider that the phono cables are likely to add 50 to 100 pF. That’s a fairly high total capacitance load on either an MC or an MM. Any comments? Have any of you owners questioned gold note  about this capacitative load? Also, inside the unit, do they use discrete transistors or integrated circuits? Someone said something somewhere about an optional tube-based output stage. Yet I see nothing about that on their website. Am I just wrong in thinking such a thing exists?
There they say that the phono inputs present a fixed capacitance of 330 pF .


what i can see on their website about inputs is 220pF for both inputs @lewm :


Input sensitivity: from 0.1mV MC to 7.0mV MM

Input impedance: 9 selectable options [10Ω, 22Ω, 47Ω, 100Ω, 220Ω, 470Ω, 1000Ω, 22KΩ, 47KΩ]


*** Input capacitance MM: 220pF ***


Gain: 65dB MC - 45dB MM with 4 options [-3dB, 0dB, +3dB, +6dB]

I see that it says 220pF in the specs, but look at page 9 of the owners manual, in the troubleshooting section. There at the top of the page you will see “330pF”. I agree this is in conflict with the specs. Even 220pF is high-ish before adding capacitances due to the ICs. Of course, please don’t get me wrong, the most important thing is that it sounds good to you and to a great majority of the owners.
I had questioned this variation in specs and sent an e mail to Gold Note back in March.  They clarified the misprint and told me that it's 220pf.   That is still on the high side for a lot of MM carts.  When you add in 5pf for the cable in the tone arm, 50 to 120 pf for the phono interconnect and the input of 220pf  its very high.

My AT20ss likes to see 100 to 150 pf total.   The capacitance makes a huge determination in performance.  It would be nice if they either offered variable settings or fixed it at a low level so that one could make adjustments via the phono cables.

I am surprised that Gold Note has not changed the specs in their listing as they know it is not correct.

 
I have a feeling they add some capacitance in parallel with the input, to prevent oscillation of the input gain device, which is probably a wideband transistor.  And both tubes and solid state devices develop some inherent additional capacitance related to their operation.  Thanks for the clarification.  Do you use your Gold Note with that AT20SS?
Lew, yes I did use it with the PH10.   In fact its all I use!  My AT20ss (which was an AT15ss prior to this past winter when I swapped out the stylus for a NOS AT20ss stylus) has been in use since 1976.  I like it too much to migrate over to any MC carts.  In fact a friend of mine who has an Ortofon  Windfeld Ti recently put an AT15ss with a NOS Stylus I sold to him into service.  He's having a hard time determining if his $4500 Windfeld Ti is better than the old vintage MM :)

I really enjoyed the PH10 a lot.  It had very nice mid range, it was dynamic and very clean.  

The Whest Three doesn't use any capacitors in the output stage I am told and the input is "trimmed" as James says for 91pf on the input.  He suggested that I change out my 120pf phono cable for something along the lines of 50 to 60pf to dial in the total capacitance to near the 150pf range for the AT20ss.   James at Whest is very familiar with the AT20ss, he said it's a "GREAT CARTRIDGE", that is a direct quote.  He loves it and said that its a perfect match up with the Whest Three phono stage; especially if I lower the input capacitance with a input cable change.

A friend of mine sent me a link to some Mogami pro audio cable which is 14pf per foot.  A meter or so of this cable would really dial this in if I have a cable made up for the SME IV tonearm to the 
Reading between the lines, you seem to be saying that despite the high capacitance at the input of the gold note, you are very happy with the combination of the AT20SS with a gold note . It would be interesting to see if you like the combination of AT20 SS and the whest phono stage better. Or to learn how it changes the total balance.

I own several expensive low output MC cartridges and several rare vintage moving magnet and moving iron type cartridges. Price, technology, and year of manufacture  are not guidelines to sonic excellence. If I were moving to a deserted island and could take only one cartridge, it would probably be one of the older vintage models.
Actually I was 'sort of happy' with the Gold Note.  The Gold Note had some software control issues in terms of the relays controlling the Gain and Loading settings.   I was told by the factory to do a firmware update which came out late spring.  I honestly didn't wish to deal with this as I wanted something much more simple to keep in operation.   Plus I found the Gold Note in my system tended to have ground loop issues, which I did eliminate with experimentation, but again I am looking for simple.

As far as performance goes, the Gold Note has a very nice mid range, but compared to the Whest Three with its outboard power supply and dual mono power line feeds (each is a 5 conductor XLR), there is no comparison.... the Whest is hands down far better.   The Gold Note cannot compete with the Whest in terms of low end dynamic output and the upper end is far smoother with a substantial advantage in sound stage and 3D imaging.   The mid range in the Whest is also excellent; so in essence, it has it all.   In addition, the Whest has a very pronounced superior level of detail.   I am very anxious to try out some new low capacitance phono cables shortly just to hear what that does.   


As far as noise goes, the Whest is extremely quiet, I don't even know if it is on when I switch over to the phono input on the system.  The Gold Note was not nearly as quiet.  But you pay for all of this as the Whest is almost 3 times the price point; but in my eyes well worth the cost.
Exactly which of the many versions of the west phono stage do you have? I know it is a Whest three, but there seems to be more than one version of the three. I am open minded to the whest , as well as to the gold note. If I were to go ahead and make a purchase.
@lewm you can buy two, compare them, return one and report which one you like the most, haha :)) 
Lew,

There is technically only one version of the Whest Three SE.  I know that they have a special "rare" version which is a souped up Three SE and they add the 40 RDT SE front end to it.  But that is even more money.

If you get the regular Whest Three SE, it comes standard with the  HVDM high voltage dual mono power supply with the two XLR interconnects.  They also include some RCA input interconnects with it.  It runs around $4K US dollars new.
Funny you mention the outboard PS.  One of my longstanding beefs with the Whest stages is that they seemed to lack an outboard supply, which to me is a must, for the price range inhabited by the upper level Whest products.  In fact, I just took a look on Hi-Fi Shark.  There are two 30RDT SEs for sale.  One shows the rear view, which shows an IEC input for an AC cord on the back of the chassis, as well as a rocker type power switch.  This suggests there is no outboard supply, despite the fact that you say there is, even for the less expensive 3 (and I do believe you).  But I am confused by Whest product line.  What am I looking at?
Chakster, Obviously, I won't be buying BOTH a Gold Note and a Whest.  In fact, I own an old Silvaweld top of the line phono stage (550SWH, I think) that I modified, probably too much.  That's probably what I will use as an extra MM phono stage, if it sounds decent.  As you may know, Silvaweld was designed and manufactured by Mr Park in Korea, the same person now behind Allnic products.  Philosophically, the Silvaweld phono is different from the Allnic phono stages, in that it uses an FET for MC gain, not a built in SUT.  But I want it for MM.
The 30RDT SE is a discontinued phono preamp.  It was replaced this year by the 40RDT SE.  The Whest Three SE is the model just below the 40RDT SE and its a 2/3 sized chassis vs. the full rack width of the upper end Whest units.  The upper end units have a dedicated compartment with a divider between the main boards and the toroid transformer.  The Three has its own dedicated chassis with the transformer, which I like and I like the 2/3 main unit as it's easier to fit on my shelving. 

From what I read, there is no question that the upper end Whest unite like the 40RDT SE, Titan Pro, Reference VI are very special items.  The Reference is a dual mono pair of chassis phono preamps.   I have to assume that they have done their design homework on making sure the single chassis designs work as well as independent preamps and power supplies as Whest has such a good reputation.
Very interesting how this thread has developed.
I have had my ph10 for a couple years now, love the convenience but I know there is better out there.
Couple people have suggested Whest and now I read similar here.

Only have a couple older mm carts, at15ss and Shure ml140he and newer mc carts but I have always thought the one area lacking a little was bass and bass definition,
You should try the external power supply for the PH10. It gives you more refinement, control and detail. Bass definition is much better but not saying it will give you more slam. IMHO I'm happy with the bass.
And that is the problem I have been having for over a year.... Do I blow another grand on a PS or put that grand and the proceeds of sale of ph10 towards a Whest?

Still not convinced 1k on a PS is going to make THAT much difference.....