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.

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?