You can find all-tube MC phonos which can handle LOMC without any kind of SUT or SS front end, just pure tubes, from China. Look at AliExpress. I bought a specific unit the Lite Audio LS26 which was a little under $400. Supposedly it's clone of an old brand name like CAT or Marantz with a high-gain tube section graphed on Frankenstein style. It had enough gain for my TA Zeus LOMC...but it was very noisy and picked up microphonics like crazy. I had put weights on the top case, Herbie tube rings and rubber footers under the chassis to get that under control. I also had to keep it well away from other electronics or it might pick up a hum. It worked though. I ended up just getting a SUT (Hashimoto 20x built by someone on eBay) because the noise level was a little too much. There's a bunch more like this on AliExpress, just search for phono preamplifier and you'll find them.
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Funny, I never ran this experiment so I ran this experiment just for you! I became curious as well.
7AM = volume full off
11AM = low tube rush
12 noon = moderate tube rush
I never turn the volume pass 9:30...it is just too loud. This system serves as my daily system. Above the music room is my office. There is a staircase across from the music room and the first room on the second floor landing area is my office. I turn the line amp between 8:30AM to 9, and this is more than loud enough to work at my computer workstation and listen to music. Hope this provides a little bit of reference on volume levels for this system. Hence ... I never turn line amp past 10AM...and never heard the tube rush on this unit...it is just way too loud inside my house, and I used to go to Van Halen concerts.
The speakers are Siegfried Linkwitz’s LX Mini’s + 2’s:
I have been mostly a bipolar speaker person most of my life (Maggie IIs, Maggie Tympanies, and Acoustat 1 +1s). Stringed instruments (which I play piano and my wife playing the violin) just seemed to do a better job reproducing those instruments. I short lived with Acoustats because I liked how these just "soared" into infinity and beyond, but the cost was too high not hearing the lower octaves of piano...I screwed around with trying to match subs...never liking the outcome....to my ears. Fast forward 25 years....
I attended the San Francisco Burning Amp and heard these LX Minis speakers....I was sold. The holographic "disappearing" act that everyone talks about with these speakers, my opinion, is twofold: (1) the forward / back firing mid/tweeter on top throws an incredible soaring high enabling instruments such as chimes, triangles, finger cymbals to fall gracefully in position. If you play this Sheffield Labs’ album
and listen to the West Side Story...just listen to the triangles...unbelievable on any playback speaker system but very special on the LX Mini’s. My son, who plays percussion (including had to play triangles with the marimba, xylophone)....was pretty blown away with this as well. The brass, piano, etc. are very natural sounding that you would expect to hear in a live setting.
(2) The upward firing mid lower Seas woofer dispersing that 360 sounds contributes to that holographic disappearing act.
The LX Mini stage front to back instrument position and not just side to side... very well. That’s all I can say about that relative to the Mags. Not ideal for all listening music genres, but now that I play classical and jazz piano...this is really ideal setup...and the last in my lifetime.
The active analog crossover for this is the Nelson Pass / Linkwitz collaboration piece, here:
The LX Magic crossover, further down, on that page, is what I am using now. I previously had the Nelson Pass ASP, which did not have the subwoofer. I built that one and then decided to add the woofer crossover and Seas woofer because I felt the lowest two octaves on the piano didn’t have the "growl" I wanted to hear. In piano, many pianists like the Steinway growl (lowest octave)..my Yamaha is no Steinway, but it does have a tiny bit of growl...I wanted to hear more of that growl...the sub woofer (with Pass / Linkwitz specifically matching all the speakers to this active analog crossover)...presents this piano growl very nicely. George Winston, who plays a Steinway, and just hammers the keys (his style as seen in YouTube videos)...presents this growl... a lot of Sergei Rachmaninoff solo pieces surface this as well..very aggressive playing.
Sheffield Labs has a special place in my heart...I didn’t realize when I was in college and doing some computer work at Sheffield Labs how seminal Mayorga’s work was to high end direct to disk recording and how talented his chops were. Sheffield gave me the James Newton Howard and Friends CD (awesome percussion btw) and Dave Grusin’s Discovered Again! CDs...that led to my interest in audio.
Thank you so much for doing that experiment on my behalf, in regards to the tube rush from your phono stage. That was very kind and thoughtful of you to do :)
Your speakers are very interesting indeed. I can sense your love of music! You and I have that in common. I am also a musician... playing both the tenor and bass trombones in jazz venues and my Montagnana cello in classical settings. Music is great for the soul :)
Thanks again for your experiment!
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