Review: DIY 'Elliott Sound Products' P06 Phono Preamp for MM phono cartr Preamplifier
I'm not sure if anyone has thus far included reviews for any DIY stuff, so perhaps it's a first. Some years ago I happened about an Australian website called 'Elliott Sound Products' at www.sound.au.com whilst looking for a high quality phono preamp for moving magnet cartridges to build. Well I found what I was looking for in the form of the ESP P06 design. In the twenty odd years since I've got back into vinyl in a big way I've built several simple phono stages ranging between the ubiquitous simple single op amp based full feedback designs to a rather interesting full passive design, and of course my beloved ESP P06 phono stages. Along the way I've also built numerous other ESP designs including the various versions of the P05 regulated split rail power supply, several P88 stereo line preamps, a P99 'sub bass' filter module and a P19 'chip' audio amplifier good for around 50 watts per channel, which is my main system stereo amplifier.
Elliott Sound Products have a excellent reputation amongst DIY people around the world, and for excellent reason, the ESP designs are excellent in just about every way. Back to the story, the ESP P06 phono stage was my first ESP project and after seeing the circuit design which is freely available on the ESP website, I quickly assembled a working prototype on a piece of spare copper clad circuit board material. It worked first off and I was stunned at the very high level of sonic performance. I initially used two 12 volt gel cells to power it. It's performance was better than anything I had previously used including the high quality phono stage in my well regarded integrated amp as well as any of my previous phono stage DIY efforts.
After this first effort, I went ahead and bought the supplied ESP circuit board and power supply module and built the two modules with complete success! And that was just the start! Apart from the sheer pleasure of building one's own high quality audio electronics gear, the educational aspect is just as valuable. Indeed, although I have been a long term electronic enthusiast, building the ESP P06 design has taught me a great deal more about DIY construction, and in any case full assembly instructions that are provided on his website after board purchase are very thorough. The pre-made circuit boards for many of the ESP designs can be purchased, although assembly of the circuit(s) is entirely the constructor's responsibility.
I built my P06 using parts purchased from the usual parts suppliers in this country, but the best quality I could obtain, for example, high quality metal film resistors, high quality MKT capacitors, connectors and all the other required parts. In the end, the overall cost was much less than equivalent quality commercial units. Yes, I had to build it, but that was most of the fun!
The P06 design: The ESP design is a full op amp based circuit, as are most of the ESP designs, but this phono preamp uses a combination of split passive treble EQ and active EQ for the bass end. This combination sounds marvellous. Although the circuit looks deceptively simple, sonically it is superb and I never tire of the sound of my P06's. It's the most 'open' sounding phono stage I've ever used and the overall stage gain can be easily modified to accommodate any typical moving magnet cartridge. So in the end if you'd like to try DIY and you can solder well and follow straightforward instructions, then please consider this DIY project. http://sound.westhost.com/project06.htm An image of the P06 circuit off the ESP website is included.
Other ESP DIY components (P88, P05A, P99, P19 etc)
NAD integrated amplifier.