A tube phono just might be the cure!
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I’m also interested in finding the holy grail phono stage. When it comes speakers, amps, turntables, etc. I have it all pretty much covered, or at least know where I want to go next.
But a phono preamplifier is the absolute hardest component to get right, IMO. And that’s mostly because just about all of them on the market are terrible. And tubes are definitely not the answer. Mushy bass. And incredibly bright if 6922 tubes are used.
I own and use Parasound JC3, Goldmund Mimesis 7PH, and Micromega MyGroov. All are great, but I still somehow walk away feeling like they’re the weakest link somehow.
I know @rauliruegas uses his own DIY contraption. But maybe some of the other regulars here can list what they like to use, or some of the better stages that they’ve heard?
John (Jmcgrogan2) has listed three outstanding phono stages. However while I have been delighted with my Herron VTPH-2, which like several other members here I use in conjunction with an ~$1K Audio Technica AT-ART9 cartridge, I’m highly doubtful that it (or its similar successor the VTPH-2a) would be a suitable match for your Lyngdorf 2170 in terms of impedance compatibility.
The Herron phono stages provide only unbalanced outputs. The unbalanced input impedance of your 2170 does not appear to be specified, and I couldn’t find any published measurements for it. However the balanced input impedance of the 2170 is spec’d at a very low 10K, which suggests that the unbalanced input impedance may be even lower, very possibly 5K. The manuals for the VTPH-2 and VTPH-2a recommend that optimal loading of their outputs is 50K or more, although by various accounts values as low as 25K or 30K may also be acceptable for most systems and most listeners.
A likely consequence of that kind of impedance mismatch, btw, would be mushy bass, as was attributed in the post just above to tube-based phono stages generally. But I and I’m pretty certain all of the numerous other members here who use the Herron phono stage would absolutely not characterize it as having mushy bass, **provided** that it is used to drive a preamp or integrated amp having suitably high input impedance.
The Allnic’s output impedance is spec’d as being a fairly high 1.2K, which I would feel pretty certain would also not be a suitable match for the 2170 if the design has capacitively coupled outputs. The Allnic might have transformer coupled outputs, though (I’m not sure about that), in which case a 5K input impedance **might** be acceptable, although again I’d be doubtful.
Based on its specs, the Chinook should have no problem in terms of impedance compatibility, however. I have no personal experience with the Chinook, though, and so I can’t comment on its sonics beyond my awareness that it has an excellent reputation.
Best of luck as you proceed.
I was genuinely hoping you would chime in because when it comes to impedance matching etc, you always seem to have the answers.
And just maybe you help save me wasting time and dollars and ultimately being dissapointed.
So Chinook should be a good impedance match.
I need then look for other possibilities that are in the same range.
I own a K&K Audio Trio phono preamplifier and am very happy with it. Not sure if Kevin is still producing these at the moment but well worth looking into. In fact his site is worth looking into if you haven’t already.
FWIW, I've heard the Herron in another system I was very familiar with and I think the Trio has a more organic sonic signature.
I was kind of in the same boat. Upgraded to the project phono box RS and it was great! Clean, clear, quiet, just good. But somehow a bit “dry” and maybe analytical.
I put put in a chinook instead. Now it has a sort of wow factor. Still clean and quiet, but just more exciting, engaging and interesting. My GF and I were just commenting last night how great it sounds, and how we didn’t want to turn it off and go to bed.
I recommend the chinook, or something else that’s lively for you to try.
@uberwaltz, I'm using the 'little giant killer' the Parks Audio Budgie Tube Phono preamplifier.
And @invictus005, I pair the above phono pre with 2 NOS Telefunken E88CC/6922’s which has given me some of the the sweetest sound I've ever heard coming from a phono pre and not mushy or bright at all.
And this was after selling my Pro-Ject Phono Box RS MM/MC and the companion Pro-Ject battery powered Power Box RS power supply.
I also have to say that I also upgraded my headshell and tonare wire and hard wired an upgraded the phono interconnect out also which give me an ear tweak too! Just saying.
All I could find from the manual:
GOLD NOTE PH-10
Analogue inputs: 2 separate independent stereo RCA
Input sensitivity: 0.1mV MC up to 7.0mV MM
Input impedance: 9 selectable options [10Ω 22Ω 47Ω 100Ω 220Ω 470Ω 1000Ω 22KΩ 47KΩ ]
Gain: 65dB MC - 45dB MM with 4 options [-3dB 0dB +3dB +6dB]
Signal to noise ratio: -102dB
Dynamic response: 122dB
Output impedance: 500Ω
Phase response: linear phase, absolute phase inverted "
That is probably what you’ve already read though..
On page 13 (pdf page 8) of the manual for the VTPH-2A, near the upper right-hand corner, the following statement appears:
We recommend that the VTPH-2A be used with a line stage having an input impedance of 50,000 ohms or higher for optimum performance.If as I suspect the input impedance of the 2170’s unbalanced analog inputs is in the area of 5K to 10K, or even if it is somewhat higher, it will not be a good match for the majority of tube-based phono stages. There are some exceptions, of course, including the Chinook for which the website description recommends a minimum load of 2.5K, and specifies a nominal output impedance of 91 ohms (which is much lower than is typical for a tube-based phono stage).
More generally, you’ve probably seen a rule of thumb guideline stated that to assure impedance compatibility of a line-level interface the input impedance of the destination component should be 10x or more greater than the output impedance of the component providing the signal. What is often not stated, unfortunately, is that the 10x ratio should be applied at the frequency for which the output impedance of the component providing the signal is highest. Most output impedance specs are based on a mid-range frequency such as 1 kHz. It is very common for the line-level outputs of tube-based components to have output impedances at deep bass frequencies that are much higher than that specified value, often 2K or 3K or even 4K ohms. That rise at low frequencies results from the output coupling capacitor that is used in the majority of tube-based source components and preamps (and also in some solid state preamps). The impedance of a capacitor increases as frequency decreases.
So in the case of a line-level output supplied by a tube-based component the highest output impedance within the audible frequency range often occurs at 20 Hz. If Stereophile has reviewed the component the measurements section of the review will usually indicate that output impedance. If that impedance is not known, and is not indicated in published measurements, then to be safe a considerably higher ratio than 10x should be applied to the specified nominal output impedance, IMO something like 50x or 75x.
Also, to clarify a common misconception I should add that failing to meet that guideline does not always mean that there will be an impedance compatibility problem. It depends on how much **variation** there is in the output impedance over the frequency range. But meeting that guideline (at all audible frequencies) assures that there won’t be an impedance compatibility problem. In this case, though, as I said earlier the majority of tube-based phono stages will almost certainly have problems dealing with a load impedance of 10K or less, and in many cases dealing with even higher load impedances such as 20K or 30K.
Finally, it might be a good idea to contact Lyngdorf and ask them what the unspecified input impedance of the 2170’s unbalanced analog inputs is. Chances are it is very low, since as I mentioned the balanced input impedance is very low, but if that is not the case you would have a much greater number of suitable phono stages to choose among.
Thank you for your patience and time, yes I missed that on the Herron as was just looking at the last page under specs!
So then for example the gold note is listed as having output impedance of 500 so x10 or even x20 to be safe would be between 5 and 10k which should also make it a possible contender in the match up stakes for the 2170.
However I believe you are correct that my next step should be to have Lyngdorf confirm the unbalanced input impedance which could be at odds with the small info gleaned as it actually has two different sets of analog inputs.
One set of 2 single ended inputs come standard and then there is an additional optional analog input module which I had on my amp which carries the balanced set and 2 further sets of single ended inputs so giving me 5 analog inputs in total.
All of the single ended should be the same but you never know.
But again thank you as at least I have something to work off right now and the start of a plan that now does not include wasting money but hopefully getting it right first time.
I saw your post on searching for the Holy Grail phono stage and your belief that most are terrible and that 6922s are bright and tube-based phono stages have mushy bass. Not saying your experiences are wrong as many tube-based components can tend to have mushy bass. I have not had upgraditis for over a decade. That said, I just got a new phono stage (it is being shipped next week).
i will keeep you posted but I upgraded to an Aesthetix IO Eclipse with dual power supplies. I upgraded because my former IO Signature went down (after a decade with no issues). I can say unequivocally that my former IO Signature had fabulous dynamic non-mushy bass and, although only 2 of its 24 tubes were 6922s, the IO was not “bright ” at all.
I’m excited to get the Eclipse with the second power supply - although it takes up serious rack space with three chassis and weighing over 130 pounds which makes it not for everyone. The new phono stage now has 30 tubes so it is probably not the first thought for people just getting into a tubed phono stage - but I’ll keep you posted on whether it approaches Holy Grail status for me.
For reference, I’ll be running it with an SME 30 and SME V tonearm with a Dynavector DRT XV-1s into the Eclipse into a Conrad-Johnson ART III into Lamm M1.1 Ref monos driving Rockport Aquila’s.
Another option that I considered when I was using my first 2170 but never tried...
Using a phono preamp that has a built-in ADC like the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter or the McIntosh MP100.
Instead of having the Lyngdorf doing the ADC from it's own analog inputs, you would run digital out of the two phono amps mentioned above, using their ADCs that are meant solely for a phono analog signal straight into the Lyngdorf's optical/coax inputs, which sound best in my experience.
I have previously used the PS Audio NuWave for about six months, and used it's analog out most of the time which I thought was phenomenal, but was also impressed using it's coax and I2s output into a Wyred4Sound DAC2se.
Just food for thought...or at least an experiment.
While I agree with the suggestions made by jmcgrogan2 I would add the following; if money is not a major concern you might want to move up the phono-stage tube line with the Allnic brand.
Contact Albert Porter (Audiogon member Albertporter) and discuss with him. Not only is he also very knowledgeable about various high-end audio equipment but he is the North American Distributor for Allnic. I believe he can give you some additional good advice without trying to sell you on a particular product.
I will give you an idea to audition MM/MC phono stage designed by Allen Wright. First 4 versions were actually not cheap and you can read review here, but the latest two versions are cheaper. Allen Wright is no longer with us, but his partner J.Rasmussen is responsible for the latest versions of this beautifull phono stage.
" The name denotes that this is a Solid State device using something that is called Diamond Transistor Theory, rarely used on High-End Audio products. The most simple and linear audio voltage amplification device is a Vacuum Triode which consists of three electrodes only. They are the Grid (input), Cathode (grounding) and Anode (output). On the other hand, the Solid State Transistor is a current device but is nowhere near as linear as the Triode. It consists of Base (input), Emitter (grounding) and Collector (output). The idea behind a Diamond Transistor is actually a composite circuit that emulates the near perfect and linear Transistor as a current device with the same three electrodes in the circuit then becomes the equivalent of the Base, Emitter and Collector followed by a Unity Gain Buffer."
-Inputs for both Moving Coil and Moving Magnet cartridges
-Load Sockets (for RCA plug resistors) to Optimise Cartridge Performance
-Two Gain Levels, marked MC (Moving Coil) and MM (Moving Magnet)
John (Jmcgrogan2), thanks very much for the nice words.
Regarding the Gold Note PH-10, as you mentioned it isn’t clear if the specified output impedance pertains to the balanced outputs or the unbalanced outputs or both. In addition, the website description and the brochure it links to state that the output impedance is 50 ohms, while the manual says 500 ohms. The manual also indicates that an optional tube-based output stage is available, as well as an optional external tube-based output stage. Perhaps the 500 ohm figure pertains to those options.
But even if the output impedance of the solid state output stage that is apparently standard is 500 ohms, chances are it does not have the substantial rise in output impedance (to perhaps several thousand ohms) that would result in the deep bass region from the coupling capacitor that is often used with tube-based output stages. Given that, the specified nominal impedance probably isn’t greatly different than the maximum output impedance within the audible frequency range, and therefore I suspect that a 10x ratio applied to that figure would provide results that are reasonably good if perhaps a bit marginal. Also, given the ambiguity in the specifications it seems quite possible that the balanced output impedance may be 1K, resulting in the same 10x ratio when connected to the 10K input impedance of the 2170’s balanced inputs. And of course Robelvick reported fine results with that configuration, although we don’t know for sure if the nominal output impedance involved is 50 ohms, 100 ohms, 500 ohms, or 1000 ohms.
The bottom line, IMO: The PH-10 in its standard configuration (i.e., without either of the tube-based output stage options) would most likely be a reasonable choice in terms of impedance compatibility, whether connected balanced or unbalanced.
I also own a Herron VTPH-2a and am more than satisfied. But impedance matching is critical at every point in the chain. I'm using all Herron Audio equipment, so it doesn't make any difference for me.
My suggestion is to call Keith Herron and open a discussion. I have never known him to place sales above honest answers. If his equipment won't work with yours, he will say so. Better to tell it like it is than end up with a dissatisfied customer.
Well, nothing says it but being able to evaluate the piece in one’s own system.
I can say that from the times I’ve spent talking/listening with Kevin. he’s the real deal. He’s a trained scientist who takes that approach to his designs. He does not like the smoozing most manufacturers do to have professional reviewers listen to his products. Additionally, he has a distaste for the markup on most high -end products. He prices his products accordingly. His Maxxed-Out Phono was compared to products costing twice as much. By his own admission, on his site, the Trio is very close to the Maxxed-Out.
One more thing... he sets aside Sundays for a building class for people who have purchased his (kits) to come over and build them. ( This is at his home.) Common' who else does this kind of one on one personal customer service? No One!
Avoid his products to your own detriment.
My kinda guy, slaw. Another like him is Roger Modjeski of Music Reference. He now teaches a class in Audio Engineering in Berkeley/Oakland, where he has moved his operation (from beautiful Santa Barbara). You can build your own tube power amp while learning. He is a staunch defender of the 6DJ8 tube (almost identical to the 6922, just a higher voltage rating I believe), which he feels in unfairly maligned.
BTW..This class (no charge) benefits him in that it allows him a personal connection to get real time feedback from his customers..this in turn benefits us all
He has a dedicated site/thread on audio asylum if you are unaware........
Kevin’s tt is a Nottingham. I never asked him which model... he has a 12" arm/Benz LP cart.
This should be of great interest to you?
I benefit none from this. I just have very strong feelings.