Whest MC REF V - my new christmas present

Well I took the plunge and ordered the new MC REF V version 4.
I had one in my system for about a week and was totally bowled over with just how it plays. Yes it's MUCH better than the RDT Special Edition in every area but what I found is that the 30R and RDT are related sound-wise, whereas the RDT Special Edition is MORE related to the MC REF V.

After having the unit in for a week and experiencing real 'music' I got in contact with James at Whest Audio. He put me on to this - his distributor in Singapore (Modular Audio) has just taken delivery of the MC REF V MK4 and this is what they had to say:

'I am very happy to tell you the MC Ref V sounded awesome even I am at the early stage of run-in. Many customers were dropping jaws how a phonostage could transform our showroom main system. Compare to the RDT, it is certainly a few steps up in terms of sonic qualities. To me, I felt it is
really organic and as near as one could get from the original masters. This is the best phono stage I have heard so far - and in my years of playing, I've heard most of the the best brands out there. Two thumbs up!'

I felt pretty much the same thing. It's more organic and 'real' and seems to just get out of the way. Even with my current setup, the performance upgrade is a huge step up. Far bigger than I thought possible. It has made me realise that I have been upgrading cartridges much sooner than I needed to! I could have stayed with my old Linn Troika and still ended up with a great sound. The MC REF V really brings out the very best of what you have - and more.

It should be with me in about 3 weeks, I can't wait.
Please be sure to post results once you have received and break in the phono stage.
What does your system consist of?
Yikes! 20K list. Did you consider the PS.30RDT before leaping up to the MC REF V? If so, how do those two compare?
Do you know the difference between the mark 3 and the mark 4? I have been lucky to have the Ref V mark 3 for 4 months now. Absolutely over the moon with the purchase. In fact its the most expensive piece of equipment in my system, but the benefits it gives to vinyl reproduction is sublime.

The only disappointment was when i registered the unit for warranty, i got an email from James saying that a new model was coming out and that he could upgrade it for me for $$$$$$

Ouch!!!! i see the new price is $19950!!!!! I wonder if that is just a marketing gimmick or that is the real price.

A $8000 jump in price is quite extreme.
Dcarol, which version of the Ref V did you have at home? How did you obtain it?
Is there any good information available on how the various Whest phono stages differ from one another? It would interest me to know what is inside a $20K phono stage that justifies such pricing. I do think it's fair also to charge for brilliance in design, however, if it is brilliant.
My compliments .. Dcarol!

I just bought the PS30 RDT SE and I couldn't be happier!
I can't imagine what can do a MC Ref
Having had the PS30 RDT for one year I have found the SE version a great step above the normal one.. that's already a great phono stage for the money.

Yikes!!! $20000!! Is that what it is in the US? It's £9900 in the UK including VAT.

I have the PS.30RDT Special Edition which will find it's way to my second system. I just sold my PS.30RDT to a friend who sold his Manley Steelhead to finance the purchase....love the way audio travels around.

Your unit must be older than a 4 months old as the MK3 was taken off the market about 7 months ago. The new MK4 has just come out. The differences are the new discrete input section, with higher operating voltages throughout and the new hand built output cap which is a Whest/ClarityCAP collaboration. I looked at buying a MK3 last year but other stuff (holidays) got in the way.

The inside of each unit is identical and is PACKED with electronics. So you get 2 mono channels each with it's own integrated power supply.

Believe me..it's worth £10000 and most probably worth £15000. I have an Ortofon A90 that cost me £3400 which is about 1/3rd of the MC REF V cost...now that looks expensive in comparison!

The Whest website is singularly uninformative as to what goes into their products, except to intimate that they use bipolar transistors, "high voltage", "high current", and lots of voltage regulators (20 in the case of the Ref V). Also, they use Clarity caps, which are reported by others to be superb metallized film caps. No fancy hyper-expensive teflons or oil caps. Others whom I respect also tell me that bipolars are better sounding for phono amplification than are MOSFETs or JFETs. The RDTse, or whatever it's called, appears to be more useful for high output cartridges, as its gain can be reduced to 40db, whereas the Ref V minimum gain is 53db, aimed at low output MC cartridges.

Dcarol, You say the power supply is "integrated". Does this mean that the PS is on the same mono chassis as the phono circuit it supplies, in the case of the Ref V? Is the same true of the RDT, meaning there is no separated outboard PS chassis? (The photos on the website imply that this is the case, since no PS chassis is shown for either unit.)

Whest gets a lot of favorable comment, and I am interested in learning more.
Lewm ..inside the RDT and SE .. and I suspect also the PS30R .. there is a metal plate as a "bulkhead" that separate or divide the transformers area from the phono mother board area.
I'not a great english linquist and I apologize for this .. but I guess you understood what I tried to explain
My unit was the only one in Australia, the manufacturer date was Oct 2009.

What was the UK price of the Mk 3.

I still find it hard to believe that they have increased the already expensive price by 67%!!!!
"It's £9900 in the UK including VAT."

That's £8425 w/o VAT which equates to $13230 in the US at current exhange rates. The US distributor is marking this up by 50% over the UK retail price. Nice.
As if there isn't enough mark up already !!
The % mark-up by the importer is not unusual. Japanese-made phono gear is often subjected to the same treatment. Some Japanese cartridges can be bought in Tokyo for less than half their cost here in the US, with no special effort required. It remains to be seen whether or not the market will tolerate the pricing of the Ref V, especially if the amount of the mark-up becomes generally known.
I understand that everyone’s in business and must make money but 50% seems high. Considering that the distributor doesn’t pay retail for his product, the spread is even higher. It’s situations like this that make enterprising souls look for alternatives.

A quick search produced several outlets where one can buy these at the UK price. Some listed both the 230V & 110V versions so they must be aware of the pricing difference between here & the UK and are looking to capitalize on it.
Maybe it's a ploy where the dealer will sell it for $12,000 thus making it seem like you have purchased a bargain. It works!!!!

Mind you I am not degrading the mc ref. It's one of my best purchases. Also by making the new pricing $20k, I probably make a handsome profit if I ever decide to sell.

Btw the Uk pricing, is it for the old ref v mk 3? Some of the uk websites look like they have not been updated.
Dcarol, which version did you audition? I know you are getting the mk 4
Hey all. I think the problem as I see it with world pricing is the crazy exchange rates and the changes it has gone through since year 2008. All products no matter what go through dealers and distributors so the markups and margins are there. The system is the system. Walmart buy toothpaste for $0.50c and sell it on for $1.95...no one ever says anything about that YET these guys make the audio dealers looks like kids playing at making money!

Anyway back to my MC REF V. I listen to the new MK4 version. I had a look inside one of the channels (both are identical). It's very full inside. The main circuit board takes up about 80% of the case width. Then there are 2 gold coloured metal panels and a transformer. The main board has 20 cigarette sized yellow boards lined up like soldiers. They look impressive and in the middle is a whole bunch of transistors, resistors and capacitors. The Whest/Clarity cap is of the polypropylene type and has a Whest logo on. The discrete input module you cannot miss as this is BIG and sits proud at the other end. The build is impressive. The chassis is the same 'type' of chassis as in the PS.30RDT but not identical. The chassis design again is interesting and if any of you have looked at a 30RDT you'll know what I mean. It looks ordinary until you pick it up. It doesn't flex! The whole chassis is CNC machined and then hand welded to strengthen it - check out Stereotimes review of the 30 RDT as he talks about the chassis a bit. Like the 30RDT the MC REF V uses an internal PCB suspension. The way to tell the difference between MK3 and Mk4 is by the red writing on the front panel and the innards.


I don't think it is unreasonable at this level to charge $$$$ to strip down your unit, replace a whole load of parts, add a new discrete stage, test it for 72 hours and send it back with a new warranty! Krell, Audio research, Levinson etc would just say - buy the new model! That means taking a hit when you sell it and then taking a bigger hit buying one of there new ones. It's cheaper to do it the other way.

I did contact Whest today to see how things are going - getting there I was told. I won't try to rush them. But 2 good things came from the call: 1. There is a new website coming with loads of info and images AND 2. check this out:


Interestingly the guy commented on the supplied mains cable. I would rather choose my own than have the manufacturer put in a $$$ mains cable that I did not like. It's far better for 'us' to experiment with such cables (if we are that way inclinded) than it being force upon us my the manufacturer. At the moment I'm using Kimber PK10 mains which I find well balanced and not too expensive. I like to spend most of the funds on electronics then vinyl (or CD - less so) then coffee, then petrol, then food....then cables, in that order.

I am using Supra Lo Rad power cables on mine at the moment.
There was a photo of whats inside a Ref V on the net awhile ago, but i cant seem to find it. It showed that it was packed with boards galore. Differently a different beast to the 30 rdt. The only thing that looks alike is the case.

The review of the the Whest Ref V is spot on. Music just explodes from complete darkness. It sounds alive. Previously i have a Slee Audio, then a JLTI , then a RCM Phono, then Cary 301 with different step up transformers. The Whest is in a completely different class to the previous phonos.

I feel the same as you Dcarol, the Whest is a bargain compared to upgrading cartridges. If i had the Whest earlier on, i probably would have settled for a cheaper cartridge and arm.

Btw my front end consists of Zyx 4D cartridge, Kuzma 313vta, DPS3 turntable
Yes I agree with that review. It's organic and music just 'explodes' from nowhere. Explodes is a very good adjective in this case.

I am using the PS.30RDT Special Edition until the MC REF V arrives and although the RDT SE is utterly brilliant it is outclassed by the MC REF V, and it should be as the MC REF V is twice the price. The audio quality is more than twice as good however which makes the MC REF V very very special.

I think the interior images of the MC REF V were from a MK2 which was a different thing altogether. I think the MK2 was 2 boxes with 1 of the boxes being a power supply. The MK3 was the first of the 2 mono channel design which is why you can later on make yours a MK4.
did you get the mc Ref V yet??
i am interested in hearing your thoughts on it?
Yes I did get one, for a month now. Very explosive dynamically with superb leading edges and so fast that the whole note can develop fully. Is fast, without sounding harried. Does brass instruments exceedingly realistically.

I can only truly appreciate its greatness on complex big band music where it resolves the parts, but never messing up the whole picture.

My previous phono was an ASR Basis Exclusive which is also a venerable phono. But this Whest is a different level, which at twice the price, it should be.
Dear Dcarol,
I hope you don't mind my asking a few questions. Your opinion counts, since you are one of the few who has heard some of the different Whest models in your own system. So here goes:
(1) Can you tell us what are the other elements of your system?
(2) Do you know what distinguishes the PS.30RDT Special Edition (sounds like a jet fighter) from the plain PS.30RDT, in terms of parts or other features?
(3) When you say the REF V is "twice" as good sounding as the PS.30RDT SE, can you give more specific detail? In my experience, something that sounds "utterly brilliant" can perhaps be bettered, but not by 2X.
Hello I hope you are all well. So I just received my Whest MCRefV too.
For the readers, w/o being proud but to fix the facts : KOMRI 8 SOLOS Klimax Filters, Klimax Kontrol, Nordost QB8 FREY2 QX4... 5 dedicated electric line... LENCO 75 JTN MKII Graham Phantom Lyra Atlas Nordost Valhalla phono, interconnect...
After a lot of upgrades in my life and 4 different loudspeakers from 3A, audio réference, JMB Lab Electra Linn 242 + 2 x 345, and Komris, LP12 SE, various amp... KLOUT 5125 SOLO
Easy : now I am in the music... some vinyl details never listened before, a huge 3D image, no wall feelings from loudspeakers, bass control (fucking hell), no distorsion... no noise... nothing to critic... I am surprised myself... Of course at the beginning, sound was rigid (because the devices were cool...),