Whest ps.30r

Having owned both the Whest Ps .20 and .30r I am now ready to try another phono stage in the same price bracket. As much as I like the Whest for all it does well. ( soundstage;dynamics; incredible detail: and quiet) I find it to lack a certain amount of humaness for want of a better word. It has to my ears a definite transister sound to it. I am looking for something that has the same depth, detail;dynamics and quietness but with a touch more warmth. We can all quote and read reviews I am looking for answers with genuine personal experience. Thanks in advance
Based on my experience in the same price range you will have a hard time doing "better" than the PS30R. You may find "different" but not necessarily "better". I ran the PS30R against several phonostages (ARC PH5, Acoustat PH1, EAR 834) and found it to be far superior. While the ARC did sound more "tubelike" to a small degree (i.e. a touch more spacious and warmer), I do not find (in my system) that the Whest sounds at all "cool" or "transistory". In fact, the reason I ended up going with the Whest was that it had all the "depth, detail, dynamics and quietness" I wanted (plus adjustability) AND was musically warm and inviting to boot. Perhaps there are other elements in your system that account for the sound you are attributing to the Whest?
Thanks for the reply Dodgealum. I have used the ps.30r for almost 3 years now on 3 dif vinyl set ups for sustained periods and as you am very happy with it. I am just looking for something as you say with perhaps a touch more tubelike sound in the midrange. Not looking for the golden glow and would not like to loose any of the Whest's considerable abilities either...I know its a tough call.
I tried a PS 0.3R last year and also found it was a bit dry sounding. It could be my system. I prefer the Manley Steelhead for about $3600 used. Great stage, dynamics, detail, and for sure not transistory. However, the Steelhead is not tubey at all. I think it is right in the middle between transistor and tube.
I am using the JLTI ( Vacuum State ) and found though it is Solid State it is slightly sweet...It is certainly not up to the Steelheads performance but quite good just the same.........
The Whest is cable sensitive... Change the interconnects and power cord and you'll have a completely different sound.
I have the PS.30RDT and it sounds quite a bit more dynamic and less laid back with the MAC HC power cord. Note that MAC also makes an "Ultimate Source" power cord, but the results I'm talking about will come from using the HC cord, which bested every other AC cord I tried with the Whest.

Then if you still miss tube sound, simply get a quality tube line stage.
Thanks for the responses so far . I think we all secretly want the Manley I might give that a demo some time sounds like its the ticket really. Plato, I have not used the standard power cord yet but I have tried various run in PS audios on it from Lab 2 to Statement. I agree, power cords make a difference, I have used different interconnects too and found the same thing and always end up going back to the AQ Amazons and Leopard phono. I am sure I am not the only one hearing this from both of the whests. The .30 was definitely an improvement in this regard.
I'd be curious if anyone has used both the single ended and balanced outputs on the PS30R and whether there is a noticeable difference. I've only used the single ended and thus have not heard the unit in balanced configuration.
I have tried it using the same type of cable using balanced and xlr there is no dif in presentation. Except of course for the increased output offered by xlr. Good thinking though.
That should read rca and xlr
I went from a PS.30R to PS.30RDT. The RDT has far better dynamics, soundstage, bass definition and sounds more lucid than the PS.30R. Yes, like most audio equipment a better interconnect and mains cable will make a 'difference', so saying that the PS.30R is cable sensitive is a bit of a 'non-comment'.

I found that many other stages had either too much 'hushing' noise when using low output MCs. I've used a DL-304 with a PS.30R in the past and it was absolutely quiet!

Try the PS.30RDT. It's quite an upgrade on the PS.30R and maybe closer to what you need.
Robm1: Can you comment in greater detail about your experience going from the PS.30R to the RDT version? Did you get to swap in the RDT without changing anything else in your system? How would you describe the performance gains relative to the extra dollars invested? Anyone else gone from the R to the RDT?
With your recent upgrade to the Dynavector xx2, perhaps the time is right to move up to the rdt. I just upgraded my phono cable to the Synergistc tricon analog and bought a balanced JLS supercoductor3 interconnect to run between the whest and my Arc ref 3. These two cables made ahuge difference in my system. The bass improved and I was hearing deeper into the music...very neutral quiet cables. The difference I got with this change was greater than going from the R to the RDT. It really surprised me.
I'll second what Plato said about the Mac HC power cord. Frank Alles of Stereo Times is very bullish on this cable and said it really energized the performance of his Whest 30 rdt. It's very reasonably priced at $185 and does liven things up.
Thank you for all your responses. In the time being I have stumbled upon a stereophile review of the Whest PS.20 phono stage that MF was exited about and I think Brian Damkroger re reviewed later to clarify. In this review BD also states the slight electronic nature of the product compared to the Sutherland. Nice to know I am not the only one hearing this.
Dear Sledge: I know both Ortofon cartridges you own and seems to me that both are not on the " warm " side even in the V tonearm.

IMHO a change/try another cartridges could help before a phono stage change, this NOS vintage Ortofon could help about:


Btw, it is a lot better of what that " ridiculous " price can tell you.

Rgerads and enjoy the music,
Thanks for the advice Raul, I have used a Grado Sonnata cartidge on the SME and still the slight mechanical nature seems to come through..yes cartidge set up with arm too high could cause this effect to but arm and cart are dam near spot on... I know what you are refering to with the ortofon black but in my system/room it works quite well. I prefer the sound of most mid priced ( sub $800) mm cartridges to mc. I am probably alone with these thoughts though. Will definitely give the ortofon you suggest a go soon.
I have to say that I am highly skeptical of these claims that using a MAC HC power cord makes a "huge difference" in the performance of a Whest phono stage. I have a Whest PS.30RDT. Folks, this is a 20W appliance. I find it hard to believe that really you need 10 guage wire to supply power to such a low power device. I have my unit configured at 60dB gain to output about 0.6V to the pre-amplifier.

Other than that, I agree with the comments about the Whest PS.30RDT. I don't know about the sound relative to the Whest PS.30, but the Whest PS.30RDT produces a nice 3-dimensional soundstage, reproduces considerable detail, good bass reproduction and produces a clear, if not somewhat "sweet" sound (at least to my ears).

I would caution you on "audiophile" reviews because these days they are generally not impartial reviews. One problem with evaluating phono stages (and equipment in general) is that you rarely get an apples-to-apples comparison. When it comes to phono stages, there are differences in gain and load resistance levels among different models that can result in slightly different sound perceptions. So while I personally like the Whest unit that I own, I hesitate to make claims that it sounds better than other units because in reality things are often so close (in terms of sound) and the ability to make truly scientific comparisons is so limited that if you find a unit that sounds good to you, then you are most (if not practically all) of the way there.
Gents. I have travelled the road from PS.20 to PS.30RDT (missed out the plain vanilla PS.30) and have now lived with the latest PS.30RDT 'Special Edition' for the past nonth or so. My requirement was for a very quiet mc phono stage to use with my Transfiguration Orpheus L (0.3mV output). The SE uses a new discrete bipolar module, ClarityCaps, a reworked power supply and updated RIAA filter capacitors. Having put some hours on the clock since purchase and settling on 65db gain and 220Ohms resistor setting for feeding my Karan Reference MkII preamp, I can honestly say that the designer, James Henriott, has kept all the previous atributes of the PS.30RDT and has produced a phono stage that also has that elusive valve-like organic structure but without the noise pitfalls. I use MIT Oracle MA interconnects and a screened 20A copper MusicWorks ReCoil mains cable customised with Furutech FI-50 IEC and UK mains plug.
To Crystalref:

Could you provide some insights into how the operation of the PS.30RDT SE differs from that of the PS.30RDT? The statements on the Whest website don't really help me understand what is different about the operation of the PS.30rdt se that explains the 70% increase in audio reproduction relative to the ps.30rdt that is claimed on the Whest website (in fact, I really don't understand how that improvement figure was arrived at).

The photographs that you posted of the PS.30RDT SE circuit board were helpful. What was apparent is that the opamp circuits on the PS.30RDT board was replaced by these black boxes (which I presume are the discrete circuitry modules). I also appeared that the input capacitors in the PS.30RDT circuit board are replaced with large Clarity Cap capacitors.

Does the PS.30RDT SE provide more high end gain than does the PS.30RDT? In your case, 65 dB for a 0.3mv cartridge looks to me to be about right, but for a low output cartridge (for example 0.1mv), while 72 dB gain is adequate, I think that a gain level of more like 75 dB would be better.

With regard to my earlier question about the gain levels produced by the Whest PS.30RDT SE, I found the answer by looking at the photos that you posted on the Internet. In the PS.30RDT SE, the gain and resistance load levels are printed on the back panel. The high gain level remains at 72 dB but in the PS.30RDT SE, the low gain level is increased from 40 dB to 43 dB (which means that the Whest PS.30RDT SE will probably work a little better with lower output MM cartridges). It is also worth noting that the load resistance levels listed on the back panel of the PS.30RDT SE are correct, where the user manual has an error.

What do you think about having the access panel to the DIP switches on the underside of the case in the Whest PS.30RDT SE? I appreciate that Whest was responding to complaints about having to open the lid to set the switches, but what I don't like about the underside access scheme is that you have to turn the entire unit over to set the switches. I especially don't like having to handle the case because the casework is very prone to being smudged by fingerprints.

I can't really help you with the claims made by the manufacturer of a 70% improvement! This may be just marketing speak!. What I do know, having lived with the RDT and RDT 'SE' models is that the 'SE' is a substantial improvement sonically. The issue of acessing the DIP switches is only really pertinant if you swap cartridges alot. I don't. Apart from experimenting with load and gain for my Orpheus L when I first got the 'SE' home, I no longer have to access them. I have found that if you slide the phono stage forward from the rack and undo the two Allen bolts (way better than having to remove the unit entirely to undo NINE Allen bolts on the lid!!) to reveal the DIP switches, with the aide of a small mirror, you can make any adjustment you like easily without having to upend the unit. Whest advise and I can concur, that fingerprints/smudges can be easily removed by applying a small amount of WD40 to a clean lint-free cloth and running the cloth along the grain.

On the difference between the PS.30RDT and the PS.30RDT SE, my hypothesis is this (and it is just a guess): the PS.30RDT SE uses an opamp where the PS.30RDT SE uses a discrete bipolar module. So my guess is that the PS.30RDT uses negative feedback. Negative feedback designs are pretty controversial with some audiophiles; especially those who extoll the virtues of tube designs. I'm old enough to remember the transistion from tubes to transistors so in my mind I wonder: "why would anyone want to go back to that (tubes, that is)???"

My guess is that the discrete bipolar module is some kind of non-tube, non-negative feedback design.

As to the comment about preferring the access panel in the PS.30RDT SE, I see your point. I have my phono stage on the top shelf of a media cabinet so I can access the top lid of the phono stage without having to move it. I'm a bit of an inveterate tinker-er, so what I did was experiment with various gain and resistor combinations. I eventually closed the unit up, but eventually, I will reopen it and play around with additional resistor combinations just to see how they affect the sound. One thing that I like about the Whest phono stage is that the resistor values are moderately spaced so you can play with different combinations in parallel to "trim" the resistor value without having to go to the "user" resistor option. So, in my situation, top lid access works better because once I remove the lid, I can rifle through different combinations of switch settings.

I'm aware that you can use WD40 oil to clean the case but if you touch the case later, you'll get new smudges. I've taken to wearing latex gloves or using a towel to keep having oil from my fingers from staining the case.
Good theory and probably correct. James does state on his literature on the PS.30 RDT 'SE' that the sound is more 'valve-like'.

On the subject of doubling up resistor settigs to use in parallel. I recall reading this in The Stereo Times online review of the PS.30 RDT and discussed it with Whest. James thought it was a bad idea as he explained that it would simply add extra noise to the system. True or false, I don't know. I am not technically qualified to comment. In any event, I heeded James advice and only stick to the set resistor options.

I like your suggestion about using latex gloves!
I think that the James' statement is true; any time you go through a switch, *some* amount of noise is likely to be introduced. My suspicion is that the actual amount of noise is rather small. As I recall reading in your blog thread, someone recommended that you should have your resistor selection "hard wired". This would probably be your lowest noise option. However, the sound of your phono stage is influenced by the resistance load selection, so I would say that the greater concern is to select the resistive load value that sounds the best to you. In general, if the resistive load value is too high, the sound can be somewhat bright and exaggerated but if the resistive load value is too low, the sound can be a bit dull. In my case, I am using a Lyra Delos cartridge for which the recommended resistor range is 390 ohms (preferred) to 200 ohms. So by putting the 470 ohm and 1.6k ohm resistors in parallel, I get about 363 ohms.
I now own a PS.30RDT SE and went from the 30RDT. The difference in audio in quite staggering. Why..I am not too sure and to be honest don't really care. The PS.30RDT outperformed the PH7 when I was looking around for a new stage and the 30RDT SE kills the 30RDT DEAD!!! That is not to say the 30RDT is poor in any way...it's a clear winner for the price. The 30RDT SE just is in another territory and was above anything that was in my price range and above.

WD40 works. It leaves no smudges. I've used this 'trick' for years before James told me. A machine shop I used to do business with told me WD40 applied to an anodised surface takes all the finger prints off and leaves it looking really clean. I've used this technique on all my anodised front panels for at least 10 years now.

The parallel resistor one is interesting. I think James talks about noise in a 'micro' view point. Whether you can actually hear it ???, but as an engineer he is aware that paralleling resistors HAS TO add noise. I certainly cannot detect any increase but I suppose as the manufacturer he is probably just covering his ass!

I would say that it would be very useful if you would revisit your comments in a few months. Right now, there seems to be a lot of emotion in your comments (which is understandable with the excitement of a new component). But in a few months, after the excitement has waned, I would be interested in your comments at that time.
Hi all especially Paperw8

I thought I would follow up on your last posting as to what it all sounds like now the 'dust' and excitment has settled around the Whest PS.30RDT Special Edition.

I think I listen to more vinyl NOW than ever before. The Whest PS.30RDT SE has really opened up a 'door' for me which I didn't even know was closed. It is a very magical phonostage and a lot better than my original thoughts, when comparing it to the PS.30RDT.

The PS.30RDT is a great phonostage and MUCH better and quieter than most out there. A lot of people on audio forums tend to think all phonostages have to hiss and hum - 'par of the course', not with the Whest units. The PS.30RDT was the first I heard that ticked just about every single box for me. It is extremely quiet, musical, detailed with a lovely large soundstage and is very well focused. It sounds and punches way about it's price range and deserves all the medals it has recieved. A great piece of kit and an audio bargain I think.

The PS.30RDT SE on the other hand is a very different kettle of fish. To start with it sounds like you have just spent £5000 on a cartridge and £15000 on a turntable, YES the PS.30RDT SE is far superior in every single way! The soundstage is not just bigger but more realistic with instruments so stable and focused in their positions it borders on scary. You totally forget you are listening to vinyl as each track that goes past is another great performance. The frequency range or is that 'apparent' bandwidth seems wider if that is at all possible. There seems to be lower lows, richer and silkier mids and higher highs. There is a real sense that your turntable setup is free of any compression and I mean ANY compression. Things happen quickly, jump-out, jump-in, go left to right and the speed....WOW!

The dynamic range is also quite staggering, even at low volume levels and I mean low - 1am listening levels, the PS.30RDT SE retains every minuscule detail, the soundstage does not collapse and the lower frequencies are as intact, precise and as focused as they are at higher volumes. The mid-high frequencies are 'see-through' at all volume levels.

Is there any one standout point of the PS.30RDT SE? Yes, I would say every aspect of this phonostage. It takes vinyl to another level. I am now playing and buying LPs that I would never thought I would even touch, why?? because the PS.30RDT SE makes you want to listen to more and more music.

For instance, listening to Judee Sill's first LP. I know this LP really well but through the PS.30RDT SE it sounds like she is in the room. You can hear her playing the guitar as if she were right next to you and her vocals are projected in a manner that sounds so positively 'right'.
John Coltrane on Blue Train - all the instruments have a space, dynamic, life and soul which you can 'feel'. Joe Harriott on Indo Jazz Suite - 'forget about it' in true Donny Brasko meaning. The list goes on and on.

Don't think that the PS.30RDT SE is a big PS.30RDT because it ain't. The PS.30R and PS.30RDT have more in common with each other. The PS.30RDT SE has more in common with the MC REF and you can easily hear that. I loved the PS.30RDT but this new PS.30RDT Special Edition is more than a cut above - it's about 80 cuts above. It's a wonderful piece of equipment that I feel deserves to be heard in every system because if a piece of equipment makes you want to listen to more music, then it has to be something special.

Thank you for the review. As you noted, the PS.30RDT is a pretty good phono stage, so your comments are quite interesting. Just out of curiosity, what gain level are you using?

I use the standard 65dB/ 100ohms on the PS.30RDT SE but have never experimented because it really sounds amazing. One day I might do it but I'm loving every second of this phonostage.


So I'm about 8 weeks into the Whest PS.30RDT Special Edition.
How do you want it? It is so far ahead of the PS.30RDT it's a bloody joke - excuse my French :)

I had the chance to compare them directly at a fellow audiophiles house who has a PS.30RDT. I took my PS.30RDT Special Edition over and after re-warming my unit up we played it against a fully warmed up, never unplugged RDT.

Fellow has a SME 20/ Graham Phantom/ Orpheus. The RDT and 30RDT Special Edition were both setup for 65dB/ 100ohm.
The Orpheus sounded amazing in this setup.

First off:

Kind of Blue - a classic and much played disc. The RDT plays it with pace and energy and with fantastic vibrancy.
The soundstage is wide and deep and 'sweet' if you can apply that to a soundstage.

The 30RDT Special Edition is, well, quite a few levels up from the RDT. To start with, every instrument as well as the soundstage and air have an extra dimension. The whole bandwidth seems to have weight and this is from top to bottom. Yes it's fast but the pace and timing are staggeringly real. You 'feel' the pace the musicians are playing at and follow the small increases in timing as if they were BIG. The soundstage is rich with 'stuff' (harmonics?). Not just a big playing field but an area where musicians do their stuff in. But the most striking difference is the extra resolution. Yes the PS.30RDT SE resolves SO MUCH MORE and as it was warming up, the distance between the 2 became larger and larger.
John Coltrane was excellent. Hearing him in this system through the Special Edition was like listening to a child's first words. The Special Edition makes everything 'Special'.

Pheobe Snow - First LP. Although I only own 1 of hers I don't own this one but will very soon. The vocals are excellent, real with life and this on the SE. Again the soundstage is big and real, with all the instruments held in a rock solid, 4 dimensional space. The 3 dimensional stuff belongs to the PS.30RDT! :))

We played a lot more LPs of course but it was clear that nothing was going to phase the PS.30RDT Special Edition or able to make the PS.30RDT outperform its big brother.
They are VERY different beasts that share just a few things.

1. The case shape
2. The PS.30RDT tag
3. The company Name

And that is it.

Paperw8, having read some of your posts here I see you are a bit skeptical about peoples claims - and it is good to be, but this one is really a no brainer. Having heard just how much better it is to the PS.30RDT makes me feel I have won the lottery.

how does the PS .30RDT compare to the big MC REF V??
is it worth the extra cash for the MC REF V?
Not sure where you're located, but there's a pretty large price difference between the DT and the Ref. In the US the DT now retails for $5K, while the Ref is at $20K. The new DT SE comes in between at $8.5K and is supposed to offer some of the Ref's circuit advancements in a single chassis, simplified design.
For all intent and purposes, the Whest Ref V is a statement component which James Henriott uses as a test bench to push the envelope and provide 'trickle down' technology to enable him to bring a truly reference, more affordable product to market. He doesn't sell that many Ref V's! That current 'real world' reference is the PS.30RDT SE which pretty much defines the state of the art in practical terms.

yes, it's true that the MC REF V is a statement product and as such sales won't be in the same ballpark as something like the new 30RDT Special Edition. But as a bench mark for the company it is superb and can see why it is important to have such a product in the range. Many companies work on the basis that hopefully adding a few 'blackgates' and 'vishay' products will upgrade the sound of their already average product. I am a firm believer of trickle-down as long as the product at the 'summit' is worthy of being there.

As to how good is the MC REF V.... I'm slowly saving up for one!...it's phenomenal.
i am thinking of saving up for the REF V as well, but would like to see if there are review of it, or anyone has used it?
has anyone seen a review?
No reviews on the REF at all. I spoke to James about it and he said quite interestingly that he did not want the review to get 'lost' in the middle of a world recession. I sort of know what he means. You can't get it reviewed twice by the same magazine. I've heard one in a system and compared it to my older (1 year old) PS.30RDT before upgrading to the Special Edition. The MC REF V is on a very different planet when comparing to the PS.30RDT. In a lot of ways it takes you away from the turntable/arm/cartridge thing and just lets you get on with listening to music but in a 4 dimensional way. It is quite an eye opener. It's neither solid state in sound to tube like. It images so confidently with these strong weighty instruments and vocals.

I'm sold on it and don't need to see a review. What I find interesting is that Whest users are generally not audiophile forum goers - I've noticed that with just a handful of other manufacturers.

i only wish there was a review to really have an independent opinion on the Ref V for me justify
such an purchase. it really should have an opinion,
especially with the recent increase in price, as well.
>>10-03-10: Easternize
i only wish there was a review to really have an independent opinion on the Ref V<<

No review is independent.

Every reviewer has personal likes/dislikes/biases.

Reviews provide tech information and entertainment.

You must listen for yourself; trusting the wordsmiths who write reviews can be a costly adventure.

(Audiofeil :No review is independent.

Every reviewer has personal likes/dislikes/biases.

Reviews provide tech information and entertainment.

You must listen for yourself; trusting the wordsmiths who write reviews can be a costly adventure.


Not just your opinion.....

I now just look at the pretty pictures in the mags and whatever I like the look of I then take a listen. Boy have I lost money along the way with hifi dealers that are more like car dealers, 'highly recommended' gear that sounds like Amstrad. The reviewers are 'paid' by manufacturers so how on earth can you get an unbiased review. Roy Gregory was in the pockets of Nordost and Tom Evans, Paul Messenger - Naim and the list goes on and on.

The best thing to do is just listen with your ears. If you don't trust your own ears then you are going to be 'fooled' or is that 'bent-over' very easily.
i agree completely with the above.
but where can i listen to and audition
a whest MCF-V phono preamp?

i don't know any dealer that has on in stock at
all, and don't know anyone that has on to audition
unless i fly across the continent.

it is also very difficult to compare any device,
unless it is in your own system anyway.

how do you know how the phono-preamp will sound,
with different speakers, pre-amp, cables, turntable,
phono cartridge, power conditioner, ROOM etc.??

a review in a respectable magazine, which certainly
could be finacially biased, could give at least
an opinion against other similarily priced products.

without hearing the phono-preamp in my own set-up room,
how could i decide?
Yes, the other problem. Auditioning. I travel quite a fair bit so spend time in the UK, Asia, US and mainland Europe.
I heard the MC REF V in the UK and Germany on 2 very different systems and compared the REF V to whatever was there at the time. I also compared it to the PS.30RDT Special Edition in the UK. There is no doubting the superiority of the MC REF V over the PS.30RDT Special Edition...that was a very easy demonstration which eventually made me think 'now save up'. The PS.30RDT Special Edition I have compared to the ASR B Exc, Audio Research PH7, Boulder 1008, PS.30RDT and my very good friends Manley Steelhead, which is now up for sale!. The Special Edition betters all of these others by leagues. Not a small performance increase but a very easy LARGE one, and in all areas.

The MC REF V does not take the SE 'sound' and performance further but is quite a different thing altogether. It sounds far more like 'anti-hifi', 'anti-electronics' and what you end up with is music, real instruments in a real soundstage...it's weired but totally believeable and makes you want to play MORE and MORE vinyl.

I am a couple of months into my Special Edition and can honestly say with my hand on my weak heart that I've never played so much vinyl in my life! The PS.30RDT Special Edition makes you want to listen to more and more music.

My next thing is trying to find a dealer OR someone that has compared the TW Raven arm to the Audio Origami PU7...know anyone?
Has anyone compared the Whest to the EAR324 ? Thanks.
Crystalref: "I can honestly say that the designer, James Henriott, has kept all the previous atributes of the PS.30RDT and has produced a phono stage that also has that elusive valve-like organic structure but without the noise pitfalls."

I have the PS30 RDT SE at home since 4 days and I can't say more about the difference with my previous PS30 RDT .. the unit is new and needs more break in time to be properly evaluated.
But I can already agree with Crystalref the SE is totally different sounding machine compared to the standard 30RDT .. and more on the valve side than the standard version.
I 'll add more opinions/thoughts when the unit 'll have finished its break in time.

My cent!
Yes, you need to give it a few days,which I also found when I had the 30RDT. About 4-6 days into the Special Edition it settles nicely BUT like many upgrades in my system I have always found that going from the better to worse was MUCH easier to hear than the other way around.

Just spoke to a friend in who has just heard the Special Edition and compared it to the Rhea...he laughed and ordered the Special Edition. He called the Special Edition an audio bargain!
Thank you all for the interesting replies; I have however gone another route. I gave the RDT a listen and though an improvement on the ps.30R still not what I was looking for. I am now using a Conrad Johnson premier 15 series 2 with great success and no regrets. I cannot comment on the Special edition it may well be completely different to the standard RDT but for now and the foreseeable future the system has never sounded better..The musical and emotional connection to the music is extremely satisfying with the CJ. I have lived with the ps.20 the .30 ref and used the RDT briefly so can attest to their well documented virtues. As you move up the line the improvements are gradual but significant. At £4500 the RDT special edition had better be in a different league to the phono stages before it, for that money one would expect it to be nothing less than sublime. Thanks again for all the responses. My search is over.
Great stuff. The most important thing is that you end up with something that works for 'you'. Yes the RDT Special Edition IS very different to the RDT and is in a very different league, but it's all about the music after all is said and how it makes you feel.

10-09-10: Dcarol
The reviewers are 'paid' by manufacturers so how on earth can you get an unbiased review.

in the past, you could get good, critical reviews of audio equipment. today, i find them to be suspect because the reviewers frequently have conflicts of interest that are typically not disclosed to the readers. that is why i look for reviews to provide not only the subjective opinions of the reviewer, but objective data that provides some degree of support for the subjective opinions.

what i need to see with regard to the whest ps.30rdt se is some quantitative data. if the ps.30rdt se is that much better than the ps.30rdt, there must be some data that reflects that improvement. this stuff isn't magic; when mr. henriot designed the special edition there had to be the objectively measurable data that guided him in the design process that allowed him to the end product. granted, the final product was the result of actual listening, but he presumably didn't end up with the special edition by pure luck. so the questions in my mind (that i would like to see answered in reviews) is what is it that the special edition does better? does it have improved RIAA accuracy? it the snr improved? is the channel sepeartion improved? is the frequency response improved? is distortion reduced? is phase accuracy improved?

it's easy to say: just listen and "trust your ears" but from my perspective, there is a lot of equipment out there and i can't possible listen to all of it, or even a lot of it. so i need data to cut down the number of candidates. in the past, you got plenty of data and reviewers who would actually criticize equipment; today you get relatively sparce data and a lot more marketing hype. i suppose the way the high end audio market works today reflects much of the customer base for these products so it is what it is, but it makes it difficult for those of us who don't like to believe that the way this stuff works is all "magic".