highly flexible Phono-Preamplifier with external Power Supply
After the 2016 AAA show in Krefeld Michael Fehlauer, CEO of audiospecials approached me, asking if I might improve a existing prototype of a phono-stage.
He felt uneasy about the development, circumstances and performance of the device. He was right on target. I hardly ever saw a PCB-layout worse than that.
I also mentioned my doubts about the possible sonic qualities of that circuit topology. Since he had spent considerable effort already and didn´t want to give up on the circuit easily, he commissioned me to only create a new PCB-layout.
While the new PCB layout alone resulted in an almost 20dB(!) improvement of the THD+N figures, the sonic impression remained mediocre at best.
So we returned to the idea of a completely different new circuit and also modified the concept for greater flexibility and more features.
The features list:
- two pluggable input stage modules for MM and MC cartridges, so that the user may choose between any combination of the two.
- MM and MC modules of same circuit topology, differing only in gain and input-load settings. The user can truely test between MM and MC cartridges ... the sonic fingerprint of the Phono-amplification doesn´t influence the outcome.
- unbalanced and optional balanced inputs.
- gain and input-loading switchable independent for each input.
- unbalanced and transformer-coupled balanced outputs
- `Recompizer´, stepless control means to improve non-optimal recorded discs.
- configurable for RIAA/IEC or RIAA-Neumann equalization
- optional volume- and IR-remote control.
- external Power supply, capable to supply for two Phonolabs at the same
The Phonolab was presented first in the AAA-magazine (#02/2017) and made its first public appearance at the AAA-show 2017 in Krefeld. Shortly after it was reviewed by Fidelity magazine (#36, 02/2018). In the meantime first comments appeared in audio-forums. Almost all statements praised the performance, appearance and easy handling of the Phonolab.
Fidelity magazine rewarded the Phonolab as "Winner 2018" in the category ´Analog - Phono-Preamplifiers - Superior´ (cost no object) at the Munic HighEnd show 2018.
audiospecials and I are certainly proud as it is very unusual for a start-up to get so positive reviews in magazines, let alone to receive a award in a top-notch category.