In short, if you don’t need more than one MC phono input, your search ends here. It’s that good –Jeff Dorgay, ToneAudio
In action the phono cartridge and phono stage are locked in a symbiotic embrace where the goal is to allow in no daylight.
The phono cartridge is a transducer just like a speaker, except that a speaker transduces electrical energy to Mechanical energy while the Phono cartridge does exactly the opposite. As it rides along the surface of the record supported by the tonearm a tiny stylus attached to a cantilever emanating from its body traces the undulations on the Lp .The cantilever moves a coil assembly thru a magnetic field which generates an electrical signal sometimes as low as little as .1 millivolts which is then fed into the phono stage and is amplified over 10,000 times at the point at which it hits the speakers! Compatibility between the tonearm and the cartridge and the cartridge and the Phono Stage is crucial .
We are intimately familiar with these relationships and can help you to choose the most holistic pairing of Phono Cartridge and Phono Stage choosing from brands like Miyajima, Lyra, Mysoniclabs, Koetsu, Ortofon ,HANA, AMG, and others.
When a record is transferred from master to Lp form the extremes in recording from both a frequency and amplitude perspective are truncated in accordance with RIAA equalization protocol so the the peaks and valleys on the LP resemble the Rocky Mountains as opposed to the Himalayas. Without RIAA the grooves on a record would be untraceable even by the best tracking phono cartridge.
To Play that back A complementary electrical application exactly duplicating the reverse of that RIAA curve must be applied . That is the phono stage and its job is difficult especially because of how sensitive our ears are to unnatural deviations at this level which are amplified 1000 fold by the time they get to the speaker. The creation of a great phono stage , perhaps more than any other electrical component in the audio chain, is a confluence of art and science-the great ones are only created by designers who know music and have the ears to hear the difference. Tom Evans, Demetris Backlavas of Ypsilon,Yamada San of Zanden and Raphael Pasche at CH Precision all share this ability and Sound by Singer as their New York dealer.
Just when u thought it could not get any better Tom has unleashed what may be the finest solid state phono stage in the world 'THE MASTER GROOVE II.
We can quote an array of numbers that speaks volumes about Tom’s attention to making sure that every minutiae of signal is passed to you, the listener. But, none of this impressive array of numbers can convey the scope of step forward for vinyl reproduction that one listen can do.
When your Vinyl reproduction needs no excuses, only the very best phono equalisation that the World has to offer, then we believe - as do many others - that there are very few choices.
The new MasterGroove mkII is a performance reality that no other solid state manufacturer understands how to equal.
Creating a ne plus ultra phono stage for $20,000.00 while a spectacular achievement is perhaps less surprising than what Tom Evans does in the moderately priced arena. His MicroGroove XII and Microgroove+xII simply stand head and shoulder above all phono stages in the sub $2500.00 range. They are the only MC stages we recommend in this performance class.
The VPS-100 is one of the finest phono stages you can own, without being the most expensive.
The VPS-100 returns phono equalization to its roots, with some very modern twists. The phono stage itself is “low gain,” employing no C/R networks for equalization. Instead, Ypsilon makes LCR networks using its own in-house produced transforme made of a special amorphous C-core material with paper- winding insulation. A properly implemented LCR RIAA sounds much more natural, musical and open than CR networks with better-defined macro and micro dynamics.
"The Ypsilon produced an absolutely intoxicating blend of stupefyingly extended high frequencies, resolution, clarity, and transient precision, along with tight, deep, nimble, nonmechancial bass, and an ideally rich-ie, not too rich-midrange with just the right amounts of body and harmonic structure". - Stereophile Class A+ Component: Aug. 2009
"I heard the high-frequency clarity, air, and extension of the best solid-state phono preamps, as well as the harmonic expression and musical flow of the best tube phono preamps, with none of the negatives of either". - Michael Fremer
The only solid-state component which Zanden makes is it’s model 120 phono preamp . The 120 has two inputs either of which can be designated as high or low impedance. It continues the tradition of offering multiple phono equalization curves as in the 3002. While not as luxurious as it’s big brother the model 120, it is and exceptional performer in its own right.