The 7 best Phonostages of the 2021-2022
The phonostage is an extremely important link in the vinyl path, it depends on the correct electrical coordination of all circuit elements. Every year, many interesting phonostages enter the market, in this article we have collected the most notable premieres of the outgoing year, which are addressed to vinyl fans who are serious about their hobby.
- Canor PH 2.10
- Lab12 Melto1
- Uesugi Laboratory U-BROS-220R
- Violectric PPA V790
- Zesto Audio Andros Téssera
- EMT 128 Micro Tube
- Tron Electric Nemesis
Canor PH 2.10
The stages of this fully tube phonostage Canor PH 2.10 are made on a pair of 12AX7 double triodes and a pair of 12AT7 without common feedback, the correction is passive. The power transformer is filled with a special anti-vibration compound and placed in a solid metal casing.
The Canor PH 2.10 is suitable for use with a wide range of MM and MC cartridges – the input resistance for moving coil heads can be set to 10, 20, 40, 80, 150, 300, 600 and 1200 ohms, and for moving magnet cartridges you can select capacities within 50, 150, 270, 370, 520, 620, 740, 840 pF. The Canor PH 2.10 provides 47dB gain for MM heads and 71 dB for MC heads. The input for moving coil heads is implemented on a Lundahl step-up transformer.
Price – €3500
Canor PH 2.10 Specifications
- Input impedance MC: 10, 20, 40, 80, 150, 300, 600, 1200 Ohm.
- Load capacity MM: 50, 150, 270, 370, 520, 620, 740, 840 pF.
- Output impedance 500 ohms.
- Gain MM – 47dB.
- Gain MC – 71dB.
- SNR MM – 84dB.
- SNR MC – 80dB.
- THD, MM / MC < 0,2% / 1V RMS.
A universal tube phonostage from a Greek company is designed to work with moving magnet and moving coil phono cartridges. In the sound path of the Lab12 Melto1, Soviet double triodes were used – two 6N1P-EV and two 6N2P-EV. The input impedance can be adjusted from 32 to 100,000 ohms, and the input capacitance from 0 to 300pF. The gain in the MM path is 41dB, for MC cartridges – 66dB. The corrector is enclosed in a matte black casing.
Price – €2280
Lab12 Melto1 Specifications
- Power: 230VAC 50Hz (115VAC 60Hz)
- Power consumption: 80 VA max.
- Gain MM: 41dB.
- Gain MC: 66 dB.
- Input impedance: adjustable (32 ohm – 100Kohm)
- Input capacitance: adjustable (0-300pF)
- De-emphasis curve: RIAA.
- Tube complement: 2x 6N1P-EV dual triode, 2x 6n2p-EV dual triode.
Uesugi Laboratory U-BROS-220R
In honor of its fiftieth anniversary, the Japanese company released an original phonostage, which, in addition to magnetic cartridges, supports optical pickups. Correction for MS and MM-heads is carried out by a CR-filter, for optical – by a special amplifier without feedback.
On the rear panel of the Uesugi Laboratory U-BROS-220R there is a pair of unbalanced inputs for MM and MC heads, one balanced for an MC cartridge, as well as balanced and unbalanced inputs for optical cartridges. The Uesugi Laboratory U-BROS-220R weighs an impressive 14 kilograms.
Price – 715,000 yen (about $6200)
Uesugi Laboratory U-BROS-220R Specifications
- Input – MM / MC RCA unbalance x 2, MC XLR balance (No. 2 HOT) x 1, Light (OPT) RCA unbalance x 1
- Output – RCA unbalance x 1
- Input sensitivity / impedance (1kHz) – 2.5mV / 47kΩ (MM), 0.125mV (MC) Compatible impedance 1-40Ω, 22mV / 10kΩ (light = OPT)
- Rated output / impedance – 300mV (1kHz) / 1kΩ
- Voltage gain – (1kHz) 41.5dB (MM), 67.5dB (MC), 23.0dB (light = OPT)
- Input conversion noise performance (A-NET): -120 dBV or higher (MM), -147dBV or higher (MC)
- Allowable input voltage (1kHz, THD: 5%) – 280mV (MM), 14mV (MC), 2000mV (light = OPT)
- RIAA deviation characteristics within: +0.5, -0.5dB (20Hz～20kHz)
- Light source current – 90mA
- Power consumption – 22W (AC100V 50/60Hz)
- Use vacuum tube – 12AX7A (Panasonic)×2, 12AT7WC (PHILIPS/JAN)×2
- Maximum dimensions / weight – W435 x H146 x D365 / 14kg
Violectric PPA V790
The creators of Violectric PPA V790 have tried to endow it with unprecedented functions and the widest adjustment possibilities. The switching arsenal includes three balanced and three unbalanced inputs. By optimizing the signal path and using cascaded bipolar transistors, the Violectric PPA V790 offers maximum bandwidth, extremely low noise, minimal distortion and impressive dynamics.
Three equalization profiles RIAA, NAB and Columbia-LP provide a wide range of fine-tuning options for different records, and a subsonic filter removes unwanted low frequencies. The gain is adjustable from 30 to 66dB, the input capacitance is from 22 to 100pF.
Price – €3999
Violectric PPA V790 Specifications
- 3 balanced stereo cartridge inputs via XLR.
- 3 unbalanced stereo cartridge inputs via RCA.
- 7 selectable impedances from 10 to 1000 Ohm (for MC cartridges)
- 8 selectable capacities from 22 to 1000 pF (for MM cartridges)
- 7 gain steps from +30 to +66 dB.
- Clip indication to visualize incorrect operation.
Zesto Audio Andros Téssera
The American company has pleased all vinyl connoisseurs this year with a new reference phonostage – Zesto Audio Andros Téssera, in which the engineers have managed to expand the dynamic range to 116dB. To do this, they removed the pull-up resistor from the signal circuit, allowing the signal to be removed from the secondary winding of the step-up transformer.
The design uses 2DW7 lamps, which are distinguished by the best signal-to-noise ratio, increased voltage up to 300V and increased power consumption – up to 60W. With a 12-step switch on the front of the unit that changes resistance from 50 ohms to 1k ohms, users can more accurately load the MC cartridges. The Zesto Audio Andros Téssera can be connected to up to four heads, two MC and two MM. For this, RCA and balanced XLR connectors are located at the back.
Price – $18000
Zesto Audio Andros Téssera Specifications
- 3 position Gain switch
- MC input 65dB, 70dB and 75dB or MM input 47dB, 51dB and 55dB
- Noise 95 dBV below max output level
- Dynamic range 116 dBV
- Frequency response complies with the original RIAA curve within +or- 0.5 dB
- RIAA curve is achieved using a passive filter
- 1% metal film resisters throughout
- Polypropylene capacitors throughout the audio path
- All analog tube circuitry with no solid state devices in the signal path
EMT 128 Micro Tube
The reborn EMT released the original tube phonostage for moving coil (MC) heads. Inside, there are six miniature military vacuum tubes that generate a significant amount of heat, so the body of the corrector is made from a single piece of aluminum. Thus, the chassis simultaneously serves to dissipate heat and dampen vibrations.
The EMT 128 Micro Tube is capable of operating with RIAA/DIN 78 correction curves in stereo and mono, the declared crosstalk level is 75dB, the THD is no more than 0.05% at a frequency of 1kHz. The gain is from 64 to 78dB. Lundahl transformers are installed at the inlet and outlet, the weight of the apparatus is 12 kilograms.
Price – about $12600
EMT 128 Micro Tube Specifications
- Input: MC cartridge, 1mV (nominal) on RCA
- Output: Line level, symmetrical fully floating on XLR
- Mode: Stereo / Mono
- Curve: RIAA / DIN 78
- Total Gain: 64dB nominal / 70dB max., selectable sensitivity by internal jumpers
- THD: < 0.05% @ 1kHz and nominal level
- Crosstalk: >70dB
- Output impedance: <500 Ohms
- Mains: 230 VAC, 115 VAC or 100 VAC
- Power Consumption: 25 Watts
- Operating / Room temperature: 18…25°C / 65…77°F, unrestricted air flow, non-condensing humidity
- Operating environment: Indoor only
- Dimensions: 480x315x60 mm / 19×12.5×2.3 inches
- Weight: 12kg / 26.5 lbs
Tron Electric Nemesis
A company from the UK has released a reference tube phonostage – Tron Electric Nemesis, which is based on four D3a pentodes in the amplifier circuit and four 7Y4 kenotrons in the power supply. The latter is placed in a separate building and equipped with eight power transformers. The corrector has a smooth start, which allows to extend the life of lamps installed in high-quality ceramic panels.
The patch panel is equipped with RCA connectors from WBT, and all internal wiring is with oxygen-free copper cables. Proprietary mains transformers and chokes are hand wound on custom cores, and RIAA corrected passively. The Tron Electric Nemesis is assembled in two cases of the same size, while the weight of the phonostage is 25 kg, and the power supply unit is 35kg.
Price – available upon request.
Tron Electric Nemesis Specifications
- Input: – 1 x RCA input (L & R)
- Output: – 1 x RCA output (L & R)
- Gain: – 50dB
- Input Impedance: – 47K ohms
- Output Impedance: – 650 ohms
- Frequency Response: – 20Hz – 20KHz (+/- 0.5dB)
- Size – Control Unit: – (L x W x H): 40cm x 27cm x 18cm
- Weight: – 25Kgs
- Mains Supply: -115–240 volts AC (50–60Hz)
- Power Consumption 115v – 130watts, 230v – 65watts
- Earth lift included
- Size: – Power Supply (L x W x H): 40cm x 27cm x 18cm
- Weight: – 35Kgs
- Warranty: – 10 years (parts and labour)