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ART USB Phono Plus Review

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 37 39.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 47 50.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 7 7.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 3.2%

  • Total voters
    94

Dougey_Jones

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I don't see the MiniDSP Flex Balanced in the ADC SINAD list, didn't it ring in at like -107db? Should be in the green section. In any case, that's what I use to digitize the output of my Schiit Mani so that it can be corrected with Dirac.
 

dtaylo1066

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How do you feed the single ended Mani output into the DSP balanced input?
 

Dougey_Jones

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dtaylo1066

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Good to know, as I am likely to buy a Flex but have a TT, and was wondering if a cable would work OK or if I needed to truly balance the signal.
 

Dougey_Jones

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Good to know, as I am likely to buy a Flex but have a TT, and was wondering if a cable would work OK or if I needed to truly balance the signal.
It’ll arrive at the Flex unbalanced, go through the ADC and whatever correction you apply, then be decoded by the excellent onboard DAC and output as a true balanced signal.

I love my flex.
 

dtaylo1066

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Thanks. I knew the Flex would accept the balanced cable input, but was uncertain if it would recognize and process an unbalanced signal. Glad to hear that works perfectly.

If that did not work I was thinking I would need to purchase a true balancing interface or get the new Parks Audio Waxwing, a marvelous little phono preamp that along with unbalanced analog out via RCA also outputs a TOSLINK signal and has some DSP features. https://parksaudiollc.com/
 

Dougey_Jones

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Thanks. I knew the Flex would accept the balanced cable input, but was uncertain if it would recognize and process an unbalanced signal. Glad to hear that works perfectly.

If that did not work I was thinking I would need to purchase a true balancing interface or get the new Parks Audio Waxwing, a marvelous little phono preamp that along with unbalanced analog out via RCA also outputs a TOSLINK signal and has some DSP features. https://parksaudiollc.com/
Something else I realized recently, which would’ve changed my purchase a little is that the Flex Digital also has one pair of analog RCA inputs. That would allow you to accomplish the same thing, with the added flexibility of using any DAC you want.

I bought the Flex Balanced, but in retrospect would’ve liked to use my SMSL SU-9.
 

dtaylo1066

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Yes, I debate between the two, but my current DAC is an old Emotiva and my Hypex amps are balanced in put only.
 

Dougey_Jones

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Yes, I debate between the two, but my current DAC is an old Emotiva and my Hypex amps are balanced in put only.
The -110db SINAD DAC in the Flex is no slouch, so it’s a tough call to make. I wouldn’t be able to hear the difference between it and my SU-9, which is 9db better, but the SU-9 has lots of filter options and other features.

The main reason I’d switch would be for the flexibility to try a different DAC topology, like one of the Denafrips R2R units which were well reviewed here.
 

dtaylo1066

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Yeah, I agree, but I also make speakers so the crossover function can come in handy and that would require multiple DACs to pull off.
 

Dougey_Jones

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Yeah, I agree, but I also make speakers so the crossover function can come in handy and that would require multiple DACs to pull off.
Ahh, if you're using it for crossover functions as well, then the Flex Balanced is a no brainer.
 
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