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Classic Audio MC Pro Phonostage Review

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 7 3.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 6 2.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 53 25.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 145 68.7%

  • Total voters
    211
You should ask yourself why so many devices send in by the manufacturer fail on Amirs work bench
That doesn't mean, that some devices aren't prepared. Btw: I didn't say, every device would be prepared. But you don't know, which one. Even a failed device could have been a (poorly) prepared device.
the risk of getting caught in case of customers measuring their own gear is much too high
Is it really? In case of any doubt, some of them will claim that you measured a defective device or simply measured incorrectly or differently. Eg: see here.
 
These pics are a bit more high res;

1691923872518.png


1691923914589.png

@JayGilb looks like it's the JRS NJM5532DD (edit: sorry just saw your edit with image, but yours shows 5532D not 5532DD?) Quite decent results for this phono pre @amirm (cheers), but certainly up there price wise too.


JSmith
 
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Don't you think companies prepare those "test" devices before they are sent to you? Such tests cannot be trusted - my point of view.
This is pretty paranoid IMO. Where would improvements be implemented in an existing design, apart from higher spec capacitors, etc?

I mean audio electronics are not 1960s engines or modern overclock/performance cpus where “factory freaks” exist

I highly doubt companies are making one-off topologies and versions of products solely to send to the number of reviewers in the world that are doing intensive measurements, which I could probably count on one hand…

And even if they were, these are (relatively) simple devices. If the company had the knowledge and ability to produce a higher performing unit in the same form factor and class, why would they not just make that their retail device?

Surely for MC only the impedance matters?
Inductance matters as well but unless it is hugely f’d up, it usually only manifests in ultrasonics.

Performance is well out of track in 2023.
Voted POOR.
This is MC, not MM. different ball game.
 
Don't you think companies prepare those "test" devices before they are sent to you? Such tests cannot be trusted - my point of view.

That doesn't mean, that some devices aren't prepared. Btw: I didn't say, every device would be prepared. But you don't know, which one. Even a failed device could have been a (poorly) prepared device.

Is it really? In case of any doubt, some of them will claim that you measured a defective device or simply measured incorrectly or differently. Eg: see here.
:facepalm:
And that is how all conspiracy theories started...
 
This is a review and measurements of the Classic Audio MC Pro by Michael Filder. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $850 (£650/€750).
View attachment 305485
As non-fancy enclosures go, this is pretty nice looking and with some unusual features such as low frequency blending to reduce noise, mono switch and selectable gain. Back panel shows another unusual feature: balanced XLR out:
View attachment 305486
I like balanced output as audio gear has its only ground loops which we don't want to add the heap that phono stage may bring. As such, all of my testing was done using that output.

Check out how beautiful the insides look:
800sideopen.jpg


There should be a transparent top as an option for folks to enjoy looking at it!

Classic Audio MC Pro Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard of 0.5 mv input:
View attachment 305487

Notice the total absence of distortion as it should be. I don't have a ranking table to show you for SINAD but typical values are in 60 dB range so this is quite good.

Company advertise hyper accurate RIAA equalization which I was able to verify:
View attachment 305488

Our overload test shows more headroom than I am used to see with moving coil phono preamps:
View attachment 305489

Stepping through different frequencies we see remarkable ability to keep distortion at bay regardless of what it is:
View attachment 305490

Measuring distortion by itself naturally shows excellent response:
View attachment 305491

Conclusions
The MC Pro is a very accurate phono stage with very low noise and distortion. Company has full set of specifications which means great attention was paid to these factors. I like the unique design with extra features and of course, XLR balanced input. The cost is up there for a non-high-end phono stage but I think it is justified given the performance and features.

It is my pleasure to add the Classic Audio Michael Fidler MC Pro phonostage to my recommended list.
----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
"The cost is up there for a non-high-end phono stage..."

While it doesn't have a lot of fancy accoutrements, this being Audio Science Review I would say performance wise it is the definition of a high-end phono stage
 
This is a review and measurements of the Classic Audio MC Pro by Michael Filder. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $850 (£650/€750).
View attachment 305485
As non-fancy enclosures go, this is pretty nice looking and with some unusual features such as low frequency blending to reduce noise, mono switch and selectable gain. Back panel shows another unusual feature: balanced XLR out:
View attachment 305486
I like balanced output as audio gear has its only ground loops which we don't want to add the heap that phono stage may bring. As such, all of my testing was done using that output.

Check out how beautiful the insides look:
800sideopen.jpg


There should be a transparent top as an option for folks to enjoy looking at it!

Classic Audio MC Pro Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard of 0.5 mv input:
View attachment 305487

Notice the total absence of distortion as it should be. I don't have a ranking table to show you for SINAD but typical values are in 60 dB range so this is quite good.

Company advertise hyper accurate RIAA equalization which I was able to verify:
View attachment 305488

Our overload test shows more headroom than I am used to see with moving coil phono preamps:
View attachment 305489

Stepping through different frequencies we see remarkable ability to keep distortion at bay regardless of what it is:
View attachment 305490

Measuring distortion by itself naturally shows excellent response:
View attachment 305491

Conclusions
The MC Pro is a very accurate phono stage with very low noise and distortion. Company has full set of specifications which means great attention was paid to these factors. I like the unique design with extra features and of course, XLR balanced input. The cost is up there for a non-high-end phono stage but I think it is justified given the performance and features.

It is my pleasure to add the Classic Audio Michael Fidler MC Pro phonostage to my recommended list.
----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
@amirm Thanks for the review, one question though: What is this LF XFeed supposed to do?
Thanks!

EDIT: a pretty clear explanation is given on the Classic Audio website:
 
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When I see such "neatly" laid out PCBs with components grouped and mirrored, I find myself wondering whether performance has been left on the table, where a less aesthetically pleasing design optimized for performance (wrt trace routing and isolation) would measure better.
 
Subsonic should have been switchable, especially since there is a LF x-feed function (very good feature).
 
Looks, and measures excellently... expensive though.
 
@amirm Thanks for the review, one question though: What is this LF XFeed supposed to do?
Thanks!
As far as I understand, it combines the stereo channels below a set frequency into mono. This reduces the low frequency noise by averaging. That also means it only works for noise that isn't present in both channels. As bass signals typically aren't significantly different between the L and R channel, you don't lose much (or any) relevant musical content and you gain some "free" noise reduction in the LF range.
 
As far as I understand, it combines the stereo channels below a set frequency into mono. This reduces the low frequency noise by averaging. That also means it only works for noise that isn't present in both channels. As bass signals typically aren't significantly different between the L and R channel, you don't lose much (or any) relevant musical content and you gain some "free" noise reduction in the LF range.
Basically it reduces vertical, out-of-phase, LF signals that is generated by uneven and warped vinyl surface. You can reduce it by flattening records, increasing vertical resonance frequency, or "post" as in this case. Will also increase headroom in amps and speakers (but not cartridge...).
 
In the review you mention balanced inputs this must be balanced outpu?
 
Conclusions
The MC Pro is a very accurate phono stage with very low noise and distortion. Company has full set of specifications which means great attention was paid to these factors. I like the unique design with extra features and of course, XLR balanced input output. The cost is up there for a non-high-end phono stage but I think it is justified given the performance and features.

It is my pleasure to add the Classic Audio Michael Fidler MC Pro phonostage to my recommended list.
----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Hi Amir,
Thanks for this review! It's always a pleasure to follow your work.
A typo is in the conclusion with the XLR connection ;D
 
I notice a few people mentioning the price, I'm clueless about anything to do with vinyl so I had a look at mc phonostages on a popular retailer's website and ordered by price. Going from lowest (£64) to highest (£12,500!! although the penultimate was about 5k), £650 gets you about a quarter of the way down the page. I realise this isn't the best way to judge value but it's the best I could do without knowing what I'm looking at, it doesn't seem particularly outrageous to me. The product seems to be well designed and of high quality. It looks great in my opinion, especially inside.

I think it's worth mentioning that all of these products are hand built and soldered by one chap in his spare room in Kent (UK), then tested to spec on an analyser, in fact he even provides a picture of said state of the art spare room on his website:

1000workshop500.webp


So obviously there is going to be some premium compared to mass machine produced devices made in countries that have far lower costs all around. I would also expect this to have a good level of reliability (some thermal testing is in one of his latest facebook posts) and customer service. If anything goes wrong I know I can contact the guy and I haven't got to ship anything half way around the world, appreciate this isn't the case for those in the US/elsewhere.

I also think it's worth shouting out his website as there are very detailed explanations and measurements of each product as well as some quite lengthy articles for those interested: https://michaelfidler.com
He also has a Facebook page where he seems to be very transparent and willing to answer questions, as well as giving previews of upcoming stuff etc: https://www.facebook.com/mfidleraudio

I realise this probably reads like I'm a massive shill or have some sort of affiliation. Believe it or not I actually hadn't heard of him until googling from this review. I was just quite impressed as often a lot of these types of products made by a small company get into a lot of the subjective nonsense and don't measure that well.

Also will admit I'm a bit biased towards a small manufacturer and it being made somewhat locally! I don't have any use for this but will definitely keep an eye on the upcoming headphone amp.
 
I notice a few people mentioning the price, I'm clueless about anything to do with vinyl so I had a look at mc phonostages on a popular retailer's website and ordered by price. Going from lowest (£64) to highest (£12,500!! although the penultimate was about 5k), £650 gets you about a quarter of the way down the page. I realise this isn't the best way to judge value but it's the best I could do without knowing what I'm looking at, it doesn't seem particularly outrageous to me. The product seems to be well designed and of high quality. It looks great in my opinion, especially inside.

I think it's worth mentioning that all of these products are hand built and soldered by one chap in his spare room in Kent (UK), then tested to spec on an analyser, in fact he even provides a picture of said state of the art spare room on his website:

1000workshop500.webp


So obviously there is going to be some premium compared to mass machine produced devices made in countries that have far lower costs all around. I would also expect this to have a good level of reliability (some thermal testing is in one of his latest facebook posts) and customer service. If anything goes wrong I know I can contact the guy and I haven't got to ship anything half way around the world, appreciate this isn't the case for those in the US/elsewhere.

I also think it's worth shouting out his website as there are very detailed explanations and measurements of each product as well as some quite lengthy articles for those interested: https://michaelfidler.com
He also has a Facebook page where he seems to be very transparent and willing to answer questions, as well as giving previews of upcoming stuff etc: https://www.facebook.com/mfidleraudio

I realise this probably reads like I'm a massive shill or have some sort of affiliation. Believe it or not I actually hadn't heard of him until googling from this review. I was just quite impressed as often a lot of these types of products made by a small company get into a lot of the subjective nonsense and don't measure that well.

Also will admit I'm a bit biased towards a small manufacturer and it being made somewhat locally! I don't have any use for this but will definitely keep an eye on the upcoming headphone amp.
I was looking at the photos of the PCB upthread and instantly thought the soldering was hand-done. It looks pretty good at a glance with no disturbed solder. Still, I can't quite tell if some of those axial leads in the bottom left are missing solder fillets or just have little solder.
 
I was looking at the photos of the PCB upthread and instantly thought the soldering was hand-done. It looks pretty good at a glance with no disturbed solder. Still, I can't quite tell if some of those axial leads in the bottom left are missing solder fillets or just have little solder.
I noticed that too. Some have through-hole solder, others not.
 
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Yes, that board looks entirely hand-soldered. Some of the pads on the topside appear a little light, but those are plated-through holes and the soldering was done from the other side. This would be acceptable in most cases from an inspection standpoint.
Yeah, for a general consumer product it looks quite good. The soldering is professional.
 
Let's swap in some LM4562s and retest! They look like NE5532s in there. Is there any difference with OP Amp rolling?
 
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