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Classic Audio MC Pro Phonostage Review

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 7 3.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 6 2.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 53 25.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 140 68.0%

  • Total voters
    206

EJ3

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According to tests in the 80's, the T4P mount offers a fair amount of lower midrange colouration as the joint isn't very good (as tested and it's enough to show on cartridge response traces). The trend for solid tonearms from pivot to headshell does have some advantages.

Interestingly, the Dual shell-carrier arrangement in your 1229 (and my 701/601/1214/1019/1009SK2 - Gawd I'm sad), gives these tonearms a lively structure above 1kHz, but fitting a metal mount pickup (AT20SLa back then and VM740 now, as well as a few MC's I've tried - EEK!!) seems to mute this aspect nicely...

P.S and off topic - make sure the 'rubber tubing' around the 1229's tonearm height assembly locating balls underneath is replaced as if not, the height lever will jam and the infamous 'dearing ring' on the bottom of the arm outer gimbal will fracture - it can be repaired now but it's a royal pain and needs fine engineering skills.. Forgive me if you know this already :)
The DUAL is primarily used by my 89 year old (but still, vibrant, swimming, boating in her 15 ft. Jon Boat with a 15 HP motor, etc) mother for her old albums of Native Austrian Folk music. Not something I worry about. Also, in 1984 Technics (Technics, the inventor of T4P, was doing quite a good job on the T4P setups in the 1984-88 time frame. (the SL-M3 was only made from 84-88.) It was very close to $500.00 in 1984 and was/is a highly optimized & limited production TT.
 

EJ3

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According to tests in the 80's, the T4P mount offers a fair amount of lower midrange colouration as the joint isn't very good (as tested and it's enough to show on cartridge response traces). The trend for solid tonearms from pivot to headshell does have some advantages.

Interestingly, the Dual shell-carrier arrangement in your 1229 (and my 701/601/1214/1019/1009SK2 - Gawd I'm sad), gives these tonearms a lively structure above 1kHz, but fitting a metal mount pickup (AT20SLa back then and VM740 now, as well as a few MC's I've tried - EEK!!) seems to mute this aspect nicely...

P.S and off topic - make sure the 'rubber tubing' around the 1229's tonearm height assembly locating balls underneath is replaced as if not, the height lever will jam and the infamous 'dearing ring' on the bottom of the arm outer gimbal will fracture - it can be repaired now but it's a royal pain and needs fine engineering skills.. Forgive me if you know this already :)
I am not in the MC club, but I will look into the head shell setups & the T4P setup stuff when I have time (after the 1st qtr. 24). Thanks.
I have never ran into the locating balls jamming but I'll look into what ours is doing. It seems to have no issues other than me having to adjust the part that allows it to drop one record at a time. But the only time that we have used it with that spindle is when I was function testing it.
Otherwise, it is just used with the single record spindle. My mother is happy with it as long as the automatic features are working. My wife & I bought my mother this TT for her 87th Birthday. (Because she has trouble with a manual TT).
 

DSJR

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I am not in the MC club, but I will look into the head shell setups & the T4P setup stuff when I have time (after the 1st qtr. 24). Thanks.
I have never ran into the locating balls jamming but I'll look into what ours is doing. It seems to have no issues other than me having to adjust the part that allows it to drop one record at a time. But the only time that we have used it with that spindle is when I was function testing it.
Otherwise, it is just used with the single record spindle. My mother is happy with it as long as the automatic features are working. My wife & I bought my mother this TT for her 87th Birthday. (Because she has trouble with a manual TT).
PLEASE do NOT attempt to use the auto-arm-height adjustment on the Dual until you've looked below deck and checked the part I refer to - here's a stripped out deck and the 'rubber tube' is to the bottom right of the black 'segment' next to the adjacent nut and around the brass fitting (not too difficult to get to without dismantling it all.

1692106154423.jpeg


I'm being an anal old turntable setter-upper (most of my career) so forgive me. if you look on VE site in the 'Dual' room and in particular the Dualcan tumblr site, you'll get chapter and verse in maintaining these endearing old decks, now with hardened/dried lubrication, crumbling pimpels (oo-er missus) and in the case of the 1219/1229, a rubber tube which locates the ball bearings acting on the grooves around the gimbal's lower extension stud. If the lever has never been touched, it WILL break the dearing ring studs as it'll need to be forced and the deck is unusable if it's broken as the arm is all over the place.

I do apologise for fouling up the thread here, but that old Dual is a great and fondly remembered old vinyl spinner, actually quite quiet through the stylus when new and when serviced fifty years on and with a gentle delicate auto mechanism that other decks of its type could only envy. I lent mine out and never got it back sadly, so replaced it with the 701 and the rest is audiophool history as I can't bring myself to sell the others on that I've accumulated although I need to!

Actually and back on topic, the idler driven deck spoken of above would be a prime candidate for the lf-monoing adjustment on this and the MM Pro version :D
 
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Ismapics

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MM or MC on MC I supose this is the physical limit , but the vinyl noise itself is also there .

For all the youngsters MC inputs are by nature noisier due to physics and you read the SINAD chart with that in mind .

I have fond memories off when swiching to MC increased the noise on your amp .

There are also the posibiluty of an input transformer ?

But it's a bit over my head , I suppose the Pickup coil itself gives a a physical noise limit as a generator of the signal and the whole system should be considered together as a unit and I don't know this topic well enough to explain more .
Thanks for the reply. I still have my Technics bought in 1983, with P-Mount. Not into vinyl, did that and moved on to digital. Not comfortable going back. Cheers.
 

Ismapics

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Considering complete vinyl transfer function from production through playback, a SINAD of 73 dB is highly optimistic, even when everything is just right (almost never the case).
Thanks for the reply. Yet you get all the cadre of "audiophiles" that still prefer as it "sounds better" . cheers
 

levimax

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Thanks for the reply. Yet you get all the cadre of "audiophiles" that still prefer as it "sounds better" . cheers
The correlation between SINAD and "sounds good" is very weak. There was a 300B amp with SINAD of 28 that most people could not tell from a state of the art amp.
 

computer-audiophile

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My point of view: The build looks like old school, neatly done. Obviously only standard industrial components are used, perhaps some R's and C's are selected for low tolerances to achieve a low RIAA deviation. 850$ would not be worth this simple box to me.
 
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Mnyb

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The build is old school, neatly done. Obviously only standard industrial components are used, perhaps some R's and C's are selected for low tolerances to achieve a low RIAA deviation. 850$ would not be worth this simple box to me.
We are quite different I see mostly standard components as a bonus , no fiddly unobtainable special stuff :)

The thought out design of the circuits with the novel functions the brand offers and good adherence to the riaa curve ( I think that actually matters a lot 0,5 of a dB is not much if it where an isolated high q peak but over a wide range it could mean subtle tonality changes ), but it’s on the upper limit of what I pay for any phono stage , due to that it’s way passed the media’s inherit limitations, and I would go for the MM version. So you can’t be particulars price sensitive to buy this.

It’s a bit telling about other RIAA manufacturers, when they skimp on adherence to the actual curve ( that’s whats you are buying after all , a very specific eq curve in a box ) and that he offers decent overload margins . Some other hidden feature is the active and not passive equalisation ? It’s seem to me that it’s an myth that passive EQ is better .
And no “audiophile grade” capacitors or other cult features, it’s makes me happy to see .

If you outsourced this to an offshore manufacturer it could be cheaper but then it needs to sell I larger volumes otherwise the hustle and QC needed to check up on your subcontractors would not make it worth the effort.

It’s a classic conundrum for a small operation , grow the company or stay small ? You can bust it all trying to get bigger it’s a transition that not many manage ? ( sorry for the OT )
 

Ismapics

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The correlation between SINAD and "sounds good" is very weak. There was a 300B amp with SINAD of 28 that most people could not tell from a state of the art amp.
When you have regular consumer gear, an Audiotecnica with a HTR, it wont be better than digital. Still why duo you need to make sure we know you know better? You dont know but I do!!
 

Mnyb

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The correlation between SINAD and "sounds good" is very weak. There was a 300B amp with SINAD of 28 that most people could not tell from a state of the art amp.
Sinad has two parts noise and distortion, noise is the most important part our ability to hear distortion is not that great ?
And fr response deviations are often audible in AB test is it not said the fr response is single most important factor then you have the rest , so a flat response is important or the case for this phono amp good riaa adherence .
 

MaxwellsEq

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Ahh, it looks like you are comparing oranges with diesels. You are right: because the signal is very small from a moving coil cartridge, designs are operating close to the floor on noise, and noise is the limiting factor when it comes to MCs. Compared to Red Book CD (or higher resolution) digital output at 2V, this MC amp can't come close. However, it's better than one can expect from the very best LP in perfect condition on the best turntable. It's much better than most LPs! If you want less noise, CD or high-res digital is measurably better. In which case, I recommend not investing in an LP playback solution.
 

VQR

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Say I manage to find one offering 76 dB.
I would also vote POOR if given the chance.

I am voting performance within the SOTA in mid 2023, not performance within a group, as staying
in a group while neglecting progress is to my understanding of little help to keep pushing the
envelope toward better products.

As I said, this is a technology superseded long ago.

If you need the thing to spin, I have good news...


Rating components for their intended use must be a foreign concept to you.

Surprisingly, there are people interested in playing old records, whether for preferred masterings or nostalgia. You won't on this forum find longtime members foolishly arguing vinyl is SOTA. Still, there are people here who do enjoy the medium and want to maximize performance; reviews like this one help people differentiate between what will meet their needs and what will perform subpar.
 
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AdamG

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Please stay on topic. This is an Official Review Thread. Keep your posts rooted in the Product and or the Test Bench results.

Multiple off topic posts deleted and a thread ban issued.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. ;)
 

thyristor

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This is way overpriced for what it is. Components for this are dirt cheap.
 

DSJR

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This is way overpriced for what it is. Components for this are dirt cheap.
I used to make this mistake, just looking at a supposed bill of parts! I did a bit of assembly for a UK niche maker and soon came to realise the hidden costs in a self-employed little business. My benefactor didn't make enough per box to seriously make a living either (he was basically retired so the audio business topped up his pension) and when the business was sold after his passing and moved to northern England, assembly in a proper small 'unit' and costed out professionally, prices first all but doubled and have gone up since due to UK sourced boards (not Malaysia or wherever and all but smuggled back in a suitcase) and better cases with more reliable transformers and better regarded supply caps and so on. The poor chap here's got to make a living - and how many a week do you think he sells? This aint a computer motherboard made in the tens of thousands in a far eastern sweat-shop you know ;)

Take a look at the Spartan 5 model if you want a seriously cost effective MM stage (or the Mani 2 if in the US!). For us in the UK wanting a more than adequate MC stage 'on the cheap,' then a Rega Fono MC possibly, although I'm shocked to see it's now £275 in current stylee form, so a bit of a hike over the previous one with curvy front moulding :(
 
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