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Graham Slee Reflex C Review (phono stage)

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Graham Slee Reflex C phono preamplifier. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $1,240 (695 pounds in UK). This is the first moving-coil-only phono stage I have tested. Usually they are either moving magnet only or both.

The case is a DIY type affair albeit, with rather attractive coloring and graphics:

Graham SLEE Reflex C Review Moving Coil Phono Stage.jpg


Back panel brings no surprise:

Graham SLEE Reflex C Review Moving Coil Phono Stage Inputs.jpg


What is surprising -- and I forgot to take its picture -- is the mass external power supply. It is larger than Reflex C itself and has an odd shape rather than the usual rectangle. It is also DC rather than AC. Not sure why they did not opt for a transformer and use AC input and put the DC conversion inside.

The moving-coil only feature set put a twist in my work as I have not captured competitive data on this input. So the following measurements are provided as they stand.

Graham Slee Reflex C Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard:

Graham SLEE Reflex C Measurements Phono Stage.png


Mains noise is quite high as is the third harmonic at 180 Hz which is usually the spikes post DC conversion. That sharply reduces SINAD but audibility is not very high due to their low frequency. Input voltage is 0.5 millivolt by the way as I always use for MC input (and within the specs of the unit).

Excluding the noise gives us a much better SINAD:
Graham SLEE Reflex C Measurements distortion Phono Stage.png


Likely far better than the LP itself can manage.

Frequency response/RIAA equalization is most important here so let's run that:
Graham SLEE Reflex C Measurements Frequency Response Phono Stage.png


The high-pass rumble filter is causing a bit of peaking to the tune of 0.5 dB. Otherwise the response is very good.

Sweeping the frequency gives us the following graphs relative to a few sample frequencies:
Graham SLEE Reflex C Measurements Distortion versus frequency vs level Phono Stage.png


Good to see clipping occurs at the same level for all frequencies. But let's once again take out the noise and see the true distortion:
Graham SLEE Reflex C Measurements THD vs Frequency Phono Stage.png


That's quite high in low frequencies, rising to almost half a percent.

Finally, here is a test of headroom:

Graham SLEE Reflex C Measurements distortion vs level Phono Stage.png


Saturation occurs quite early which means pops and ticks on the LP are likely amplified and made more annoying.

Conclusions
Not having our usual references, it is hard for me to grade this unit (hence the lack of panther next to it). The case is certainly too cheap and generic for something of this cost magnitude. Overload is quite low as well. It is not something that I personally would recommend to buy but you have your data to decide otherwise.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #3
£695.00 is about $943 US - where is the $1,240 figure coming from?
Well, we screw them when we send gear to UK and just use the same amount in pound as in dollars. This is their way of getting back at us! :D
 

pozz

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#5
Umm.... "costs US $1,240 (695 pounds in UK) "

£695.00 is about $943 US - where is the $1,240 figure coming from?
I'm finding a similar price. CAD 1200 or around USD 945 after conversion.
 

Tom C

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#8
Thank you for this review, Amir. I was wondering how one of these would measure. I got a Graham Slee Jazz Club for its adjustable phono correction beyond RIAA (to use on pre-RIAA 78’s). It’s MM only, but I expect it would measure similar. As you say, it’s likely better than the LP can manage, but I think I’ll have to look into getting a Cambridge Audio Duo for like half the cost of one of these. Knowledge is power!
 

Wombat

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#9

AudioSceptic

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#12
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Graham Slee Reflex C phono preamplifier. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $1,240 (695 pounds in UK). This is the first moving-coil-only phono stage I have tested. Usually they are either moving magnet only or both.

The case is a DIY type affair albeit, with rather attractive coloring and graphics:

View attachment 104982

Back panel brings no surprise:

View attachment 104983

What is surprising -- and I forgot to take its picture -- is the mass external power supply. It is larger than Reflex C itself and has an odd shape rather than the usual rectangle. It is also DC rather than AC. Not sure why they did not opt for a transformer and use AC input and put the DC conversion inside.

The moving-coil only feature set put a twist in my work as I have not captured competitive data on this input. So the following measurements are provided as they stand.

Graham Slee Reflex C Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard:

View attachment 104984

Mains noise is quite high as is the third harmonic at 180 Hz which is usually the spikes post DC conversion. That sharply reduces SINAD but audibility is not very high due to their low frequency. Input voltage is 0.5 millivolt by the way as I always use for MC input (and within the specs of the unit).

Excluding the noise gives us a much better SINAD:
View attachment 104985

Likely far better than the LP itself can manage.

Frequency response/RIAA equalization is most important here so let's run that:
View attachment 104986

The high-pass rumble filter is causing a bit of peaking to the tune of 0.5 dB. Otherwise the response is very good.

Sweeping the frequency gives us the following graphs relative to a few sample frequencies:
View attachment 104987

Good to see clipping occurs at the same level for all frequencies. But let's once again take out the noise and see the true distortion:
View attachment 104988

That's quite high in low frequencies, rising to almost half a percent.

Finally, here is a test of headroom:

View attachment 104989

Saturation occurs quite early which means pops and ticks on the LP are likely amplified and made more annoying.

Conclusions
Not having our usual references, it is hard for me to grade this unit (hence the lack of panther next to it). The case is certainly too cheap and generic for something of this cost magnitude. Overload is quite low as well. It is not something that I personally would recommend to buy but you have your data to decide otherwise.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Looks very poor for the money. Why not compare it to the Cambridge Duo in MC mode?
 

Tks

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#13
Bossman, could have sworn I seen you blind test with ability to hear even lower than -50dB of artifacts. You hear the distortion of this thing no problem correct?
 

anmpr1

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#16
Saturation occurs quite early which means pops and ticks on the LP are likely amplified and made more annoying.
This is just not right. People who spend a thousand dollars (and more) for half a phono stage want all those pops, clicks, ticks and skips. It is what reminds them that they are listening to records, part of an exclusive and retro club as it were. It is part of what the effort is all about. Without those artifacts, the experience is just not the same. People think I am kidding. Or being ironic/facetious. But I'm not.
 

pozz

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#17
It appears I could buy it, directly, shipped "ROW" (high shipping, no VAT), for £625.67. Does that make it any better?
View attachment 105162
Thanks. I was trying to verify the price to enter into the ASR database. I'm going with the $950 USD figure for now.
 

JimB

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#18
Thanks. I was trying to verify the price to enter into the ASR database. I'm going with the $950 USD figure for now.
Sorry. I deleted that post because I felt it really didn't add anything to the discussion. It converts to about $850 today. Here it is again:
1610308254650.png
 

Labjr

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#19
About 18-20 years ago I commented in another forum about a Graham Slee phono stage. I wondered why it was so expensive (like $1,200) when it appeared to have about $10-15 worth of parts in it? Of course, I got slammed because that was early days of the internet and audiophile magazines which were still popular, were raving about the thing.
 
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