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Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Review

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 2.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 39 34.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 66 57.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 6 5.3%

  • Total voters
    114

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Hagerman Bugle3 MM/MC phono preamplifier. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $199.
Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Preamplifier KIT review.jpg

I had previously tested Bugle2 which had fairly high noise, resulting in lack of recommendation from me. Company designer said that was too low of a performance and sent me this sample which other than having dip switches for gain, is the same as Bugle2.

Hagerman Bugle3 Measurements
In the interest of time, I focused my measurements on the 40 dB/MM mode. Here is our dashboard:
Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Preamplifier KIT measurement.png


This is substantially better than the older sample as you can see in our ranking table:
best phono preamp review 2023.png

The old one only garnered a SINAD of 61 dB. Phono stages are usually noise limited in this test and this is no exception. We can see that by extracting the distortion alone:
Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Preamplifier KIT THD measurement.png


Most important in a phono stage is RIAA equalization which Bugle3 passes for the most part:
Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Preamplifier KIT frequency response measurement.png


The high pass is probably a good thing, getting rid of some rumble. The high frequency peaking is minor at 1.4 dB at 20 kHz.

I would have wanted to see higher tolerance of input spikes as to lower the chances of clicks and pops clipping:
Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Preamplifier KIT THD+N vs Input Level measurement.png


Usually this is highly frequency dependent but is not in this case:
Hagerman Bugle3 Phono Stage Preamplifier KIT THD+N vs Frequency vs Level measurement.png


We don't lose our margin until we get to 20 kHz whereas other units usually show a frequency specific step down. In that regard, performance is good at higher frequencies. Just not at 1 kHz as much.

Conclusions
Good to see much improved performance in this product (kit). Performance is now pretty competent and lands around average in all the phono stages I have tested. If you take joy in building your own phono stage, the Hagerman Bugle3 makes a good option.

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Frank Dernie

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The high pass is probably a good thing, getting rid of some rumble.
It isn't only rumble.
Since a seismic sensor like a pickup cartridge/arm combination only starts to produce an accurate transduction from around 2x the natural frequency of the mass on the compliance (the exact value depends on damping which is forced to be in the "wrong" place for excellent performance on a record player) ALL of its output below that frequency will be inaccurate and boosted so is best removed anyway, even if the record player has low rumble.
 

thewas

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What about its capacitance value, isn't that important as different values give different response above 2 kHz with most typical MM cartridges (MI and MCHO excluded)? Some say the total including cabling should be around 100-200 pF.

m97_eplot3.gif
 

Lopsided

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2x the natural frequency of the mass on the compliance (the exact value depends on damping which is forced to be in the "wrong" place for excellent performance on a record player)
What’s the wrong place?
 

Frank Dernie

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What’s the wrong place?
At the cantilever pivot, the “correct” place for accurate transduction is between cartridge body and record surface.
Shure did make some cartridges that had it in the correct place, but also had to add some damping at the pivot so it would also not be too bad when people decided not to use it…
The Townshend solution is good with a flat record, definitely better than nothing.

Since for many people “moar bass” is always better a lot of people like the sound with it wrong ;)
 

pma

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What about its capacitance value, isn't that important as different values give different response above 2 kHz with most typical MM cartridges (MI and MCHO excluded)? Some say the total including cabling should be around 100-200 pF.

m97_eplot3.gif

Hello @thewas , certainly, the load capacitance has significant effect on resulting frequency response of the MM cartridge.

Shure_MX35_loadcap_C9.png
 
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thewas

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certainly, the load capacitance has significant effect on resulting frequency response of the MM cartridge.

View attachment 273068
Thank you, would you say then it is fundamental measurements of a phono amp test/review?
 

pma

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Thank you, would you say then it is fundamental measurements of a phono amp test/review?
It should be declared as a rated parameter of the MM phono preamp, the rated input capacitance. Then cable capacitance is added and the MM cartridge used is loaded with Cc + Cin. It is one of the main parameters.
 

thewas

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It should be declared as a rated parameter of the MM phono preamp, the rated input capacitance. Then cable capacitance is added and the MM cartridge used is loaded with Cc + Cin. It is one of the main parameters.
By the way two German magazines plot the frequency response with a standardised MM system too to show the influence of the input capacitance and impedance, for example

1679236940599.png

Source of above measurements: https://www.technologyfactory.be/reviews/Clearaudio/Smartphono-Balanced Reference.pdf
 
Last edited:

solderdude

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What about its capacitance value, isn't that important as different values give different response above 2 kHz with most typical MM cartridges (MI and MCHO excluded)? Some say the total including cabling should be around 100-200 pF.

m97_eplot3.gif

Resistance, capacitance (cable also adds capacitance), overload character, gain and RIAA compliance and when present LF filter are all important aspects.

Resistance and capacitance as well as the cartridge and even the tone arm influence the final frequency response the most.

By the way two German magazines plot the frequency response with a standardised MM system too to show the influence of the input capacitance and impedance, for example

View attachment 273077
Source of above measurements: https://www.technologyfactory.be/reviews/Clearaudio/Smartphono-Balanced Reference.pdf

The peaking is cartridge dependent so can vary from cartridge to cartridge and are also phono cable dependent. The cable capacitance is in parallel to the input capacitance unless the input of the MM amp has a small series resistance which can help avoid detection of nearby radio stations and prevents too much peaking.
 

pma

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Yes and even if there is a small resistor at the phono amplifier input, like 150 ohm, and then the small capacitor, like 100pF, it still affects the frequency response, depending on the MM cartridge inductance and resistance.
 

MaxwellsEq

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The Townshend solution is good with a flat record, definitely better than nothing.

Since for many people “moar bass” is always better a lot of people like the sound with it wrong ;)
I have the Townshend / Cranfield Institute of Technology solution, which is effective. The bass is more tape- and CD-like with less of the vinyl "richness" many like.
 

pma

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By the way two German magazines plot the frequency response with a standardised MM system too to show the influence of the input capacitance and impedance, for example
Influence of cable capacitance (0 - 300pF) to FR of real world combination of MM cartridge dummy circuit + RIAA phono preamp.

phonopre_cablecap.png


This is something you cannot see from the measurement with standard generator only. The same applies to noise performance, cartridge resistance AND inductance influences resulting noise according to real schematics of the phono preamplifier.
 

MCH

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You guys seem to be very knowledgeable about phono preamps. Do you know of any diy freely available design for MM known to measure fine and have good headroom and all the specs you like to see in a phono stage? Or is there anything against diying one? (ie. too tight tolerances required or stuff like that. No clue, just wondering)
Thanks!
 

MaxwellsEq

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You guys seem to be very knowledgeable about phono preamps. Do you know of any diy freely available design for MM known to measure fine and have good headroom and all the specs you like to see in a phono stage? Or is there anything against diying one? (ie. too tight tolerances required or stuff like that. No clue, just wondering)
Thanks!
There are several that have been discussed on DIYAudio. There's nothing against DIY, but you are dealing with low level signals, lots of gain, surprising amounts of required headroom and the need to accurately implement RIAA slopes. In other words, there are many ways to produce a sub-standard solution, but also no reason why you can't create something successful.
 
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