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Parks Audio Puffin Review (Phono Stage)

Helicopter

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In fairness to AT, pretty sure the problem with my 440MLb is due damage from user error, but still got it tracking well.
 

Shibataman 59

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There are 2 screws on the bottom of the tonearm for adjusting azimuth.

You can buy a headshell that has its own azimuth adjustment though. Keep in mind that you will probably increase the weight of the headshell though (the Technics headshell only weighs 7.5g).
good morning. Before loosening any screws, you need to know that those standard headshells all have some play in them, and simply twisting it left or right will give enough adjustment. Besides, simply Removing it, and reinstalling it will yield different results each time, so making any adjustments on the arm will not help anything. you can also achieve good azimuth adjustment by playing a vertical modulation test tone, and setting for an even L R level, that is, if the cartridge output balance is perfect, which it never is, hence the azimuth conundrum. Another thing that is extremely confusing is that the test LP’s aren’t so perfect either. simply from the fact that stereo cutter heads are being used to cut the tracks creates error. If a true mono single coil lateral cutter head is used, it can eliminate any channel balance error on the record, same with a vertical coil, however, the vertical error is also dependent on the lathe accuracy. If the head is mounted a little off, then the test record will reflect that. There is no true perfect solution for azimuth. It’s all about compromise. Maybe some day someone will come up with a way to use a laser or something.
 

Balle Clorin

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@amirm Are we really seeing a 1kHz overload at just 20mV for a typical MM gain set to 40dB? That's unbelievably poor for any phono stage, regardless of price. Even that little Realistic 40 year old horror-show had an 80mV overload.

Here's a block diagram I found in another review:

(audioXpress)View attachment 108457

And the RIAA deviation is shocking above 14kHz where it drops like a stone to end up nearly 3dB down at 20kHz. Is there an issue with feeding the front end with such a low source (AP ~20R)? Are you sure there was no filters or rolloffs set into it?
The default High frequency limit is, 20k. That gives an early roll off , I use High cutoff at 48k and do not Get the roll off seen here
 

Balle Clorin

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Puffin is not limited to 48 or 44.1kHz. Just need to select correct from the menu .Here is my measurement with test record up to 45kHz
index.php


30kHz vinyl signal through Puffin. My test record B&K QR2010 requires equalisation setting n500R-0, not phono., but with normal RIAA eq the signal also goes through, (light blue below)

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1650117925402.png
 

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C. Cook

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I've got zero experience with vinyl and only owned a turntable for a short time in the 80s. I was looking for a phono preamp that would let me control volume and gain (like with an actual knob) so I ended up buying a Puffin in March.

Since it's essentially a DSP that converts the phono signal to digital and then back to analog I was curious as to whether it has a different sound signature than a standard phono preamp. Personally I like it just fine and would happily recommend it on the basis of my own limited experience with vinyl. There's a lot of tweaking you can do to the sound. BUT, am I missing any of the vinyl "magic" (like in how an unprocessed analog vinyl signal sounds) that a normal phono preamp would provide or does the Puffin sound exactly the same as a mid-range affordable analog preamp?

Also what cartridges have people found work the best with it? Maybe there's a separate thread somewhere else for that?
 

Helicopter

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I've got zero experience with vinyl and only owned a turntable for a short time in the 80s. I was looking for a phono preamp that would let me control volume and gain (like with an actual knob) so I ended up buying a Puffin in March.

Since it's essentially a DSP that converts the phono signal to digital and then back to analog I was curious as to whether it has a different sound signature than a standard phono preamp. Personally I like it just fine and would happily recommend it on the basis of my own limited experience with vinyl. There's a lot of tweaking you can do to the sound. BUT, am I missing any of the vinyl "magic" (like in how an unprocessed analog vinyl signal sounds) that a normal phono preamp would provide or does the Puffin sound exactly the same as a mid-range affordable analog preamp?
Due to loading and frequency response, whether it beats another preamp, will depend on the cartridge, and in theory, other parts of the system like speakers. I my practical experience with the Puffin, Cambridge Duo, a NAD pp2, and maybe 6 others, it did as well as anything else, and better than poorly engineered stuff.

I am really happy with the Audio Technica AT-OC9XML. It was great with the Puffin and everything else.

Are you missing 'magic' with the Puffin? Not in any audibly perceptible way or in any way that could clear blind testing. So no. Nostalgia would be the only valid reason to avoid the digital conversions; they occur at vastly higher resolution than anything ever possibly recorded on vinyl.
 

Liberte

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My current setup has only digital inputs so was considering the Puffin with optical out option as a solution. My only concern is doesn't ADC then DAC or keeping digital out defeat the purpose of vinyl, which is surely a pure analog signal chain, with the inherent imperfections that may entail?

Is the Puffin purely for vinyl listeners who want to correct imperfections/artifacts etc rather than keep them?
 

BDWoody

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My current setup has only digital inputs so was considering the Puffin with optical out option as a solution. My only concern is doesn't ADC then DAC or keeping digital out defeat the purpose of vinyl, which is surely a pure analog signal chain, with the inherent imperfections that may entail?

Is the Puffin purely for vinyl listeners who want to correct imperfections/artifacts etc rather than keep them?

You can keep all the imperfections if you want, just don't turn on the 'magic' function.

The ADC resolution is higher than the record it is sampling from, so you aren't going to lose anything in the translation. It doesn't sound better or worse than my other phono preamps, but it does have some very useful features.
 

Liberte

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OK thanks, it seems like a good option for a phono preamp and probably the one of the best options if I wanted to continue using my current DAC/preamp so needed an ADC.

If i was to use the RCA output on the Puffin I'd also need a headphone amp, I see the option for a digital output says it includes analog, do you know if is this a 6.35mm output which responds to the volume control, so it can be used as a headphone amp?

Many thanks
 

BDWoody

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OK thanks, it seems like a good option for a phono preamp and probably the one of the best options if I wanted to continue using my current DAC/preamp so needed an ADC.

If i was to use the RCA output on the Puffin I'd also need a headphone amp, I see the option for a digital output says it includes analog, do you know if is this a 6.35mm output which responds to the volume control, so it can be used as a headphone amp?

Many thanks

It only has line level analog output (rca) so you would need to connect it to a headphone amp to drive headphones.

The analog and digital outputs can't be used at the same time if that's a consideration.

I don't have the analog output connected at the moment, as I'm just running a toslink cable across the room to the receiver, instead of a long run of a pair of rca cables.

Edit: You can see the toslink cable coming out of the back.

0503220939_copy_734x734.jpg
 

watchnerd

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PSU for turntable. That project got a bit out of hand too. Enclosure decorations and paint is also home made. Designed PCB etc for it my self, got "way too good" capacitors etc. But hey, we only live once :)

Wow, ambitious!

But on a quartz-locked direct drive TT, what effect does it have?
 

TeroS

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Wow, ambitious!

But on a quartz-locked direct drive TT, what effect does it have?

It's not about the drive itself, it's another things. The original PSU is located under the platter and it vibrates at 50Hz (electricity here) and this is transferred to cartridge, this can not only be measured but also heard. Not much of course but it does. Also the PSU suffers a bit from putting out EMF which is again affecting the cartridge. Both of these "issues" are eliminated by taking the PSU out of the turntable. As a bonus there is a possibility to give turntable more precise and better filtered DC-voltage with adequate current-capacity. Also, stock PSU puts out nearly 36VDC when turntable actually runs on 21.6VDC, setting PSU output closer to desired end-voltage puts less stress on the voltage regulation.
 
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