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Rek O Kut Ultra Phono Preamplifier Review

Rate this Phono Stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 32 39.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 42 51.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 7 8.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 1 1.2%

  • Total voters
    82

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Rek-O-Kut - Ultra Phono Preamplifier. It costs US $159.
Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Review Phono Pre-amp stage.jpg


As "DIY looking" audio gear goes, this is one of the better implementation. The case is metal and weighs reasonable amount to stay put and not get tugged by the RCA cables. Differentiating on the functionality side is support for dual turntables, and four different EQ settings to account for lack of standardization in early years of LP production.

Back panel is as you expect with power provided by a 24 volt switching power supply:

Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Review Phono back panel two input turntable Pre-amp stage.jpg


For a budget product, I think this is excellent look and functionality.

Rek-O-Kut Ultra Phono Measurements
Since the only support is for moving magnet cartridges, testing is much simplified. So let's start with our dashboard using RIAA equalization:

Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Measurements Phono Pre-amp stage.png


I substantially reduced ground loop in the red channel but I was powerless on the blue. I tried every combination of grounding and it would either not get better or get worse. Whether that is a design problem or my setup, I can't tell for sure. Giving it benefit of doubt and going with red channel performance, we get slightly above average combination of noise and distortion:
Best Cheap Phono Pre-amp review 2022.png


Most important measurement is frequency response and RIAA implementation and here, performance is excellent:

Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Measurements RIAA Frequency Response Phono Pre-amp stage.png


Going through other settings we get:
Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Measurements other Frequency Response Phono Pre-amp stage.png


I have little understanding of these other equalization modes so I let you all judge that.

Dashboard measurements unfortunately are limited by noise. So let's eliminate that and just look at the distortion:

Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Measurements THD+A vs Frequency Phono Pre-amp stage.png


I am assuming the lower performance channel may be suffering from mains noise. Regardless, performance is good enough relative to native LP performance.

Let's see when the unit clips so that we know its level of "headroom" (ability to deal with loud pops and static):
Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Measurements THD+A vs Level Phono Pre-amp stage.png


Ah, this is very low. Testing at other frequencies shows clipping point becoming much earlier:
Rek-O-Kut ULTRA Measurements THD+A vs Level vs frequency Phono Pre-amp stage.png


Better use very clean LPs with this pre-amp.

Conclusions
I really like the look and feel of this unit for a budget product and its extra functionality. While there are some highlights in measurements such as excellent RIAA equalization, headroom is lacking. As a person who hates LP pops and ticks, the Rek-O-Kut - Ultra Phono Preamplifier is not for me and I can't recommend it. Your priorities may be different so you choose.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

JSmith

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A shame there is so much power supply noise in one channel... could have been ok for a phono pre, meh. As always, thanks for the review.

The name of the product leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the Netherlands and Nth Belgium. ;)


JSmith
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Why on earth would someone feel compelled to resurrect the long defunct Rek-O-Kut brand????? Who, aside from some old HiFi nuts even remembers that brand???? They were one of the better manufacturers of turntables in the 1950s, but who the hell cares now????

Astonishing. :facepalm:
 

phoenixdogfan

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I continue to be amazed at the proliferation of low priced phono preamps people continue to send Amir. I remember when I was still doing vinyl, there were a great many extremely expensive ones like the Sutherland Phd which sold for a cool $3k in the early two-thousandsies.

Would really be interesting to see something like that or even something like Tom Evans "The Groove" on the test bench. It would be the phono stage equivalent of an Amir Hegel review, I think.
 

Rja4000

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extremely expensive ones like the Sutherland Phd which sold for a cool $3k
One may find some phono preamp at much higher price than 3k$:
This is based, I guess, on the objectively excellent Millennia HV-3C mic preamp (with serious analog EQ added).
It's also meant for museum archiving, so very best reproduction is the target.

But still...
(I pretended to measure the HV-3C for such use here. Was fun :) )
 
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MakeMineVinyl

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One may find some phono preamp at much higher price than 3k$:
This is based, I guess, on the objectively excellent Millennia HV-3C mic preamp (with serious analog EQ added).
It's also meant for museum archiving, so very best reproduction is the target.

But still...
Just to guess, but I would imagine that anybody who's fastidious enough to care about the minutia of obsolete phono equalization would care enough to spend their money on a much higher quality unit than this. That would certainly be the case for somebody who is professionally archiving old records.
 

Tom C

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Why on earth would someone feel compelled to resurrect the long defunct Rek-O-Kut brand????? Who, aside from some old HiFi nuts even remembers that brand???? They were one of the better manufacturers of turntables in the 1950s, but who the hell cares now????

Astonishing. :facepalm:
There are actually some units out there still in use. Because of their unique service needs, like idler wheels, there is a niche for this supplier. I only know because I looked into restoring an old, used unit for a low-cost project. Ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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There are actually some units out there still in use. Because of their unique service needs, like idler wheels, there is a niche for this supplier. I only know because I looked into restoring an old, used unit for a low-cost project. Ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
I had a Rek-O-Kut turntable in the 1970s which was a belt drive. I don't remember what happened to it. Rek-O-Kut was to turntables what Magnecord was to tape in those days.
 

martijn86

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Some brands only use uninspiring type numbering. In my opinion it lacks a little "sex appeal". Well, here it is than; Stretch-o-Pussy, the other end of the spectrum!
 

Vict0r

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Edited
 
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raindance

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Maybe unless you read it for the fourth time in under 20 posts? :)
Nothing unusual nowadays. I'm a member of a hiking group and answered a member question the other day about trails at a particular location. Well every other poster, about 20 of them, provided the exact same answers. You'd think people could just read the previous posts and add detail if necessary.

Now watch me get called out for being a grumpy old man yelling at the sky or some shit.
 
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