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Review and Measurements of Lounge LCR MKIII Phono Amp

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#41
So, earnest question - is the dominant third harmonic on graph likely intentional design choice for 'pleasing distortion?" Grace us with a subjective appraisal, Amirm!

@SIY Looking forward to your Puffin review/ measurements. There's obvious incongruities in the pursuit of a technically proficient vinyl set-up, but the unit interests me nevertheless and hell, I've bigger fish to fry in respect of life follies.

Also, SIY, if I may - something of a Cliff's notes on your phono testing would be greatly appreciated!
 

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#42
Also, SIY, if I may - something of a Cliff's notes on your phono testing would be greatly appreciated!
That's the idea of the review- to lay out methods and whycomes for phono stage characterizations, moreso than looking at that particular phono stage. The only reason I'm doing the Puffin is because someone is sending me one, rather than anything particularly interesting about it in particular.

Oddly, MC stages are much easier for measurement than MM, but that's because MC cartridges are very simple sources- negligible L, low R. And I'm hoping that some smarter folks than I will come up with easier, more automated, and less tedious ways to get the same data (I'm pretty good with measurement, much less so with the software/macro end).
 
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#43
For what is worth, as stated before I focus on sound primarily. However, in addition to passing real music through a turntable, I always perform a spot check of some key frequencies on each unit that goes out for LCR MKIII standard option, silver wire option, gold and custom. In fact, I am the happiest guy in the world when people to this day, send me units for upgrade. And in every case, I have had nothing but praise. I am acutely aware of the utmost importance of customer service. Without my customers and their recommendations (which is the best advertisement I can have) my small business cannot function. To that end, I offer a high value product along with service that has extended, at times, beyond support for just my product.

Here you have a link to a video of a more intensive FR measurement for a customer showing how I do it. I did it for a guy that had some problems with channel imbalance. In the end, the problem turned out to be his phono cables and he is happy now. As you can see I did the test with only a function generator and meter.

As to the large 3rd harmonic distortion you got, this was not evident on my tests at my shop or at an independent lab. However it could be from a batch related core non-linearity or age effects. I’ll look into it since I am consulting with a design engineer who used to work at Jensen all through the 80’s who is assisting me in the process of setting up my own inductor winding operation.

I have over 30 years of experience in the professional audio industry working for companies such as JBL, Alesis and Harmon Electronics and spent all my life around musicians since my father was a session musician. He had a recording studio in Los Angeles during the 60s and 70s. I was a musician for over a decade while working in recording studios. So, as you can see I have been on both sides of the microphone.
 
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#44
So, earnest question - is the dominant third harmonic on graph likely intentional design choice for 'pleasing distortion?" Grace us with a subjective appraisal, Amirm!

@SIY Looking forward to your Puffin review/ measurements. There's obvious incongruities in the pursuit of a technically proficient vinyl set-up, but the unit interests me nevertheless and hell, I've bigger fish to fry in respect of life follies.

Also, SIY, if I may - something of a Cliff's notes on your phono testing would be greatly appreciated!
I don't know if Amirm's 3hrd harmonic measurements are correct since I never saw that in my tests. However, I would love to get that unit and do my mods to it. Then Amirm runs the unit through the tests again. And I would like the owner or Amirm to put an identifying mark on the main inductor so that we all know that I didn't change it. Heck, maybe the third harmonic will be worse since my mods amplify all harmonic details whether from source or internal circuit anomalies with much more accuracy.

How to you expect Amirm to give you a subjective appraisal? He doesn't seem to actually listen the the phonostages he tests! Unlike me who has listened to every unit I built/shipped since day one of Lounge Audio. That's a lot of phonostages!
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #45
Here you have a link to a video of a more intensive FR measurement for a customer showing how I do it. I did it for a guy that had some problems with channel imbalance. In the end, the problem turned out to be his phono cables and he is happy now. As you can see I did the test with only a function generator and meter.
That is not a frequency response measurement. That is a channel matching test. I noted in my review that channel matching is very good so that is not in dispute.

Your notes below the video say that you only test at 20, 200 and 20 kHz. That should have caught the issue I saw although it is not sufficiently accurate test to see the full problem.

Do you have a proper measurement like I have performed showing the frequency response with inverse RIAA applied to input? Without such data, my measurements stand.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #46
I don't know if Amirm's 3hrd harmonic measurements are correct since I never saw that in my tests.
How did you do your tests? What equipment did you use for instrumentation?
 
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Thread Starter #47
For what is worth, as stated before I focus on sound primarily.
That is just as well our focus. With LPs though, it is a random situation where the record could be all over the place as well as the cartridge. So you can't use them as sources especially if you are testing without a reference in controlled manner.

It is important to know if the phono stage is putting its own coloration. Measurements make this trivial to see unlike the messy situation of just listening to some LP with one's aging ears, and determining what is, or is not right. Surely you liking some brightness in your phono pre-amp as you say in the video may not be a younger person's cup of tea. Such a graph as I have shown needs to be in your specification. I saw nothing in the marketing material for your phono pre-amp saying that it doesn't comply with RIAA equalization.

Frequency response measurements are readily doable with a cheap sound card. There is no reason to only test at three frequencies and such using 1970s type audio gear as you have in the video. We can do much better and should strive to give customers what they think they are getting.
 
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Thread Starter #48
How to you expect Amirm to give you a subjective appraisal? He doesn't seem to actually listen the the phonostages he tests! Unlike me who has listened to every unit I built/shipped since day one of Lounge Audio. That's a lot of phonostages!
Anecdotal reports like what you are stating are everywhere and for every product. You don't think other phono designers say the same thing? How could a customer know who is right and who isn't? There is praise for every product I review without exception. I could put a rock in a box and sell it and gather a bunch of testimonials on how fantastic it sounded.

This is why we measure. Measurements are objective and produce data without bias. They show design faults, and characteristics. That value is already there in testing your product showing frequency response variations which should be audible to everyone. Prior to the review I searched for feedback from others and found this: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/lounge-lcr-mkiii-high-end.479200/

1555026650366.png

Measurements like mine can answer if he is, or is not crazy. Indeed the bass boost I show can explain him thinking the highs are deficient in addition to the dip low high frequencies.

My suggestion is to use the information here to better your product.
 

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#49
This is why we measure. Measurements are objective and produce data without bias. They show design faults, and characteristics. That value is already there in testing your product showing frequency response variations which should be audible to everyone.
One should note that this is a piece of electronic amplification, so the measurements indeed tell you everything about it. It either amplifies accurately and conforms to the RIAA standard or it doesn't. Period.

If one makes the claim that there's something special in the sound of electronic amplification that goes beyond frequency response, noise, and distortion (including overload), then an honest practitioner will show controlled (DBT) listening data to demonstrate this.
 
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#50
Anecdotal reports like what you are stating are everywhere and for every product. You don't think other phono designers say the same thing? How could a customer know who is right and who isn't? There is praise for every product I review without exception. I could put a rock in a box and sell it and gather a bunch of testimonials on how fantastic it sounded.

This is why we measure. Measurements are objective and produce data without bias. They show design faults, and characteristics. That value is already there in testing your product showing frequency response variations which should be audible to everyone. Prior to the review I searched for feedback from others and found this: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/lounge-lcr-mkiii-high-end.479200/


Measurements like mine can answer if he is, or is not crazy. Indeed the bass boost I show can explain him thinking the highs are deficient in addition to the dip low high frequencies.

My suggestion is to use the information here to better your product.
Do you want to post the rest of this stevehoffman.tv thread or do I it?
 
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#51
I could put a rock in a box and sell it and gather a bunch of testimonials on how fantastic it sounded.
You are greatly underestimating my customer base and the wider vinyl buying public. Since you are not a vinyl listener you are quite out of place to make a brash comment such as this.
 

dreite

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#52
You are greatly underestimating my customer base and the wider vinyl buying public. Since you are not a vinyl listener you are quite out of place to make a brash comment such as this.
Robert,

This is probably not the forum for you.

Subjective evaluation is, by definition, incontrovertible. If you design with that objective and your customers evaluate in that way, then you're good to go. No amount of objective measurement can challenge your immunity on that.

Dave.
 
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Thread Starter #53
You are greatly underestimating my customer base and the wider vinyl buying public. Since you are not a vinyl listener you are quite out of place to make a brash comment such as this.
I have countless friends that have Vinyl systems, some retailing close to half a million dollars. I have been to countless audio shows and heard vinyl in every form and fashion. None of this matters, nor your answer because that was a generic point: that audio gear gets positive testimonials no matter what it does, what it doesn't do. The mind is very creative and imagines all kinds of improvements in sound even if there is none, or even a degradation. This is what audio science says. If you have a different opinion, it would be like advocating eating tofu to a steak eating crowd. :) We don't chase voodoo in audio.
 
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Thread Starter #54
Do you want to post the rest of this stevehoffman.tv thread or do I it?
Happy to post more:

1555038945278.png


Are the highs recessed in hour phono stage? In the video you clearly say it has more highs. How are the two statements consistent with each other?
 
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#55
I took measurements at the two points your FR graph deviates the most for in-band audio. This first picture shows 1khz calibrated to a 0 reference of -10db. The second picture shows my measurement at 35hz. It is at about +18.4db. Hagerman's site says RIAA compliance is +18.29 at 35hz. The third picture shows 1khz calibrated to a 0 reference of +10db. The forth picture shows my measurement at 10khz. It is at about -13.7db. Hagerman's site says RIAA compliance is -13.65 at 10khz.


1KHZLOW.JPG
35HZ+18.4DB.JPG
1KHZHIGH.JPG
10KHZ-13.7DB.JPG
 
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#56
:) We don't chase voodoo in audio.
Wow, so now you imply I do voodoo. I worked in a place that did real audio voodoo and I posted about it on DIYaudio. It was a pretty good unit in spite of the crazy stuff they did. Unlike you, I waited for the company to have been out of business for years and the guy that I named to be retired from audio. :) I didn't want to negatively effect the business, the employees and dealers.:)
 
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#57
Happy to post more:

View attachment 24779

Are the highs recessed in hour phono stage? In the video you clearly say it has more highs. How are the two statements consistent with each other?
You are still cherry picking. That is not the gist of the thread.

Here let me help you,

Thread starter
"I've had my Lounge LCR MK III for about a week now. I noticed right out of the box that there seems to be a bit less high end than what I'm used to (immediately prior to switching to the Lounge I was using the phono stage on a NAD 165 preamp, and prior to that a Musical Fidelity V-LPS).Tonight I cued up a nice pressing I have of the self-titled Montrose album and started a/b-ing it with a 24/96 needle drop I'd done using my old rig (Technics SL-1600 with Ortofon 2M Blue and Musical Fidelity V-LPS phono stage). The difference in high end when compared to my current rig (VPI Classic 2 with Ortofon 2M Black and the Lounge LCR MK III) is pretty stark - there's definitely a lot more high end from the old system.This is not scientific by a long shot, since there's a bunch of other gear that has changed since I did the needle drop, but it seems like either the Lounge rolls off the top end, or the last two phono stages I was using exaggerated it. Or I'm nuts.Am I crazy? Can anyone else who has the Lounge comment?I think I will dig out the Musical Fidelity V-LPS tomorrow and do a direct comparison again using my current turntable setup. "

Me
"It's the lack of smearing from the passive RIAA in the LCR."

Thread starter
"Smearing? Can you elaborate?"

Me
" Start playing different material through your system. I think you will notice that you hear more differences in pressing/mastering quality than before. Also with less smearing you can turn up the level more without things getting shouty or congested. The smearing I am referring to comes from many technical aspects in phono preamp designs. In my experience two big culprits that cause smearing are surface mount components and active feedback RIAA topology. For the surfacemount components (called SMD) the capacitors made this way are almost always trading compact size for performance. As for the feedback RIAA the time delay of the high frequencies feeding back through usually a consumer grade op-amp will cause some ringing that smears the high frequencies. What this does for your listening experience is make the phono preamp have a static sameness to the high frequency response."

Thread starter
"I should probably add that I'm not knocking the Lounge; it's a phenomenal sounding phono stage, and would be a bargain at twice the price. I'm just trying to track down the differences I'm hearing, which is made complicated by the fact that I changed a lot of things around at once. Plus I don't run a stopwatch or anything, but I'm guessing that the Lounge only has about 15 hours or so on it, so it's not fully burned in yet. I went back this morning and listened again to the before and after needle drops - one with the Musical Fidelity V-LPS, one with the Lounge. The high end with the Lounge is a lot smoother; the high end with the Musical Fidelity seems almost strident and harsh. But there's a further catch - the Musical Fidelity needle drop was done using just the stock screw-down clamp and no mat on the VPI's aluminum platter; the Lounge needle drop was done using the mat that came with the VPI, plus the VPI periphery ring clamp and the HRX center weight. Is it possible I've just assembled a much more revealing system and I'm now able to hear differences (mat vs no mat, ring clamp, etc) that I could not hear before?"

Thread starter again
"Doing more deep listening. I ditched the platter mat, and that actually tightened up the sound a bit more.

What's weird/cool is that I've never been able to hear these kinds of differences before I embarked on my massive upgrade campaign...it's a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing.
"

 
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#58
Robert,

This is probably not the forum for you.

Subjective evaluation is, by definition, incontrovertible. If you design with that objective and your customers evaluate in that way, then you're good to go. No amount of objective measurement can challenge your immunity on that.

Dave.
I've never heard it put so eloquently! I have had discourse like this in all the places I have worked at at some point or another, and usually I welcome it and enjoy it. In this case I'm only here to defend my product. I eat drink and sleep preamps. Lounge Audio is my sole lively hood and is all that I live for (besides my family of course :) )
 

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#60
I've never heard it put so eloquently! I have had discourse like this in all the places I have worked at at some point or another, and usually I welcome it and enjoy it. In this case I'm only here to defend my product. I eat drink and sleep preamps. Lounge Audio is my sole lively hood and is all that I live for (besides my family of course :) )
In that case, I'd take seriously the results of independent testing and use it to improve the product. Amir has given you for free what a consultant would have charged you thousands for. Don't "defend" the product, evolve it.
 
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