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Superphon Revelation Preamp/Phono Stage Vintage Review

Rate this preamp/phono stage

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 2.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 17 14.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 78 65.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 21 17.6%

  • Total voters
    119

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of Superhon Revelation vintage preamplifier and phono stage. It was sent to me by Peter at Quirk Audio where he restores audio gear with impeccable attention to detail and performance.
Superphon Revelation preamplifier phono stage vintage review.jpg

The Revelation "Basic" came out I think in 1980 and cost $399. It is not a bad looking unit even though it was clearly a budget build. The front panel selector has CD/VID input but no such indication exist on the back panel:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier phono stage vintage back panel review.jpg

An oddity is the AC transformer being permanently wired to the unit. Let's see how it measures.

Superphon Preamplifier Measurements
I adjusted the independent channel volume controls for unity gain, fed it Aux-1 as input and this is what we get:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier measurements.png

This is surprisingly good! Distortion in one channel less than -110 dB. The other is around -102 dB. What distortion there is, is only 2nd harmonic. SINAD is noise dominated, rendering a value that would almost provide transparency for CD content. SNR confirms the same:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier SNR measurements.png


Frequency response is ruler flat and extended:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier frequency response measurements.png


Crosstalk could be better though:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier crosstalk measurements.png


Same with residual noise for IMD test:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier IMD measurements.png


Distortion and noise are frequency independent which is good:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier THD vs frequency measurements.png


SuperPhon Revelation Phono Stage Measurements
To keep this review manageable, I am going to just run a couple of tests here:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier phono measurements.png


That residual noise naturally got worse landing the unit pretty low in our rankings:
best phono stage review 2024 vintage.png


RIAA equalization is well implemented though:
Superphon Revelation preamplifier phono frequency response measurements.png


Conclusions
Devices like this show how much audio performance has slid backward. We had CD level analog performance 40 years ago in a budget box like this. Today, we would celebrate if an expensive high-end product produce this level of performance for thousands of dollars! Talk about taking your eye off the ball....

I don't usually make a recommendation for vintage products but here, I will make an exception and put the SuperPhon Revelation on my recommended list. And services of Peter and Quirkaudio.

-----------
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/
 
Nice one @amirm and good to see the older equipment can go head to head with much more modern devices. Also thanks to Peter for sending this in.

Quirk Audio have some pics on their site... a little unclear which is which model, but I think the below are the same as what Amir just tested;

IMG_0547-1024x768.jpg


IMG_0546-1024x768.jpg


IMG_0955-1024x768.jpg


Some spec's;
Inputs: phono, aux 1, aux 2

Tape monitor loop: yes

Bandwidth: 2Hz to 170kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%

Input overload: 190mV

Signal to noise ratio: 80dB (phono), 90dB (aux)

RIAA accuracy: +-2dB

Gain: 38dB (phono), 18dB (aux)

Maximum output: 13.5V rms

Input impedance: 47K ohm (phono), 33K ohm (aux)

Input capacitance: 100pF (phono)

Dimensions: 2-7/8 x 9-1/4 x 11 inches

Shipping weight: 9lbs


JSmith
 
Nice one @amirm and good to see the older equipment can go head to head with much more modern devices. Also thanks to Peter for sending this in.

Quirk Audio have some pics on their site... a little unclear which is which model, but I think the below are the same as what Amir just tested;

IMG_0547-1024x768.jpg


IMG_0546-1024x768.jpg


IMG_0955-1024x768.jpg


Some spec's;



JSmith
I think it's not that,that has four knobs and a transformer inside,it would be odd to have one inside and another one out on the cable as the one Amir tested.

Other that that,nice one,thanks Amir!
 
This is a review and detailed measurements of Superhon Revelation vintage preamplifier and phono stage. It was sent to me by Peter at Quirk Audio where he restores audio gear with impeccable attention to detail and performance.
View attachment 369814
The Revelation "Basic" came out I think in 1980 and cost $399. It is not a bad looking unit even though it was clearly a budget build. The front panel selector has CD/VID input but no such indication exist on the back panel:
View attachment 369815
An oddity is the AC transformer being permanently wired to the unit. Let's see how it measures.

Superphon Preamplifier Measurements
I adjusted the independent channel volume controls for unity gain, fed it Aux-1 as input and this is what we get:
View attachment 369816
This is surprisingly good! Distortion in one channel less than -110 dB. The other is around -102 dB. What distortion there is, is only 2nd harmonic. SINAD is noise dominated, rendering a value that would almost provide transparency for CD content. SNR confirms the same:
View attachment 369817

Frequency response is ruler flat and extended:
View attachment 369818

Crosstalk could be better though:
View attachment 369819

Same with residual noise for IMD test:
View attachment 369820

Distortion and noise are frequency independent which is good:
View attachment 369821

SuperPhon Revelation Phono Stage Measurements
To keep this review manageable, I am going to just run a couple of tests here:
View attachment 369823

That residual noise naturally got worse landing the unit pretty low in our rankings:
View attachment 369824

RIAA equalization is well implemented though:
View attachment 369825

Conclusions
Devices like this show how much audio performance has slid backward. We had CD level analog performance 40 years ago in a budget box like this. Today, we would celebrate if an expensive high-end product produce this level of performance for thousands of dollars! Talk about taking your eye off the ball....

I don't usually make a recommendation for vintage products but here, I will make an exception and put the SuperPhon Revelation on my recommended list. And services of Peter and Quirkaudio.

-----------
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/
Nice review, but i would not call it a budget product. In today's money it would be

$1,595.72.​

 
Quite good work for a 1980s bit of gear built with discrete transistors. A pity to see SNR in the 60s for the phono section. At least 75dB would have been possible for this one. Looking at the schematic, it appears to use MPSA13 darlington transistors for the phono section, and with the set bias current of 100uA a side we would get something like 35nV/sqrt Hz equivalent input noise (according to the datasheet), which is very high indeed. I have little idea why they've done this...

Also note the lack of decoupling components at the phono input - perhaps this reflects the choice of input devices to reduce the input bias current? A decoupling cap and bias resistor may have been better, although I imagine that the designer may have had some esoteric views on coupling capacitors as many electrolytic types appear to be bypassed with film types.

You could upgrade this to well under 10nV by replacing them with a couple of BC546s or something similar. The gain stages look pretty good to me - nice to see some discrete op-amps performing well! There also appears to be a kind of 'current dumping' output stage on both sections. It would be interesting to see how this performs under relatively heavy loading.
 

Attachments

  • superphon revelation.png
    superphon revelation.png
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  • Screenshot 2024-05-16 at 10-03-36 MPSA13 MPSA14 - Darlington Transistors NPN Silicon - MPSA13-...png
    Screenshot 2024-05-16 at 10-03-36 MPSA13 MPSA14 - Darlington Transistors NPN Silicon - MPSA13-...png
    85.6 KB · Views: 224
Thanks for another interesting review. Nice to have a 'sense check' for what a performance baseline should be these days.

Mind you, those separate volume controls would be irritating and I'm sure I would obsess over whether they were the same or not.
 
...
Devices like this show how much audio performance has slid backward. We had CD level analog performance 40 years ago in a budget box like this. Today, we would celebrate if an expensive high-end product produce this level of performance for thousands of dollars! Talk about taking your eye off the ball....

I'd say it's more about the difference between the pro/studio stuff which was (almost) always good and the advertising-pushed consumer stuff that we get from audio magazines, 'reviewers', youtubers...

Here's a measurement of a 10+ years old studio preamp from Germany. Looks quite noisy until you check the vertical axis: HDs below -145dB! Easily 'beats' even the latest and greatest toppings

SSOM-04Mc-Spektrum-1kHz+6dBu-BW=22kHz-Gain-0dB.jpg


And their detailed specsheets will impress even oldschool hardcoreans like @restorer-john :)
https://funk-tonstudiotechnik.de/SAM-2C-Messschriebe+techn.Daten.pdf (german, but anyone can read the 10+ graphs)
https://funk-tonstudiotechnik.de/SAM-1C-MANUAL-englisch-600.pdf (english)

Unfortunatelly, such companies rarely send devices to reviewers ...
 
Last edited:
There exists a quiet, subsurface industry that refurbishes vintage audio equipment. Such refurbished gear may not be one's choice, but this (and this ) proves that such a path does have legitimacy.

Jim
 
I still use and love the Revelation II.

Comes with either two discrete volume knobs, or one volume and one balance.

They can be had affordably, as well.

Obtainable greatness!
 
Nice review, but i would not call it a budget product. In today's money it would be

$1,595.72.​

Call it a computer and today's cost would be 15 dollars.

Even in 1980, 399 bucks wasn't exactly a budget buster.
 
From the Quirk Audio website: "Superphon is the name Stan Warren used for his range of power amplifiers and pre-amplifiers. Stan was the “S” of PS Audio, which exists toady and makes a fine range of equipment."
 
Lovely. As owner of various refurbished devices from the 70s, this gives me hope.
 
Lovely. As owner of various refurbished devices from the 70s, this gives me hope.
I think you would be very pleased.

I took one in to Audio Xpert in Las Vegas just to get checked over and the tech was impressed by its measured performance.
 
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