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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
An oldie but a goodie. A friend had two of them. Was a fad at one time to run one per channel.
considering the relatively bad crosstalk measurements at ~60dB, that sounds like a pretty legitimate 'fad'.
Heard about (and even tried) much worse fads :)
 
Ha, nice to see that the performance more or less holds up well. In the circles I ran in back in the day, the Superphon was definitely the go-to 'midrange' pre-amp. i.e. more than good enough until you were ready to sell a kidney for an ARC or Conrad-Johnson.
 
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
Peter at Quirk Audio refurbished my Apt Holman. Can't say enough good things about him and the work he does.
 
Pity about the noise in the phono stage because I think the reason most people would be interested in this unit would be for those capabilities. 59 db SINAD is not good enough even for phono reproduction especially if it's being driven by noise rather than distortion. Even with the inherent limitations of phono reproduction format, this unit could still be the limiting factor in the overall quality of the sound system when playing vinyl. And yes, that noise level should indeed be audible. So I see it as a no go.
 
Some history from a long time fan of Superphon....

Superphon was Stan Warren -- the original partner of Paul McGowan @ PS Audio back in the 80s -- Stan was the "S" in PS when they were near Santa Barbara in CA

However -- having owned lots of old PS preamps and amps back in the 80s (PS-IVH pre, PS-2, PS-IIC, and PS-IIC+ amps, Elite H+ integrated) then Stan left to form Superphon up in OR, and the "Revelation" was the 1st preamp -- I used the Revelation Dual Mono for many (happy) years, then their SP-100 / SA-120 line stage & Power amp came out in the late 80s/early 90s -- these were awesome sounding items -- the SP-100 line stage especially, a unity gain zero feedback wide bandwidth (1 Meg) device that was outperforming any preamps made by PS, B&K, NAD, Rotel, (also better than the CJ PV-10B, or the Assemblage L-1 tube units, which I also tried!) or even the entry level Spectral DMC-5 I tried out!

The only preamp I owned that outperformed the SP-100 was a Goldmund SRP unit from the 90s...I do miss the SP-100!

I hope Quirk Audio can send a Superphon SP-100 in for a test!!!
 
Old-skool gear-heads never stayed-up late at night dreaming of the future of audio, where: *software reigned king; *discrete components took a knee to SMT, and *serviceability no longer mattered. [Sorry, that sounded a bit too nostalgic.];)
 
Would this make a good replacement for my Schiit Freya preamp? or should I go with something more expensive but that can do it all like the Roksan Attessa Streaming amp?
 
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!
Yes, Revolution II. I had it. It was great. Now I'm just an old guy with more expensive stuff.
 
I wonder what exact types the T0-92 package devices are? Very good noise figures overall.

The distortion profile is like a tube preamp I evaluated a few years ago. Fascinating reminder of the 2nd-order dominated distortion figures of yesterday’s discrete designs. Crosstalk between channels could possibly be mitigated to a worthwhile degree by splitting the ground plan currents forward of the output stage.
 
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Thanks for the test Amirm;

always very interesting to see vintage devices measured. It always helps to broaden the horizon of knowledge and to evaluate how much performance has changed over time. Old devices often exude a magnetic charm, which is difficult to find today (however fascinating an electronic device can be ;)) and it is nice to see that in some cases what we have kept for years still works well today...
 
Pity about the noise in the phono stage because I think the reason most people would be interested in this unit would be for those capabilities. 59 db SINAD is not good enough even for phono reproduction especially if it's being driven by noise rather than distortion. Even with the inherent limitations of phono reproduction format, this unit could still be the limiting factor in the overall quality of the sound system when playing vinyl. And yes, that noise level should indeed be audible. So I see it as a no go.

I guess I might ask, how was the MM phono input loaded for the test? On an MC input it would be more critical.
 
You know I’m sure some of the OGs remember because I sure as heck didn’t exist then. But that seems to be landing in the era of measurement wars and I think we are back to the revolution again thanks to ChiFi.

Edit: In addition, did AP even exist then? I’m sure there are other ways to measure a units performance. But seems like implementation or the formula to implement has existed for some time and clearly that costs more money production wise but even if today this unit cost 3 times as much to produce these “corporations” would be selling this phono well above 6,000 and that’s bananas.

Funny, I found distributor of the Kii or whatever the manufacturer is of the best measuring loud speaker here in Europe. Got a chance to sit down and listen to about 30 minutes of music. The room I listened in had no treatment whatsoever and that was to me personally the best sounding speaker I have ever heard. I’m pretty sure it’s active and runs dsp, regardless it checked every single mark.
 
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It is enough now, why not post something interesting . Is this forum dying?
 
I wonder what exact types the T0-92 package devices are? Very good noise figures overall.
... Fascinating reminder of the 2nd-order dominated distortion figures of yesterday’s discrete designs.
That's exactly what I thought. I suspect JFETs, maybe 2sk170 (datasheet attached) but that's a guess.
Edit: Nope, I was wrong. I completely overlooked the fact that the circuit diagram had already been posted.
... Is this forum dying?
I don't have that impression.
 

Attachments

  • 2sk170.pdf
    315.3 KB · Views: 40
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I picked up a Revelation Basic for cheap in the early 90s mainly because I needed a phono stage. It was a great little pre-amp. Yes, the dual volume pots were a little fiddly compared to a single control, but the performance was there via both line level and phono. Mine did have some hum from the transformer chassis, but I plopped some weight on it that brought it down below audibility at any distance. Kind of wish I'd held onto it since I didn't really get much money from selling it.
 
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
Some sloppy board stuffing here and there, with parts (especially diodes) crooked and/or standing up off the board. Was it offered as a kit? If a kitbuilt unit, it’s not too bad a job. It’s also possible that parts of a slightly different size had to be substituted during a restoration process, which would be understandable, only the parts of today should be smaller as a general rule then the parts of that day.
if it was $399 in 1980, that equates to almost exactly $1500 now- about double the price of a Hafler DH-101 from the same era- which was more truly a ‘budget box’ price point for the time imo.
It excels in a few areas (especially for its time), and lags in a couple others, so I’d give it a ’not terrible’.
 
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