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What phono pre would you like to see tested next?

KRhodes

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I'm shopping for a phono to upgrade my system. Also wanted to take this opportunity to contribute back to the forum by having something currently untested sent to Amirm.
Please post your recommendations for a phono under $200 that you would like to see tested.
Thanks for the recommendations!
 

Martinvb

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Great initiative, @KRhodes. The Fosi Audio Box X2 has raving reviews on Amazon and indeed sounds great in my Topping PA5 + Kef LS50 Meta setup. Build quality and price (€66) are fine, and the unit combines a digital processing path with a tube twist. I am quite curious what kind of tricks went into the development this sweet sounding preamp: perhaps @amirm could shed some light on this thing? Thanks!
 

LTig

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Great initiative, @KRhodes. The Fosi Audio Box X2 has raving reviews on Amazon and indeed sounds great in my Topping PA5 + Kef LS50 Meta setup. Build quality and price (€66) are fine, and the unit combines a digital processing path with a tube twist. I am quite curious what kind of tricks went into the development this sweet sounding preamp: perhaps @amirm could shed some light on this thing? Thanks!
We all know the chance such a tube preamp gets a good review :confused:
 
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KRhodes

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I'm not opposed to the Fosi but can all but guarantee that the tubes are there for distortion only. It appears to have at least 2 op amps. I often wonder why not just spend the money on better components. A dual op amp phono with good components could be pretty nice. Like Ron Swanson would say "don't half ass two things, whole ass one thing".
 

LTig

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I would like to understand the potential discrepancy between a (likely) bad review of this thing based on measurements and a remarkably positive listening experience.
There is nothing wrong when you (or anyone else) prefer the sound of a tube preamp over a clean solid state preamp. Problems arise (at least here at ASR) when such a personal preference is stated as being better than accuracy, because preference is subjective and personal (means not true for everybody) while accuracy is objective (true for all).
 

Chrispy

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Something like one of the ridiculously priced Lyras....
 

nothingman

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As long as you ask (and cheers to you!)…. here’s a second vote for iFi Zen Phono. It’s $200, seems to have a unique circuit design with different take on a subsonic filter as well, claims to be exceptionally quiet, and has 4.4mm balanced output (maybe double check that Amir has the proper TRRRS cable to even be able to test it, because I think those measurements would be of major interest).

Only issue is that it appears out of stock just about everywhere, but Crutchfield expects it in the next couple weeks so it’s not far off.

Thanks for asking and for contributing regardless of the final pick!
 
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KRhodes

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IFI zen was not available. The few places that showed stock couldn't fill the order.
I have an ART precision phono on its way for testing. If the specs are true this should be an upgrade to the DJ Pre II. If that's the case it should be a very high value.
 

DavidL

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Thanks for trying to find an iFi Zen! It will be interesting to see how well the ART Precision preamp tests.
 

DYgBbEqeqaEy

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This is my first post but I'm a long time lurker :)

I bought an IFI Zen Phono from AudioAdvice a couple weeks ago. It was in stock and arrived the next day, but now appears back-ordered.
On the same day I ordered a 4.4mm to XLR cable from eBay which uses Sommer cable. I chose this because the IFI cable is back-ordered everywhere and seems very over-priced ($100) and several reviews of the few other options on Amazon indicated those cables were poorly constructed and noisy when handled. The only other option was Hart cables which I found had a very long lead time.

We will see - I understand IFI has some packaging constraints but IMO this esoteric 4.4mm output is the biggest drawback of this device and the lack of availability of reasonably priced cables on the market a significant issue. Of course, there's the counter argument that a balanced output at this price point is already a bonus.

Nevertheless I am expecting the cable to arrive in a week or two. I would be happy to ship the unit + cable in for testing after that point. I selected the IFI based on their claims ("Super-silent noise floor -151dBV", "Precise RIAA with Balanced output, performance comparable to +$1k phono stages", etc.)
- would like to see them supported (or not) by measurements.

Frankly IFI hawking fancy "helix design" $100 cables for a $189 pre that is marketed as a performance for $/value engineering exercise seems like an inherent contradiction so I am curious the outcome.
 

nothingman

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Agree. iFi is a pretty idiosyncratic outfit. On the one hand they seem pretty tech and measurement driven, on the other they sell three levels of DC power adapters and those expensive cables. The 4.4mm pentaconn is a really weird choice obviously influenced by wanting to keep their form factor which again is just an odd shape.

All that said, I have a Zen Phono on backorder with Crutchfield. I want see if the noise floor or subsonic filter would get me anything my Zphono XRM doesn’t.
 

WDeranged

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Another vote for the Zen Phono. I replaced a Schiit Mani with one and have been satisfied. I'd be very curious to see how it compares.
 
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KRhodes

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The Art precision phono is already at Amirm's for review. I'm sure it will do well.
 

Bob from Florida

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I compared the noise floor between the Zen and Phonomena 2+ here. See post 55 in the below link.
 

Chazz6

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I have the TCC TC-750, US$44. https://www.phonopreamps.com/tc750pp.html

It came with a wall wart, asserted to be a regulated power supply that output 0.5A at 12V. Then I read about their offer of a supply that outputs 1.5A at 12V and bought it, US$12. It certainly made a difference in what I heard. In comparison the 0.5A sounds thin and bright. Anyway, I'm happy to feed a Rega Planar 2 into it.
 
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