You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. This single-channel, top-of-the-range active DI BOX has been designed to fit into the most demanding setups and applications with an outstanding performance. DB1A includes an MU-METAL core transformer able to reduce phase and harmonic distortion to a minimum, with noticeable improvement of the linear phase even on very long cables. The audio integrity is guaranteed by low-noise, low-consumption IC for balancing the signal, able to handle very low-impedance loads.
I can’t believe it has been over ten years since the first version of the Raleigh Audio Line Stage saw the light of day.
In my mind, the purpose of an audio system is to enjoy a musical performance and since this is a personal experience, it cannot be measured by meters. So let’s take a look at what we have in the line-up for the Line Stage and Extreme Preamplifier. The Extreme Preamplifier has six relay-switched inputs: four unbalanced (RCA) inputs and two balanced (XLR) inputs. Extreme Preamplifier is suitable for anyone needing a versatile, high quality line-level preamplifier.
Two versions of the Extreme preamplifier are available – a Standard version and a Premium version. The Premium Extreme Preamplifier provides a high-end preamplifier comparable to the best on the market.
For the DIY enthusiast who wants to build his own preamplifier, we have the parts to enable that endeavor – again in the two versions, Standard and Premium, to meet your needs. This differential class-A triode parafeed output stage is a further refinement of the circuit, now in its fourth generation, first used in the excellent Raleigh Audio Line Stage detailed in the November 2004 issue of AudioXpress.
The Input Isolation section of the Line Stage provides a passive phase-splitting circuit that uses a Lundahl transformer in each channel to accommodate both balanced and unbalanced sources and provides two equal signals of opposite polarity for the output section.
The output section of the Line Stage provides a transformer-coupled circuit in a bridged parallel feed configuration that was used by Western Electric over 60 years ago.
Advanced Minimal Reactance Power Supply circuitry is incorporated into the Line Stage board is designed to work with a Lundahl LL1683 power transformer.
The Analog Input board provides for the selection of six stereo inputs – four single ended and two balanced. The Analog Input board can be seen mounted on the inside of the back panel in the picture of the Extreme preamplifier above. This Standard regulator board is designed to provide the voltage needed to operate the relays used in the Line Stage and Analog Input.
Since this provides only relay power and does not contribute to the quality of the audio reproduction, the Standard regulator is used for all versions of the Line Stage. Those of us who are using differential tube preamp circuits like the Raleigh Audio active output stages or Lynn Olson Raven-style preamps have had to use conventional audio potentiometers or their discrete resistor analogues, like the DACT or Goldpoint controls to provide control of volume. Note that you can also utilize these attenuators in single ended circuits with a single 10K series resistor per channel without any other changes. We auditioned several candidate resistors for these attenuators and selected Vishay parts for their sonic properties. Monday, November 2, 2015MM phono stageChris Beeching It’s interesting to see how hi-fi fits into the world.
Once you’ve waded through that fog-like appraisal of the hi-fi industry, the primary measuring instrument tends to be also highly variable – the humble human being. So, in this review you will find an absence of technical discussions (except perhaps in a very general sense) but a more semantic (perhaps) argument about this piece of kit.
The technology inside is a mix of valves for amplification, inductors sans metal core (making their performance independent of frequency) for the high frequency, and a mu-metal split-core inductor for the low frequencies (for the same reason) combined with high quality components from Mundorf, SCR and others. Connection to your chosen record player is via high quality RCA phono sockets, with a neat but substantial earth tag providing a grounding opportunity if it should be needed (from experience, it always is!).
Indefinable goalInitial impressions of the phono stage were of a very open, neutral and transparent performer. If ever you go to a live concert, regardless of music genre, some will continually keep you enthralled while others have periods where it doesn’t quite hit the mark so well, a bit like when a stand-up comic takes a particular direction and all of a sudden the audience’s reaction starts to tail off.
Over the course of the review period I used a relatively large number of recordings from a wide variety of genres and eras from the late 1950s through to modern reissues pressed in the past few months. Thurston Dart’s recording of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (L'Oiseau-Lyre SOL 60047) is an absolute pearl of its time. Contrast that with the pounding beat of Muti’s Montagues and Capulets in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
Substituting moving coil cartridges produced similar results, but as you’d expect, there was a little lightening in the upper frequencies, due to the (generally) rising treble output of MC generators. ConclusionConclusions for a piece of kit so carefully designed as this has been (a collaborative effort between Jonathan Billington and Nick Gorham of Longdog Audio) are difficult to draw. Bass weight (bearing in mind that vinyl’s performance is often criticized in this department) was deft, deep, weighty, articulate and disarmingly believable.
RCA's for every input and output, theater processor pass though, detachable power cord, remote, dual boxes and manual.
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Audio Note Moving Coil Step Up Transformer with pure silver wired coils (99.99% ) and Super Mu Metal 250 Core. Robin has kindly offered to take this and other bits to Scalford for me if anyone wanted to save on postage etc. Thanks Brian and Simon, only selling as I am upgrading to a higher Audio Note SUT but also bought a Lyra Erodian SUT that I always liked with other cartridges so selling this S4L now.


He will be the very proud owner of an ANJapan S6 on Friday when I get round to delivering it.
Ultraperm 80 shielding sheet, like MuMetal, is commonly used to reduce interference in HiFi audio projects--usually by encasing the transformer in Ultraperm. The input section features JACK and XLR connectors with link possibility and a PAD of up to 30 dB that permits very high-level signal inputs to be used. Thus, the only way to design the electronics to reproduce the musical performance is not analytically, but rather empirically by personal experience. It features moderate gain, low output impedance, wide bandwidth, and extraordinary sound quality. The circuitry is fully balanced from input to output, accommodating both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs. As an extra benefit, the Input Isolation section provides a pristine ground reference for the input circuit.
However, it employs a cascode connected depletion mode MOSFET constant current source (CCS) that is more effective than anything available to Western Electric engineers. While the Standard version uses good, in many cases generic, parts, the Premium version uses top-quality parts throughout.
Inputs are selected by high-quality audio relays and the relays are controlled through a ribbon cable by a switch, intended to be mounted on the front panel. You can review the choices for volume control implementation in these types of preamp circuits below.
It is simpler and cheaper and has the significant virtue of causing no change in common mode rejection as different volume settings are used. Of course, any kind of volume profile can be implemented with discrete shunt resistors, however this one has proven to be useful for me for the 2 years I’ve lived with such a control (implemented in my case with a much bulkier (and slightly inferior sounding) array of Holco resistors). Surface mount resistors have the advantage of making a compact 23 step attenuator possible.
However, against this very imprecise reproduction and measuring system we still continue to engage in debates which rage variously around specifications, empirical performance, different brands of snake oil and ‘the look of the thing’. As with any (I’ll probably get shot for saying this) non-essential ‘interest’ industry there are always some who simply dream of owning ‘the fastest car’, the ‘most expensive amplifier’, the ‘sleekest yacht’, to name a few examples. The ‘kit’ in question is Music First Audio’s Reference phono stage, an immaculately finished two-box affair in a brushed aluminium finish that’s absolutely flawless and has a deep lustrous sheen. It is laid out in an entirely dual-mono configuration with two identical boards for the gain and equalisation, one for each channel. So much has been written about ‘removing a veil’, ‘increased clarity’, ‘dynamic performance’ that in some ways they have become over-used to the extent that at this price point you’d expect all that at the very least. What I’m looking for is being able to tell from the recording, or at least gain an impression of what the performance is really like. A bright recording made in 1962, seemingly relatively close-miked in a vibrant acoustic with a star-studded cast, it’s a favourite of mine, for nothing else if not the opening overture (and of course Belinda’s dying aria). They may be a little ‘middle-of-the-road’ for some with more eclectic tastes, but they provide a wealth of different styles, paces, and orchestral colours, and are usually slightly on the brash side of things. One invaluable addition to the kit was Music First’s 632 MC-MM step-up, a small but substantial unit containing a pair of transformers housed in mu-metal shielding cans and a user-specific impedance setting for your chosen cartridge. The IO was some way ahead of the OC9 in that it has a lower noise floor, deeper bass and a smoother seemingly more extended top end, but the OC9 certainly had the ‘grunt’ that I’d normally expect from an MM. Output from the unit is decidedly on the healthy side, even with the paltry output from the IO (via the 632 step-up).
Rather disarmingly these seemed to diminish with hardly any upset of the music being played. Presentation overall was enviably even-handed, with no spotlight shining too brightly on any particular area.
In my view the Reference Phono Stage from Music First Audio deserves the highest accolade possible for this type of unit. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below. Of course, there is a large array of other applications--your imagination is the only limit!Our new stock is now fully annealed, which further improves shielding by up to 10xthat of unannealed sheeting sold elsewhere.These sheets are custom-made for NooElec and have a strong Nitto Denko peel-and-stick adhesive backing to facilitate easy installation. An optional volume control (not included) has also been accommodated (see Stepped Shunt Attenuator below). A 20″ ribbon cable is included and you must provide your own mounting hardware, input jacks and knob for the switch.
At the same time, nor is it entirely an art form (though it has the potential to deliver a representation of artistic events). BUT, when tempered by real-world constraints (physical room size, budget, WAF, children) musical enjoyment can be had from kit at any price point, and its value to the owner may be many times that of a piece of kit which is too large, too loud or too expensive. It comprises a plain-faced phono stage housing the RIAA and gain circuitry, and an equally plain-faced slimmer box housing the power supply, the two being linked by a multi-core umbilical cable.
Critical tubes have ring dampers applied to reduce any hint of microphony, and the layout is such that component crosstalk has been reduced to an absolute minimum.
There is a substantial time delay (about thirty seconds or so) while the circuits warm through and stabilize before the relay clicks across and the music can start to flow. What’s more important to me is whether the component achieves that almost indefinable goal of ‘making music’. Almost any music student can sit at an instrument and play the notes in the right order, however, playing the notes is only part of the process; making music is an entirely different matter, and almost transcends the prerequisite of the notes being right.
You can almost feel the excitement in the slow opening bars that there’s something magical about to happen.
The first was a ‘digital’ version on His Master’s Voice (ASD4068), and the other the same recording on Angel, DS-37776.


This too has a grounding post, but also a ground-lift switch in case that dreaded hum decides to make an appearance.
Bottom end for both was very well controlled, and even on the Prokofiev you could really appreciate the effort the double-bass players were putting in to drive the music forward. It never seemed to lack urgency, was ‘up there’ with the pace and speed, but there was a definite increase in the ease with which the music was presented.
They were over in an instant which has not always been the case with lesser phono stages I’ve listened to in the past.
Vocals, especially female were very eloquently expressed while the gritty side (Jerry Ricks’ Empty Bottle Blues) was presented, warts, spittle and all. Since this is rudimentary support circuitry, only one version is offered without the Standard and Premium differentiation. Hence, when you use a smallish value of series resistance and a large value audio pot to make a shunt attenuator that won’t cost you very much lost gain in the maximum volume position, you will get a control where most of the volume attenuation capability is in the first third of the rotation from zero volume to maximum volume.
The SM attenuator is not a kit; it is supplied with all of the SM resistors already soldered in place. It sits outside any regulatory authority (save for the generally accepted electrical safety standards), and has no overall governing body.  And there’s an interesting ‘tension’ between the manufacturers who provide a range of component parts which many individuals believe can be, I hesitate to use the word ‘improved’, to suit individual tastes, and the suppliers of the ‘improvements’. As standard the unit comes configured for moving magnet cartridges, so a Shure V15VxMR was pressed into service, as was a humble Ortofon OM40, a Linn Adikt and a Rega Exact. Then, by way of a complete contrast, it’s as if the whole cast is biting their lip as Janet Baker sings the immortal words ‘when I am laid in earth…’. It’s slightly unfair, then, to inflict a couple of very different MCs on this hapless piece of kit, namely an Audio Note IO (Kondo version), and an Audio Technica AT-OC9. The shock of hearing ‘so much’ vinyl roar on the lead-in and –out grooves was quite a surprise, but the level of detail retrieval was astonishingly good. Exuberance was there in just the right amount when required, while the softer side of things was still cleanly and clearly presented without syrupiness or any hint of a rose-coloured tint. In my experience, no audio potentiometer provides the sound quality that these stepped attenuators do. Each attenuator is also supplied with 4 (2 for each channel) 5K Shinkoh tantalum resistors for the series resistors.
Given that we can’t reliably measure system performance (as it varies with venue, system synergy and a whole host of other imponderables) how do we measure how good ‘stuff’ is?
When fitted into a system (in this case mine), will Music First Audio succeed where others have fallen short, and ‘make music’? The digital copy is very sharply etched, but with a little distance between the listener and the performance while the Angel version is considerably warmer, perhaps a little less well defined at the leading edges of things, but generally hangs together better as a ‘homogenous’ whole. It’s not clinical, and the overall presentation doesn’t have that oft-striven for (but rather synthetic) pinpoint sharpness so beloved of some. I used three very different turntables with three very different sonic signatures, but the thing which remained consistent was the musical presentation. It’s not that I was aware of ‘so much more’ detail, but that when I went back to what I had before I was acutely aware of what was (now) missing. While I can appreciate that in some respects it’s a huge amount of money to spend, it is absolutely worth every penny.
An added benefit of the Standard version is that, because most of the enhancements are more expensive, the Standard version is cheaper than the Premium version.
To fix this situation you can use a series resistor value that is approximately the same value as the pot and now the shunt attenuator performs more reasonably, so that attenuation is spread more evenly over the rotation of the pot, but you lose a fair amount of gain at maximum volume setting. My view is that, assuming most kit these days is designed to be (in an overall sense) compatible with its likely partnering equipment, satisfaction has to be a major component in determining whether something is performing well, in the context of that system at that specific time. An utterly subjective indefinable aspiration, but one which is the crux of a sound system’s raison d’etre. I’d never go so far as to say the digital was harsh; far from it, but there were noticeable but subtle differences between the two. Instead there’s a real sense of the recording space, and a good impression of the fun the musicians are having playing for this session. The Garrard was slightly on the brash side, the SME more refined and the Connoisseur a tad ‘lightweight’. In a more modest system the ‘gains’ might not be quite so great, but if it’s music you’re after, look no further. However, the overall enjoyment of listening to the music was unaffected by the turntable being used even though the presentations were markedly different. Playing both the above on my usual system did not provide such insight or musical clarity in its presentation, and good though my own benchmark is (not earth-shattering, but certainly better than run-of-the-mill) the Music First phono stage was very revealing of many aspects that other phono stages are not. Again, the Music First offered an even-handed presentation, somehow unspectacular in that while nothing got in the way there was never the feeling that anything was missing either. Cartridge differences were abundantly evident, too, with changes in tonal balance quite obvious; never detrimental, but very easy to hear. This was probably the closest I’ve come to hearing live music with a hi-fi system rather than having actual musicians in front of me.
If you need a phono stage to ‘fine-tune’ your record player, this is the one to have as it reveals everything with genuinely faithful integrity.



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