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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Tale of 3 phono stages

    I was spinning some vinyl and thought it might be interesting to play the same record "The Travelling Wilbury's" through all three phono stages I own. I started listening with the Gram Amp3 which was already in the system. Next came the Cambridge Audio 640P which I think is good with MM cartridges but not a good match with the Benz MC Gold. Of course I had to dig out my 15 year old Rotel RQ 970BX.

    The only thing that changed in my listening to the phono stages is with the stages themselves. I kept the same cabling and other equipment. No adjustments to the turntable or cartridge were performed.

    Some interseting observations;

    The Gram Amp3 was the more forward of the three. The soundstage beginning in front of the speakers' plane. The Rotel soundstage began at the speakers' plane. The Cambridge had the most recessed of soundstages.

    The Rotel had the greatest depth and imaging of all the phonostages. The Krell has a very wide soundstage and the Rotel is the only one to equal it. I had not used the Rotel with the Krell before. One of the songs on the album has all 5 singing and taking turns with solos. The Rotel created the audible illusion of each member taking his place front and center while the other four were a few feet and singing back-up. I was impressed with the sense of physical presence and change of position for the different members.

    The Gram Amp3 is best with dynamics followed by the Rotel and lastly the Cambridge Audio again when using a low output MC cartridge. The Gram Amp3 and the Rotel have the best bass. The Rotel has the best definition of the soundstage and that is what I am finding very enjoyable.

    I will be running through them again in the next few days but as of now I find the Rotel is having the best synergy with the Benz, Rega, Krell and MoFi OML 1's.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speakers
    Mobile Fidelity OML1's/Bell'O 224 stands
    Cables
    AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

  2. #2
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Well thanks for that review JM. I've always been tempted to get another phone amp, but I've read many a reviews that say my Rotel pre has an outstanding phone stage already and no need to look for an external phono amp unless I wanted a tubed one. So thanks for adding to the many reports that say Rotel makes a great phono amp.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  3. #3
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Did you leave the Rotel in? Ousting a Slee is a pretty big victory for Rotel. The 640p doesn't surprise me at all, while they are good, I don't think they are anywere near the level people imply.

    Audio karma has a big 640p fanclub, and quite a few of them are deluded. They recommend it against 3 -500 stages, which is laughable. The other more recent problem for the 640p, is that Music Direct now has the Creek OBH18 for $200. Not alot of people know about this unit but i can assure you it can squash the Cambrdge.

    John you may send me the Slee if you are now done with it. Oh off topic. I'll be keeping cables, PM me on how you would like your cash sent.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    As of now the Rotel is in my system. I am certainly enjoying the imaging and depth the Rotel has brought to my system. The soundstage is so much bigger and compliments the Krell's abilities. Along with the OML 1's I have a better sense of the number of musicians and their place on the stage. I am enjoying a very three dimensional presentation.

    Of course the Gram Amp 3 is still the dynamics champ. I will compare it with the Rotel for other aspects of music but for right now that imaging and soundstage magic will keep the Rotel in for a little while longer.

    Poppachubby I would gladly let you try the Slee but it is only for low output cartridges. I am afraid the Blue Point would overload it.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speakers
    Mobile Fidelity OML1's/Bell'O 224 stands
    Cables
    AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

  5. #5
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have stumbled onto a great combo. I had the same issue. I was using the Eico as a preamp when all of a sudden the Kenwood Basic C1 knocked it out. Now I have the Bozak which is even better.

    I will be upgrading the EICO's circuitry this week, we'll see then. I plan to put a Lipschitz RIAA circuit in it, which is deadly accurate.

  6. #6
    Administrator Site Administrator atomicAdam's Avatar
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    JM -

    Are your phonos affected by leaving them on for a couple days?
    This is a test to edit sig.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    JM -

    Are your phonos affected by leaving them on for a couple days?

    The CA 640P and the Gram Amp 3 are meant to be left on all the time. The Rotel has an on/off switch and I find it sounds it's best after 15 minutes. I always try to make sure I turnit on about 30 minutes before spinning some vinyl. Of course the most important step is to power down my cd player before listening to vinyl.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speakers
    Mobile Fidelity OML1's/Bell'O 224 stands
    Cables
    AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

  8. #8
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    As of now the Rotel is in my system. I am certainly enjoying the imaging and depth the Rotel has brought to my system. The soundstage is so much bigger and compliments the Krell's abilities. Along with the OML 1's I have a better sense of the number of musicians and their place on the stage. I am enjoying a very three dimensional presentation.

    Of course the Gram Amp 3 is still the dynamics champ. I will compare it with the Rotel for other aspects of music but for right now that imaging and soundstage magic will keep the Rotel in for a little while longer.

    Poppachubby I would gladly let you try the Slee but it is only for low output cartridges. I am afraid the Blue Point would overload it.

    Ok...you have made my day JM! I actually thought about the Grams and the excellent reviews they have. But your reviews are really telling me something bout my Rotel. At one point I did read about a discontinued phono amp that Rotel use to make a few years ago and how good it was. I read that it is now a sought after phono amp and that they are very hard to find used. I read in my owners manual that my internal phono amp was based on that now discontinued amp. You get greenies.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  9. #9
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Not trying to hi jack your thread, but heres the phono stage my Rotel is based upon according to this literature. Have you ever heard of this phono amp?

    "The RC-1090 has a superb phono preamp
    stage, derived from Rotel’s finest phono preamplifier,
    the RHQ 10. The preamp stage can
    be used with either a moving magnet (MM)
    or a moving coil (MC) phono cartridge. This
    shows our commitment to phono sound quality
    and our interest in the recreation of fine music."
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  10. #10
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    I'd be interested to hear more about how these phono preamps do with other music from your collection. For me, the test is usually female vocals, first.

  11. #11
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    I'd be interested to hear more about how these phono preamps do with other music from your collection. For me, the test is usually female vocals, first.
    What do you like that a phono amp does to the female voice?
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  12. #12
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon
    What do you like that a phono amp does to the female voice?
    Since it's a large part of my music collection, I want my female vocals smooth, airy and sweet without accentuating sibilance. I've been happy with how my GCPH does that and it was one of the positive characteristics of my Tube Box. If a system makes someone like Sade sound good, I can be slightly less particular with my other favorite genres.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    I'd be interested to hear more about how these phono preamps do with other music from your collection. For me, the test is usually female vocals, first.



    For me it is massed strings not massive string. The Rotel does a great job of portraying the size of the orchestra and the number of musicians. I do not like when instruments are vague in number and congealed in sound.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speakers
    Mobile Fidelity OML1's/Bell'O 224 stands
    Cables
    AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

  14. #14
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon
    Not trying to hi jack your thread, but heres the phono stage my Rotel is based upon according to this literature. Have you ever heard of this phono amp?

    "The RC-1090 has a superb phono preamp
    stage, derived from Rotel’s finest phono preamplifier,
    the RHQ 10. The preamp stage can
    be used with either a moving magnet (MM)
    or a moving coil (MC) phono cartridge. This
    shows our commitment to phono sound quality
    and our interest in the recreation of fine music."
    frenchie can you post the specs of your preamps phono section?

  15. #15
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Specifications
    Total Harmonic Distortion (20Hz-20kHz) < 0.004%
    Intermodulation Distortion (60 Hz : 7 kHz, 4:1) < 0.004% at 1V output
    Input Sensitivity / Impedance
    Phono - MC 210 mV / 100 ohms
    Phono - MM 2.5 mV / 47 kOhms
    Phono Overload (MC/MM) 16 mV / 160 mV
    Output Sensitivity / Impedance 150 mV/ 100 Ohms
    Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz, ± 0.2dB
    Signal to Noise Ratio (IHF “A” weighted)
    MC 70 dB
    MM 75 dB
    Power Requirements 115 Volts, 60 Hz or
    230 Volts, 50 Hz
    Power Consumption 10 Watts
    Dimensions (W x H x D) 440 x 72 x 195 mm
    173/8 x 27/8 x 73/4”
    Weight (net) 3.1 kg, 6.8 lbs.

    Here are the specs for the RQ 970BX.

    All I could find about the RHQ10 is the year of manufacture and the price.

    RHQ10 Phono 1993 - 1995 $1900. I do not remember it but it must have been good.

    Description

    The Rotel RHQ10 faithfully reproduces the rich musicality of analogue records.

    It is a pure equalizer that brings out the performance of many good records and the records in your collection you treasure.


    Specifications

    Input impedance: 2.5mV 47kohm (MM), 0.3mV 100ohm (MC)

    RIAA accuracy: 20 to 20,000Hz +-0.1dB

    Output level: 0.775V (at 0.3mV fixed 1), 0.775V (at 0.1mV fixed 2/variable)

    Total harmonic distortion: 0.0005%

    Signal to noise ratio: 90dB (MM), 75dB (MC)

    Overload: 30dB

    Crosstalk: 80dB

    Dimensions: 470 x 76 x 332mm

    Weight: 6.8kg


    Review

    The Rotel RHQ-10 is a first class phono stage that's extremely flexible and capable of very fine sonic results. A confident recommendation would seem to be in order - £795 HiFi Choice 1992

    I spoke too soon.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speakers
    Mobile Fidelity OML1's/Bell'O 224 stands
    Cables
    AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

  16. #16
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Great thread, JM!!

    Sometimes, we all upgrade too often to know each component's full potential.
    From what I can hear, every component's sonical traits remain in different setups, but synergy is often left unchallenged.
    So the same reason, I've been trying my best to keep gear instead of selling to fund for a next "new to me" toy. But sometime, I just aint got the Ki-zash.

    JRA

  17. #17
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Total Harmonic Distortion (20Hz-20kHz) < 0.004%
    Intermodulation Distortion (60 Hz : 7 kHz, 4:1) < 0.004% at 1V outputInput Sensitivity / Impedance
    Phono - MC 250 mV / 100 ohms
    Phono - MM 2.5 mV / 47 kOhms
    Line Level 150 mV / 18 kOhms
    Phono Overload (MC/MM) 16 mV / 160 mV
    Output Sensitivity / Impedance 1 V/ 100 Ohms
    Frequency Response
    Phono Input 20Hz-20kHz, ± 0.2dB
    Line Level Input 4Hz-100kHz, ± 0.5dB
    Signal to Noise Ratio (IHF “A” weighted)
    Phono - MC/MM 70 dB/75 dB
    Line Level 100 dB
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  18. #18
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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  19. #19
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Hi John!

    have you tried the Lehmann audio Black cube or black cube SE?

    I found an Black cube SE II, as well as the SE to outperform a graham slee elevator EXP and Revelation combo...

    at, not even half the price...

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
    Double Advent speakers
    Thiel CS2.3's
    *DIY Lenco L75 TT
    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
    *Denon DL-103 in midas body
    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
    Siltech MXT New york IC's
    Kimber 4VS speakercable
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    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    Hi John!

    have you tried the Lehmann audio Black cube or black cube SE?

    I found an Black cube SE II, as well as the SE to outperform a graham slee elevator EXP and Revelation combo...

    at, not even half the price...

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.

    Bert I have never had the opportunity. I would like to hear one in my system. My Graham Slee phono stage is their moving coil only budget model the number 3 "Fanfare" and it has the best dynamics of my phono preamps. It would be nice if the Lehman would have the sonics of the Rotel and the dynamics of the "Fanfare".
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speakers
    Mobile Fidelity OML1's/Bell'O 224 stands
    Cables
    AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

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