Look for the NAD or Cambridge on sale and you'll be happy. I thought the ART preamp, which really 
was that cheap when it was on sale, was surprisingly good and I listened on headphones so I think 
I'd hear if it had chronic overload problems. My beef with that was really lousy sound coming from 
USB to computer, I'm assuming due to a really bad A-D converter or bad jitter problems. It didn't 
matter what recorder software I used, so I am blaming their hardware interface or possibly their USB 
driver. But for just analog line outputs and headphone outputs, it was a really good value, in my 
opinion. Too bad they don't make it anymore. I would call the Cambridge and also assume the NAD are 
steps up so most people with most cartridges in most situations would probably be quite satisfied.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roderic G Stephens" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 9:13 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Phono Preamps

Tom, I think you're touching on the law of diminishing returns; you get that much less for your 
money as you spend more, so one has to find his/her own tipping point. I'm guessing mine is at $100.

--- On Thu, 2/16/12, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Phono Preamps
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 11:56 AM

I have the Cambridge and it's not bad at all. That's for a turntable in the workshop. I think the 
NAD is right in line with that, as is Audio Fidelity. You can only do so much different at that 
price point. Would I use any of these with a cartridge that costs more than a couple hundred bucks? 
Probably not since you'd probably not hear any differences that exist between that cartridge and a 
lower-priced one. There comes a point in phono playback where I'm sure there are very subtle 
improvements but the cost is outrageous and what you get for far less sounds just fine 90+% of the 
time on 90+% of what you'd listen to. I would say the class of "good enough for almost any listening 
or transfer uses" comes in the mid-price range of everything. The low-end stuff gets junky when it 
gets really low priced. Like with everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 2:42 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Phono Preamps

I try to urge perspective to someone (including myself) who is tempted to
get something for almost nothing. Since Phillip Holmes' Rek-O-Kut article
talked about the Mac C20, check out what a $70 device would cost in 1960:
$9.62. What kind of phono preamp could you get in 1960 for $10? That you can
even get one today for that value is amazing, but not necessarily a good

Of the several units I've had at home in the past decade, the best value was
the Dynavector p75. I had the first version, and it was really very good
sonically, unperturbed by RFI or in any obvious way by overload. It has
gotten pricy - $850 - which in 1960 dollars is $116 - but you can find them
second hand for around $350.

Occupying the budget realm $150 - $200 is Cambridge Audio and Musical
Fidelity, companies that have a reputation for not making junk. I'd like to
hear one of Soundsmith's units, which are also reasonably priced. Man, there
are a LOT of attractive possibilities for not much dough.

Just suggestions. It's worth spending a little money on something important.
How often does one buy a phono preamp?


-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dan Nelson
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 1:01 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Phono Preamps

How accurate will the playback curve be when 10%/20% off the shelf
components in the feedback loop be ?
I have 4 RIAA Preamps from Op-Amp labs here in LA, that track within a
couple db off test records with Shure 55 cartridges in each turntable. They
cost like $40 each. Op-amp labs made a lot of plug and play building
blocks with good results for those who didnt want to hand build stuff.
I would suspect that with 1% components the typical data sheet preamp
would track pretty close to calculated values with off the shelf audio


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