Has anyone heard the Acoustic Plan Phonomaster phone stage?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Erocka2000, Feb 17, 2015.

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  1. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I'm just curious about this phono preamp. I haven't really seen any reviews online. I was thinking of pairing it with an Auditorium 23 SUT for my Zu Denon 103.

    So, has anyone heard it and what was your take?
     
  2. Tlay

    Tlay Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Coast
    Yes I have, but, it was in the context an entire system so I couldn't tell you with confidence what its sonic signature is. I don't know which piece was contributing what to the total sound. My dealer uses it almost exclusively as their reference phonostage and when I asked if it would be better to get the phonomaster with the built in SUT or an outboard SUT e.g. Auditorium 23, they recommended the former (better sound, shorter cord travel, cheaper). The phonomaster is one of the decisions I'll be confirming soon as well. I think you can add an external power supply as well for an extra grand. I have no idea whether it adds extra value. Wish I could be of more help. Practically no one has reviewed this great piece of equipment.
     
  3. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Hmm, it's weird that you mention using the onboard SUT over an outboard, as every time I see pictures of a show, the dealers are using it with one of the Auditorium SUTs. I really wish there was more info about this phonostage out there.
     
  4. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Has anyone else heard this phonostage?
     
  5. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    So no one else has heard this phonostage?
     
  6. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I've heard it at Portland Hifi, when demoing my line magnetic 216 (which I bought.) rest of the system was a well tempered table with EMT cart, the phono stage in question, and Devore O/93.

    I brought some stravinksy, this mortal coil, some Grover Washington, and lots of different types of music. In context of the whole system, which was amazing, the ohono stage didn't stick out to me at all. Everything worked together very well. Overall the system seemed a tad 'dark' sounding if anything, which I don't believe characterizes the LM 216. Have not heard the devores or table combo before so I don't know what brought that out, but regardless it was all an amazing sound.
    Sorry can't be more specific. I have heard most of these records with various solid state phono sections, like the graham Slee reflex, and my old Mcintosh c33 (which had a really nice mm section) and it definitely had more body weigh and coherence than either of them. But I've found that tubes just do it for me in that respect.
     
  7. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Just reviving this thread, as I'm about to take the plunge on one. One last check to see if others have heard it.
     
    james likes this.
  8. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    I have not heard this phono stage but will offer up some thoughts for you that may or may not be of interest FWIW.

    This is an unusual phono stage. It operates in current mode in MC mode with no adjustable loading. Current mode phono stages (I have been using an Aqvox in current mode for about 7 years now-very happy with it) tend to offer no fixed provision for loading-in essence they have very low impedance at the input which almost presents a short circuit to the cartridge. For a more technical explanation you can read Fremer's reviews of the Aqvox or the BMC, which were both designed by the same guy.

    As such, these types of phono stages often work best with low output MC's that have very low internal impedance, say 15 ohms or less. I used my Aqvox very happily for a number of years with an aluminum bodied/retipped 103R and really liked the combination (the 103R has internal impedance of 14 ohms vs. the standard 103's 40 ohms) but elevated the performance even higher with a modified Ortofon MC 20 Super which has an internal impedance of only 5 ohms. That's not to say the Ortofon is a better cartridge than the modified 103R but more that it has extreme synergy with my phono stage.

    The Acoustic Plan appears to be similar to the Aqvox in that it is a voltage amplifier in MM mode. In other words, it is much more of a conventional phono preamp in the MM mode. I had the opportunity to audition the Aqvox before I bought it and found that it was really great in the current mode-all the reviews of that phono preamp suggested the same and that the high performance came with the current circuit and low output (and generally low impedance) MC's. There was less enthusiasm for the MM standard voltage circuit.

    So if I was you, the main concern that I would have in purchasing this phono preamp would be: am I getting the best out of it? It's very possible that it's been optimized to provide maximum performance on the MC side and you will not be taking advantage of that at all using your SUT (which is supposed to have excellent synergy with your cartridge) but also that your cartridge may not be the best to hook up directly to the MC input also.

    So this really might be a case where an audition with your own gear might prove to be really beneficial. Sorry for the long winded response but I couldn't figure out how to abbreviate it any further.
     
  9. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    The Phonomaster is supposed to automatically load the proper impedance when using a MC. That's one of the things that draws me to it. Not having to worry about if I'm loading the cartridge properly. And the SE version (which is the one I'd be going for) also has a built in SUT for MC carts as well.
     
  10. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Yes (I'm obviously quite ok with that as well, using a similar stage), but bear in mind that if you use your SUT into the MM input on this phono stage that will not be happening. You only get the "automatic loading" on the MC input with the built in SUT and the question is how low the impedance on that input is (it's probably very low) and whether it would be an optimal match with your 103 which has a relatively high impedance. I'm sure it would work-the question would be are you getting the most from your cartridge and the stage?
     
  11. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    If I go with the Phonomaster, I'll be selling my A23 SUT as well as my Shindo Aurieges MM. So the Phonomaster will be my only phono preamp.
     
  12. rollo5

    rollo5 Forum Reprobate

    Location:
    Altadena, CA
    If you have Instagram, you should contact @siggletheoomph He has an Acoustic Plan phono stage, as well as lots of experience with audio gear in general. He's a nice guy and always open to talking audio equipment.
     
  13. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I actually placed an order for one a few weeks ago. Still waiting on delivery. :)
     
  14. Tlay

    Tlay Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Coast
    Let us know what your impressions when it arrives. We have similar setups so I'm definitely interested.
     
  15. jlykos

    jlykos Forum Resident

    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    I just bought one of these and installed it this week. To say that I am blown away is an understatement. I can't think of another component that I have purchased in a long time that has so increased my system's resolution and clarity. It's absolutely remarkable. Music jumps out of the speakers with a clarity and depth that I had not anticipated. It replaced an iFi iPhono (with iPower), so there is a pretty big gap in price there, but for once, the performance jump justified the jump in price as well.

    I'm running it with the relatively down-market VPI Traveler and a Soundsmith Carmen phono cartridge, and I would expect greater increases in quality as the preamp drives the signals from upgraded source components.
     
    Erocka2000 likes this.
  16. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I've had mine for almost a month now and it's definitely the best phonostage I've ever owned, which includes a Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena, Dynavector P75 mk. III and a Shindo Aurieges/Auditorium 23 SUT. Even with just my Zu Denon 103, the Phonomaster SE is making magic. Not sure why this phonostage hasn't caught on yet.

    Did you purchase the upgraded power supply with yours? I'm thinking about it, though I think the price is kinda steep at $1,500 (at least that's what I think it costs).
     
    bluemooze likes this.
  17. jlykos

    jlykos Forum Resident

    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    No. There is no way that I would pay $1500 for a power supply. I'm going to look for other options.

    My guess for why it had not caught on yet is probably due to the fact that Acoustic Plan doesn't take out big glossy ads in the magazines, which means that they don't review the company's products, which means that most consumers have never heard of the company. Same thing with my Canalis speakers. I only found one review of this phono stage, on a Spanish blog no less, before I purchased it. Doesn't matter, I'm glad I took the plunge.
     
  18. Tlay

    Tlay Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Coast
    This is definitely on my must purchase list. I just don't know what to upgrade first. Turntable/arm or phonostage. I'm glad you two are liking yours. My dealer loves it.
     
  19. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Reviving this thread. I know this is a long shot, but has anyone been able to compare the Phonomaster SE using the standard power supply and the Powermaster upgrade? I'm thinking about going with the Powermaster, but really have reservations spending that much on a power supply, especially if it's not going to make much of a difference.
     
  20. cranc

    cranc New Member

    Location:
    Altea
    Let us know your impresions about the power supply if you buy it , I have the Phonomaster also and I would like to know how can improve it.
     
  21. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I wound up not buying it, as I still can't get over spending that much on it. I wish they made a lesser version, as the current Powermaster is for powering two items and I don't foresee myself needing anything else.
     
  22. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I found a replacement power supply! I bought the Teddy Pardo 15V 2A PSU (w/ 2.1mm connector). I've only had it one day but it already is sounding good. That buzz from the stock PSU that was faintly coming through the speakers is completely gone. For $400 shipped, it's a no-brainer as an alternative to the ridiculously prices Acoustic Plan Powermaster.
     
    bluemooze, Tlay, IanL and 1 other person like this.
  23. fado

    fado New Member

    Location:
    Olympia WA
    To Erocka2000 & others: I just purchased a used Acoustic Plan Digimaster DAC without the Acoustic Plan Powermaster power supply. The Digimaster power requirement is also 15V/2A. The Teddy Pardo unit you mentioned looks like a very reasonable option to the Powermaster.
    1. I want to confirm that the 2.1mm connector worked for your Phonomaster; and,
    2. Any comments about the benefits of using the Teddy Pardo power supply.
    Thank You
     
  24. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Yes, the plug on my Phonomaster is 2.1mm. The benefits I noticed with using the Pardo PSU is that there is no more faint buzz (result of the wall wart unit) which also adds to the blacker backgrounds. Those were the main improvements I sought when looking at an alternative to the included wall wart PSU that comes with the Acoustic Plan items.
     
    fado likes this.
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