I've been on a quest lately to upgrade my vinly setup. I started by upgrading my old ClearAudio Concept with an amazing custom table from a local outfit called Fern & Roby called the Montrose. I liked the turntable so much I upgraded my cart from an excellent Ortufon 2M Black to an even more excellent Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star. The final piece of the puzzle was upgrading from my PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter phono preamp. It's not that I was unhappy with the PS Audio NPC, it's just that I felt that I was missing... something. Detail perhaps? I wasn't sure. I know I had heard recently the McIntosh MP1100 in an all Mac system and it was glorious. I wanted some of THAT! That being detail, soundstage, tone, air, etc. Well after having read about pretty much every phono preamp under the sun for less than $2k (and a few over), I decided that I would try the Rogue Audio Ares. It had very good reviews and I like the idea of adding a tube phono preamp to my otherwise all solid state system. For a couple reasons the Ares didn't work with the Soundsmith 0.4 mV MIMC Star. I don't really want to go into the specific reasons since I don't want to say anything negative about the Rogue unit. It worked nicely with my 2M Black but not the MIMC Star for whatever reason. Rogue was very accommodating and allowed me to return the unit. So good on them. So in my quest for the replacement preamp, I borrowed a Creek OBH15-MkII from my local shop. And you know what? I really, really liked it! It was a bit better than the NPC. Mainly it had a bit more detail and better transients. And a little lower noise floor, I think. But it still wasn't quite what I was looking for, if very close. If I had never heard the McIntosh unit, I probably would have been happy with the Creek unit, honestly. But I was determined and I kept looking... Somewhere, I think maybe in Mono and Stereo, saw a review of a phono preamp from an Italian company I had never heard of. It was called the Gold Note PH-10. It raved about the unit. In particular, it described an even tone with detail, low noise floor, and dynamics. And it listed things I was really looking for in easy configureability, two inputs, balanced outs, and the ability to adjust gain up to 71 dB! Why is it so many alleged high quality MC phono preamps top out at 60 dB? I have no idea. In the MC range, the PH-10 allows for 62-71 dM in 3 dB increments. How nice is that? This would definitely work with my MIMC Star, I was thinking. The problem was that there are only a couple US distributors for Gold Note, one internet only dealer CoolKyte.com and a local hifi shop in Illinois for less than $1500. Since my local shop (Audio Exchange in Richmond, VA) has always done me right, I wanted to work it out so that I would get it through them. After multiple emails with Gold Note's Maurizio Aterini, he and my man Donny worked it out so that I would get a PH-10 via international parcel! I was psyched. So after 10 days or so I finally got a text from Donny that my PH-10 had arrived. After work I beelined it to pick up the unit and Donny already had it out of the box. It was beautiful. I had ordered the black unit and the side slots cut into the aluminum chassis were sharp. And by sharp, I mean both literally and figuratively . The side slots, while being a distinctive design feature, could easily cut your finger if you're not careful. So be careful, already! I like the size of the unit. The front screen is very attractive and sharp with the tasteful Gold Note logo. The back is neatly laid out with high quality connectors that fit snug with interconnects. One of the best features is the front dial which allows you to control loading, gain, input, and your choice of RIAA, DECCA London, or Columbia EQ curves. So after hooking the unit up, I powered it up by flipping the master power switch in the back and then depressing the front knob for 3 seconds. The operation and setup is fairly intuitive. I selected 68 dB for my 0.4 mV cart and standard RIAA EQ curve and 470 Ohm loading and I was off! Right off the bat, I could tell I had made the right choice. The unit was near dead silent. I couldn't hear any hiss at even louder than normal listening levels. I had to really crank up to levels I would never (OK, almost never) listen to to hear anything at all. Then playing everything from Bill Evans to Steely Dan to AC/DC I noticed that there was such detail and clarity, it was stunning. I was hearing things I'd never heard before on well know reference tracks. In particular, the percussion was more distinct whether it be drums or cymbals. And the bass! I felt like I had bumped the bass level a couple of notches, but I hadn't. Mid and low bass is so well defined and impactful. Of course, vocals and instruments were soulful and full with the totality having great soundstage holography. In a word, awesome. I then tested the frequency response with the Feickert Adjust+ disc and what I got was a near ruler flat result with the RIAA curve across the audible spectrum with only 4dB maximal difference and slight tilting toward the bass. Curious, I also tested the DECCA London curve and found an even flatter FR with 3 dB with the bass and treble equally pronounced. For reference I had checked my cart with the McIntosh MP1100 and gotten the same result, so this is a great result. I also chose the "enhanced" curved which tilts the treble above 10 kHz up about 4 dB to give more high level energy/air. In short, I love this unit. I love the looks, the quiet background, the functionality, the versatility, the sound quality. All of it. Plus, more custom curves will soon be available and to upload to the unit. And did I mention that a dedicated linear power supply will be available soon? I can't wait to hear that one. So, obviously highly recommend this phono preamp. It is not leaving my rack any time soon. Hopefully it will be joined by the LPS soon enough, and I'f I'm lucky, one of their amazing turntables like the Mediterraneo or Giglio.