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All tube phono stage, Audiophile Model MC/MM
Made in USA
Phono stages are very special to me. I have a large record collection and never made the switch to digital. I had a field day when everyone was selling their records to Goodwill. $1 each. I fear these good old days are over as others are discovering the magic of vinyl. I have been building phono amps for many years and have tried many and built many others My favorite is to use tubes for all of the amplification. The main downfall of this approach is that tubes can be noisy. Phono amps multiply the signal many times over. Much more than other types of amps. Noise is multiplied as well. So what is the solution? I use fully regulated voltage and current.
I have worked tirelessly on this design. Over ten years. Slowly but surely I have upgraded each element of the design. Unlike most phono amps this one uses a feedback circuit. I know, I know, feedback circuits are terrible. Have you ever heard one? Maybe it is time for a listen. With clarity like you have never heard before, you will understand what a good feedback circuit can do. The classic tube sound combined with vinyl is what I remember as a kid, just Heaven. Why don't you take a listen to what I have come up with at a fraction of the cost of the high dollar units. If you don't agree with me you can send it back and we will still be friends.
Here are the latest reviews, unedited:
Just wanted to let you know I received the unit
in great shape. I am leaving in the morning on vacation and won/t get to
listen much until I get back. From what I have listened so far, all I can
say is awesome, awesome, awesome. I will just rotate my Moving coil
cartridges. I have some older preamps for MM. Other cartridge I have is Low
output moving coil Grado Sonata. Haven/t tried it yet. Thanks for
everything. Don/t know what brand of tubes are in it, but they sound
excellent to me. David.
Here is another one.
I changed the setting back to M C @ 100 ohms after trying a higher setting,I took the sot out of the configuration, I warmed the amp up with one side of Bach and then I played my reference album, Dark side of the moon.
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD this would equal the most discerning systems at any cost, the separation and darkness of the sound stage just blew my mind I am not changing the cartridge, it could use a little more mv output to be perfect but it is not worth the effort as this turntable is a bear to change. Thank you for leading me away from the H O M C, I did buy the denon 103 r and I am going to install that on a Thorens 160 that is being refurbished and up graded with todays technology or possibly a VPI classic if I can get the right price on that and sneak it into the house so my wife doesn't see it.
At any rate I could not be happier with this very fine pre amp you would be hard pressed to find one that functions as flawless at any price. It is a great product and you are a absolute pleasure to deal with.
I will send you the tracking # when I go to the post office, but now It is Beatles time
Here is another review just received:
Douglas Robert Hounsell Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 2:25 PM Good afternoon Tom, The preamp is here and I must say I am quite impressed with the build quality and construction of piece. First rate and it looks great in the rack. However looks aside after plumbing it up into system the real proof of your Phono pre with the balanced outs is what really matters to me! After listening to a MFSL Rolling Stones “Let it Bleed” I was quite pleased, then on to Stealy Dans “Aja” I was rapidly becoming an Aural Thrills Audio fan big time. The punch combined with a subtle smoothness is magnificent. Lower register notes on piano are outrageous clean, tight and dominate. I am fully aware how difficult it can be to accomplish this as I worked my tail off with Leon Russell’s engineer one evening getting this very thing “right” at a show I produced and engineered some years ago. Thank you for your devotion to what matters in your craft. Perfection takes its toil on the less passionate but their always will be folks like me that understand and appreciate folks like you. Now on to the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” Thanks Again Doug Hounsell [Quoted text hidden]
Yes I received the pre amp in good condition and I sent you a response on Ebay for your product.
I set it up and it sounds great! I've invested in an affordable LP vinyl washing system, and with a modified vac system, my record collection has been given new life!
The Marantz SR8001 amp and Technics SP15 turntable/Grado cartridge are sounding really clean with your phono stage.
Thank you for your excellent workmanship.
Received the amp and plugged it in to the CD input of my Yamaha A-S700 amp. I have a Yaquin MC-100B that’s been modified by a tech in Australia and a pair of Sonus Faber Concertinos, but all unfortunately still in storage.
I am listening to some Australian country music, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up - I’ve honestly never heard it sound so clear, present and detailed.
Can’t wait to spend some quality time with your preamp. Maybe I’ll just plug the headphones in and kick back for a couple hours….
Thanking you, sir.
I have designed this unit for optimum sound and ease of use. It is capable of delivering stunning performance. The reason, it is an all tube unit. I started with a commercially available board. I used only high grade audio parts such as Muse, Sonicap, Wima and others. These parts make all the difference in the world. They create a rich, warm sound unlike commercially available parts. They create that distinctive high end audio sound. Here are the details:
Nichicon KG Series, designed for high-grade audio equipment,
offers three sound quality variations.
Capacitance range 680 to 33,000µFVoltage range 16V to 100V (Type I, Type II, and Type III)Temperature range -40ºC to +85ºC These are awesome and make electrolytic capacitors sound deep and rich. Four12ax7 tubes provide plenty of quiet gain. All traces on the board are made of Silver for detail and power. Tube sockets are Shielded and grounded for trouble free service. All parts are hand selected to insure a large soundstage. Every power circuit in this amp has been designed on a computer program for optimum voltage and ripple free DC. I have built and listened to at least 10 different circuits until I settled on this one. It has that you are there quality.
The film capacitors used in this model are the great sounding Sonicap. These film capacitors are some of the best sounding around at this or many other price points.
These well known audiophile resistors sound great. I have used them exclusively for over ten years and always find they really commpliment the Sonic capacitors. They have a nice warm well defined sound. All PRP capacitors are rated at 1% of their value. This creates two equal stereo circuits when results in a superior soundstage.
HOW CAN THIS AMP BE ANY GOOD AT THIS LOW PRICE?
As you can see, I have not spent a great deal on the cosmetics of the unit. No fancy case, no fancy knobs, no fancy finish, only quality parts used everywhere it counts. I am so sure that you will love this amp that I offer a no questions asked 7 day trial period. What have you got to lose? Most people do not know that you can buy capacitors from $.98 to $150/ea. and more for the same value. Capacitors make one of the most profound effects in amplifier performance.
Computer designed power supplies Black Steel case made in USA Sonicap Nichicon Muse electrolytic capacitors Wima Capacitors PRP resistors Fully regulated voltage and filament power supply Adjustable MC cartridge loading Super quiet RIAA circuit built in (radio industry association of America MM/MC47K loading 4X 12AX7 Best sounding unit around Made in USA
MCMM Vacuum Tube Complement4 x 12Ax73 x 12AX7Inputs1 pair single-ended RCA1 pair single-ended RCAOutputs1 pair single-ended RCAGain (Total 62dB)60 dB 50dBOutput Impedance425ΩFrequency Response +0 -1 dB10Hz – 50kHzMaximum Output Voltage <1% THD20VCartridge load impedanceVariable: 100Ω, 500Ω, 470Ω, 1.2k 1.8k47kΩ, Minimum Recommended Cartridge Output0.2 mV1.5 mVSignal to Noise Ratio50 dB56 dBChannel Separation> 50dB (20 Hz – 20 kHz)Power Consumption20WDimensions W x D x H 21x 12x 3.5″ Weight16 lbs packed
What Makes Aural Thrills Different
Check my feedback on both Audiogon and Ebay, 100% POSITIVE over twelve years!The unique feature of Aural Thrills Audio is the fact that ALL EQUIPMENT (except sending components) in my reference audio system has been developed by me! From the phono stage, pre amp, mono blocks and cables, to the final sound of the speakers. Each product has been developed and tested by one person. This gives me a unique understanding of the reproduction of sound. With four years of college ear training, ten years as a professional musician in NYC, and unmatched passion, I feel that I have the tools necessary to create the finest reproduction equipment in the world. I have spent the last ten years learning the intricacies of tube amplifiers. Every part. Every wire. Every component. They all matter. Connecting all of this equipment with compatible cables has become a daily obsession. As one of my customers said, "I live audio."
In these days of endless loops of frustration, you can count on getting a real person when you deal with Aural Thrills. No press 1, press 5, etc. You get a real person from the beginning. Someone who can answer all of your questions. Emails are answered many times a day. Leave your number and I will call back, really!
Lastly, it is my commitment to make sure that every product is made to my standards. Every product guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Every order processed with the passion that only hand made goods can deliver. I put my reputation on the line with every product I make. I try my best to do all that is needed. I also try my best to keep prices reasonable. Please consider that you are buying more than a constructed product. You are buying my mind, my craftsmanship and my ears which have worked on each component obsessively for countless hours.
Cable Design Theory
Aural Thrills Audio only sells very special cables! Designed to provide your system with the ultimate sound. They will not degrade the signal as many other cables tend to do. Why? Our cables have been specially designed to provide a clear, deep sound by utilizing solid core technology. Stranded wire has many points where the wires touch each other. This creates a smearing effect as the signal jumps from one wire to the other. The larger the wire, the more this effect becomes evident. Research also shows that stranded cables creates time distortions due to the uneven manner in which the signal travels.
Next we must look at the wire size. I am always amazed by the "oh wow" reaction of audiophiles upon seeing a very fat cable. In true American fashion, the belief that if a little is good, more is always better comes to mind. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! The major portion of an audio signal actually travels as a wave on top of the wire, much like a train travels on top of the tracks. A very small part of this wave travels inside the wire. Since the wire actually slows the signal down a time distortion is created between the signal on top of the wire and the part of the signal in the wire. The best way to minimize this effect is to use a small diameter wire so that very little signal is traveling through the wire itself.
The third item in cable construction to consider is the material surrounding the wire. Some companies use many layers of coverings to convey the image of huge size. Again, this is not a good thing. These layers act as huge capacitors for the signal. Capacitors store and then release their energy. The result is a smearing and time warp creating a cloudy sound. The cleanest sound is achieved by using Teflon. Teflon will not absorb any of the signal. This means the total signal arrives at the same time. None is released later causing distortions.
To shield or not to shield? In most cases adding a shield to a cable takes away a little bit of the spaciousness from the sound stage. Unshielded cables are great for Solid State equipment using lengths of under nine feet. They deliver a spaciousness and clarity of sound that most people find very appealing. When using Tube equipment or cables over ten feet shielding is needed. The transformers of tube amplifiers are gigantic EMI producing machines. Using an unshielded cable with tube equipment will result in an induced hum. Always use a shielded cable with tube equipment. Cable runs of over ten feet tend to act as huge antennas picking up local radio stations. (RFI) To avoid this you MUST use a shielded cable. Lastly, phono cables must be shielded. Cartridges produce very small amounts of voltage. some moving coil cartridges produce only .2mv. This low voltage is very fragile and must be protected from your local radio stations which will overpower this miniscule signal.
Cable Break In
All cables take a certain amount of time to burn in. This may sound crazy but it is true. I have heard many theories for this, but the one I tend to go with is the alignment of atoms within the wire. It changes as the wire is subjected to electrical charges and ends up aligning in the direction of electron flow. Most cable will sound good for the first hour or so. Then they start to degrade. They become bright, edgy, distorted, and closed in. The worst sound is at about 50 hours of play. Slowly the sound will began to improve and at about 100 hours things will start to really improve. The one exception to this scenario is Silver wire which breaks in much more slowly. We do offer a burn in service using the Hagerman professional model. It takes 48 hours to complete the process. The cable is subjected to a frequency sweep which contains signals above and below the frequencies of Human hearing. Although additional break in is still required, this really speeds things up.
Amplifier Design Theory
I am committed to simple designs which do not feature a lot of additional circuits. I love the early designs. They tended to stick to the basics and did not add a bunch of "correction" circuits. I have constructed and listened to most types of tube audio designs. The more circuits that you add, the more they start to sound like solid state. If that is what you want, why not just buy a Solid State unit? My amps use the old designs but with an important twist, high end parts. Modern capacitors and resistors are faster sounding, but still retain the tube qualities we all love. The best of old and new. I usually prefer tube rectification (changes AC to DC) but occasionally solid state rectification is better. When developing these amps I always make each version and listen. All Electrolytic Capacitors are by passed with film capacitors to add extension.
I want to talk about amplifier test numbers. I am aware that this is a delicate subject which can sometimes lead to hostilities. I must tell you that I am not the engineering type. I design and build my amps much like I played my Trumpet. I was taught music theory and after teaching my ear to recognize what the theory sounded like, I never thought of theory again. I have done the same in amplifier design. I know what each circuit sounds like. I have built and listened to them using the electrical theory that I have learned. After hearing what each theory sounds like, I no longer want to talk theory. I only want to talk sound.
The early amplifiers were somewhat low in power. Only a few watts. Many different types of tubes were used and each had its own charms and weaknesses. Soon, amplifier makers found that customers were power hungry. The war was on and nothing will ever stop it. If some is good, more must be better. It is American as Apple Pie. In the quest for more power I feel that certain intangibles were lost. The simple beauty and clarity of a few watts were slowly, a watt at a time, changed to brut force power. Even non audiophiles could hear the difference. I think they got it right the first time.
Due to the length of break in I offer a 60 day return policy on all cables, no questions asked. Just pay for shipping. I can offer this warranty because I am so sure you will not want to part with this cable. All cables carry an unconditional lifetime warranty to the original purchaser. Just return to Aural Thrills Audio and we will take care of any problems. Cables that have been abused or mistreated will be repaired for a slight cost to be determined upon inspection. All amplifiers carry a 1 year warranty.
This is my pride and joy, no, my obsession. As you can see, all components (except sending units) have been constructed by me. This gives me a unique perspective on sound reproduction. I am an avid record collector of 50's Jazz as well. I have a good collection of the regular labels, Blue Note, Verve, Pacific Jazz, etc. and also a bunch of not so well known labels and artist. You would not believe how good some of these 50's recordings sound. Most were recorded with tubes so they just seem to sound right in my all tube system. My system generally looks terrible. I am always trying new combinations of circuits and design ideas. It's all about sound.
As you probably noticed, I watch movies with this system as well. I really believe that the sound is superior to five channel home theater systems. The soundstage is more real, not manipulated and much closer to reality. A good Stereo VCR is close to a record for sound quality. Rich, warm, just awesome Analogue. I hate to admit it but I have become a fan of the musical.
The mono blocks are Aural Thrills Audio 300B, push pull units. Each puts out a big 25 Watts but still retains the beauty of the 300B. As you might expect, the filaments are AC powered. PP configuration cancels out noise and the sound is big and rich. These amps sound like the reason you wanted a tube amp to begin with.
The speakers are a very efficient 96db. Max continuous power is 45 Watts. 25 Watts will blow you out of the room. My love of early design, low powered tube amps led me to these back end loaded horn design. The drivers are full range which eliminates the need for a crossover. My theory for audio is always "less is better."
The bass that comes out of these speakers is unbelievable. The transmission line design is tuned for 50Hz. The sound coming out of the lower outlet is also delayed a little bit. This creates a wonderful ambience for Jazz and Classical. These cabinets have been constructed of 1" Baltic Birch Plywood. A very dense, slow growing species imported from Russia. Unlike normal plywood, any voids in EACH layer are cut and filled with a plug. You can see that there are no areas without wood, on each layer! The speakers weigh about 175 pounds each. As is the case with a single driver, imaging is spooky. Final finish will be done soon
A VPI TNT with speed controller mounted on a Lead filled VPI stand is the basis for all of this great sound. A Graham tone arm is used. I love this arm. It is very easy to mount a cartridge and alignment is accomplished to an amazing accuracy. I usually use Low Output MC cartridges. Mounted now is a Benz Gold. A very nice cartridge for the money. The table is connected to an Aural Thrills Phono Stage by an all Silver Aural Thrills tone arm cable with five pin Cardas connector. Next the Phono stage is connected to a Two Stage Cathode Follower pre amp of my design by a pair of Aural Thrills Bass Boss cables. Output to the 300B mono Blocks is handled by an Aural Thrills, Tube Powered Active cable. All amps are connected directly to a dedicated line by Aural Thrills 10awg Power Cords.
This ad was originally posted on US Audio Mart.