I got a new bit of gear, and it ain’t digital.
I have a reasonable turntable; a modded up Rega Planar and a Koetsu Black from the eighties. But I’ve never been happy with my phono stage gear. I had a passive step up transformer into the MM stage of my Doge preamp. It was noisy, slight and needed a heap of amplification.
Last year at a party a German engineer was lauding a phono stage my friend Garry Cawsey had built for him. Now Garry is a Melbourne legend in audio and I had a power filter from him that I’d gotten years beforehand that has just worked for years. So I dropped over to his Fingals Cave of a workshop and ordered the same thing ($3,000 AUD, inc. 10% GST). It took Garry about 6 weeks to build and I picked it up today. It’s a revelation. No tweeter hiss, no hum, just pure black silence and it goes straight into a line level input at much the same level as my digital side.
It’s two boxes. A power supply that trickle charges a small battery and the signal unit. One set of RCA inputs and outputs, an earth connector, no switches, one glowing LED per box. Built for my MC cartridge and seeing a 50k input impedance on the preamp. When I asked Garry about it he went all mysterious (he looks like a much slighter version of Doc Brown) and said something about a diode ladder of transistors.
I couldn’t be happier and am rediscovering my record collection anew. Highly recommended. Don’t be fooled by the address on the website; he’s now in Brunswick.