Phono Stage Addition

This weekend I went ahead and purchased the NAD PP3i in order to stop feeding the signal from the turntables to the amp, through my mixer. The descision on which phono stage to get was mainly reached by browsing the net and reading reviews since the cost was fairly low and I wasn’t up for going into extensive sound testing in a variety of systems and combinations. One of the straight out of the box advantages is the ability to connect my computer via USB and record my collection in up to 24bit/96kHz qualitiy.

Once connected I immidiatly noticed how the noise floor was immensly lowered, a problem I had with the previous set up. Onwards to listening how it sounds I stacked a few of my favourite sound testing records of recent years, releases which I have used in one format or another to test a variety of components. The lists consists of Ben Frost’s dark ambient magnum opus ‘By the throat’, which the little black box helped force out of the speakers making each distorted kick smack me in the face while the wolf howls were echoing in the room. Better sound imaging achieved from the beginning I could say. Moving on to Scorn’s gritty and dirty take on hip-hop with ‘Greetings from Birmingham’. Snares, hi-hats and all sort of percussive sounds come to the front and are not crushed by the basslines anymore balancing out the full range of frequencies the speakers can reproduce. Next up was one of my all time favourite Shackleton releases, the last Skull Disco EP, ‘Soundboy’s Suicide Note’ which feels to me like a turning point for the man who defined the techno/dubstep hybrid like noone else in the genre could. Basslines are warm and fill up the room, his percussion-work still complex but with a hint of sadness, true to the theme of the EP and with Vengeance Tenfold who once again becomes part of the music and not just a layer of vocals on top of it. Wanting to push the sub frequencies as low as possible I then re-entered the world of eleh with his essential ‘Radiant Intervals‘ and this is where the added component trully showed its muscle. While previously this record could not be enjoyed but in great volume, now even from lowest dBs I can distinguish the flactuations of the bass and listen to every sine pulsing and making everything in my kitchen sync along and vibrate. By raising the volume the effects are even more obvious and further more captivating, almost drawing the listener in a nirvana-ish state. ‘Radiant Intervals’ has served its purpose and finally I move along to Christian Fennesz’s rework of On’s, ‘Something that has form and something that does not‘, which is more organic and has a vaguely natural sound. I saved the more ambient stuff for last to cool my brain down and it worked wonderfully with the source material still being apparent, layed back drumming, spaced apart electronics and guitar strokes blending beautifully together but with the distinct Fennesz touch, making the record an excelent sample to test how the system now responds to the majority of information coming from the higher range of frequencies and once again I am more than satisfied with the end result.

Drawing to a conclusion the sound has become rich and almost up to par with the digital side of the system, with the phono stage adding the much needed clarity (especially at higher volumes), while perfectly showcasing the esteemed ‘vinyl warmth’.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *