I’m a music lover. I want the music I want, by the performer I want. Sometimes you get the music by streaming, a silver disc, or a black vinyl disc. The format is in service to the music.
An example of when I play vinyl is, a box set of Claudio Arrau playing Schumann. The Philips box set has nine discs = 18 sides. Most of Schumann’s great works are in this box, performed by Arrau in his prime. There’s no better pianist.
Since most top preamps and integrated amps don’t have phono sections today, we are very likely to need an outboard phono preamp. It needs to support MM & MC to keep our choices open. It can’t cost a fortune because we know full well that the money is more wisely spent on a superior
cartridge or table/arm combo. This brings us to:
MoFi’s StudioPhono $250
I have liked the NAD phono pre for the money, $200. Yet… it’s not good enough for TOP table/cart combos like the new MoFi’s. It also doesn’t square up to a great MC cartridge like an Ortofon Quintet Black ($1k) or MC Cadenza Black ($2729). Both are low output and need the MC stage. It’s gotta have a dead silent, black background.
The beauty of StudioPhono is, it is quiet and has better detail than the built in phono sections we have compared- from preamps of $2500 or $7k. The detail of hammers striking cords in the piano is more clear and dynamic with StudioPhono than the built ins, or the NAD.
Hence, whether you want to UP your phono game from a piece that has a low quality chip phono section, or you just need to add a phono preamp to your preamp or integrated, StudioPhono is highly recommended and inexpensive enough to go in almost any system.
StudioPhono has two buttons. One is a SUBSONIC button that diminishes the annoyance of record warp. The other is a mono button for old records. StudioPhono has a nice array of MC options, accessible via dip switches.
You’ll need an additional analog cable from the StudioPhono to a line in on your preamp. I’m going to twist your arm to get a Mogami LINK II which is $60, and 100% shielded with a spiral ground.
Did you know that MANY $300-600 interconnect cables are NOT SHIELDED properly and will hum when used in the touchy phono domain? Please don’t just use some old cassette deck cable that’s been stuffed in that drawer over there. You’re leaving performance on the table. Pony up for the Mogami. It won’t induce phono noise and is inexpensive. Don’t trash performance by cheaping out here.
StudioPhono is a welcome addition to the phono world because it is a cut above what has been the price class leader, the NAD. It’s also good enough that you can happily run a fine table
in the $2k range, add cartridge for a grand or two and still not have to spend more in the phono preamp!