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iFi iPhono 3 Black Label Phono Stage Review!

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  • iFi iPhono 3 Black Label Phono Stage Review!

    Just posted today on Positive Feedback!

    Steve Lefkowicz
    Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
    Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
    Digital: Geekom Mini PC (i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, JRiver Media Center 29, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug FMJ.
    Electronics: Jolida Fusion (fully upgraded) line-stage
    , DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
    Speakers: Tekton Perfect SET 15, Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
    Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
    Speaker cables: WyWyres Diamond, Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
    Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
    Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
    Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

  • #2
    Steve I was wrong in my comments on the phono preamp. While it is not discrete it’s totally analog as such I’m wrong period.
    again it sounds very good and well worth the money period.
    many love it as toy do. The one thing I will stand by is a good analog phono preamp non IC Chips to me is more like analog. but this maybe just my views

    See below and great reviews

    Actually, it's powered by +/15V aka 30V. The -15V is generated internally.
    So in effect it's 30V which is even sweeter than 24V.

    It matters actually a lot less in the iPhono design. Few people know how to get single stage active EQ to sound right, even fewer can make it adjustable, so they loose between 14dB and 34dB headroom.

    Increasing the rail voltage can compensates. Actually the sweet spot for those kind of phono pre's is not 24V but 250V to get enough headroom back.

    Instead we do a "high headroom" design, so even lower power supplies would be fine. The 30V supply makes sure that as long as the settings are as recommended per cartridge, the iPhono is miles from clipping by the time the cartridge jumps out of the groove.

    I recently found a phono EQ that is conceptionally similar to the iPhono, it is from the Japanese company Fidelix whose owner used to work for Technics and STAX in the 60's to 80's.

    He apparently used the same design principles in 2014 as I did a year or two earlier. Great minds think alike.

    All stages in Class A, heavy on Fet's, single stage active EQ for lowest noise and greatest dynamic range. Separate single stage open loop MC Headamp with phase correction. Even adjustable EQ.

    Precise implementations (and prices) differ a lot.
    The iPhono 2 is probably > 95 % of what is possible in sound quality without going tubes, transformers
    analog stuff.
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