Phono Stage & Turntable

ATC & other makes of Hi-Fi equipment
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Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:41 pm

Phono Stage & Turntable

Postby MrFrog » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:57 am

I'm looking to get a new turntable (possibly VPI Prime) and was considering a better external phono stage to replace my ageing Rega Fono (Moving magnet phono stage).

Has anyone got experience with the ATC phono boards - SPH2 RIAA ... that can be fitted to my ATC SCA-2 preamp?

I'm hoping that the ATC option will outperform similarly priced phono stages (taking account of the fact that the SPH2 will use the onboard power supply and casing of the SCA-2)

Unfortunately, here in New Zealand, the dealer would have to order them specially from the UK .... so a comparative audition and listening is not possible in this part of the world!

Posts: 178
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:06 pm

Re: Phono Stage & Turntable

Postby Muser » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:11 am

To me, this is a system matching question. How do all of the pieces fit together?

The phono stage that ships with the SCA2 is quite good, very detailed, images quite well, but has the SCA2's line stage tendency to be a bit lean rather than full bodied. It's quite detailed and has very good frequency extension, though lacks a quality some might call magic or nuance - it can sound a little unrelenting to me. No complaints, FWIW, just not as comfortable a choice for me. You should compare your own sense of the SCA2 to mine and discount my opinion if you disagree. I think you'll need to find a pleasing match to it. The SCA2 is likely a more resolving phono stage with a more extended frequency response.

MM cartridges tend to be richer, more full-bodied and more relaxe leading to a less detailed sound than MCs, in my experience. I am a fan of some MCs, but not all. This might be a good partner for you. Grado makes very nice, reasonably priced things.

I know a lot of people like VPI turntables. They're certainly competent but I'm not a fan. I had an Aries MkII and found it overdamped and "slow" sounding. There are other turntables I'd look at first. I'd call VPI a bit leaden and . . . boring. Others disagree. BTW, that's with the 9" JMW Memorial arm.

I expect that the SCA2 could be a good phono stage for you. If you want to enjoy the sound of your phono setup, you're going to need to be careful with the cartridge. If you're looking for a ruler flat response and "taking what you get" then . . . the SCA2 and VPI are one path of many. Hope you find what you want to find.
ATC SCM20-2A, Pass Labs XP-12 preamp, Amazon Model 2 tt, Moerch DP6 arm and Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge, Oppo 105, Prism Sound Callia DAC, Kubala Sosna Expression cabling. Two 15" Acoustic Elegance subwoofers, powered by QSC RMX 2450 amplifier w/ minidsp equalization.

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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Re: Phono Stage & Turntable

Postby robski » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:05 pm

ive had one fitted to my sca2 for years its not very good, i've also got the dynavector xx2. It really doesn't gel. bought a rega aria much better.

Posts: 178
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:06 pm

Re: Phono Stage & Turntable

Postby Muser » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:54 am

For Mr. Frog:

Vinyl is much more fiddly to get right than with digital. And, I think there is a lot more to argue about with regard to sound you like or don't.

If Robski says "not very good" and means "I did not like it" I can't argue that. But, my experience with ATC's phono stage was that it was pretty accomplished. I preferred the preamp I had, an EAR 802 which was a bit less . . . unrelenting than the SCA2 and more nuanced, albeit with a flabbier bottom end. I listened to the SCA2 with a Koetsu Rosewood for two months, not the Dynavector I have now.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Rega - not bad, but bland and uninspiring. To me, if I heard Rega, I would not understand the folderol about analog. You might prefer the Rega to the ATC, not sure. I speculate that the SCA2 phono stage will be more incisive, lit up and have more extended treble as well as slightly deeper bass than the Rega.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
ATC SCM20-2A, Pass Labs XP-12 preamp, Amazon Model 2 tt, Moerch DP6 arm and Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge, Oppo 105, Prism Sound Callia DAC, Kubala Sosna Expression cabling. Two 15" Acoustic Elegance subwoofers, powered by QSC RMX 2450 amplifier w/ minidsp equalization.

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