Take your choice - Cambridge Solo, WTL RIAA, Dynavector P75Mk4, WTL Phono Stage @totallywirednz

The Value of a Phono Stage

The importance and performance gains to be had by selecting a better phono stage or amplifier are easy to underestimate. Until you hear them. Having the personal experience of stepping through a broad range of both cartridges and phono stages it has become obvious that the effect of the latter is at least as much as that of a cartridge. And that the benefit of improving both is cumulative– i.e. you’ll get better value and sound from your turntable system by considering both.

The importance and performance gains to be had by selecting a better phono stage or amplifier are easy to underestimate. Until you hear them. Having the personal experience of stepping through a broad range of both cartridges and phono stages it has become obvious that the effect of the latter is at least as much as that of a cartridge. And that the benefit of improving both is cumulative – i.e. you’ll get better value and sound from your turntable system by considering both, either at the same time or by taking a stepped approach. The logic of placing more resources in the phono stage than cartridge has always been compelling to us – styli and cartridges wear out and need replacement to maintain sound quality, but a good phono stage lasts a lifetime and makes easily affordable cartridges sound far better than they have any right to.

While replacing a cartridge or stylus is usually a ‘must-do’ because of either wear or damage, an old or inbuilt phono stage will slog away forever so can be put on the back burner. Yet it all goes back to our original proposal that the whole idea of listening to records is to enjoy better sound. Even our lowest cost phono stage – the new Cambridge ‘Solo’ is the perfect introduction to analogue at just $295 inclusive and is better than just about any built in unit and from there the performance gains leap away.

Well Tempered RIAA Phono Stage @totallywirednz
Well Tempered RIAA Phono Stage

While you might think that Well Tempered products are in the upper realms of cost, the WTL RIAA phono stage at $610 is wee ripper. What makes the Well Tempered phono stage so special is the sound – it’s a wonderfully solid and warm presentation backed by real power and drive. We don’t know the back story behind the design but it’s immediately obvious that this phono stage gives a full scale analogue performance from even modest cartridges. It comprehensively blitzes anything else we’ve tried at this level.  The WT phono stage is easily the biggest and best value upgrade for almost any turntable fitted with a moving magnet cartridge.

The Dynavector P75 MK4 ($1250) has been the go-to phono stage in New Zealand since it’s introduction in 2003. Over time we’ve seen a series of significant upgrades and now we’re thrilled to introduce you to the MK4. The new Dynavector P75MK4 is the most substantial re-working of the design with by far the greatest advance in performance.

The new Well Tempered Labs Phono Stage ($2100) sets new standards in both value and performance. The unique implementation of RIAA processing provides a new and better interpretation of vinyl record replay which is, paradoxically, most striking when applied to moving magnet systems. In doing so it causes us to question the assumption of placing precedence of the cartridge over the phono stage. The WTL Phono is our best performing phono stage offering you real material value for money and build quality. It delivers exactly what the Well Tempered Labs promise – ‘new music from your records’.

The Well Tempered Labs Phono Stage @totallywirednz

The WTL Phono Stage

The new Well Tempered Labs Phono Stage is the product of several lifetimes in high end audio. The WTL Phono allows MM cartridges to bloom and involve in a way I’ve never heard before and also works it’s magic with low output moving coil cartridges. In both absolute performance and value for money it is quite simply the best phono stage I have heard. This is an assertion that obviously warrants qualification but read my review and I’ll explain why…

The Dynavector Karat DV17DX moving coil cartridge @totallywirednz

Dynavector P75MK4