© Don Sachs, 2015
Vintage Tube Audio
Restoration and Repair
Custom Tube Phono Stage $1399
This is the finest phono preamp that I have ever heard!
I built this phono stage because Roy Mottram was after me to try it because I loved the
SP14 line stage that is the basis for my custom preamps. I built this my way with my parts
choices including Russian KBG oil caps on the outputs, Takman carbon film resistors in key
spots, just like in the custom line stages I build. Also a big film cap for the last filter after
the tube rectifier and Canare shielded OFC mic cable for the runs to the jacks. This is Roy’s
best phono preamp and he sells it for $895 assembled with basic tubes. It has about 2.5 mV
input sensitivity and multiple DIP switches that allow you to toggle in various resistor and
capacitor loadings. My version is built with premium parts and great output capacitors and
very good wire. So how does it sound? Well, this thing is every bit as much of a giant killer
as my SP14 line stage. Same reasons, great design with fully regulated and separate high
voltage and DC filament supplies for each channel. The stereo separation and black
background are pretty incredible. I just have it dialed into 47K loading with no extra
capacitance and it sounds absolutely stunning with my old Thorens TD125 MkII/SME arm/Shure V15 IV setup. Floor to ceiling
soundstage, wider than the speakers with great depth. Very balanced frequency response. I had no idea a Shure V15 IV could
ever sound this good! This thing is a steal at $1399 built in the cherry case as shown. That photo of the rear panel shows the
version wtih two sets of input jacks and internal SUTs. There are separate loading switches on the rear panel for each input. Of
course I will warrant it fully for a year. It will run forever. If you really need more gain I can source the step up transformers of
your choice and install them for free if you buy the parts. Like the line stages I have been building, this thing is so good it is scary!
Warranty: This preamp should be totally reliable. So I will guarantee it for one full year. If anything goes wrong (exept for a tube) I
will pay shipping both ways, fix it, and return it for free. If a tube that I supply fails in 90 days I will replace it. Now if you have a
party and someone spills beer on it then I will fix it for you as cheaply as possible, but the cost is on you. Realistically I would
expect this unit to be trouble-free for many years. If you get a problem more than two years down the line and you pay the
shipping I will fix it for only the cost of parts, forever. Also, if I build one of these for you, I will let you listen to it for 3 days. If you
don’t like it you may return it for a full refund (minus any paypal fees I incur), provided I receive the preamp and all tubes, and any
cord in perfect condition. I know that you are going to think this is the best preamp you have ever heard and you will know that
before it even warms up!
Prices and options: Basic phono preamp in cherry case with top quality parts: $1395. This includes a very good basic tube set and
excellent Polish oil output capacitors. Preamp has an IEC connector, you supply power cord. Options:
• Internal Cinemag SUTs and a second set of input jacks for low output MC cartridges
• Custom choices for loading resistor and capacitor settings to match your cartridge FREE
I sold the first one to an old customer of mine named Louis in Tennessee. He received it yesterday and this is what he wrote me:
I swapped tonearms and cartridges from a van den Hul MC 10 MC to a vintage Signet AM 50S.
Removing the head amp from the system was revelatory.
This may be the best phono stage I have ever heard, in my system or anywhere else. It makes the Signet sound better in
many ways than the van den Hul which cost four times what the Signet did when new.
I am no longer sure the head amp is worth re-capping. I'm just going to listen to music for a long while and give it some
If you have anybody on the fence about the phono preamp, give them my name, without question.