The road to nirvana

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My journey into Photography, Horology, and Audiophilia

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The Very Simple Phono Stage (VSPS)

A phono stage project is something I've been planning to do for years, however, I lack the motivation to do so because I have an excellent phono stage in the Clearaudio Basic Symmetry. My Musical Fidelity X-LP is just ok serving duties as MM phono stage for my JVC turntable.

The lack of motivation may partly be because of past experiences with two of the most popular DIY phono stage out in the market today - the Bottlehead Seduction and Hagtech Cornet 2, both of which I was able to audition in my system.

While the Seduction and Cornet 2 are better than my X-LP, I still prefer the Symmetry over the aforementioned. Add in the complexity and expense in building them, it does not make a compelling reason why I should invest my limited time and money in making them.

I sort of lack the kick in the butt, until something caught my fancy- the Very Simple Phono Stage from RJM Audio. There's a long discussion about this simple circuit at DIYAudio that I read through and got me interested, for two reasons, cheap and simple.

I ordered parts from RS Components and assembled it in a perforated board. It is shown here being tested with my gear. I've got decent sound, but there is a loud hum which prevents me from making a serious evaluation of the circuit.

I'm a bit fired up, so I decided to make this build more seriously. I got a nice little aluminum case from RS Components, the YM-130, which I plan to use as enclosure for the entire phono stage.

The case is nicely built and should have enough room to fit the entire circuit, including the toroidal transformer, inside.

I made a PCB using the photo resist method so it will have a nice, professional look. I used Express PCB to do my layout and it's really small, just 1.5" x 2" in size. This is how it looked like with all the parts stuffed onto the board. It has undergone testing and I like what I heard.

Here it is, fully assembled and tested, and looking good. To keep the cost further down, I used cheap RCA jacks. The ground lug is to the left of the RCA jacks.

I like the sound so much, that I sold my mint Musical Fidelity X-LP to a friend. I find the VSPS to be livelier and more dynamic than the X-LP.