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RE: First impressions and DIP switch clarification

Well, I installed the Piccolo Zero and gave it a spin so to speak. First impressions using it with an Audio-Technica ART9 cartridge? Not sure what to think yet. Part of the problem is that I was trying to reduce the gain of the Zero and instead it seemed to be getting louder (and harsh). Turns out the labeling on the DIP switch module is a bit nonconventional in that up is OFF and down is ON in reference to the switch numbers. I was inadvertently increasing gain and probably pushing the input sensitivity of the phono preamp and perhaps even the preamp.

Note: I emailed Jim Hagerman and he replied that yes, the switch settings are kind of backwards but there's a small arrow that points towards the ON (closed) position.

Once I got the Zero's gain set to a more reasonable level, 0dB (83uV/uA) feeding a phono preamp with 41.5dB gain and 47K resistance, the sound improved greatly. For reference, the ART9 has 0.3mV output with 12 Ohms internal impedance. The result was quite a lively and energetic sound. Compared to running the ART9 straight into the phono preamp with 61.5dB gain and 300 Ohms resistance there was a 2-3dB increase in output using the Zero. That's based on the input levels used for digital recording to keep the signal from clipping.

I played a few LPs that I'd recently recorded and tried to compare the digital playback with the spinning LP but because the output levels were 2-3dB different I couldn't easily level match and make quick comparisons. At times the differences were not all that noticeable but other times the Zero seemed to bring out a liveliness and additional definition that wasn't there otherwise. Bass frequencies seemed to be fairly similar but I haven't had sufficient time listening to really say what differences I was hearing.

Now that I have the gain problem worked out I can hear some potential benefits using the Piccolo Zero with the ART9, especially with simple recordings of vocals and guitar work (Steve Earle "Townes-The Basics"). With more energetic recordings (Omar & The Howlers, early Kinks) the verdict is still out. So I'm going to do some more listening and try to compare what I'm hearing with the Zero to LP recordings I've done with the ART9 running straight into the phono preamp.

This has been a fun experiment so far...

Edits: 02/06/24

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  • RE: First impressions and DIP switch clarification - tketcham 13:30:19 02/06/24 (1)


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