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Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline XR-2 Phono Preamp Review by Rad21

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Model: Emmeline XR-2
Category: Phono Preamp
Suggested Retail Price: $1,050.00
Description: MM/MC Phono Stage
Manufacturer URL: Ray Samuels Audio
Model Picture: View

Review by Rad21 (A) on August 05, 2003 at 20:21:41
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for the Emmeline XR-2

After reading Michael Fremers brief review in Stereophile, I decided to try out this phono preamp as a replacement for my Acoustic Signature Tango. I checked out the website, communicated with Ray via email and ordered the XR-2. Ray burns in each unit so by the time you receive it, there is no long burn in time. Ray also suggests using a plain, basic power cord for baseline evaluations, which I did.

When I received the XR-2, I was immediately impressed by the build quality -from the black anodized case to the rca jacks to the pcb, everything feels and looks high quality.

The power supply has an umbilical cord that connects to the phono pre amp and reminds me of my old Audible Illusions line stage - only the metal housing on the Emmeline is much higher quality and thicker gauge metal and the power supply is dead quiet, no hum , no buzz. The umbilical cord is quite flexible and easy to route behind my equipment rack with no stiffness at all- it is a Belden cable. The phono pre amp is smaller than my Acoustic Signature but much more solid feeling.
The unit was set to MC and my Goldring Eroica H is a 2.5mv MC but the MC setting was too much gain and I was getting loud popping sounds even with volume to 0.
I opened the phono pre amp by removing the 2 top allen screws on the front and two top philips screws on the back.The top cover easily comes off as if it's on hinges (but it is not). The board layout is superb, I moved the two micro switches to MM setting. The settings for MM/MC and load selections are conveniently screen printed on the circuit board for easy reference- no need to look for a manual to set up this baby. The housing was very easy to close and screw back together- everything closed up perfectly, nice tight tolerances, no gaps or seams misaligned at all.
I listened to a variety of music from jazz to rock and was immediately impressed by what I was hearing. My baseline was the Tango line stage and these are my observations:

Sound improvements over the Acoustic Signature Tango
improved soundstage width and depth
reduced surface noise
increased transparency
more tightly focused vocals and instruments
better resolution of small details
dead silent- black background- the music just emerges from total silence
enhanced dynamic range

While I havenít evaluated any other phono pre amps in this price range, I donít think you can find a higher build quality and such a compact sized phono stage with such accurate high resolution sound. I didnít think my MMF-7/Goldring Eroica could sound this good. When I look at the TT, I canít believe the quality of music that is coming from it. I think this is incredible build quality and sound enhancement at this price point. And the ultimate complement, I havenít listened to 1 CD since the XR-2 arrived. Ray offers an in home trial,so you can't go wrong trying this little jewel out. I am 100% satisfied.

Product Weakness: No fancy box , no fancy manual
Product Strengths: see review above, there are so many

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Llano Trinity SX-2
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Simaudio P3
Sources (CDP/Turntable): MMF-7
Speakers: Magnepan 1.6's with Mye Stands
Cables/Interconnects: Bogdan SCT Biwire speaker cables, Acoustic Zen WOW pre/power, Kingcats Silver MMF-7/XR-2/Simaudio P3
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Grateful Dead American Beauty /Wilco Being There/India.Arie Voyage to India/John Coltrane Soultrane
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1 week
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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