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REVIEW: PhonoPreamps.com TC-760 Phono Preamp

Model: TC-760
Category: Phono Preamp
Suggested Retail Price: $53.50
Description: MM/MC phono preamp
Manufacturer URL: Not Available

Review by Leefer on June 24, 2009 at 19:29:25
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for the TC-760

I recently picked up one of those inexpensive phono preamps from phonopreamps.com. This purchase was based on a number posts made here in vinyl asylum, as well as the availability of the TC-750LC that a buddy from work loaned to me.

The TC-750LC seemed a minor improvement compared to the onboard phono section in my 25 year old NAD receiver - a disappointment to be sure. Both sounded alot like mid-fi digital - ok at low volume but garbage at higher SPL's. However, I realized that both the receiver and TC-750LC were plugged into a regular household outlet, not my $50 Furutech. BIG improvement! The NAD was better through the Furutech while the TC-750LC was way better than the NAD.

While auditioning the TC-750LC, I searched and read OMalley's post from April 2008 (TC-760LC / Cambridge 640p duke out) with great interest. http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=vinyl&n=746296&highlight=phonopreamps+com&r=

This "duke out" struck me as somewhat of an apples and oranges comparison but I could not put my finger on why.Otherwise, I found the shootout very informative.

Further listening with the TC-750LC however led me to setting the LC's level control to about the 11:30 position, which forced me to crank my little NAD integrated. At maximum gain, the TC-750LC still seemed harsh and brittle. Once I settled on the phonopreamp setting, the reason for the apples and oranges impression dawned on me - the LC on the TC-750LC stands for "Level Control", a "feature" that the Cambridge 640p doesn't have. I have no idea whether the LC is a simple attenuator or a potentiometer, but I convinced myself that including this device, at this price level, has to degrade the sound.

I subsequently auditioned the Sim Audio LP3 and the Pro-Ject Tube Box II at a local dealer. These preamps were very good but spending $300-500 on a phono preamp wasn't what I was looking for.

So I decided to order the TC-760, without the LC, for $61.50 including freight. I chose the TC-760 because of its' MC capability, which I hope to exploit later this year. The box showed up a week later so I popped the sucker in and listened. Yes, I realize the unit wasn't broken in yet but I wanted to note its' out of the box sound vs broken in vs the TC-750LC.

I understand where OMalley is coming from - the TC-750LC did seem "tinny, shouty and metallic", just like the TC-760LC that he evaluated. Out of the box though, the TC760 through its' MM section did not exhibit those qualities. The TC-760 seemed smooth and dynamic, with decent soundstaging and bass performance. Thirty hours of playing time later, these qualities have developed further, bass has also tightened up a tad. All's Good !!!

In my humble system, the TC-760 is exactly what I was looking for. Affordable but very capable.

Product Weakness: Was comparable to but did not beat preamps costing $300 and more. Surprise surprise !!
Product Strengths: a taste of hifi at a lowfi price. Revealing of upstream deficiencies. Exclusion of the LC(level control) makes a huge difference.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: NAD C320BEE
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): none
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Rega P1 / Ortofon OM5E
Speakers: Von Schweikert VR2
Cables/Interconnects: Straightwire Speaker / VH Audio Pulsar interconnect
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Alan Parson's (I Robot/ Pyramid/ Eye in the Sky); U2 (Joshua Tree); Dire Straits (BIA); Norah Jones (Come Away with Me 200g); Poco (Legend); Duke Ellington (BIO)
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors:
  Atma-Sphere Music Systems, Inc.  

Topic - REVIEW: PhonoPreamps.com TC-760 Phono Preamp - Leefer 19:29:25 06/24/09 (4)


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