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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: Electrocompaniet ECP-1 Phono Preamp by J-PMatt@Comcast.Net

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REVIEW: Electrocompaniet ECP-1 Phono Preamp

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Model: ECP-1
Category: Phono Preamp
Suggested Retail Price: $1000.00
Description: Outboard Phono Preamp
Manufacturer URL: Electrocompaniet
Manufacturer URL: Electrocompaniet

Review by J-PMatt@Comcast.Net on May 06, 2003 at 13:04:51
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for the ECP-1

Synergy, synergy, synergy.........it's what we look for when we buy our components, or at least it's what we should be looking for. When I introduce a new component to the rig, it's always my hope that it will fit in nicely, play well with others and get good grades from teacher. Of course, we all know that's not always the case, no matter how well meaning and well researched our plans may be.

I purchased or borrowed other phono preamps in the roughly $1000.00 price range and did just that. With varying results of course. And yes, it was frustrating at times. "Why does this or that phono preamp sound so good in his system and so bad in mine?" Or, "Why don't I hear that magic now? You just scored gold medals at the other place yesterday and today you're not even qualifying?"

Finally, a light bulb went off. I like my EC gear,............ maybe their phono preamp has something to offer............

It did, and in spades. Here was the midrange I was hoping for. Postioned correctly in the soundstage with just the right amount of sweetness and without the hangover. Here was my long-lost depth and focus. High frequencies with sparkle and shine, but without the grit or fatigue. Cymbals that decay naturally in their own time and place, and again within the correct position of the soundstage.

And talk about bass. How low do you want to go? Bass with impact and substance without sounding tubby. Definition and detail. In 1966, McCartney put down his violin bass and picked up his Rickenbacker. Of course, as a Beatle fan I know this but I didn't always hear it. Now I HEAR IT! Even cuts that we're impossible to decipher are now there to be heard clearly. The bass in "SGT. Pepper's REPRISE" (MFSL) leading into "A Day in the Life" is there in all its lowdown and dirty rocking glory. The trebly, twangy sound of the Rick unearthed and dusted off for my enjoyment! The Cars first album (Nautilus) was another treat. All of the guitars in "My Best Friends Girl" had texture that simply was never present in all the years of listening to that cut.

Orchestral was a revelation. Hey, I love rock as much as the next kid, but when you want dynamics, this is where you go. And there I went, deep into the night and totally beat for work the next day. I just didn't know that vinyl could be that quiet on my system, and I don't mean the surface noise went away when the music started. I mean between cuts, during low passages, etc. Black, black backgrounds, and their byproduct--dynamics.

I have no doubt in my mind that the ECP-1 isn't for everyone. What did I say before? Synergy, right? And I think that's what it really boils down to in the end. If I owned a Pass, Boulder, Musical Fidelity, Krell, Levinson, McIntosh (Add yours here) preamp and amp, then I would buy their phono preamp without hesitation. But I don't. I own EC, for better and worse, (Ahem) and what should have been a no-brainer turned into a Cecil B. DeMille production.

But not without having learned an important lesson.


Product Weakness: Should have balanced inputs and outputs as well as single ended.
Product Strengths: Dead quiet background. Able to drive very low output moving coils with ease. Dynamic and detailed, with great depth and width of soundstage.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Electrocompaniet AW-250DMB Fully Balanced 250 watt per channel pure class A amplifier
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): EC-4.7 Matching fully balanced preamplifier/Linestage
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Basis 1400 w/ modified Origin Live RB-300 Tone arm and Benz Micro ACE low output moving coil phono cartridge
Speakers: Talon Audio Peregrines w/ Sound Anchor stands
Cables/Interconnects: Stealth CWS balanced and single ended interconnects. Stealth silver triple wrapped speaker cable
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Beatles/Badfinger/Billy Joel/Cars/Orchestra and Opera
Room Size (LxWxH): 40 x 30 x 8
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1 1/2 years
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): MIT Z-Center
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Electrocompaniet ECP-1 Phono Preamp - J-PMatt@Comcast.Net 13:04:51 05/6/03 ( 4)