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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: Elliott Sound Products. ESP P06 phono stage. Phono Preamp by fscerri

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REVIEW: Elliott Sound Products. ESP P06 phono stage. Phono Preamp

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Model: ESP P06 phono stage.
Category: Phono Preamp
Suggested Retail Price: $A 50? (complete product)
Description: DIY phono stage for moving magnet phono cartridges.
Manufacturer URL: Elliott Sound Products.

Review by fscerri on November 04, 2008 at 20:11:49
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for the ESP P06 phono stage.

I'd like to 'review' this excellent DIY phono stage available via Elliott Sound Products. Some years ago whilst 'surfing the net' I happened about an Australian website called 'Elliott Sound Products' at www.sound.au.com whilst looking for a high quality phono preamp for moving magnet cartridges to build. Well I found what I was looking for in the form of the ESP P06 design. In the twenty odd years since I've got back into vinyl in a big way I've built several simple phono stages ranging from the ubiquitous simple single op amp based full feedback designs to a rather interesting full passive design using field effect transistors, and of course my beloved ESP P06 phono stages. Along the way I've also built numerous other Elliott Sound Products designs including the various versions of the excellent Elliott Sound Products P05 regulated split rail power supply, several P88 stereo line preamps, a P99 'sub bass' filter module and a P19 'chip' audio amplifier good for around 50 watts per channel, which is my main system stereo amplifier at the present time.

Elliott Sound Products have a great reputation amongst DIY people around the world, and for very good reasons, the ESP designs are excellent in just about every way. Back to the story, the ESP P06 phono stage was my first ESP project and after seeing the circuit design which is freely available on the ESP website, I quickly assembled a working prototype on a piece of spare copper clad circuit board material. It worked first off and I was stunned at the very high level of sonic performance. I initially used two 12 volt gel cells to power it. It's performance was better than anything I had previously used including the high quality phono stage in my well regarded NAD integrated amp as well as any of my previous phono stage DIY efforts.

After this first effort, I went ahead and bought the supplied ESP P06 circuit board and P05 power supply module and built the two modules with complete success! And that was just the start! Apart from the sheer pleasure of building one's own high quality audio electronics gear, the educational aspect is just as valuable. Indeed, although I have been a long time electronic enthusiast, building the ESP P06 design has taught me a great deal more about DIY construction, and in any case the full assembly instructions that are provided on his website after board purchase are very thorough and easily followed. The pre-made circuit boards for many of the ESP designs can be purchased, although assembly of the circuit(s) is entirely the constructor's responsibility.

I built my P06 using parts purchased from the usual parts suppliers in this country, but the best quality I could obtain, for example, high quality metal film resistors, high quality MKT capacitors, connectors and all the other required parts. In the end, the overall cost was much less than equivalent quality commercial units. Yes, I had to build it, but that was most of the fun! As mentioned previously ESP supplies the circuit board and full assembly instructions, the rest is up to the constructor. Assembly allows 'tweaking' for one's specific setup, eg altered input loading resistors.

The P06 design: The ESP design is a full op amp based circuit, as are most of the ESP designs, but this phono preamp uses a combination of split passive treble EQ and active EQ for the bass end. This combination sounds marvellous. Although the circuit looks deceptively simple, sonically it is superb and I never tire of the sound of my P06's. It's the most 'open' sounding phono stage I've ever used and the overall stage gain can be easily modified to accommodate any typical moving magnet cartridge. In comparison with the more typically common 'full feedback' designs the stunningly 'open' quality of the ESP P06 phono stage is immediately apparent. If high quality sockets are installed for the two dual opamps, different types can be tried with ease. I have tried the common NE5532, LM833 and OPA2134 dual opamps in the various P06 boards that I've built and they all sound great. I can't really say that any one is superior!

So in the end if you'd like to try DIY and you can solder well and follow straightforward instructions, then please consider this superb DIY project. This P06 phono preamp is equally at home in both a basic budget vinyl playing system and top notch vinyl system as well. sound.westhost.com/project06.h... I highly recommend this DIY phono preamp for moving magnet cartridges.


Product Weakness: none apart from having to provide all construction yourself!
Product Strengths: Easy DIY audio project assuming some electronics construction know how, great sound quality.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Elliott Sound Products P19 amp.
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Elliott Sound Products P06, P88.
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Akai/ Dual/ Pye t/t and Shure M97xE.
Speakers: Richter Merlins & B&W Solid S/W.
Cables/Interconnects: DIY low capacitance IC's.
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Clasical, Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz.
Time Period/Length of Audition: four years
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): none
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Elliott Sound Products. ESP P06 phono stage. Phono Preamp - fscerri 20:11:49 11/4/08 ( 2)