My personal phono stage reference: Phasemation EA-2000

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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Since some years I am comparing phono stages, looking for a product, which can provide:

- minimum of 3 inputs
- MM & MC
- RIAA plus Mono curves
- XLR plus RCA
- minimum of 65db Gain
- output stage which can drive long cables

All of the criteria are not a must, but would be a preferred option.


Over the time various Phonostages were integrated in my set up and gave me an understanding, what different Phonostages can do for the total result.

Changing the phono stage very often needs to be followed by a new fine tuning of the set up to accommodate the Phonostage in the best way.

I am not biased in my preference for tubes or solid state, so both technologies were welcome.

The list of my Phonostage history reads like:

Kondo M7, Boulder 2008, CHP P1, EMT 128, Aesthetix IO Signature 2x PSU, Allnic H7000v, vdh The Grail SB, Thoeress Phono, VTL TP 6.5, Phasemation EA-1200, RCM The Big Phono and some more

On my personal wishlist are still:

EMT JPA 66, Koda MC-1, Allnic H-8000, Audionet Bohr and some more (but difficult to get as test units for a comparison in Germany)


Fortunately Phasemation planned to attend this years High End Fair in Munich and my question , if the plan to demo their reference phono stage EA-2000 in comparison to EA-1200 was positively answered.
After the comparison of the EA-2000 and EA-1200 phono stages in Munich ( EA-1200 was the last 5 month my main phono stage in use) it became clear to me,
that the EA-2000 is able to provide me with the next step on phono stage performance I was looking for.

Comparing phonostages / components very often is ending up in comparing details like resolution, dynamic and so on.
Mostly I get relatively fast tired of listening to components, which can win this battle of details.
So I try to step away of listing to components which guide me mainly to focus on the reproduction of details while listening to music.

With EA-2000 I was mainly focussing on the music as such. My audiophile friends in Munich were asking, if I can describe the sound of the EA-2000 in a way, that they can understand that huge invest in a phono stage better. But I was not able to do so, as I cannot remember the sound of the EA-2000 in a way, that I can provide the classical detail description. It was just the reproduction of music in a better and more understandable way.



...finally > Last week my EA-2000 order arrived at my home and since than I am listening to many hours of music :)

some details about the EA-2000:

The main EQ unit comes in 2 boxes, one for every channel. Full Tube MM stage, 3 RCA inputs, XLR & RCA outputs, 3 curves.

eq_front.png
eq_rear.png

power is provided from 2 full tube PSU , using 5U4G as rectifier.
ps_front.png ps_rear.png
To get the necessary Gain for MC carts, you need a separate Step Up per input. The EA-2000 comes as standard with 1x EA-2000 step up, which is in principle the
standard T-2000 step up, using the same RCA connector as the EQ unit.

t_front.png

t_rear.png

The EA-2000 / T-2000 provides XLR or RCA inputs.

Phasemation ships the EA-2000 with a RCA wire and some ground wires. The shipped RCA is just ok, but I do prefer other cables between step up and MM unit.



Technical details can be seen here:


As I am using different Carts, I will connect the EA-2000 plus my already existing T-2000 step up.


To connect my Soundsmith Hyperion in the best way, I just ordered (in Munich as well) a 1:10 step up from Consolidated Audio, but I have to wait a little longer for this step up to be produced and shipped.

The full set up of my new master Phonostage need the space for 9 separate boxes, so I had to free up some shelfs.

Using Ikeda 407 tonearm and Phasemation PP-2000 cartridge (as used in Munich @Cessaro and @OMA as well) the first hours of playing time are just happening.

Cables from Tonearm to Step up to MM unit to PreAmp are SAEC triple C wires.

I will write about my first impressions of the new phono stage after some hours more of playing :)

IMG_8461.jpg IMG_8462.jpg IMG_8460.jpg IMG_8459.jpg
 

shakti

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During the last weekend I found some time to listen to music with the EA-2000 phono stage .

To make the listening more fun, some friends visited me during the weekend,
so I had some more impressions and oppinions about the performance.

Over all the mail impression was, that I never had such a "real" and "lively" sound.
My visitors were all asking, if I have a new cartridge in place, as such a big difference in this regard was not expected from
a phono stage switch, specially as I had a lot of phono stages over the last 6 month in trial, and they were aware about the different performances heard in the past.

The Phasemation EA-2000 is a different story, specially with live recordings the EA-2000 can connect to the music, I never experienced before. The music has an appearance like listening to the real thing. At least more close to it :)

We tried to identify the character of the EA-2000 to make the performance more understandable, so I collected some spontaneous impressions (Ikeda 407 Tonearm, Phasemation PP-2000 Cartridge, SAEC Triple C cables, TechDAS AF3P turntable, OEM tubes):

- Bottom Up approach

- Bass is full of Energy

- Bass has rhythm and drive

- Bass is vibrant and lively

- Voices are so real

- easy to understand the voices

- little laid back treble

- no "Detail Porn", but all details are there, but embedded into the music as such

- more warm than bright

- music flows

- easy to follow the sense of the music

- no need to start Tube Rolling, just perfect as it is

As the EA-2000 is now my standard Phonostage, I will continue reporting in this thread. I have some tonearms and cartridges (like Durand Tosca and TechDAS TDCi) waiting to be fitted and would expect some more impressions while the Burn In of the EA-2000 continues.

I also like to change some tubes, as I have some matching tubes from former tube rolling stories...., but it will take some time, before I open the book of tube rolling on this Phono Stage, I am just too happy what I hear at the moment :)
 
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iaxel

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Oct 25, 2016
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Hi @shakti ,

Thank you for sharing your impressions!
Phasemation gear looks very interesting, I have yet to audition it, but looking forward to.
I've visited their room at Munich, it was very nice, but small and, as a result, a bit limiting sound-wise.
Their equipment build quality seems very high.

Isn't it limiting that the EA-2000 has only one gain/impedance setting in its step-up?
I personally look for a more versatile phono preamp to be able to work with (almost) any cartridge I choose to.
Unless, of course, like you, you have multiple phono preamps for multiple cartridges.
I have no space for it.
 

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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Isn't it limiting that the EA-2000 has only one gain/impedance setting in its step-up?
Phasemation sees the EA-2000 mainly as 3 input MM Phonostage.
Every cartridge should have the best matching Step Up, many cartridge maker do offer a matching step up as well.
The EA-2000 will be an adequate load for them.

As standard the EA-2000 is shipped with 1x T-2000 step up,
which will work with carts from 1,5ohm to 40ohm, best between 3 to 6ohm DC resistance .

Their goal for the Phasemation step ups is, that on the one side the Matsudaira type of carts

and on the other side, that the Denon DL 103 cart will work properly.

Coming from their white paper, the most MC carts will work fine with EA-2000/T-2000.

But clearly the sweet spot of performance of T-2000 is 3 to 6ohm, I love to listen to Koetsu carts with T-2000.

To host my Phasemation or MSL / TechDAS Carts aside to the Koetsu carts, a second T-2000 is in place.

I am a big fanboy of the Soundsmith cartridges, unfortunately the T-2000 will not work in a good way with the fixed coils carts.

To get the best match, I ordered for the EA-2000 a 1:10 Consolidated Audio copper step up,

Which will be a real good match to my Hyperion cartridge.

Maybe I will buy sooner or later again a Kondo SFZ Step up for the very low resistance carts.

At least my goal is, that I can connect every single cart in my collection with a matching step up .

My experience with build in step ups is always, that this step ups are too much a kind of compromise and do limit the performance of the total phono stage (as with my Allnic H-7000v)
 
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bonzo75

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Phasemation sees the EA-2000 mainly as 3 input MM Phonostage.
Every cartridge should have the best matching Step Up, many cartridge maker do offer a matching step up as well.
The EA-2000 will be an adequate load for them.

As standard the EA-2000 is shipped with 1x T-2000 step up,
which will work with carts from 1,5ohm to 40ohm, best between 3 to 6ohm DC resistance .

Their goal for the Phasemation step ups is, that on the one side the Matsudaira type of carts

and on the other side, that the Denon DL 103 cart will work properly.

Coming from their white paper, the most MC carts will work fine with EA-2000/T-2000.

But clearly the sweet spot of performance of T-2000 is 3 to 6ohm, I love to listen to Koetsu carts with T-2000.

To host my Phasemation or MSL / TechDAS Carts aside to the Koetsu carts, a second T-2000 is in place.

I am a big fanboy of the Soundsmith cartridges, unfortunately the T-2000 will not work in a good way with the fixed coils carts.

To get the best match, I ordered for the EA-2000 a 1:10 Consolidated Audio copper step up,

Which will be a real good match to my Hyperion cartridge.

Maybe I will buy sooner or later again a Kondo SFZ Step up for the very low resistance carts.

At least my goal is, that I can connect every single cart in my collection with a matching step up .

My experience with build in step ups is always, that this step ups are too much a kind of compromise and do limit the performance of the total phono stage (as with my Allnic H-7000v)

Yeah the koetsu sky blue sounded really good with the glanz and phasemation at Anamighty through the SUT. I think with SUTs our perception of cartridge sounds needs to be revisited in many cases
 
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iaxel

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My experiences show that a phono preamp requires a bit more flexibility.
But if you play with multiple step-ups that's fine.
 
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mtemur

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which will work with carts from 1,5ohm to 40ohm, best between 3 to 6ohm DC resistance .
-technically speaking- it will work best with cartridges 6-12 ohms DC resistance.

that the Denon DL 103 cart will work properly.
-again technically speaking- I’m not sure if this SUT will be the proper choice for DL-103 but it may be a good choice for DL-103R

But clearly the sweet spot of performance of T-2000 is 3 to 6ohm, I love to listen to Koetsu carts with T-2000.
IME Koetsu cartridges like to be loaded higher than normal. maybe it’s due to smooth and a little bit strong mid character of the Koetsu cartridges. technically a 4 ohm cartridge is not the best match for T-2000 SUT but I believe it’s best to try like you do instead of sticking with technical details. IME cartridges are more tolerant to loading when paired with SUTs compared to active gain stages.
 

shakti

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-technically speaking- it will work best with cartridges 6-12 ohms DC resistance.


-again technically speaking- I’m not sure if this SUT will be the proper choice for DL-103 but it may be a good choice for DL-103R


IME Koetsu cartridges like to be loaded higher than normal. maybe it’s due to smooth and a little bit strong mid character of the Koetsu cartridges. technically a 4 ohm cartridge is not the best match for T-2000 SUT but I believe it’s best to try like you do instead of sticking with technical details. IME cartridges are more tolerant to loading when paired with SUTs compared to active gain stages.
The Phasemation carts do have 4ohm DC resistance and the Phasemation Step Ups are designed to host them best,
so you can be shure that T-2000 has a sweet spot around 4ohm.

on their homepage the technical spec reads like:


Product Specification T-2000​

Best Cartridge's Output Impedance *14 ohms
Load Impedance47k ohms
Step-up Ratio ( voltage gain )26dB
Frequency Response10 - 100kHz (±2dB)
DimensionsW : 214mm H : 118mm D : 265mm
Weight4.9kg x2 units
Input/Output TerminalsRhodium plated terminals of FURUTECH
*1: The cartridge that can be used has an output impedance of 1.5 – 40 ohms.
 
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mtemur

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as I’ve noted before my comments were from a technical perspective and I’m glad T-2000 works well for you. I would like to hear it with hana ml. it may be a killer combo.
 

XV-1

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The Phasemation carts do have 4ohm DC resistance and the Phasemation Step Ups are designed to host them best,
so you can be shure that T-2000 has a sweet spot around 4ohm.

on their homepage the technical spec reads like:


Product Specification T-2000​

Best Cartridge's Output Impedance *14 ohms
Load Impedance47k ohms
Step-up Ratio ( voltage gain )26dB
Frequency Response10 - 100kHz (±2dB)
DimensionsW : 214mm H : 118mm D : 265mm
Weight4.9kg x2 units
Input/Output TerminalsRhodium plated terminals of FURUTECH
*1: The cartridge that can be used has an output impedance of 1.5 – 40 ohms.

Sounds like from an impedance view, my Lyra cartridges should be a good match with this.
 
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kleinbje

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-technically speaking- it will work best with cartridges 6-12 ohms DC resistance.


-again technically speaking- I’m not sure if this SUT will be the proper choice for DL-103 but it may be a good choice for DL-103R


IME Koetsu cartridges like to be loaded higher than normal. maybe it’s due to smooth and a little bit strong mid character of the Koetsu cartridges. technically a 4 ohm cartridge is not the best match for T-2000 SUT but I believe it’s best to try like you do instead of sticking with technical details. IME cartridges are more tolerant to loading when paired with SUTs compared to active gain stages.
I am running an Azule Platinum into a MC16 SUT and VPS100. I used some TOTL loading plugs to bring the load from 185 to 100. Nude Z-foil based. I strongly preferred unloaded into this SUT.
 

shakti

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Sounds like from an impedance view, my Lyra cartridges should be a good match with this.
I am expecting the same, so I ordered a Lyra Etna Lamda to try out :)
 

mtemur

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I am running an Azule Platinum into a MC16 SUT and VPS100. I used some TOTL loading plugs to bring the load from 185 to 100. Nude Z-foil based. I strongly preferred unloaded into this SUT.
I prefer SUTs without extra loading too. IMHO SUTs are more flexible in terms of loading cartridges. IMHO trying to change it’s loading with extra resistors usually have a negative impact on SQ and sometimes a lower gain. even if the SUT’s loading doesn’t perfectly match cartridge’s optimal load it’s best to used it that way instead of tweaking with resistors.
in this T-2000 case I made a comment that it is best be used with cartridges 6-12 ohms from a technical point of view. maybe that technical perspective is not right or maybe phasemation cartridge like to be loaded higher even though it has 4 ohms DC resistance. I don’t know. maybe phasemation made their SUT to load it’s matching cartridge exactly what it needs at 118ohms. I don’t know if that’s the case but I’m sure it’s good to try.
for example zyx cartridges likes to be loaded higher and emt cartridges likes to be loaded lower than normal.
 
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bazelio

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I am running an Azule Platinum into a MC16 SUT and VPS100. I used some TOTL loading plugs to bring the load from 185 to 100. Nude Z-foil based. I strongly preferred unloaded into this SUT.
Are you finding that the resistor type makes a difference in loading plugs of the same resistance?
 

shakti

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I prefer SUTs without extra loading too. IMHO SUTs are more flexible in terms of loading cartridges. IMHO trying to change it’s loading with extra resistors usually have a negative impact on SQ and sometimes a lower gain. even if the SUT’s loading doesn’t perfectly match cartridge’s optimal load it’s best to used it that way instead of tweaking with resistors.
in this T-2000 case I made a comment that it is best be used with cartridges 6-12 ohms from a technical point of view. maybe that technical perspective is not right or maybe phasemation cartridge like to be loaded higher even though it has 4 ohms DC resistance. I don’t know. maybe phasemation made their SUT to load it’s matching cartridge exactly what it needs at 118ohms. I don’t know if that’s the case but I’m sure it’s good to try.
for example zyx cartridges likes to be loaded higher and emt cartridges likes to be loaded lower than normal.
The former Phasemation step ups (PhaseTech branded) worke according classic step up ratios. This means, that a Denon DL 103 will not work properly on a Phasetech T-1 1:20 step up. In that time, their technology was very classical. So a quality change of a step up was mainly driven from the quality of the coil wire as such, the material of the Yoke and finally the vibration damping chassis.
Phasemation tried to overcome this, trying out different nested coil winding methods to make their step up more flexible in terms of acceptance of low and high DC resistance carts.

I asked them, if they can make a 1:10 T-2000 type for my soundsmith carts, and they denied. As the nested methology in use is very much unique to their 1:20 ratio, 1.10 would mean a total new development and they were not sure, if the T-2000 quality can be adopted easily to 1:10 ratio.
 
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shakti

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Are you finding that the resistor type makes a difference in loading plugs of the same resistance?
Yes, they do make a difference.
 

kleinbje

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Are you finding that the resistor type makes a difference in loading plugs of the same resistance?
Maybe? Chris West my Naim Tech(Guru) for 15 years, swears they are by far the best sounding. I had a couple different Vishay's that I tried. I can't say for sure but for 20$ so it seemed silly not to get the "best" given the extremely low level signals. That being said I ultimately prefer no loading plugs. I used the latest Eichman bullet plugs.
 
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mtemur

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The former Phasemation step ups (PhaseTech branded) worke according classic step up ratios. This means, that a Denon DL 103 will not work properly on a Phasetech T-1 1:20 step up. In that time, their technology was very classical. So a quality change of a step up was mainly driven from the quality of the coil wire as such, the material of the Yoke and finally the vibration damping chassis.
Phasemation tried to overcome this, trying out different nested coil winding methods to make their step up more flexible in terms of acceptance of low and high DC resistance carts.

I asked them, if they can make a 1:10 T-2000 type for my soundsmith carts, and they denied. As the nested methology in use is very much unique to their 1:20 ratio, 1.10 would mean a total new development and they were not sure, if the T-2000 quality can be adopted easily to 1:10 ratio.
Thanks for sharing the information.
 

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