RADA Precious One Phono

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,960
3,364
515
UK
RADA Precious One

I came to learn of another very interesting Lithuanian hifi brand, RADA, whilst discussing various optimisation plans for my DaVa stereo and mono field coil cartridges.

I had been vaguely keeping a lookout for a new phono stage for quite a few years now and so when I stumbled on some internals of the RADA Precious One, I investigated further. What initially caught my attention from the breadboarded circuit photograph was the use of 2 separate EI mains transformers, 3 EI chokes, 2 amorphous core output transformers, and a shed load of rare NOS capacitors from ROE and others. It turns out that the casework was rather fetching too so all in all good grounds for investigation I thought.

I connected with the head of RADA, Dalius Ražanas, to learn a little more about his creation. The Precious One was essentially an evolution of his more entry level phono stage but spec’d up with even better quality parts and tubes. I also learnt that the Precious One comes in 2 main versions, a copper one and a silver all out version. The RIAA is CRC using Nos ROE and Russian silver mica caps for very precise and accurate reproduction. It employs 2 x 6AU6 input tubes in pentode connection feeding through to the E182CC double triode. You can alternatively use a 5687. I was supplied a rare French Nos 5687 and a Nos Valvo E182CC to test but ultimately preferred the E182CC for its additional vitality, resolution and drive. I can see someone preferring the 5687 in some systems where they want a more relaxing listen. I have ordered a Mullard E182CC but yet to test that properly. If anyone has other recommendations for the best E182CC, I would be interested to hear. On the power side, the Precious One uses the well regarded EZ80 rectifier in the standard version. The rarer 6X4 is used in the full silver version, which also benefits from some other power supply modifications including a humongous beer can sized paper in oil capacitor. Wiring is in silver and great attention has been taken with internal screening and vibration control - some great attention to detail and one that resonates (or not haha) a lot with me.

How does it sound then? Well for reference and to orientate you to my type of sound preference. I have owned and listened to many phonostages - my last 2 were Aesthetix IO sig 3 box and NVO spa II SE. I think it is fair to say that I nearly always prefer valve circuits for phono stages. I think my favourite is the totl EMT. Interestingly I didn’t get on with the Mayer D3A at home despite loving the 10Y and 46 monoblocks but I put that down to a mismatch of that particular D3A input transformer with the chosen Madake cartridge at the time. On its day the Aesthetix produced an infinitesimal scale and with prodigious mid bass but with associated noise. The NVO was more neutral and a lot quieter than the Aesthetix and I have been very happy with it for a long time despite its slightly agricultural build quality. I like to have a neutral and fast sounding phono with lots of nuance and drive. I am not into the rosey tinted thing as it bores me after a short amount of listening despite comforting me on occasion.
The first thing I noticed with the Precious One was an incredibly low noise floor - so low I doubted whether I had set it all up correctly at first. This is usually the realm where ss phonos have an advantage but honestly the noise floor here is the lowest I have yet experienced. It is MM only per the purest philosophy so you’ll need additional budget for a SUT. I had recently purchased the game changing silver/copper SUT from DaVa so the purest MM approach suited me perfectly. I do feel this approach makes most sense compared to say a compromised quality internal SUT per some designs. That said I also recognise that the short signal path of internal SUT has its merits on the best designs.

Anyway back to the sound - I cued up some of my usual reference material. I tend to go to strings and small scale strings at that to start - I go here first because I can’t live with a phono that doesn’t have authentic tone here and this trips up the majority. I heard a very extended and highly nuanced violin on the Milstein live concert LP but with huge vitality and dynamic contrast. Cellos had greater tonal variation than I was accustomed to and had less overhang. So the body was very much there but with a layer of mud removed. The layering of string quartets was dramatic with a really deep and teased out presentation - plenty of recording space and ambience was present. Shifting from recording to recording clearly highlighted dramatic differences depending on era, venue, engineers, and label. So just where you want it. I then spent for what seemed like 2-3 days listening to violin sonatas in particular Gidon Kremer playing Ysaye. I found myself looking for hugely challenging works as the music was making a lot of sense - it is quite hard to explain this to a non classical audiophile but basically your brain somehow more readily digests musical content that previously would require deeper and more focussed listening to make sense of. Ultimately I think this means that the phono is better unearthing the original musical content more accurately so a hugely important advance.
I moved over to various bop albums from the likes of Art Blakey et al - the Precious One has the most intense drive and articulated drums that makes it massively addictive. It is a toe tapper phonostage - one where you sit forward as it draws you into tapping feet and taking in the spectacle. Saxophones are full and powerful and trumpets dynamic and faithful. Cymbals have exceptional ring and decay at a level that I wasn’t accustomed to.
Try as I may, I have been unable to decipher a weak link on this phonostage. I think you could ask for a sweeter or buttery / rosier presentation if that floats your boat (not me) but that wouldn’t be something I would live with. As you might expect, I have purchased this phonostage. My version has silver amorphous transformers. Mine is the standard Precious One but with silver amorphous transformers. It isn’t the full Monty version with the last power supply upgrade but I will have mine upgraded to this version shortly.

Below you’ll see some pictures. Please note I have no links or ties to RADA or any other hifi/audio manufacturers -


6D557DD0-A31B-4B63-B592-CF30AD5EE724.jpeg

8ED6D73E-4CAA-4849-BA1A-FDA575C1ABF6.jpeg
CEF46520-5033-43ED-91A8-6EB4D8E11B2A.jpeg
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Thank you, Bill, for introducing us to this new product, and for this great review!
 
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Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
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Blue58

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Jan 20, 2013
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Tokareckas

New Member
Jan 2, 2022
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RADA Precious One

I came to learn of another very interesting Lithuanian hifi brand, RADA, whilst discussing various optimisation plans for my DaVa stereo and mono field coil cartridges.

I had been vaguely keeping a lookout for a new phono stage for quite a few years now and so when I stumbled on some internals of the RADA Precious One, I investigated further. What initially caught my attention from the breadboarded circuit photograph was the use of 2 separate EI mains transformers, 3 EI chokes, 2 amorphous core output transformers, and a shed load of rare NOS capacitors from ROE and others. It turns out that the casework was rather fetching too so all in all good grounds for investigation I thought.

I connected with the head of RADA, Dalius Ražanas, to learn a little more about his creation. The Precious One was essentially an evolution of his more entry level phono stage but spec’d up with even better quality parts and tubes. I also learnt that the Precious One comes in 2 main versions, a copper one and a silver all out version. The RIAA is CRC using Nos ROE and Russian silver mica caps for very precise and accurate reproduction. It employs 2 x 6AU6 input tubes in pentode connection feeding through to the E182CC double triode. You can alternatively use a 5687. I was supplied a rare French Nos 5687 and a Nos Valvo E182CC to test but ultimately preferred the E182CC for its additional vitality, resolution and drive. I can see someone preferring the 5687 in some systems where they want a more relaxing listen. I have ordered a Mullard E182CC but yet to test that properly. If anyone has other recommendations for the best E182CC, I would be interested to hear. On the power side, the Precious One uses the well regarded EZ80 rectifier in the standard version. The rarer 6X4 is used in the full silver version, which also benefits from some other power supply modifications including a humongous beer can sized paper in oil capacitor. Wiring is in silver and great attention has been taken with internal screening and vibration control - some great attention to detail and one that resonates (or not haha) a lot with me.

How does it sound then? Well for reference and to orientate you to my type of sound preference. I have owned and listened to many phonostages - my last 2 were Aesthetix IO sig 3 box and NVO spa II SE. I think it is fair to say that I nearly always prefer valve circuits for phono stages. I think my favourite is the totl EMT. Interestingly I didn’t get on with the Mayer D3A at home despite loving the 10Y and 46 monoblocks but I put that down to a mismatch of that particular D3A input transformer with the chosen Madake cartridge at the time. On its day the Aesthetix produced an infinitesimal scale and with prodigious mid bass but with associated noise. The NVO was more neutral and a lot quieter than the Aesthetix and I have been very happy with it for a long time despite its slightly agricultural build quality. I like to have a neutral and fast sounding phono with lots of nuance and drive. I am not into the rosey tinted thing as it bores me after a short amount of listening despite comforting me on occasion.
The first thing I noticed with the Precious One was an incredibly low noise floor - so low I doubted whether I had set it all up correctly at first. This is usually the realm where ss phonos have an advantage but honestly the noise floor here is the lowest I have yet experienced. It is MM only per the purest philosophy so you’ll need additional budget for a SUT. I had recently purchased the game changing silver/copper SUT from DaVa so the purest MM approach suited me perfectly. I do feel this approach makes most sense compared to say a compromised quality internal SUT per some designs. That said I also recognise that the short signal path of internal SUT has its merits on the best designs.

Anyway back to the sound - I cued up some of my usual reference material. I tend to go to strings and small scale strings at that to start - I go here first because I can’t live with a phono that doesn’t have authentic tone here and this trips up the majority. I heard a very extended and highly nuanced violin on the Milstein live concert LP but with huge vitality and dynamic contrast. Cellos had greater tonal variation than I was accustomed to and had less overhang. So the body was very much there but with a layer of mud removed. The layering of string quartets was dramatic with a really deep and teased out presentation - plenty of recording space and ambience was present. Shifting from recording to recording clearly highlighted dramatic differences depending on era, venue, engineers, and label. So just where you want it. I then spent for what seemed like 2-3 days listening to violin sonatas in particular Gidon Kremer playing Ysaye. I found myself looking for hugely challenging works as the music was making a lot of sense - it is quite hard to explain this to a non classical audiophile but basically your brain somehow more readily digests musical content that previously would require deeper and more focussed listening to make sense of. Ultimately I think this means that the phono is better unearthing the original musical content more accurately so a hugely important advance.
I moved over to various bop albums from the likes of Art Blakey et al - the Precious One has the most intense drive and articulated drums that makes it massively addictive. It is a toe tapper phonostage - one where you sit forward as it draws you into tapping feet and taking in the spectacle. Saxophones are full and powerful and trumpets dynamic and faithful. Cymbals have exceptional ring and decay at a level that I wasn’t accustomed to.
Try as I may, I have been unable to decipher a weak link on this phonostage. I think you could ask for a sweeter or buttery / rosier presentation if that floats your boat (not me) but that wouldn’t be something I would live with. As you might expect, I have purchased this phonostage. My version has silver amorphous transformers. Mine is the standard Precious One but with silver amorphous transformers. It isn’t the full Monty version with the last power supply upgrade but I will have mine upgraded to this version shortly.

Below you’ll see some pictures. Please note I have no links or ties to RADA or any other hifi/audio manufacturers -


View attachment 92354

View attachment 92356
View attachment 92357
Congratulations to you, Bill! I've been using a copper version of Rada Precious one for year now. It is a piece of art from an artisian audiophile brand. You have noticed all the best parts of this phono stage. The sound of it just takes you in...
 

Solypsa

Well-Known Member
Jun 7, 2017
1,128
747
220
Seattle
www.solypsa.com
The Precious series is very limited, as I am told, due to rare parts. I am working with RADA towards offering a version of their phono (and SUT) using more available parts. Stay tuned!

I think this will be a winning combo with the Aidas carts also from Lithuania...
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,960
3,364
515
UK
The Precious series is very limited, as I am told, due to rare parts. I am working with RADA towards offering a version of their phono (and SUT) using more available parts. Stay tuned!

I think this will be a winning combo with the Aidas carts also from Lithuania...

Very good choice indeed. If I were in the trade, I would pick up the line haha.
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,960
3,364
515
UK

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
13,854
4,522
963
E. England
Well Bill, my mum was from the Baltics, so I have to approve of your words, she'd expect nothing less.
 

wart

New Member
Sep 28, 2021
7
10
3
44
I do own very first Precious One silver version.
So as about tubes for ps - 6X4 I like Mazda.
E182CC = Valvo = Philips Miniwatt / SQ. All in European market was made in Phillips factory.
Although I prefer 5687 for speed and ease of drive but it depends on taste. I can live with both.
Nobody have tried 6900 as far as I know.
 
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Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,960
3,364
515
UK
I do own very first Precious One silver version.
So as about tubes for ps - 6X4 I like Mazda.
E182CC = Valvo = Philips Miniwatt / SQ. All in European market was made in Phillips factory.
Although I prefer 5687 for speed and ease of drive but it depends on taste. I can live with both.
Nobody have tried 6900 as far as I know.

Hi Wart,

Thanks for the tube insights. Unfortunately 6900 now silly money expensive.

What TT and cart do you use? Best
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,960
3,364
515
UK
I forgot to say - thanks to Mike L for the double Daiza sandwich recommendation:

0006A01E-4F4E-4791-A47F-38AB91E641F5.jpeg

AF120CB1-D7A9-49CA-814C-63E63F6C78E0.jpeg
 

Maril555

Well-Known Member
Jun 27, 2014
219
183
175
Great review Bill,
Is the selling price a secret as guarded as Putin’s bunker location?
Can you comment on it by any chance
 
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wart

New Member
Sep 28, 2021
7
10
3
44
Can you describe the sound of the Aidas, perhaps compared to one of the more common carts out there?
It's not very easy do describe. Although IMO if somebody is tired from Denon DL103 various modifications and wants better sound from the very beginning - it's alnico, tracks 1,9 g, more advanced stylus profile and Aidas much better made.
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,960
3,364
515
UK
Great review Bill,
Is the selling price a secret as guarded as Putin’s bunker location?
Can you comment on it by any chance

Thank you for the kind words on my review - appreciate it!

Here is the pricing:

Precious One Silver (full Monty version)
7000 eur. for UK and USA.
For EU + VAT. (8500 eur.)
 

Maril555

Well-Known Member
Jun 27, 2014
219
183
175
Thank you for the kind words on my review - appreciate it!

Here is the pricing:

Precious One Silver (full Monty version)
7000 eur. for UK and USA.
For EU + VAT. (8500 eur.)
That is affordable, I really mean that
 
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Solypsa

Well-Known Member
Jun 7, 2017
1,128
747
220
Seattle
www.solypsa.com
The Precious Copper that is forthcoming to Solypsa this summer will certainly set a new value bar :)
 

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