In our music reviews we hope to give you insight into those select few recordings which offer more value than average in one respect or another. Our mission is to really expose not just works which the performance it self is top notch, but those which also have outstanding sound quality.
See more articles listed below the most current article.
Equipment Review, Phono Stage, Rolls VP-29 Preamplifier, RIAA Equalizer, Made in U.S.APublished 2014-10-18
This impressively constructed precision instrument gets the basic RIAA Equalization right! It also gives a nicely balanced representation of the frequency response, with sufficient gain to satisfy the needs of most entry level turntable owners. Though not nearly as detailed as its own pricier sibling, the Bellari VP-130, it will definitely show up the phono stage in the typical Stereo or Home Theater Receiver. Hoppy, tested it against his vintage classic Yamaha Integrated Amplifier (with built in phono-pre) and Yamaha Direct Drive Turntable and felt the VP-29 had more detail and a flatter response than the classic gear, and substantially better bass resolution. But not quite as much detail as that of his newer Integrated Amplifier-Marantz PM8004’s ($1000.00) onboard phono stage. Interestingly, he felt the Marantz had a slightly more tube like sound (softer/sweeter highs), but not quite as resolute mid bass, or extended lower bass. In his judgment, this makes the VP-29 a step over, not a step up or down (he bought the audition sample for himself).
On my listening tests, the first thing I did was to compare it to our next least expensive phono stage, or (super cheap $35.00 MCM), and it was instantly evident that the Rolls frequency representation was considerably better balanced and less colored. No surprise there, but our super cheap MCM still does a remarkably better job than almost any onboard receiver stage, especially “Home Theater receivers” who’s phono “chip” typically cost about $2.00 vs the $35.00 for the MCM.
I also compared the Rolls to Quack’s coveted classic vintage HK 442 receiver’s onboard phono stage, which is the best of the vintage receives that we (collectively) know of, i.e. Hoppy’s Yamaha, Quack’s two Harman Kardon’s, or my Optonica, Marantz or Sansuii. Where in each of these receivers, the MCM is a step up, and only a slight step down, arguably over, against the (HK). On my tests using either my classic Denon DP-47F w/Stanton 881EEE, or another audition sample, the Music Hall mmf2.2, the Rolls outperformed all with noticeable differences in just about every qualify-able test aspect. i.e. soundstage, depth, 3 dimensionality, imaging, high and low extension, frequency response integrity, detail, resolution and naturalness, etc.
Once again, to clarify, the Rolls VP-29 does none of the afore mentioned qualifications with the degree of noticeable quality of its own sibling, the Bellari VP-130 ($275.00)... (will have complete review of this near future/as it’s a giant killer), but it does so much, so well, it’s hard to fault it with anything but “omission” of a little of each of a finer quality phone stage’s attributes. So if you have an entry level high end table, or even older vintage table, and are listening through a receiver’s phono stage or even a lower cost Integrated amp, you may want to give the ROLL’s VP-29 an audition. You may then come to appreciate why so many who had abandoned vinyl for digital have since returned.