Pearl vs. Aleph Ono (?)

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.
Joined 2002
Paid Member
Has anyone compared the sonics of these two phono stages? I'm curious to know people's impressions of the sound, how they sound different.

I realize they have different gains ... so I suppose a fair comparison would have to include a variety of cartridges ... both low and high output mc, and mm cartridges ... but any opinions about the differences would be interesting.


I am using them both but only with low output mc cartridges (v.d.H. Grasshopper WBSPX - 0.3mV, Ortofon Jubilee - 0.34mV, Ortofon MC7k5 - 0.13mV and Monster ÓG 2k - 0.25mV).

Extra gain for the pearl is provided either by an Ortofon T-3k or by a diy battery-powered Threshold M1 mc prepre (total gain of the combinations 70db and 60db) and the Ono has the gain set at -10db.

The pearl sounds more tube like, very easy and relaxed.
The Ono is a different kind of beast, more analytical in mid-highs, less noisy and with perfect pitch at the bottom end. And that image!!!!! You feel as if the whole orchestra is there, between and beyond the speakers.

I'm using a Benz Glider Lo output, 0.9mV. Based on Nick's observations, confirmed by Nelson, I think I'd prefer the Ono. However, it has a lot of gain to it, would using the jumpers to reduce gain also reduce the performance of the unit? That is, I don't need such a high gain unit, what would be my better choice? Or maybe go passive after the phono stage!

Nick, did you make a PCB for the Ono, and would you be willing to share it?

I can't help but wonder if the phono won't sound better with a simpler MC stage. As designed it offers the convenience of variable gain but at the expense of a lot more parts, not necessarily a good thing at very low levels. If i were building it i'd be tempted to junk the cascode and the buffer and just use a simple resistor (2-3k) or current source loading for the input fet. And maybe a separate NiCd supply.


I think you should take a close look at Q14. Look at the grounded base. Isn't that brilliant? First time I saw something like that was with the M1, but there they had used 7 transistors in parallel all with grounded base.

Variable gain is not at the expense of a lot more parts, on the contrary, bypass R66 and you have -4db, insert R81 to ground and you have -10db.

Why junk the cascode and the buffer? To make it sound like the Pearl???
I'm not an electronics engineer, I couldn't tell how brilliant the design is; but I suspect that the cascode and the buffer are to blame for the extra details, the speed and the LF control.

Anyway, I've been living with it for the last 3 months and it seems it's going to be a long lasting relation.


P.S. And I think it isn't Class A!!!!! Now, isn't that a miracle???
Mr. Pass

You know better!
And I don't care if it is class A, B, C or Z.

I enjoy my records, right now I'm listening to FZ's "We're only in it for the money".

As for magazines, I stopped reading them when they tested the Classe DR6 and found it extremely musical and an absolute bargain. Thank God, I took it home for a couple of days to try it before buying it. It couldn't stand up against my SL10.

Thank you for the Ono, for the AlephL, for the M1 but most of all thank you for the SL10. I spent many years with it with no problems at all. And it's still playing tunes at a friend's house.


Nickolas K.

I am trying to make some sense of your comment about the grounded base, but in vain. Questioning whether a single ended preamp can reasonably work in anything but class A sort of explains your comment. Long ago i've made up my mind regarding valve cascodes and cathode followers (dunno how the Ongaku pulls out the trick, never heard one) but really haven't experimented much with solid state. What i'll do is follow NP's advice and build both versions. And then listen. Maybe as soon as tomorrow.

If anyone cares i did build two versions. One with a cascode and one with a simple resistor loading, both fed with NiMH batteries and keeping the fet operating points similar. Didn't bother with the phase inversion buffer as it couldn't possibly offer anything but additional cloudiness.
It took me half an hour to build and a good two days to evaluate. Conclusion: the cascode stage is certainly more 'hifi', solid imaging, low subjective (and likely objective) distortion, but a bit 'grey' sounding with reduced perception of height. Also slightly more dynamically constrained (controlled?). I can well see why some listeners will prefer it. Eventually though it made music sound boring and uneventful. Maybe i just prefer 'lofi' sound but the simple resistor loaded stage preserves more emotion in my hearing. Your opinion of these differences may greatly vary.

Re: Mr. Pass

Your fond reference to the SL10 made me do a quick search to find out something about it. Lo and behold, I find Threshold Audio revived from the ashes, so to speak.

Interesting ...

(And no, they're not making the SL10 anymore)

I wonder is Mr. Pass involved at all or aware? (Why do I get the feeling that was a stupid question - he has lawyers! :eek: )


Nickolas K. said:
... couldn't stand up against my SL10.
... most of all thank you for the SL10.
... Nick
This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.