Vista Audio Phono-2 Review

DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,937
First, thanks to @DSkip for putting together this most excellent tour. The timing was perfect for me as I have been contemplating replacing my current phono preamp, a Cambridge Audio 640P. For reference, the 2 channel vinyl portion of my combined HT/2 channel system consists of:

Gear
Pro-Ject Debut III, Acryl-it platter, Speed Box S, Audio Technica AT440-mla cartridge
Parasound P5 pre
Aragon 8008x3 amp
Polk LsiM 705 mains
SVS SB12-NSD sub
Rotel RLC-1040 power conditioner(rebadged APC)

Cables
Kimber PBJ, phono preamp to pre
Blue Jeans Cable LC-1, pre to amp/sub
Canare 4s11, speaker wires, single wire configuration
PS Audio AC-3, preamp power cord
Cullen Cable Gold, amp power cord

The Debut III has a captive interconnect cable. I'm using a generic power cord for the sub & the power conditioner is using the cord supplied with it. The Aragon is plugged straight into the wall, everything else goes into the Rotel.


Since my experience with different phono preamps is pretty limited, I decided to order in another priced similarly to the Vista Phono-2 for comparison. Based on a generally positive internet vibe, I decided on the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS. I don't want to spend much time talking about the Tube Box, so in short, I did not like it. In my system, it was tipped toward the top end, bass was thin, sound stage was narrow, and it had poor instrument spacing. It was anything but tube-like. Overall was it better than my existing Cambridge, yes it was. Did I burn it in long enough? Not sure, I left it powered on overnight before the first listen. On subsequent listens I found it took the better part of 2 hours to sound it's best. Big negative for me. Could the above be remedied with different tubes, maybe, but frankly, I'm just not interested in messing around with tube rolling.


Alright, I've drug this out long enough. Onto the Vista Audio Phono-2! I waited 24 hours before doing any serious listening & left it powered on the entire time I had it for review. No problem, at most the top got barely warm. I'd prefer to leave it powered up 24/7 anyway, so this is good! I did detect the sound signature improving slightly over the first few days.

OK, so how does it sound!? Whoa, now we are talking! This is everything the Tube Box was not. Top end detail is good without being in your face bright. Mids are smooth & lush. Bass digs deep & is tight. The music just flows, it has soul, it's involving. Sound stage is wide, extending 1-2 ft past the speakers on some recordings. Instrument placement between the speakers is good, not a jumbled mass in the middle like the Tube Box. The sound is smooth, never fatiguing, never sibilant. In short it makes vinyl sound like vinyl should. All in all, I'd say I ran the equivalent of 20 to 25 records through it in the time I had it.

Any shortcomings? Well, after the crispness of the Tube Box, which was just over done, I felt the top end was maybe a bit rolled off. But wait! The Phono-2 gives me the ability to play with loading, something the Tube Box does not. In anticipation, I ordered a slew of Vishay-Dale resistors from Mouser ahead of time which would give me the ability set the load resistance anywhere from 30 to 45kOhm. Based of some internet research, it seems many prefer a loading of around 32Kohm with the 440mla. Since I was nearing the end of my time with the Phono-2, I did not extensively experiment with different values and just went with that. I did find the top end to be a hair more extended with maybe a slight loss of midrange lushness. More experimentation is needed. I did try changing the gain. Seeing as how the 440mla has a slightly lower output than many mm carts, I did try the 50dB setting in addition to the normal 40dB. I found the noise increase to be too much & went back to 40dB.

Was there anything I disliked about the Phono-2. Soundwise, nope. Otherwise? I think you could signal an aircraft at 30K feet with the blue power indicator. It's WAY too bright. The top cover of the case vibrates pretty good when tapped on. Needs Dynamat or at the very least some type of padding between it and the lower half of the case.

Would I actually buy one? You bet! I'll be contacting Derek.

Pictars in the next post!

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Comments

  • DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,937
    edited July 2017
    Unboxing.

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    Now you know my real name...
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  • DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,937
    Innards
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  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 4,170
    Looks great!
    Lumin D1, KEF LS50 Wireless, Cayin scd-50T, LH Labs VI Dac, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9, HP I7 Laptop, Wireworld Eclipse 7, Wireworld Aurora, Wireworld Electra 7, Signal Magic Digital, Cardas Quadralink 5C, Velodyne SPL1200
    USB helpers: w4s Recovery

    HT: Elite SC27, Full Polk RTI setup.

  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,105
    What's the status of the tour?
  • DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,937
    edited August 2017
    I shipped it off to the 2nd recipient the day after I wrote this review. Derrick wanted each of us have around 2-3 weeks to eval, so it should be onto the next person soon. Hopefully, he will chime in with a review of his own.
  • andrew82andrew82 Posts: 152
    Finishing up my eval now; hope to post it over the weekend!

    Wow, was I surprised by this box.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,768
    andrew82 wrote: »
    Finishing up my eval now; hope to post it over the weekend!

    Wow, was I surprised by this box.

    Where's that review? :)
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,937
    @andrew82 & whoever had this after him. We're waiting! :) Curious how others' opinions compare to mine.
  • Viking64Viking64 Posts: 3,092
    Dave, did you ever play drums for Judas Priest? :D
  • DaveHo wrote: »
    @andrew82 & whoever had this after him. We're waiting! :) Curious how others' opinions compare to mine.

    It is currently with me. I received it from Andrew.
    I will have a review once I am finished.
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,105
    It was a month ago we last heard we were going to get a review from the previous user. Would be nice to see it.
  • DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,937
    Bump, @andrew82!

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  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,735
    This pre amp Looks promising, I sure wish there were more reviews :smile:
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP05, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

  • I will get my review posted later this evening.
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 9,803
    indyhawg wrote: »
    I will get my review posted later this evening.

    Tighten up, Jeff.....
  • Okay, I am not sure if I can give as great of a review as @DaveHo, but I will give it a shot. I received the Vista from @andrew82 about a month ago. I would like to thank @DSkip for allowing me to demo the Vista 2 for what I consider a lengthy amount of time. This was a great opportunity to see how gear operates in my system at home as opposed to in a retail store or at a friends house. I do not have a lot of experience with phono preamps. But, I am very happy with my vinyl set up at the moment. However, I looked forward to the opportunity to see how the Vista meshes in my system. My current set up for vinyl is as follows:

    Denon DP-60L with DL-103R cartridge
    Parks Audio Budgie Phono Pre with Telsa tubes.
    Parks Audio Budgie Step Up transformer
    McCormack TLC-1 preamp
    Monarchy SE-100 Audio Monoblocks
    Usher BE-718's
    Doug's cables

    The Vista is very easy to set up. Skip gave me the setting to use in accordance with the cartridge I am using. Due to the 103 being a moving coil cartridge, I have to use a set up transformer in my current set up. The Vista allows for moving coil cartridges so that is a plus right off the bat.

    I began my playing a few albums and my initial impressions were this was going to give the Budgie a run for its money. I was quite impressed. But waited a few days to do some serious listening. The highs are smooth with the snare drums being crisp. Cymbals have a realistic ringing tone to them. The mids are smooth, not as syrupy as the Budgie but still very sweet. Bass response was good, it got a little muddy in the deep low end. Vocals were very forward. On Norah Jones' Day Breaks album, the imaging was spectacular. It was if she was standing right in front of you. The soundstage was open, deep, and layered. I feel the Vista is very musical and does not sounding sterile.

    Now to things I do not like. The blue light on front is distracting. It could be a little subtle. Another thing I was not crazy about was the grounding post is on the opposite side of the unit as the inputs. This works out okay since it is such a small unit, but with my turntable having the input cables and the ground wire together, this was cumbersome. There was an audible, faint, hiss sound I could hear when there was no music being played. I rechecked all my connections several times but could never rid my system of the hiss sound. This was a little annoying, but I could live with it because I could not hear it when music was playing.

    In comparison to my Budgie set up. I feel the Budgie provides a little more detail and is dead quiet. It is also a little smoother sounding. But I need to point out, I have over twice as much money invested in the Budge set-up (counting the step-up transformer and the tubes) as to what the Vista retails for. However, the differences are very slim. If I did not have a phonp preamp, I would choose the Vista over the Budgie based off the fact it is cheaper. It is a true value audiophile piece of gear which hits above its price range.

    In closing, I want to thank Skip for allowing us to audition the Vista in our systems and to have a little more time than average demo tours give. That way the listening is not rushed and I feel the reviews can be more objective based off the fact the newness wore off after a week or so. So after listening for around a month, the Vista was no longer a shiny new toy for me. I feel I can confidently recommend it to anyone looking for a quality phono preamp.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,768
    For anyone else who might join this tour: if there are any issues like a hum, please don't hesitate to contact me. I have a good relationship with Boris, the designer of this phono, and he is a stellar dude willing to go the extra mile to resolve an issue. This is the first I've heard from anyone having an issue with hum - not blaming Jeff in any way - but I want to ensure this gets resolved if it happens again.

    Jeff, I'm going to contact Boris and get his input. If he feels this is out of the norm, maybe we can work you back in to revisit it at a later date?
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • DSkip wrote: »
    For anyone else who might join this tour: if there are any issues like a hum, please don't hesitate to contact me. I have a good relationship with Boris, the designer of this phono, and he is a stellar dude willing to go the extra mile to resolve an issue. This is the first I've heard from anyone having an issue with hum - not blaming Jeff in any way - but I want to ensure this gets resolved if it happens again.

    Jeff, I'm going to contact Boris and get his input. If he feels this is out of the norm, maybe we can work you back in to revisit it at a later date?

    Skip--I realize now I should have contacted you about the noise. However, it was faint enough I felt it could have been the way I had it sitting in my system. If you ever send it back my way, I would be willing to to rearrange how I have things configured to see if that would help. I would be curious if anyone else on the tour hears any sound as well.

    It is also great to see that you stand behind your products and work with the manufacturer on any issue.
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,105
    Review of the Vista Audio Phono 2:

    First I would like to thank DSkip for allowing this demonstration tour. I always appreciate the opportunity to fully evaluate gear in the sanctity of one's own abode without being overly constrained by time. (Or the B.S. from uninformed sales personnel).

    This unit is an attractive, easily adjustable piece of kit that is affordable and punches considerably above its price point. Right out of the box, it presents an attractive and obviously well put-together item. I especially appreciate its flexibility - the variety of settings allows the user to easily optimize the load and gain settings for your particular cartridge(s). Check out the photo's accompanying Dave's July 23 review above, and you will notice the wide variety of settings available with simple switches for load and gain. One is especially grateful for this versatility if you rotate cartridges. In my opinion, this versatility separates the Vista 2 from many other so-called budget phono pre's, as many in this price range (and there are many) offer no ability to configure settings - or it is so cumbersome and complicated to change settings that you simply decline to do so after the initial set-up.

    Regarding the system, I thought it would be useful and fun to assemble a real "vintage" system for this trial, so a buddy of mine and I put together the following:

    Thorens TD-150 with Shure M-95ED cartridge
    Yamaha CR-800
    Original Large Advents
    MIT cables

    At the outset, I was struck by several of the Vista 2's noteworthy qualities. Impressive low end bass response. The Advents have good bass response anyway, and the Vista 2 accentuated the low end without contributing boominess or muddled notes. Yet, the high end was also clear, smooth, realistic and not fatiguing. Several LP's were of particular note:

    On John Hartford's Aereo-Plain, a lean-production album, I particularly noticed the banjo, guitar and fiddle were very realistic and melodic. Overall, top end pretty extended without noticeable sibilance, and good midrange that was also smooth and detailed.

    On Mark Knopfler's Privateering, another very well-engineered LP, I especially noticed the mid-range texture and overall imaging of the Vista 2. The guitar notes were clear, musical and refined, the notes extending and decaying impressively.

    Overall, the Vista 2 is an affordable external phono preamp that does everything much better than its price should indicate. The quality of its sound together with its flexibility - the ease to which one can configure load and gain settings to a particular cartridge - notably separate it from the many other units in this competitive price-range. I have never been a fan of "budget" phono preamps, with the exception of the Parasound Z-phono and one or two others. However, the Vista 2 doesn't sound like a budget phono preamp - it stands out and I recommend it.

  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,105
    Pardon me, the turntable in the above review was a Thorens TD-160. I need a better proof-reader! Lol
  • muncybobmuncybob Posts: 1,846
    I have just sent the Vista onto the next happy recipient and again thanks to Skip for not only making this possible but also allowing me the time to audition as I know I had it perhaps longer than anybody else. Now, just because I had it a while doesn't mean you'll get a review to match as I'm usually not a person of many words and writing reviews is certainly not my strong point.

    My 2 channel rig is a modest set up consisting of a Denon DP-1200 table with a Shure V15 Type V cart, a Dynaco Pas4 pre and a Parasound HCA 1000. Interconnects used were a mix of Audioquest, Morrow and Doug's cables...I don't really recall the exact models but think "middle of the road". The phono stage in the Pas4 uses a pair of Raytheon black plate 12ax7 and a pair of Bugle Boy 6dj8. Line stage uses another pair of the same BB's.

    So I started off listening to Brian Davison's "every which way", followed by a few tracks that I really like off of Lindisfarne's "finest Hour", then an album I know really well-Supertramp "Crime of the Century"(Mo-FI 1/2 speed master edition) and finally some of Beethoven's symphonies from the 8 album box set by Deutsche Grammophone. I wanted to get a bit of a mix in types of music and recording labels.

    The Vista is really quiet. Upon connection I amped up the volume and could hardly hear anything where the Pas4 would have a slight buzz(keep in mind I would never listen to music that loud)...impressive and maybe unexpected at this price point? Here is where I will probably fail in adequate description. Keep in mind I can only make a comparison to the Pas4 as I don't have any other recent experience. To my ears there was very little difference in the quality of the sound. Both units have a clear separation of instruments and a good open soundstage. To me, the Vista seemed a little more "forward" just like my SDA 2B's seem that way to me compared to my Vandersteen 2CE's. This is in no way a negative thing...just different. While I truly enjoy my phono pre could I happily live with the Vista instead...sure!

    So, if anybody has a mid-fi set up like I do and wants to get into vinyl I can 100% recommend the Vista to you. My only regret is I didn't have enough critical listening time to devote to this. Have fun with it Bob....it's on the way to you!
    Yep, my name really is Bob.
    Parasound HCA1500, Dynaco PAS4, Denon DP1200 w/Shure V15 Type V and Jico SAS stylus, Oppo BDP93, "upgraded" Polk SDA 2B.
  • machonemachone Posts: 989
    I look foward to it!
    Mojo Audio Joule v5>>Quantum Byte w/JRiver 21 and Fidelizer>> Starlight 7 USB >> Equinox 7>> Mojo Audio Mystique v2 SE>>ModWright SWL 9.0 SE Signature >>Equinox 7>>
    Hafler DH-500 Amp+ (Musical Concepts PA-6 Elite Mod) >>Belden 5000 10 ga cables>>
    SRS 2.3TL (Fully Modified)...SDA-1A (Fully Modified with Dimensional Tweeter Delete)
    1KVA Dreadnought
    Marantz SA 8005
    Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable - Shure SC35C/N35X - V15III/VN35HE
    Yamaha TX-540 Tuner...Sony BDP-S570

    Separate subpanel with four dedicated 20 amp circuits.
    1. Amplification 2. Analog 3. Digital 4. Video

    "All THAT IS LOST FROM THE SOURCE IS LOST FOREVER"
  • machonemachone Posts: 989
    I received the Vista today
    Mojo Audio Joule v5>>Quantum Byte w/JRiver 21 and Fidelizer>> Starlight 7 USB >> Equinox 7>> Mojo Audio Mystique v2 SE>>ModWright SWL 9.0 SE Signature >>Equinox 7>>
    Hafler DH-500 Amp+ (Musical Concepts PA-6 Elite Mod) >>Belden 5000 10 ga cables>>
    SRS 2.3TL (Fully Modified)...SDA-1A (Fully Modified with Dimensional Tweeter Delete)
    1KVA Dreadnought
    Marantz SA 8005
    Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable - Shure SC35C/N35X - V15III/VN35HE
    Yamaha TX-540 Tuner...Sony BDP-S570

    Separate subpanel with four dedicated 20 amp circuits.
    1. Amplification 2. Analog 3. Digital 4. Video

    "All THAT IS LOST FROM THE SOURCE IS LOST FOREVER"
  • mwk455mwk455 Posts: 198
    Can’t wait to try the vista.
  • mwk455mwk455 Posts: 198
    any word if the vista is still on tour?
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,105
    ???
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,768
    Hey Mike. It is still on tour. It is currently en route to jdjohn and then one more member. I have a reviewer who wants to try it after that, but then the trial will end.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 399
    Enjoying this preamp so far. Thanks, Skip, for arranging the tour. Question: Is it safe/legal for me to post links to WAV files for comparison? I recorded some A/D files using Audacity with a few other phono preamps I have, so was thinking about posting links to a shared drive. The files are from Steely Dan's Aja album, with the only difference being the phono preamp.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,528
    I don't see why not, since it's only a partial clip and you're not using it for commercial use.

    You can already go listen to the complete and full songs on YouTube so I don't think it's a copyright issue.
    jdjohn wrote: »
    Enjoying this preamp so far. Thanks, Skip, for arranging the tour. Question: Is it safe/legal for me to post links to WAV files for comparison? I recorded some A/D files using Audacity with a few other phono preamps I have, so was thinking about posting links to a shared drive. The files are from Steely Dan's Aja album, with the only difference being the phono preamp.

    Got Dayens?
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 399
    I've spent some quality time with the Vista Audio Phono2 now, and want to share my experience. I used two different turntables, and multiple cartridges with it. These are all somewhat vintage mid-fi pieces.
    • Micro Seiki MB-18 with a Micro Seiki MC40 (LOMC)
    • Realistic Lab-440 with #1) Signet TK3Ea with ATN125LC stylus, and #2) Grace F9 with Soundsmith line contact replacement stylus (both are MM carts)

    Core system:
    • Peachtree Audio NovaPre
    • Eastern Electric MiniMax BBA tube buffer
    • McCormack DNA-125
    • Infinity RSIIIa
    • PS Audio Powerplay 9000 power conditioner
    • Furez ICs and Furutech power cords/plugs from Doug (plus one PS Audio power cord)
    • MIT speaker modules with Belden coax cables

    I also have three other phono preamps for comparison:
    • ART DJ Pre-II
    • Pro-Ject Phono Box DS+
    • Dynavector P75MkII
    My overall impression of the Vista is quite favorable, and I agree with previous reviewer comments already made. It has a nice, low noise floor, yet adds plenty of punch and energy to the music, particularly in the lows and mids. I found myself picking-up details in the midrange that I had not noticed before (which is always nice), so more than anywhere else, the midrange is where the Vista excelled for me. It really brought out the heart of the music - the frequencies we hear the most - and it did so in a very accurate and controlled way. The bass was clean, punchy, and well-rounded on the bottom. As others have mentioned, I did find the highs slightly subdued, but that's just compared to other preamps I've had. I could definitely live with the Vista's highs as they are, but my personal preference leans towards treble.

    The Vista is fast and accurate. On Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" album, the second track, Adam Raised a Cain, has a fast-paced guitar intro which the Vista played flawlessly without losing a beat. The next track on the album, Something in the Night, has a very fast floor-tom drum fade-in around the 1:00 mark, and it came through strong and impactful, with every mallet hit captured. In general on this album, it was easy to interpret the mixing, with important passages coming forward on cue, then receding into the background just as smoothly when done. It was as if I could sense the engineer sliding the gain up for a guitar or sax solo, and then sliding it back down at the conclusion. Playback was dynamic, and dare I say, musical.

    To get a sense of how the Vista would handle highs, I put on "The Best of Eva Cassidy". Songbird has become a go-to for evaluating gear in my house. Eva [RIP] just kills this song compared to Stevie Nicks, and with the Vista, Eva's high notes rang true, unwavering, and non-fatiguing. It's easy for the highs in this song to get overcooked, but the Vista's subtlety in that range was just right, no matter how much I turned-up the volume on my Peachtree.

    Comparing the Vista to my other in-house options - namely the Pro-Ject Phono Box DS+ and the Dynavector P75MkII - settings for loading and gain vary quite a bit. The Vista provides the most impedance loading options, shown in DaveHo's pics. The Phono Box really lacks in this area with choices of only 10, 100, & 1000 ohms; having a 500 ohm option available would be nice. The P75 is geared more towards low impedance/resistance coils such as it's own brand of cartridge siblings, so it has a good choice of lower settings. For capacitance settings (MM carts), only the Phono Box has options. However, neither the Vista nor the P75 'suffer' from their fixed capacitance load settings. I prefer the sound of both of those preamps over the Phono Box. For gain, I had the same experience as DaveHo with the Vista's gain at the 40 and 50db levels. The 50 was too hot for me, so I went with 40 and just cranked-up my Peachtree as needed. I wish the Vista had a 45db gain setting...they could just drop one of the others like the 55 or 70.

    I've had my Pro-Ject Phono Box DS+ for a few years now, and I spent a lot of time researching before buying it as a serious upgrade over the ART DJ Pre-II. Last year I got the itch to upgrade again, and bought a used Dynavector P75MkII, mainly for its MC loading options since I like to roll cartridges, and its Phono Enhancer (PE) mode which sounded intriguing to me.

    With the Vista, I place it's performance between the Phono Box and the P75. For roughly the same price as the Phono Box, the Vista edges it out for me in lower noise floor, tonality, separation, energy, musicality, imaging...really everything. The Vista is just a little better all around, as if lifting a thin veil off the Phono Box...which IMO is no slouch. Compared to the P75, however, the Vista falls just a smidge short IMO. This should not be surprising given the price difference at original MSRP. Brand new, the P75 sells for about twice the price of the Vista. I found the P75 to be a little more refined with a bit more separation and air around the instruments, but these things are quite subtle. I might even say the Vista still has a better, more pronounced midrange, but overall, the P75 to me has a better balance. Having said all that, from a value standpoint, the Vista would be hard to beat. Again comparing the Vista to the Phono Box, after now hearing both, I would purchase the Vista if given the choice in that price range. I do like the front LED screen and push-button settings on the PB DS+, but the sound quality of the Vista wins by a nose, and its jumpers on bottom aren't too bad to deal with.

    As mentioned in my earlier post, I ripped some WAV files from all the phono preamps I discussed, and after checking with Skip, he is comfortable with me providing links to the files for BLIND comparisons. In each case, I used my Realistic Lab-440 tt fitted with the Signet TK3Ea cartridge and ATN125LC stylus. For each preamp (designated #'s 1-4), I pulled two samples from the title track song of Steely Dan's "Aja" album. Part 1 is the first 1:20 of the song, and Part 2 picks up around the 4:15 mark and runs for about another minute. The Part 1 files average 13-14MB in size, and Part 2 avg 9-10MB. Again, these are for blind comparison, and I'll reveal the respective preamp # designation in a couple of days. Of course a good set of headphones is needed for listening from a computer, or they could be downloaded to a server and played through a DAC. I hope this works!

    '#1 Part 1': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LSIV79FNfuZIKeGvae_M3ss2TjF_HgLX
    '#1 Part 2': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ciX2_75PiMMEMGV3vPR2c_oIL3s80JJS
    '#2 Part 1': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1OWtKyt1afrf8a2IbrUvHd_KX2hg5HJKm
    '#2 Part 2': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1eYKBJJYp_20ddYkRQFIJPCL7z_Jq2KiH
    '#3 Part 1': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-pMviD5seAhCxGlG0JwVp7yo4pG_T86P
    '#3 Part 2': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xkeZyGjm1Z73l562ZlBWyUesgTDz_aWI
    '#4 Part 1': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1N2-Os2VL3aiOteSsJltoIUqcCS9hnOj0
    '#4 Part 2': https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Fom1FikoLPW5z25SRAIEQSXuqHmrr-tW

    Thanks again to Skip for arranging the tour and allowing me to participate even as a fairly new guy. As much as I'd love to keep playing with this Vista Audio Phono2, I guess I need to move it on to the next participant. I think I'll run a few more MCs through it this weekend first, though B)
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