Parks Audio Puffin Phono Preamp

Anyone here tried one of these?


It's technically a DSP. It takes the analog phono signal, converts it to digital, does some DSP, and then converts back to analog before sending the signal on. I know that's heresy from a purist's standpoint, but these seem to get rave reviews.

Much of the appeal on these is being able to tilt the frequency curve, apply straight tone controls, or even apply various older RIAA EQ curves to old 78s, for example. I know some will say "just use your amp's tone controls", or "if you need an EQ, use an EQ". But if your amp doesn't have tone controls, or you don't want/need an EQ in your chain for other sources like digital or a tuner, this might fit the bill. I think we all have certain records (particularly older recordings), that need a little something (added OR subtracted) from one end or the other.

I think one could argue that using tone controls, or an EQ, is not very different than using this device. Both are adding another touch-point in the signal chain. A potentiometer, slider, or additional RCA cables/plugs (for separate EQ) all have the possibility of adding noise. But of course digital sampling inherently removes some audio information, so there is a trade-off either way. There are no dip switches in the Puffin, btw.

I think the primary target for this would be people who use separates, not integrated amps or receivers with on-board phono stages, nor receivers/amps with the aforementioned tone controls and/or loudness button, unless the units have a tone control by-pass feature.

A lot of the reviews have the word 'fun' incorporated. Hard to tell if that is from tweakers who can play with all the different settings to their heart's content, or maybe it makes listening fun again with a more balanced sound after getting things dialed-in for a particular record, cartridge, or room acoustic. Either way, it is interesting, and I know there are a lot of Parks Audio Budgie fans out there, so it comes from a respected maker. Actually, best I can tell, the Puffin replaces the Budgie (i.e., the Budgie is no longer being made).
"Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator

Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon


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