Over the past 8 years, we’ve seen the playback quality of entry-level turntables and phono cartridges improve rather significantly. The vinyl revolution brought millions of new listeners into the fold and that gave brands like Pro-Ject, U-Turn Audio, Fluance, Audio-Technica, and Andover Audio an opportunity to build a new base of customers for the first time in many years.
While turntable and cartridge options have been rather plentiful, the affordable MM/MC phono stage category below $400 has been dominated by only a few models from Schiit Audio, U-Turn, Cambridge Audio, and Rega. Andover Audio sells a lot of SpinDeck and SpinDeck Max turntables but they’ve never offered a dedicated and affordable MM/MC phono pre-amplifier until now.
Andover Audio is pleased to announce the launch of its new SoundBites Series with the first model, the SpinStage phono preamp (MSRP $249). Making an elegant style statement in a striking clear finish of bead-blasted, anodized aluminum, this SpinStage has been painstakingly engineered to deliver ultra-low noise to support virtually any moving-magnet (MM) or moving-coil (MC) cartridge.
“We created the SoundBites Series to give our customers a gateway to a component system with a strong ratio of performance to price. The SpinStage delivers the flexibility and the sophisticated, nuanced performance of expensive phono stages at a very reasonable price. A sensible upgrade to the rudimentary preamp stages built into turntables or receivers, the SpinStage brings out the best of what the cartridge can deliver. For added value, the SpinStage will easily be a long-term solution, even as upgrades are made to the cartridges. And, finally, its classic styling is timeless.”
—Bob Hazelwood, Director of Engineering, Andover Audio
The SpinStage has two key features not commonly found in budget phono preamplifiers. First, by adding a separate MC gain stage with ultra-low-noise discrete transistors in a type of transconductance topology usually found only in more expensive designs, the SpinStage benefits from providing the necessary gain without added noise.
Second, the addition of an Auxiliary input restores the input used by the SpinStage when it’s connected to an amplifier that has only a few inputs. For example, a system that includes a CD player or other device may need the input used by the SpinStage.
Phono-cartridge resistive and capacitive loading optimize the SpinStage’s high-frequency performance with any MM cartridge, while its ultra-high-precision resistors and capacitors deliver RIAA response typically accurate within ±0.2dB.
Selectable Subsonic Filter
The SpinStage’s selectable subsonic filter reduces the ultra-low-frequency noise of turntable rumble that can cause excess woofer pumping and waste amplifier power.
Isolated Dual-Mono Circuitry
Each channel’s signal path is completely separate from the other channels, with no signal crosstalk between channels. Maximizing separation results in solid aural images and precisely reproduced soundstages.
DC Servo Circuit
All electronic parts, even expensive ones, have some intrinsic inaccuracy. This is why all capacitors have been eliminated from the SpinStage’s direct signal path. Omitting these capacitors entirely eliminates their contribution to distortion, while the servo circuit prevents unhealthy DC voltage from being passed along to other components.
Bead-Blasted Aluminum Shell
The exterior of the SpinStage not only looks good, its metal enclosure and the metal shielding behind its front and back panels protect the circuitry from electrical interference.
Price & Availability
Andover Audio’s SpinStage Series phono preamplifier is now available for $249 at andoveraudio.com
For added assurance, Andover Audio offers a 60-day home trial and free shipping/returns so that customers can audition the SpinStage in their own listening environments.
RIAA Equalization Accuracy: ±0.1dB typ., 0.2dB max
Overall Frequency Response: 0.5Hz–50kHz, ±1dB
Signal/Noise Ratio (unweighted): MM, 78dB; MC, 76dB (referenced to 50 ohm source)
Input Impedance, MM (selectable): 8k ohm, 22k ohm, 47k ohm, 100k ohm
Input Impedance, MC (effective): 0 ohm
Input Capacitance, MM (selectable): 0pF, 22pF, 47pF, 69pF, 100pF, 122pF, 147pF, 169pF, 220pF, 242pF, 267pF, 289pF, 320pF, 342pF, 389pF
Nominal Gain, MM: 40.5dB
Nominal Gain, MC: 66.5dB (with 10 ohm source)
Subsonic Filter: 20Hz, 12db/octave, bypassable
Typical Output Level: 500mV RMS
Max Output Level: 8V RMS
Input Overload, MM: 120mV @ 1kHz
Input Overload, MC: 6mV @ 1kHz
Aux Input: Direct passthrough via relay, no active circuitry
Power Requirements: 15vDC/500mA
Dimensions: 71⁄4” W × 17⁄8” H × 41⁄2” D
Weight: 1.1 lbs (500g)
Finish: Fine bead-blasted clear anodized aluminum