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Positive Feedback ISSUE
The Aqvox Phono 2 ci - A Short Follow-up with Aqvox Connections
Back in January of 2007 (http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue29/aqvox.htm) I listened to the Aqvox Phono 2 ci. I loved it then, and after living with for it for a year and a half the rapture continues. This balanced, symmetrical phono preamp performs like a champ. Although very few of this type of preamp exist, I don't know why—it is an excellent solution to the quandary of amplifying a very small signal.
Because of its balanced configuration the Phono 2 ci can be sensitive to noise and RF interference depending on what type of cables you use. The first few months in my system I had no problems using a standard RCA interconnect along with the Aqvox RCA-XLR adapters. After moving some components in and out of the system, and changing shelf locations, low-level noise and RF interference decided to invade. Drag.
When I asked Norman Lubke at Aqvox about this he replied that because of the balanced nature of the device, noise and interference are possible unless you use the proper cable. This amp likes to see cable with low inductance, and either two unscreened braided wires per channel, or balanced screened braided cable (two wires in one screen per channel).
Since Aqvox is now producing a cable meant specifically for this amp, I thought why not?
As with any product from Germany, it took over a week to get here. Norman sent me the new copper and silver versions, they arrived in an appealing little pouch labeled Aqvox Connections.
Looking very hi-tech with the latest Neutrik connectors, both models come with a completely separate ground connection, which is a very nice wire in its own right. I wasted no time and hooked these beauties up. Norman was right, problems instantly gone. Both types of metal required some break-in, not much, five or ten hours.
I heard an exceptionally fresh presentation with these wires. They let the music come through in a way I hadn't really heard before from vinyl in my system. More ease, no dynamic compression (once the gain controls on the Phono 2 ci were reset). Detail was easier to heed, no noticeable emphasis on any frequency band. Although both the copper and silver exhibited a character I would describe as unbiased, both had a presentation consistent with their respective metallurgies: the copper warmer, the silver showing off a bit of sheen.
Since I've married the Phono 2 ci to its proper mates my vinyl listening has become so engaging that my lonely CD player is gathering dust. Amazing what the proper cable can do. I really can't think of another phono preamp and cable combo that gives you an experience like this for so little. Very highly recommended.
web address: http://www.aqvox.eu
Phono-Cable Pure Silver - XLR/RCA, 1.2m stereo,