Phono Stage Comparison. Musical Fidelity M1 Vinl nad Pro-ject Phono Box RS - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 1 Old 02-15-2013, 12:22 AM - Thread Starter
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1) M1 Vinl. First impressions. Packaging is substantial and build quality is good. The Unit is bigger than I thought it would be. Looks downright awesome. It is very easy to set up and is extremely user friendly. Manual is well though out and doesn't need a degree in tech-speak to understand (See Denon). Changes to settings are as easy as pushing a button. Because all settings are on the front of the unit it can be placed in your rack without any hassle.

I haven't played music yet but this unit is much quieter (As MF promised me when I spoke to them) than my on-board Phono Stage. I used to have a Buzz at medium to high volumes and this has completely dissapeared. Had thought that the buzz was due to my Cartridge (Dreaded Grado Buzz)but am glad to report that, that is not the case (Makes my next Cartridge choice easy).

The only other thing that I can report for now is that without music playing and the volume turned very high this unit is very very quiet. This hopefully will result in a much better sound quality.

If the lower noise floor and Buzz Canceling is all that I get I would still be happy but I expect more, much more.

2)Project Phono Box RS First impressions. Packaging is substantial and build quality is good it is easy to set up and user friendly. It is much smaller than the M1 Vinl but size is not the deciding factor here.

Pretty much same impressions as of the M1 Vinl on all fronts Except for the Power supply. It is a flimsy non-descript wall Wart 18V DC. I would have expect a far more substantial Power supply for a unit of this Cost. It is possible that they are planning and external PSU and are offering what is a relatively cheap alternative. Will be sending them an Email on this point. The Manual is very basic and to the point and once again is easy to understand. Settings for the RS are both on the front and back so may be a little fiddly but not to the point of distraction.

Noise level is pretty much the same as with the M1 Vinl so sound quality will be the deciding facor here.

I spent the day listening to the 2 Phono stages and would like to post some impressions.

Albums used for evaluation were in order of playing.

Joe Sample - Carmel - Regular Pressing
David Qualey - Soliloquy -Windham Hill
Santana - Abraxas - Mobile Fidelity Limited Edition
Don Menza Sextet- Horn Of Plenty - Discwasher Digital Japanese Pressing
Carl Orff- Carmina Burana, Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra- Hi-Q Supercuts.

Protocol. I first played the full album using the Project RS than repeated the same album using the M1 Vinl. I then played the second album using the M1 Vinl first and then replayed the same album using the Phono Box RS and so on.

Interconnects from TT to Phono stage and from Phono Stage to Amplifier are NeoTech KHS-CA202 Double Shielded. No special Power cables or Power supply was used just what was supplied with the units.

I will talk only about the Project Phono Box RS and then compare it to the M1 Vinl.

Noise floor is dramatically reduced including surface noise. The music comes to you from an inky blackness and suddenly is there. The RS took everything thrown at it and them some and delivered with delight musical pleasures that I have not heard in a long time. There was more of everything at much lower playback volumes than I am used to. The Music projected and filled the room where as before (with my inboard Phono Stage) the music seemed small and more volume was needed to get a full effect.

The first Album was the start of the revelation from the Crisp tones of Joe Samples piano to the Shimmering Cymbals and rich full Bass.

The Second Album for those who are not familiar with it is Solo Classical guitar. I have Played Classical Guitar since 1964 and am intimately familiar with all its sounds and nuances from Harmonic rendering to playing Pizzicato and Flecettes.

I heard this album like I had never heard it before (with my current system) It always seemed to be a little musted with the guitar sounding as if it had the sound hole partially blocked but now it came alive and Mr Qualey could well have been giving me a private concert.

When I bought Abraxas I was very disappointed I thought that the pressing would be a revelation but instead it was dull and lifeless with horrible organ bleed over into all the Music. Instrument separation was almost non existent and I regretted spending the $45 including shipping. Placing it on the turntable I was ready to be disappointed but lo and behold suddenly the Album came to life I heard different instruments in all the right places, gone was the Organ bleed over and I was for the first time able to appreciate MoFi's technical expertise.

...........and so it went with each album pure musical bliss and then I came to the Burana. The O Fortuna Chorus can sound like a right mess due to the cacophony of voices and instruments and I have seldom heard it sound truly good. Way back in the seventies I heard this album with the Meridian M10 speakers Meridian Pre Amplification Logic Turntable, Alphason 101 Arm and Zen Ruby Cartridge and it sounded spectacular. Well today I didn't quiet get to that level of quality but it wasn't that far off. Voices were separated and I could here the choir had depth where they were supposed to be.

Now to the M1 Vinl. The M1 is very impressive to look at and whilst it does some things well it does not quite match th performance level of the Phono Box. Gain is a little less than the Phono Box so volume control needs to be a little higher for same playback volume. That however was not a problem and did not in anyway increase the noise floor. It is just as silent as the Phono Box and delivers and good honest sound. However, it just does not match up to the Project Clarity in the Top end or Control in the Bass. As for the mid range I would rate them almost equal with the M1 sounding a little richer (read Warm or perhaps colored).

So which is better? Hard to say at this early stage as I am sure that after another 10-20 hours of playing time there will be subtle changes which may well change how I feel.

What I like about the Project.
1)Adjustable Gain Control
2)Switchable Sub Sonic filter
3)Unobtrusive
4) Easy to set up and use
5)Very open sound without any Harshness
6)Silent

What I dislike is the Flimsy Power Supply. I hope Project address this issue (Have written to them) because that might just turn a very good Product into a Super one.
I was told by the Project people today, following my inquiry, that they are working on a bigger linear power supply for the RS series.

Price as well as the time it will be introduced are not known at this stage.

This will obviously take the performance to a whole new level and will be factored into my decision

What I like about the M1
1)Looks Awesome
2)Digital display
3)Ease of Use

What I dislike about the M1 is that the sound is a little flat and there is no user adjustable gain control.

If I were forced tonight to choose I would definitely choose the Phono Box RS however I still have two other Units to evaluate They are the Project Tube Box DS and the EAR834P so stay tuned for more.

Best

Mike

"I know you for what you are not- for thats really all you are"-Don Mclean
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