LOUNGE AUDIO LCR phono preamp – Pt 2 LCR Gold upgrade

It’s been over 2 years since I purchased a Lounge Audio LCR phono preamp (US$300).

I was keen to investigate LCR phono EQ and possibly incorporate LCR EQ into my own Phi-42 vacuum tube DIY phono stage.

I shipped my Lounge LCR (MkI) back to Lounge Audio (Robert Morin) in California, for upgrading to LCR Gold specification (plus some extras).

The results are outstanding.

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Note: My LCR phono preamp has been upgraded to LCR Gold specification, but I should note that it differs from the standard LCR Gold in a few details:

  • The volume control & headphone socket have been omitted (my choice)
  • A Mono switch has been added.
  • Higher current Hexfred rectifier diodes.
  • Slightly heavier gauge (silver) wire for DC power supply from regulator to op amp.
  • Slightly better RIAA (metal foil) resistors in some parts of the EQ filter..
  • Some additional (Russian) Teflon decoupling caps in the DC supply and in the HF EQ network.
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The Russian silvered mica caps  attached directly to the regulator transistors ‘provide fast reservoir voltage to maintain transient response’.

I have spent only a short time listening to this LCR Gold but most noticeable sonically are the following:

  • More ‘transparent’ presentation with much more open and ‘see-through’ soundstage and ‘image’ focus, ‘presence’ & overall clarity.
  • Much stronger HF presence and detail (perhaps a little too obvious – but time will tell, only after more ‘running-in’).
  • Much improved ‘leading edges’, dynamic ‘snap’ and ‘speed’.
  • Much more apparent ‘trailing edges, ie. ‘decay’ and ‘ambient’ information.
  • Bass is stronger and balancing the increased HF bandwidth.

The LCR Gold sounds significantly different (better) than the Lounge LCR (MkI) and the strengths of LCR EQ are more evident – the ability of inductors to deliver ‘power’ down to DC, and ‘move air’, in the lower frequencies. This means that  music ‘breathes’. Dynamic swings are un-constrained. Plenty of warmth and ‘ambience’.

Voices have warmth and much improved ‘presence’ and focus. Instrumental overtones, harmonics, ‘sustain’ is very enjoyable.

This is a much more ‘live’ and ‘fast’ sounding phono stage than the regular Lounge LCR. Robert Morin has tweaked the design extensively with the best components in many key areas of the signal & PSU circuitry and Grounding, with emphasis on short signal and PSU delivery paths.

This little box now packs a lot of punch. Most importantly, on my present system (see below), it sounds more like live music in the room.

I am reserving judgement on the HF balance of the LCR Gold. The LCR Gold incorporates a ‘Neumann Time Constant’, which adds additional HF lift above 50kHz (to compensate for reported HF roll-off on record cutting lathes). My previous experimenting with this on my Phi-42 phono preamp was discarded. I will wait until this new upgrade is adequately ‘run-in’ (see future update). Certainly there is some occasional ‘brightness’ that I am not accustomed to hearing.

Current system: Transfiguration Temper W MC cartridge, Analog Instruments Apparition 12″ tonearm, Technics SP-10 MkII turntable, Fidelity Research FRT-4 SUT, 6SN7-Tango NP-126 OPT line stage, 2A3-PP amps, mid-bass horn loudspeakers.

10 thoughts on “LOUNGE AUDIO LCR phono preamp – Pt 2 LCR Gold upgrade

  1. I have a lcr mkiii that has basically the same upgrades as you do.
    My amp was purchased with some extra power supply caps and some silver wire on the ground buss.
    I am working with Robert to figure out why I prefer my amp the way it was before upgrades.
    I pretty much agree with your assessment in some areas but feel it has lost it’s long term lisentening
    abililty. The warmth and ease of the amp is gone now(very aggressive sounding to me)
    Any way enjoyed reading your thoughts on upgrades.

    Regards,
    Lou

    • Hello Lou – thanks for your thoughts.
      Initially at least, the additional brightness is very noticeable. The jury is still out here, as I have run it only around 30 hours. (How many hours on yours?)
      The Teflon caps, Robert advises, need time to ‘run in’ & indeed the sound seems to be changing & overall is quite balanced now – whilst at the same time, much more resolving than the standard Lounge LCR.
      Also, I have not yet come to any conclusions about the RIAA EQ which includes the ‘Neumann Time Constant’ – this is adjustable inside, Robert says, so I am relaxed about deciding on this in due course.
      Certainly this new unit is a dramatic change to get used to, but on a different level of performance to previously.
      Keep me posted on your progress. Get plenty of hours on it. I have had to ‘retune’ a few things with my TT-cartr setup in particular.
      Cheers, Owen

      • Thanks for reply. I leave it plugged in 24/7 and it has over 100 signal hours.
        Very detailed nice bass but still does not comfort me like it did with just a little bit
        of upgrade.
        Maybe these old ears just want to be relaxed more now. I really enjoyed amp before
        Gold upgrades, wondering why I wanted to now. Maybe it will still surprise me.

        Good listening to you,
        Lou

      • Robert is sending a new ac power box to evaluate and some cables to try that have some( equalization ?) done to them also to try.
        Amp does seem to have settled down some,so we will see. IT should have plenty of hours on it now?

        Lou

    • Hi Lou (sorry about delay in replying) – my LCR Gold is now much less ‘attention grabbing’ but still highy resolving & transparent (compared to before).
      Keep me informed on progress.
      Cheers, Owen

      • Hi Owen,
        Thanks for getting back.
        Amp has well over 100 hours and is sounding much better.
        IT still wants to bite me at times(though infrequently).
        Overall (to me) it is very dynamic,detailed with terrific bass response.
        I’m still evaluating the cables and power supply but looking very favorable.
        AS an aside ,the Morin’s are some of the best people personally and business
        wise I have ever had the pleasure to come in contact with!

        Lou

  2. Pingback: My music system | D a r k L a n t e r n

  3. Pingback: LOUNGE Audio LCR Gold phono preamp – Pt 3 New PSU | D a r k L a n t e r n

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