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.
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.
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.