PH-1.1 Review Analog Planet

You’ve had the files to listen to, compare and vote on for some time now so here are the capsule reviews.

The Nerve Audio PH 1.1


This $99.99 unit originally intended for the custom install home theater market and “budget conscious audiophile” is a small, lightweight, “no-frills” unit 2.5″x1.5″x4.5″ powered by a 12v DC “wall wart”. The specs claim THD (total harmonic distortion) of less than 0.05% 20Hz-20kHz, 1.5V out with a 5mV input, gain of 40dB and signal to noise ratio of better than 80dB (unweighted).

The PH 1.1 is built “overseas in small quantities” and was designed by Jeff Boccaccio. The only person I could find online with that name is an HDMI specialist so perhaps in a “previous life” he was an analog circuit designer. Whoever designed this thing clearly knew what he was doing.

The only unusual aspect of this “two in, two out” design is that the ground lug is mounted on the output rather than the input side.

The blurb says the Ph 1.1 was designed to compete with phono preamps in the $250 to $350 price range and based on the voting I’d say Nerve has a case.

The Nerve’s bottom end was reasonably well controlled (within reason given the price) and well-extended. The overall tonal balance was slightly metallic but really quite acceptable as long as you don’t crank up the volume. On the big band test track instruments tended to get pressed together a bit compared to the more expensive units and micro dynamics, not surprisingly were not the PH 1.1’s strong suit, but if your modest system needs a bit of edge to wake it up, the Nerve will do it. On the other hand, if your system is brighter than you like, the Nerve’s tonal character will only exacerbate the problem.

Overall though, if your budget is around $100 the Nerve will get the job done—which would be to usher you into the analog world without breaking the bank. For $100 I’m not sure what might be better—not that I’ve heard much lately in that price range.


My Conclusion, My “Vote”

Given the prices, the Nerve (MM only) impresses for $100, the MyGroov’s middling performance (in MM mode) matches its price, while the iphono at $399, considering both its sonic performance and range of setting options is ridiculously good. The Creek (in MM mode) produced a level of sonic sophistication that made obvious its pedigree, but at $200 less, the iphono, to my ears, offered sonics that while not identical to the Creek’s were more pleasing in terms of rhythmic snap, microdynamics and upper frequency air. Some though might prefer the Creek’s additional warmth without added sluggishness and thickness.

The identities of the four phono preamps in the vote coming up!