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GK Labs Mastering

Nerve Audio PH-1 Phono Preamp Review by GK Labs Mastering

PH-1 Phono Preamp:

Rating: ★★★★★

Nerve Audio PH-1 Phonostage Review.
Reviewed by: Gerry K. King

Overview

At first glance the PH-1 is a simple design with clean low maintenance finish.  The black anodized aluminum enclosure measures 1.4 in. x 2.5 in. x 4.4 in. and weights about 5 oz. A few tests were performed on the basic sound quality and performance. My test setup and signal paths are as follows.

Signal Path

Technics SL-1200 MK2 –> Nerve Audio PH-1 –> Tascam DA-30 (AD 16bit/48Khz) –> Z-Systems Digital Router –> Z-Systems RDP-1 –> Presonus Central Station DA –> Nuforce Ref9 –> Anthony Gallo Nucleus Ref3.1

Environment

Playback and listening were conducted in the GK Labs audio mastering suite. The room is a highly diffused environment focused on symmetry. A central listening chair sits at the playbacks focal point with minimalistic obstructions between the speakers and listener.

Hooking up the PH-1

Hook up is strait forward and as simple as it gets. Markings on the case show where everything goes. Audio connections are handled with board mounted gold plated RCA connectors. Power is a standard coaxial power connector. I connected the turntable to the inputs side and the outputs was connected to the DA-30 using Nerve Audio Ultra 24S cables. The stylus used was an Ortofon Concorde Pro S Cartridge. I am very aware that this stylus would not be the first choice amongst the general audiophile community. My reasoning was to use a setup familiar to me in order to see how the PH-1 would react in comparison to my familiar Numark 1900.

Playback.

First, I played many dance and club tracks both at 33.3 and 45 rpm. The PH-1 sounded more open on the top frequency range and tighter and smoother on the low end than my trusted Numark 1900.  Second, I played Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon. The opening clocks and bells in the song “Time” were clear but not brittle. Imaging again sounded better and more intelligible than my Numark.

So what do you think?

After  a few hours of listening I reverted to my Numark to hear and feel the sonic shift. This confirmed my perception that the PH-1 was definitely the winner. The clarity and improved imaging was clearly obvious with the PH-1. I feel this preamp has a great sound, is rugged for its size and clearly a good value at $99.99

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