IT’S OH-SO QUIETVincent says that the PHO-8 uses an external PSU to help ensure that any noise is isolated from the delicate electronics that make up the phono stage section. In practise, this makes the Vincent a fairly quiet operator with moving magnet cartridges, but not markedly more so than other models here. With moving coil, the news is slightly different. Connected to the same Avid/SME/Audio-Technica combination as the other test subjects, the PHO-8 is an extremely quiet phono stage indeed.The lack of noise from the desk is matched by the phono stage itself and with moving coil cartridges, the Vincent must rank as one of the quietest models available under £500. Like the Creek, this a moving-magnet stage, it is truly excellent as a moving-coil one.
Product: Vincent PHO-8
Origin: Germany / China
Type: MM/MC Phono Stage
Distributor: London Classic Hi-Fi Ltd
Splitting the amp and the power supply unit into two separate boxes is Vincent’s ploy, but will it be enough?
|Vincent has been in
existence for more than 20
years and now produces a
very considerable range of
audio electronics through itsdifferently lines covering a wide spread of price points. The PHO-8 is from the brand's PremiumLine range and is the more affordable of its two other phono
stage models. Unlike a number of products in the company’s inventory, the PHO-8 is exclusively solid state. It supports moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges via the same input, which is selected via thepush button on the front panel.The most noticeable aspect of the Vincent’s design is the external power supply. The PHO-8 is the only model here that is two-box offering and the only one in turn that makes use of a full-size IEG mains input. Vincen claims that this arrangement works to reduce noise levels and allowed the PHO-8 to offer higher gain than would be the case with a conventional.
|wall-wart. The two chassis are connected by a 5-pin DIN cable, which is long enough to allow some isolation between the two units.
In construction proportions, which considering thatis effectively has twice the metalwork of any model in the test, is no mean feat. It lacks the absolute quality of finish that both the Greek and Alpha Design Labs have, but is easily up to the standards of the group. The back panel of the phono stage section is well laid out and includes an easily accessible ground connection.
There are no gain settings or volume adjustment, but the Vincent demonstrates a fairly high output. The good news is that it is very quiet with no audio signal present, second only to the Alpha Design labs. With music playing, it puts in an extremely strong showing. The balance is fractionally on the warm side of neutral, which gives the Neil Cowley Trio piece a smoothness and refinement that works well with the track. The piano is wonderfully real and there is plenty of low-end extensions as well.Where the Vincent is more effective than some of its rivals is that its warmth doesn’t rob it of the ability to sound exciting. The Chvrches track still moves with reasonable enthusiasm and has the ability to get the head nodding. The Vincent still manages to deliver a truly excellent performance with vocals - something that is echoed.
|with the Talk Talk piece where the PHO-8 puts in what is probably the best performace of the test with this track with a very happy balance of tonal warmth and detial coupled with sufficient energy to sound fun, all presented in a spacious and open way. Compared with the Graham Slee, it lacks the speed and resolving power, but it still gives a pleasing balance.
The Editors track reveals that it is more than capable of handling the soaring vocals and simple but deep bass that the track demands to work properly. It has little trouble sounding big when it needs to without sounding unnatural with smaller scale pieces. In manyregards this is an interesting counter to the Alpha Design Labs, which sounds a little more exciting at the expense of the involvement that the Vincent possess. while some may miss the adjustability that some rivals offer, there is little arguing that is a lot of phono stage for the money.
Involving yet lively sound, solid build, price
|VALUE FOR MONEY:||DISLIKE:
Lacks a little speed and energy, larger than some rivals
|BUILD QUALITY :
A very competitively priced design that offers a rich entertaining performance.