April 17, 2024


Buzz The Music

Gramophone Goals #65: Tunes Hall Analogue A3 phono preamplifier

If I listen to it, is it true?

If your ears see,
And your eyes hear,
Not a doubt you can expect to cherish—How normally the rain drips
From the eyes!
—Bujutsu Sosho

The much more audio gear I critique, the much more fascinated I develop into by the point that as I hear to recorded tunes, I can shut my eyes and see musicians on the stage at Carnegie Hall, or djembe drummers in a desert by a tent, or a bass observe penetrating the Milky Way. What a reward of consciousness. And what a fantastic pastime it is that focuses my attentions in this way.

Equally, I am astonished that in a silent place, I can near my eyes and see the Ramones on phase at CBGB—and hear them engage in, at what feels like comprehensive volume!

Wilder however: My composer good friends inform me they can hear a musical score in their head though they are examining it on paper. The finest I can do together people lines is hear my personal voice as I examine my very own creating. Plus, I have a playlist of tracks saved in my head that I can enjoy on desire. I preserve this jukebox in my brain so I can select my personal earworms. I never gave these assorted phenomena significantly believed right until not too long ago, when I learned that our inside knowledge of these appears does not appear to be metaphorical—nor, as I experienced assumed, immaterial. Mind scans have unveiled that brainwave-sensible, the music we listen to in our heads is not truly different than what will come in from the outside the house. According to cognitive neuroscientist Robert J. Zatorre, when we listen to a music in our head, our brain’s auditory cortex responds as it would if we ended up listening to it by way of our ears (footnote 1).

Presumably, my capability to variety these internal auditory illustrations or photos success from some variety of primal cognitive system animated by elaborate webs of reminiscences and associations, rooted somehow in the nature of harmonicity, wavelengths of seem connected in integer ratios (footnote 2). Also, I visualize my brain is making use of the exact same deep-imagining powers—the identical perceptual matrixes—that my forebears made use of to make flutes and drums and tunes.

Recognizing my brain’s skill to fabricate sounds and visions will help me build and fills me with hope that you, reader, have an similarly lively and associative brain that your cognitive processes are very similar to mine and most importantly, that you’ve got currently experienced a assortment of related listening ordeals. I hope this mainly because when I write columns and assessments, it is usually my intention to set off appears and photographs in your head when you examine my words. I want to do that properly enough that you can put your self in my put, just a minimal, and consider how the machines being explained may well seem in your system.

That amount of reviewer-to-reader conversation relies on me making use of the right text, words and phrases that result in not just precise feelings but seems and photographs, also. Which is easier said than performed.

As I generate this, I’m questioning how your brain might “imagine” the audio of a document actively playing on a turntable relative to the seem of a CD or a file streaming by your process. Can you summon aural visuals that distinguish analog from digital? When you browse the phrase analog, do you listen to, inside your head, a specified variety of sound? When you see a picture of a tube amplifier, does it bring about memories—precise memories—of listening with tubes? Or does it bring about only thought-concepts?

As for me: When someone mentions a Kondo Ongaku, or a Marantz 8B, or a Mark Levinson ML-2, I can, for at least a instant, hear these amplifiers enjoying new music by speakers. For the sake of this tale, I hope you have memories like that.

Audio Hall Analogue A3 Phono Preamplifier
My previous mate Roy Corridor of Audio Corridor (footnote 3) is a distinguished and well-known audio-earth character whose audiophile ears, producing knowhow, and advertising expertise have been tuned about many years. He was born in Glasgow and has acknowledged fellow Scotsman and Linn Audio founder Ivor Tiefenbrun due to the fact he was a little one. (“I knew Ivor when he was nevertheless very good on the lookout,” Roy at the time explained to me.) In Scotland, ingesting malt whisky and actively playing black discs are nationwide pastimes, so have no doubt that Roy Corridor can conjure some high-quality analog and has touched a few tonearms though less than the influence.

At Audio Hall, all goods are envisioned by Roy Corridor then realized by others. But don’t let that bias you. Much better than most folks working in our racket, Roy has ears, and he is aware of what form of sound he wishes to current. He is particularly attuned to the type of document gamers that make listeners truly feel excellent about the records they are participating in.

I like Roy since he’s an inveterate storyteller with loads of overtly snarky shtick. “Sharing whisky at exhibits and telling individuals to go f*#k on their own is the mystery of my accomplishment,” he says. I have snickered a this sort of Roy-prattle for decades (footnote 4).

But from time to time, he annoys me. Roy understands that when upon a time I was the US importer for Audio Notice, Avantgarde, Tango, and Black Gate—all expensive brands—and any time I see him, he pontificates about the foolishness of expending conceited sums on hello-fi. He thinks that far too numerous audiophiles are shelling out also a great deal for bragging legal rights and trophy products when all they really want is a straightforward turntable, a moving magnet cartridge, and an integrated amp—all of which Audio Corridor comes about to market.

As for me, I remain verified in my belief that we generally get what we shell out for, and that if we want to fly substantial and aspiration all more than the galaxy, we will need a fantastic rocket.

But Roy is mainly proper: Most audiophiles could dwell very satisfactorily with hello-fi products significantly humbler than their moi tells them they want. Perhaps something as humble as Songs Hall’s new direct-generate Stealth turntable (which I overview elsewhere in this concern) coupled to Tunes Hall’s $1199 Analogue A3 tube phono stage, which I am about to explain.


I have by no means just before reviewed a Music Corridor item, but when I observed that Roy was peddling not only a direct-travel turntable but also a sharp-hunting tube phono stage with a volume regulate, I had to simply call him.

I experienced to evaluate these solutions for the reason that inside my head I can however hear Roy and his pal Ivor, years back, demonizing immediate-push turntables and tube amplifiers. And now he will make equally? What’s next, Roy? Consuming Wild Turkey? Ivor buying and selling his tuned Jaguars for a Jeep Wrangler?

That A3 search: The Analogue A3 preamp does not seem plain, black, or utilitarian, like preceding Tunes Hall electronics. It appears to be like eye-poppingly vibrant, shiny-anodized, and anthropomorphic, with two caged tubes sticking out from the prime like ears and two outlined-in-pink knobs that remind me of cartoon cat eyes (footnote 5). The correct-side knob is an on-off change, and the remaining-hand knob turns an Alps “Blue Velvet” potentiometer, for quantity command. There is no distant. The 12AU7 dual-triode tubes are flanked by a little something strange: a silkscreened impression of the “A3 Procedure Functional Block Diagram.” A person of the blocks near the input is labeled “Enter Matrix,” a phrase I’d never noticed in this context (footnote 6).

I freaked and named Roy Corridor and designed him swear on his sister’s honor that, regardless of what it means, it does not signify the inputs are converted to digital. (It will not. They are not.)

On the A3’s again panel are two pairs of RCA phono cartridge inputs: just one with 40dB attain and a 47k ohm impedance for going magnet cartridges, the second with 60dB achieve and 100 ohms for relocating coils. A 3rd pair of RCAs is labeled Output. The A3 chassis measures 10″ wide, 7″ deep, and 3.6″ high and weighs 6lb. It will come packed in a durable metallic flight scenario.

My first impressions of the Analogue A3 preamp came with it feeding right (as in, no preamp) the Parasound Halo A 21+ electrical power amplifier adopted by my Falcon Gold Badge LS3/5as. Audio Hall’s Stealth turntable and Ortofon 2M Blue going magnet cartridge sparked the input.


Since it was in entrance of me at arm’s reach—no other reason—I played facet 2 of E. Energy Biggs’ Finest Hits (Columbia LP MS 7269). Thirty seconds in, I started laughing. Not only was this preamp with the cartoon eyes driving the A 21+ simply, without the need of achieve support from a line-amount preamp, but it was also sounding silky smooth and harmonically proper. I was laughing as I listened simply because, unlike most fairly priced phono levels, the Analogue A3 was preserving the scale and, most surprisingly, the growling, wheezing, air-shifting textures of Biggs’s “traditionally acceptable organs.” I am not joking: The A3 and Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge have been pumping out pipe-organ strength that seemed too massive and in a natural way rough to be coming out of my breadbox-sized Falcons.

Footnote 1: “These various reports converge on just one principal acquiring: that neural activity in auditory cortex can manifest in the absence of sound … and that this exercise likely mediates the phenomenological experience of imagining songs.” (Zatorre, R.J. & Halpern, A.R. “Psychological concerts: Musical imagery and auditory cortex.” Neuron 47, pp.9-12, 2005.) The relevance of this to Herb’s column is obvious enough, but the example it presents of scientists battling to encompass subjective phenomena into quantitative work—a challenge familiar to considerate audiophiles—is exciting, far too.—Jim Austin

Footnote 2: See nautil.us/the-requirement-of-musical-hallucinations-2581.

Footnote 3: New music Hall, LLC, 108 Station Rd., Fantastic Neck, NY 11023. Tel: (516) 487-3663. Email: [email protected]. Net: musichallaudio.com

Footnote 4: His Stereophile Manufacturers’ Reviews are the things of legends.

Footnote 5: Whilst this anthropomorphic influence is offset by the simple fact that the A3’s “eyes” and “ears” are, very well, offset.—Jim Austin

Footnote 6: In audio electronics, “matrix” is most frequently utilised to describe the mapping of enter indicators to output signals, usually when there is far more than 1 of the latter, as in professional-audio mixers. From the diagram on top rated of the A3, it would seem to be referring to precisely that right here, even however in this case you will find only one set of outputs (L and R channel).