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2021 Product of the Year Awards: Phono Stages of the Year

2021 Product of the Year Awards: Phono Stages of the Year

Hegel V10

$1500

Previously, Norwegian-based Hegel had shied away from making a phonostage, but has come out of the blocks with a Product-of-the-Year-worthy unit that is easy to use and easy on the budget. The initial design brief was to create a small, inexpensive starter box for the budding, cost-conscious LP enthusiast. As chief designer Bent Holter delved into the project, he realized that he could achieve much better performance with some higher-level engineering and some parts upgrades (Holter holds a Masters of Science degree in semiconductor physics from Trondheim University), without increasing costs dramatically. The V10 uses four, ultra-low-noise, discrete JFET transistors, connected in parallel to aid in reducing external noise, for the moving-magnet and moving-coil input sections. The sound is detailed, open, and full-bodied. Plenty of mm and mc cartridge loading and gain settings are offered (via piano switches—or in-chassis resistors for some settings). The V10 is a highly musical and “audiophile competent” component, to a degree that makes it an obvious POY selection and must-audition for anyone seeking a phonostage close to the $1500–$2000 range—and possibly higher. 

Coincident Speaker Technology Statement 

$6499

Israel Blume, the proprietor of the Canadian company Coincident Speaker Technology, likes to swing for the sonic fences. With his nifty new phonostage, he’s hit a home run. With point-to-point wiring and a hefty separate power supply capable of powering a 100-watt amplifier, the Statement offers a healthy 66dB of gain. This robust output means that the Statement packs a dynamic wallop that eclipses many of its immediate competitors. It also means that the unit provides quiet backgrounds. The look is definitely Old School, with steel cladding encasing the capacitors and wiring. But the payoff is big. Not only can the Coincident deliver powerful drum hits and orchestral crescendos, it also possesses an excellent sense of drive. Add a capacious soundstage, and you have a phonostage that allows a variety of cartridges to display their strengths. Two separate volume control knobs on the front panel also ensure that the Coincident can be deployed to bypass a preamplifier and run directly into an amplifier. To exceed the performance of the Coincident requires moving to much more elaborate phonostages that may never quite match its sheer zest and gusto.

Tags: AMPLIFIER PHONOSTAGE PRODUCT OF THE YEAR

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