So, 3 days after I finished building the ST-70 kit my new VTA SP12/PH12 preamp arrived at my doorstep. Assembled, tested, and ready to plug & play. Really the timing couldn't have been better! Two and a half weeks earlier I had talked with Roy and asked him to build this for me. He said it would take 3 weeks, so I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up a little early.
It was a very tough decision... Should I try to build a preamp kit or have the kit built for me? As much as I thought it would be a fun challenge. I just wasn't confident that I could build both amp and preamp trouble free. Plus after finishing the ST-70, I am not so sure I would have had the patience to take my time and do a solid job on the preamp. I would have been itching to get it done and plug my turntable in!!! Now, after listening to everything for a couple of weeks, I am really happy with my decision.
Roy enlisted the help of Troy Madden to build the preamp for me. Both Roy and Troy were easy to deal with. They were both very quick to respond to all my emails and they kept me in loop as to what was happening along the way. I am really happy with the customer service provided! Thanks Guys!
The SP12/PH12 arrived VERY nicely padded and packaged. Double boxed and very safe and cozy!
So the first thing I did was pull the cover off and take a look at Troy's excellent work. Everything looked GREAT! I snapped a couple of photos while I had the cover off.
I screwed the cover back on and plugged everything in. I was a little surprised at the movement of the volume and gain knobs. I knew they were "stepped attenuators" but i didn't realize that they would actually 'click' to each step. It was a little weird at first getting used to this, but I barely even notice it anymore. I also notice sometimes that there is just a little static in the left channel when adjusting the volume at low levels (especially if adjusted slowly). I think I saw Bob suggest some contact cleaner to someone else with a similar issue, but I have not tried this yet.
So here is my system:
Technics SL-1200MK2 turntable
Shure M97xE MM cartridge
VTA SP12/PH12 Preamp
VTA ST-70 amp
Ohm D2 speakers
Blue Jeans Cable interconnect and speaker cable
SurgeX SX1808 Surge protector/power conditioner
How does it sound?
I would love to be able to give you all a fine critique of the sounds created by this preamp, but really I'm no audiophile and unfortunately I have nothing else to compare it to... For now I will just give you some of my impressions. I was happy to find that when I plugged in my turntable and speakers and turned everything on, there was no sound, no hiss, no hum, I mean dead quiet.
After a couple of weeks of playing some records I am really impressed with this system. I have found that a lot of my records are dirty (i need a nice record cleaner). I have noticed that certainly some recordings are MUCH better than others. I am hearing so many new details in albums I have heard hundreds of times. I have never had a stereo system capable of creating such a wonderful soundstage. When listening to good recordings, I can close my eyes and pick out where the musicians are standing. It seems to me that there is great separation of the different instruments. To me, it sounds very clean and very three dimensional. Overall I am very happy with the sound of everything! I will report back as I have opportunities to listen to other systems, or other components in my own system.
Thanks again Roy and Troy, for an awesome product!