The 20/20 was designed to get the most performance possible at its predetermined price point. To get there, extra was spent to get premium parts and circuitry into the signal path. Consequently, some expenses were squeezed out of less important areas. Those trade-offs have worked very well. The 20/20 has delivered an extremely high level of performance at a reasonable price. It is an incredible performance value.
Little Loco Phono Stage
More affordable version of the Phono Loco
RCA only Connectors
Nixie Line Stage
Dual Mono design
Five inputs/ channel
One Output / channel
As with a few others on the market the Phono Loco requires a balanced signal from the cartridge and an XLR terminated phono cable. Now, cartridges are inherently “balanced”, with no reference to ground but some tone arm manufacturers, Rega for one, ties ground to the RCA plug’s outer ring so an RCA to XLR adapter will not work but others that separate ground (SME’s DIN connector among others) can be used with an adapter and Sutherland supplies one but only for use until you can get a replacement cable or have your arm re-wired if necessary.
Why go through this hassle? And why manufacture a phono preamp that can only be used with balanced XLR equipped tone arms?
As anyone who uses or has used such a device, which Sutherland calls a “tran-simpedance” circuit, the moving coil cartridge sees a virtual short circuit. The input signal is the cartridge’s current output. The good news is that “low output” (voltage) moving coil cartridges put out a good dose of current. The lower the cartridge’s internal impedance, the more current it outputs (and usually the lower the voltage output, but that doesn’t matter!).
Noise isn’t generally an issue and there’s no loading options because there’s no loading! There are three gain settings on Sutherland’s Loco: a medium gain said to be good for most cartridges and low (-6dB) and high (+6dB) settings if needed. The output is single-ended (RCA).
Mr. Sutherland cites the CH Precision P1 as an example of a current mode phono preamplifier “currently” on the market. It sells for $31,000. I own one along with the extra cost X1 outboard power supply. Sutherland claims his Loco is better than the P1 because it is totally focused on one task and has no flexibility or options, which the P1 most certainly does.
Will the Loco better the performance of CH Precision’s P1/X1 combo? I will be the judge of that! How much will Loco cost? $8200.Michael Fremer Mar 2, 2018
It is a pleasure to introduce the new 20/20 phono preamp. It is AC powered and it is quiet! It starts with separate external AC power modules for each channel, followed by 10 sections of passive RC filtering and finalized with local constant voltage shunt regulation.
There comes a tipping point of accumulated knowledge that insists upon a new product. Insight gained from the design of preceding phono preamps opened up a new possibility.
Pride of ownership and sublime performance–way beyond its modest price.
There are indications of high-end qualities—even before you listen or take off the cover. The KC Vibe uses a 48 volt external power supply to provide a huge margin for extensive filtering and isolation. There are also machined, gold plated and teflon insulated audio jacks. With the cover removed, you will see the signature Sutherland circuit board layout aesthetic.