The world of hi-fi is not any totally different to another business in that high quality prices. Nevertheless, after spending some appreciable time with Nagra’s Basic Phono, we want it didn’t price fairly a lot.
Not that the product’s sound doesn’t match that hefty price ticket, extra that it places this superb piece of package past the attain of many individuals who would respect it.
Nagra’s merchandise are not often ostentatious, so it comes as no shock to search out that this phono stage presents a fairly understated face to the world. That trademark sign meter, which reveals the Basic Phono’s output stage, is the one visible flourish of notice. The remainder of the fascia is as clear and uncluttered as we’ve come to anticipate from the Swiss producer, however that actually doesn’t imply that this phono stage is a few stripped-out minimalist design.
We’re happy to notice that Nagra provides a variety of equalisation curves. There’s the usual RIAA possibility discovered on each different phono stage in the marketplace, however you’ll additionally discover settings for Teldec and Columbia LP. Whereas these choices gained’t matter for most individuals, these with information from earlier than the mid-1950s can hear them with the right tonal steadiness.
Nagra Basic Phono tech specs
Frequency response 20Hz – 50kHz
Impedance 470 ohms
Dimensions (hwd) 31 x 25 x 7.6cm
There’s additionally a mono change, which is helpful, and a toggle for adjusting achieve. The Basic Phono comes with two phono modules, one for transferring magnet cartridges and the opposite for transferring coils. That achieve change takes the bottom 37.7dB achieve of the MM circuit and provides 10dB when switched to the excessive setting. Equally, the transferring coil enter’s 53.9dB achieve goes as much as 63.9dB. That must be sufficient for all however the lowest output cartridges in the marketplace.
Anybody who likes to have a look inside hi-fi gear is in for a deal with with this Nagra. As with the outside, the within is immaculately made and the circuit is filled with top-quality parts. On the coronary heart of the Basic Phono is a set of valves made up of a pair of E88CC/6922s, a single ECC81/B739 and an ECC83/B759. There’s additionally a pair of in-house transformers to supply additional achieve for the transferring coil part. Nagra takes nice delight in making its personal transformers as doing so ensures high quality.
Many high-end phono phases make adjusting cartridge loading a breeze. It’s often a case of both manually setting a sequence of dip switches on the again panel (or base), or electronically by some entrance panel controls. Issues aren’t so handy right here, because the Nagra technique is extra hands-on.
The suitable loading parts must be manually fitted. This includes taking off the Basic Phono’s lid – pausing to admire the beautiful innards, after all – after which eradicating a small circuit board earlier than becoming the related part to it. The entire course of takes round ten minutes. Nagra provides a variety of the commonest loading choices within the field.
It’s not a tough operation and the consumer handbook is good and clear, besides, that is one thing your vendor must be pleased to do. When you have a very uncommon cartridge, Nagra will present the suitable loading parts freed from cost for a restricted time after your buy.
Connectivity is nice for a phono stage. There are two inputs – as normal, these are configured as transferring magnet and transferring coil, although it’s doable to swap both if desired. There are the standard single-ended RCA and XLR analogue outputs, although it must be famous that the XLRs don’t carry a balanced sign.
There’s no level in shopping for a phono stage at this stage if the remainder of your set-up, significantly the turntable, isn’t out of the highest drawer too. We make use of our ordinary reference Technics SL-1000R/Kiseki Purpleheart MC document participant, and even that solely qualifies because the naked minimal the Nagra deserves. The remainder of our system is Burmester’s 088/911 Mk3 amplifier and ATC’s SCM50 audio system.
Given just a few days of use, the Nagra’s sound features notably when it comes to readability and transparency. As soon as issues settle, the Basic Phono delivers superb outcomes.
If you’re anticipating the easy-going, golden glow presentation of a typical valve phono stage, you’re wanting within the flawed place. This product, like others we’ve heard from this producer, merely doesn’t have such a signature. It sounds clear and impartial, and ever so detailed. Identical to one of the best transistor-based designs however with extra in the best way of finesse. Even the noise ranges are low, with us having to place our ears near the ATC’s tweeter to listen to something a lot in the best way of hiss.
That element isn’t highlighted by more durable drawn edges or a contact of extra brilliance within the treble both however somewhat offered in a splendidly pure and unforced method. Voices and acoustic devices sound genuine and richly textured.
Take heed to a pure acoustic recording equivalent to Sort Of Blue by Miles Davis and it’s onerous to think about something sounding higher than this Nagra. The presentation is fluid and beautifully expressive. Every instrument is rendered with talent – the sides of notes crisply outlined and thoroughly shaded with convincing harmonic richness.
This Nagra’s sound has some chunk too. Shifts of depth are communicated with poise and there’s no scarcity of assault when the music calls for. We’re happy with the Nagra’s musical cohesion.
It’s a wonderfully insightful performer that’s analytical sufficient to allow us to observe any musical strand we want, but nonetheless manages to current the music as a satisfying entire. sense of rhythmic drive helps this unified method, and this side involves the fore after we play Michael Jackson’s Thriller set.
Right here, the Basic Phono shines, displaying the form of punch and drive valve designs not often have, coupled with the naturalness, finesse and refinement they often do. Jackson’s voice on Billie Jean comes by with ardour intact. Basslines thump house with energy and punch, however there may be additionally a tunefulness that will get our ft tapping. This is a superb efficiency, filled with drama and verve.
The Nagra’s crisp stereo imaging is highlighted within the opening of the album’s title monitor, the place the creepy sound results transport us to these early black and white Dracula movies. The sound is fastidiously layered, exactly centered left-to-right, and spacious with it.
We hearken to a variety of music from Nirvana’s Nevermind to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and the Nagra excels regardless. It has angle and authority when the music calls for and shifts effortlessly to intimacy the place it doesn’t.
This isn’t a presentation that lends itself to being dissected. Put merely, the Nagra Basic Phono simply sounds proper. Feed it a ok sign and inside moments of the music beginning, you’ll cease specializing in the mechanics of the hi-fi system and easily get misplaced within the music.
The one actual subject with the Nagra Basic Phono is its worth – one thing that leaves you with little change from £20ok is manner out of attain for the overwhelming majority of us. Nevertheless, whether or not it represents worth for cash is a extra private judgment and that often comes all the way down to your priorities.
The Nagra is so fascinating, so effectively made and so sonically succesful that the majority alternate options are left floundering in its wake. If we had the cash, we might positively purchase one.
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