Bottlehead Reduction Phono Preamp

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by PoochZag, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. PoochZag

    PoochZag The Shadow knows - Friend

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    I was lucky enough to be included on the Bottlehead Reduction (+Integration) Loaner, which was built by @OJneg

    My Analog System for Impressions:
    Rega RP3 > Elys2 > Modded TC-750 or Reduction > Mjolnir 2 (LISST) > HD800 (SD and Cork) or JBL LSR305

    Caveats: I only seriously got into vinyl and set my vinyl rig up to my best components a couple months prior, with my permanent cartridge only arriving to me days before the Reduction due to an RMA. Because of this I was trying to learn my own system and evaluate the Reduction simultaneously, and used only 1 headphone, 6 albums, and primarily just the Sovtek Primo tubes to mitigate variables.

    My focus was to compare the SOLAHD modded TC-750 (done by @JK47) to the Reduction to assess a potential future upgrade.

    Brief Impressions:
    Honestly I found comparing the differences between the two preamps very difficult. This could be due to my newness to the analog chain, the qualities of my chain, how long it takes to switch the cables, or simply maybe they're fairly close. However,

    I felt the Reduction brought the midrange forward a bit, giving a lot of quick energy to guitars and drums on rock albums (Purple Rain, Elephant, Tigerlily) and an overall engaging sound.

    Possibly as a consequence of a forward midrange, the bass seemed similar in quantity to the TC-750, but slower and with less slam. The quicker, harder hitting bass of the modded TC-750 was a wash with rock albums, but was more apparent and preferable in electronic and pop (Discovery, 1989, LP1). I could not glean any differences up top, and suspect that may not be the RP3/Elys2's strong suit anyway.

    Conclusion:
    The Reduction +integration was great to listen to as my second real pre-amp, and with it's reasonable price and appeal of building it myself, I could see myself with one down the road. However in the context of my beginner rig and experience, I felt the modded TC-750 easily held it's own, with a Gold Bond effect, itch-to-upgrade free.

    Looking forward to everyone else's thoughts, especially the vinyl pros
     
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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  2. Pyruvate

    Pyruvate Friend

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    Great impressions @PoochZag!

    Is your TCC750 fully modded with the cap upgrades? I just found one for cheap on eBay and will soon be getting a taste of what a phono upgrade could do for my chain. Eventually, I plan to do the mods (power supply, caps etc). Nice to hear that your modded TCC750 held up well against the reduction; clearly a great value ($300 vs $550). Can't wait to hear what the Reduction sounds like!
     
  3. PoochZag

    PoochZag The Shadow knows - Friend

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    I know @JK47 did do some type of replacement with caps, but I don't know the specifics and couldn't glean the final build from the TC-750 thread. Yes to power supply, and he also lined the insides with tin foil. I was under the impression they were cheaper caps, as I don't know where that $300 total would come from, or I'll gladly owe somebody some more money :cool:
     
  4. Pyruvate

    Pyruvate Friend

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    Someone on the TCC750 mod thread quoted that price.

    $50 for the phono
    $150 on capacitors
    $50 on the case
    $30 on the power supply
    $20 miscellaneous shit

    Something like that haha. But hey, if you got it for even less, congrats!
     
  5. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    @PoochZag
    Great write up!!! Glad you're enjoying the Franken TC-750

    I replaced the input and output caps with Wima's, 10uF input and 4.7uF output. Also removed the 220pF loading caps, so the cartridge will only see what's in the cables. Removed the caps and diode in the 12volt in path.
     
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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2016
  6. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    I wrote the costs above in the TC 750 modding thread. I went wayyyyyy overboard on the caps, someone could easily spend $50 or less on good caps. Also no need to case. Just cut costs from $300 to $150. Don't want anyone to think this is an expensive build.

    Second, @PoochZag awesome write up for someone who said they were anxious about writing a review while being newer to vinyl! Your write up gives me a heads up as to what to look for while comparing my franken tc750. Also have a couple other pre's on hand, so it will be a shootout.
     
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  7. SpaceLaser

    SpaceLaser Friend

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    I might be interested in this if it's still on the east coast. Getting my first TT in early next week and want to compare the Reduction to my Aqvox phono..
     
  8. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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  9. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday!

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  10. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    I was part of the loaner tour and wanted to post some impressions now that I've sent along. First off, this pre amp came at a overwhelming point in my audio hobby as I recieved long back ordered parts for a DIY amp that I was excited to wrap up and the arrival of BW on my doorstep. Serious bounty of riches, nothing to complain about. So while I initially planned to compare this with several phono pre's and do a shootout, I only managed to compare this to my Sutherland Ph3D.

    Gear used: Pro-ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB (Carbon with built in speed box and acrylic platter) -> basic rca's -> Phono Pre ->better rca's -> Ragnarok ->modded HD800's or B&W CDM2SE bookshelf speakers. Didn't use stock tubes, mostly listened through premium sovteks, but did try out the telefeunkens.

    Other Pre's I've owned:
    Project Phono Box DS - sounded a bit thin and not engaging
    Franken TC750 - sounded much fuller, lacked a bit of detail and a hair warm / slow (probably due to cap selection)
    P Millet "LR" DIY pre - step up in clarity & speed, probably a but too neutral for my tastes
    Sutherland Ph3D - my reference, love the tone, punchy bass, and while neutral it is more engaging. Super quiet as its battery powered.

    Now to the BH Reduction - I thought this was pretty good, but fell behind the Ph3D is most categories. Great mids, great soundstage, smooth sound and I agree with @PoochZag that its a step in the better tone direction than the TC750, but its not the splash of cold water in the face difference one might expect, differences are more subtle. The bass wasn't as fast or pronounced as the Sutherland, but overall I found this very enjoyable. Reduction is noisier than the battery powered Ph3D, and the latter has blacker background sounding like more dynamic range. I've liked to Sovteks in the past so I did most of the listening through these, I found these to have more detailed stage a bit more upfront. Tele's were a step in the warmer more laid back direction, which I thought the amp already had enough of. It's funny, but the Reduction actually reminded me alot of my BH Crack + SB. Warm tone, smooth, and fun but lacked detail and refinement. While I started out as a tube amp kind of guy and loving that easy laid back tone - I slowly find myself requiring a better balance and more upfront sound.

    This is looks like a much tougher project to build than the Crack, even if it is still point to point - new guys be aware. While I preferred the sutherland, its MSRP is roughly twice the bottlehead (used is almost equal). SO quick recap - warm, fun, great soundstage, lacks a bit of top end, detail, and tight bass.
     
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