Fi: The Magazine of Music and Sound
5 of 5)
One feature that is unusual and worthy of special attention is the approach
to cartridge interfacing that Stan Klyne developed for his phono stage.
As many audiophiles know, there is a problem with high frequency resonance
(ringing) in a number of very fine moving coil cartridges. It can result
in fatiguing peakiness in the treble, create phase errors which disturb
imaging (sometimes pulling the high frequency content of a sound source
back toward the tweeters while the rest of the sound remains focused elsewhere
in the soundstage), and stress downstream components into a bit of stridency.
Stan Klyne has come up with a solution. He recommends using a relatively
high overall load resistance (1000 or 47,000 ohms, though a wide range
of choices can be internally selected with DIP switches) and compensating
for the high frequency response rise electronically with a high frequency
contouring network, which decreases the load only up near the cartridges
resonant point. Klyne provides graphic evidence in support of the efficacy
of his solution and information which enables the user to employ it with
many cartridges and figure out the right settings for those not listed.
The Klyne approach works, friends. Three very different, top notch moving
coil cartridgesthe Clearaudio Insider Gold, the Transfiguration
Temper, and the van den Hul Grasshopper Gold IVsounded better (smoothly
extended, quick and clear, and powerfully dynamic) through the Klyne phono
stage than they have in any other set-up Ive tried. As the system
is defeatable (intemal DIP switches again), theres no downside.
Finally, the Klyne line stage enabled me for the first time to discem
a problem which I suspect is endemic to all solidstate amplification devices
but is probably swamped (and thus hidden) by larger aberrations in phono
stages and amps (both of which have to provide a lot more gain than is
the case for line stages) and may be masked by line stages that are not
as quiet, grain free, and transparent as the Klyne. In other words this
may not be so much an observation about the Klynes as about their species.
Compared to the best tube line stages, the Klyne (and now that Ive
leamed to listen for this, other solid-state line stages) has a slight
lack of dynamic continuousness. This is not a lack of overall dynamic
range; the Klyne (and some others) can go from the softest to the loudest
with the best of em. Rather, it is a barely perceptible ratcheting
or laddering effect, a series of tiny incremental steps rather than a
smooth, unbroken climb, in the way that dynamic gradations are handled.
The best tube units (with the lowest noise floors) move dynamically in
a continuous, flowing, liquid stream that the solid-state units dont
quite match. Its a small difference, smaller to be sure than the
oft-encountered thermionic noise problems or obtrusive grain of most preamps,
but when everything else is as good as it is in the Klyne, its perceptible,
although I wouldnt trade the 7LX3.5 for a noisier or dirtierpresentation.
The Klyne Model 7PX3.5 Phono Stage is the best Ive had the pleasure
of using; there may be a better one out there, but it hasnt come
to my house. The Klyne Model 7LX3.5 Line Stage Preamplifier is also right
up there, particularly if your listening priorities are congruent with
my emphasis on harmonic (tonal) and transient accuracy, quietness, and
transparency. Id like to hear that last little bit of the dynamic
continuousness that is available from tube gear and perhaps a touch more
air and juicinessand Id definitely like a polarity
reversal provision and the ability to use it, and adjust volume and balance,
with a remote controlbut not if I had to trade away the Klynes
strengths. The sound of the Klyne preamps is as natural as breathing.