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Review from
Fi: The Magazine of Music and Sound

(page 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 cartridge’s 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 cartridges—the Clearaudio Insider Gold, the Transfiguration Temper, and the van den Hul Grasshopper Gold IV—sounded better (smoothly extended, quick and clear, and powerfully dynamic) through the Klyne phono stage than they have in any other set-up I’ve tried. As the system is defeatable (intemal DIP switches again), there’s 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 I’ve 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 don’t quite match. It’s 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, it’s perceptible, although I wouldn’t trade the 7LX3.5 for a noisier or “dirtier”presentation.

The Klyne Model 7PX3.5 Phono Stage is the best I’ve had the pleasure of using; there may be a better one out there, but it hasn’t 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. I’d like to hear that last little bit of the dynamic continuousness that is available from tube gear and perhaps a touch more air and “juiciness”—and I’d definitely like a polarity reversal provision and the ability to use it, and adjust volume and balance, with a remote control—but not if I had to trade away the Klynes’ strengths. The sound of the Klyne preamps is as natural as breathing. Superb.

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