How good is Stageline N?

Yes, Naim have confirmed in the NVC TT, the MM capacitance is 100pF. Steve said that in this case with this design he preferred it to the usual 470pF.

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We use the Stageline N with our old Shure V15 mk III and we’re very pleased with it.

I had a Stageline N powered by a Supernait 2 / HiCap DR and using a Mofi Ultradeck/MasterTracker cart. It was very good to my ears. I switched to a Luxman integrated with built in phono and the Mofi (box reduction reasons). Both setups sound very good and not much SQ difference between the two. The Stageline is no slouch.

Great to hear feedback from another Ultradeck owner.

Last week I ordered both Stageline and iFi Phono 3 to try out. Phono 3 is already here and despite its tiny size sounds very impressive, quite musical and noticeably superior to MoFi Ultraphono.

I’m still waiting for Stageline N to arrive - if it sounds on the same level with the Phono 3, it’s certainly a keeper.

As the iFi is configurable, I’m interested to know which loading you decided on for the UltraTracker (or did you change carts?). The specs say 100pF is recommended.

Would you be willing to let us know how you find the different loading compares? I would especially be interested in the ifi at 100pF, 500pF (closes to 470 I guess), and the StageLine (470pF).

Thanks.

That’s what I’m curious about as well. To compare, I was going to make some recordings of the iFi stage set at 100 and 500pF, and Stageline N at 470pF. I’m running iFi at 36db gain, which is close to Stageline’s 35db. I’ll add my findings here once once I have the Stageline and listen to it for a week or so…

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Hi @Romany,

Like you I am using the Ultraphono. This was a stop gap for me having sold my EAR868pl. Being another Tim de P. design was part of the attraction.

In the meantime I have bought a box with a power supply so I can re-try my Naim phono cards, that I used to use with 32.5 a few decades ago; isn’t that a frightening thought!

A couple of weeks ago I loaded in the MM cards to use with my Dynavector DV20H.

Now, I won’t go into too much detail on what I am hearing as I also changed my cirkused LP12 inner platter to a Mober SSP12, and what a fine upgrade that has proved to be. BUT, what I will say that in going through my classic rock albums my engagement and excitement in the music has increased markedly.

My aim is to identify a central group of albums and then listen to them through the ultaphono, Naim cards & Chord Huei.

I am then going to change the cartridge to the Troika and work backwards through the same phono stages, swapping the MM for the K cards.

I am doing this while working on other things so this isn’t going to be a fast process.

M

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Sounds like an interesting project :+1:

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Which setting are you using on the iFi at the moment?

100pF, 36dB gain

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Hi, I have been using a Stageline/Flatcap for a while and moved to a Huei for one year and then returned to the Stageline now upgraded with a Hicap.
If I may give you my suggestion, the Huei is better via xlr connection and sound better as MC rather than MM. The main problem in my system was a high noise floor. I also thought it could be my unit but at the end I sold it. Except for this it is a very nice device, very flexible, sounds very good Indeed.
Once you are done please post your impressions, I am interested in your opinion :relaxed:

Thx Mojo,

I’ll bare this in mind. Interestingly the Ultraphono is 'tother way around. It’s signal to noise ratio is superb for MM and not so hot for MC.

Your pre has a set of balanced inputs, my Icon 4 is SE throughout …I do have a couple of converters so I will ‘give it a go’, just to add ANOTHER variable! :wink:

M

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One of the things that makes the Stageline ‘good’ for me is that there is nothing to fiddle with. It just works with my cartridge. Result: more music :slight_smile:

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Hi Romany,

As I progress I will post updates.

The phono stage I would be VERY interesting in hearing, and it is on the menu, is the PS Audio Stellar. A friend prefers this to his £6k+ Audio Note stage. He will be bringing it over at some stage for me to listen to. I will be using the Naim cards as my ‘control’.

M

If it works with your cartridge, excellent! But the advantage of one that’s configurable, even if in principle less good, is that it can be made to work with almost any cartridge.

This is probably true to some extent but not having any adjustments simplifies the stage design and should improve the sound, in theory. That’s the premise behind many excellent dedicated phono stages, MM and MC. An interesting blind test run by M. Fremer at Analog Planet a few years ago stresses this point: You Should Buy a MM-Only Phono Preamp If You Are Using a MM Cartridge! At Least Based on These Results | Analog Planet

Of course, this is only true if you’re unwilling to spend outside a specific budget and if the dedicated phono stage is matched to the cartridge of your choice. The latter part remains to be seen in my case with Stageline N and Ultratracker (or Mastertracker which I’m also thinking about upgrading to).

I’m sure that’s the case to an extent, so you can argue the rest of the spectrum sounds excellent, but if the treble roll-off is in the audible spectrum, there is a part you’re not hearing (I guess what you don’t hear can’t sound bad either :wink: ). Personally I’d rather hear all my ears allow. Of course where exactly that roll-off is for a certain capacitance depends on the cart, and what the audible spectrum is will depend on your ears/age.

What you could also take away from that article you link, is that if you look at the amps in that test,the highest input capacitance of any of the stages is 220pF and the two clear favourites have an input capacitance well below a 100pF.

Not sure this was my argument at all :grinning:

FWIW, today I set iPhono 3 to 400pF and it sounded noticeably worse to 100pF, harsh and brittle. I should have the Stageline N on Friday and see what Naim got up their sleeve. They must have had their reasons for using 470pF.

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I suspect it’s to do with the specific carts they were using sounding fine with it. Didn’t someone say somewhere on this forum that older MM/MI carts didn’t require such low capacitance as modern ones?

Another possibility (and I might get banned for saying this :grimacing:), would be a reduced audible range (age) of whoever was doing the listening tests. Perhaps combined with the rest of the spectrum indeed sounding better. After all, this being Naim they probably did choose it deliberately.

I doubt that has any bearing. Frequency response is only one of a number of factors affected by choice of capacitance - and any choice is down to the overall design. As I say there’s no “right” or “wrong”.

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