I wonder how many have done some comparisons in this regard? I meant to do a more dedicated direct comparison for a while and managed to have some good fun yesterday and today with the phono stages of the NSC222 and the Nait 50.
I should note it’s not a 100% direct phono stage only comparison as the 222 preamp section was involved as well when its phono was in action.
I did the listening in a relatively small room using as speakers my Marten Oscar Duos for most of the time assuming they would allow for a better opportunity to differentiate resolution and more nuanced SQ differences than with the Spendor D1s which live in that room - which proved to be the case. The TT is a P8 with a AT150ANV cartridge (Shibata stylus).
Setup is TT-222-N50-Martens with careful matching of listening volume levels when changing between phonos.
Yes, no big surprise, these two sound similar, one can immediately tell they are family and tend to finish each other’s sentences. They are not identical twins, though.
What the 222 phono seems to do slightly better - firmer, slightly deeper and better controlled and articulated bass, better defined and stable soundstage, livelier and more engaging, crispier highs and sound overall.
The N50 sounded a bit more mellow overall, no bad thing and if I were to just use the N50 with vinyl (as I do currently, with the Spendor D1s in that room), I don’t think I would be missing a lot. I am also not sure how much of the difference comes from the phono stage and how much from the added 222 preamp working together with the N50. And as an aside, again, I was bowled over how well the N50 sounds with the Marten Oscars. Previously I tried them together in a bigger room in my main setup and now in a smaller room, just amazing!
I will also do a comparison with a decent external phono stage but to me both the N50 and the 222 would comfortably be on a par (or better, especially the 222) with a good external phono stage in the £800-1200 price range?