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PS Audio's GCPH Phono Stage
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PS Audio's GCPH Phono Stage

Phono Amps by PS Audio

Manufacturer's Description:

There’s nothing like the sound of a great vinyl album

Vinyl reproduction on a high-end audio system can be expensive to get the right equipment.  Now, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy high-end audio at its best with the Gain Cell Phono Preamplifier from PS Audio.

Affordable, state of the art, sweet and natural sounding, the GCPH brings everything locked away in your best vinyl right into your home.  This is one great phono preamplifier.

The GCPH is built around the same design philosophy all PS phono preamplifiers have enjoyed over the last 30 years: a passive RIAA curve and fully discrete class A gain stages.  It is our finest work to date and should again set the standard for standalone phono amplification for many years to come.

We’ve also managed to make some serious improvements to our original design techniques in the GCPH, by adding a dual mono, balanced signal path and dual mono power supplies.  Separating the signal paths and the power supplies into, essentially, mono paths adds a wonderful level of separation in the audio chain and helps lower the noise to nearly imperceptible levels.  This is truly a state-of-the-art phono preamplifier that can be used as an add on to your preamplifier or all by itself feeding your power amplifier directly!

This is high end vinyl

The RIAA curve is a specification for the correct playback of vinyl records, established by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The purpose of the equalization curve is to permit greater playback times, improve sound quality, and to limit the physical extremes that would otherwise arise from recording analog records without such equalization.

The RIAA curve has operated as a de facto global industry standard for the recording and playback of vinyl records since 1954. Prior to that time – mainly between 1940 and 1954 – each record company applied its own equalization; there were over 100 combinations of turnover and rolloff frequencies in use, the main ones being AES, LP, NAB and FFRR.  The RIAA standardized the EQ curve for records and hence the majority of vinyl LP’s are recorded to this standard.

There are multiple means of achieving this curve in a phono preamplifier, but the two main implementations are active and passive.  Active means the RIAA curve is in the feedback loop of the preamplifier and passive means it is outside any feedback loop.  PS Audio has always believed the best performance will be achieved when the curve is outside the feedback loop of the internal amplifier because the amplifiers’ performance will change with frequency.

Whatever method is employed, it is absolutely critical the curve be as exact as possible.  Deviations of more than a tenth of a dB are unacceptable.  The GCPH is flat to the RIAA standard by less than 0.1dB.

The RIAA Curve is only the beginning

The second most critical aspect of a perfectionist high-end phono stage is the gain stages themselves.  They must be low noise, high gain and low distortion.  A tall order indeed, but nothing too difficult once we employ our unique Gain Cell technology to the preamp.

The GCPH is built around two discrete and fully class A balanced gain stages: a high gain, low noise input stage and a Gain Cell for the output stage, with the passive RIAA curve between the two stages.

This unique topology permits an unheard of flexibility for users to adjust the gain of the phono preamplifier to their specific cartridge and system.  Coarse gain settings are handled by rear mounted controls and fine adjustments are handled via a variable gain control on the front panel.  The front panel gain adjustment also allows the GCPH to be used as a standalone phono preamplifier, feeding the purest phono signal possible directly into your power amplifier.

Making the most of a passive RIAA curve design

The superiority of a passive RIAA curve can best be utilized by adjusting the gain of each of the two gain blocks to take advantage of the lowest possible noise levels and the highest possible overload characteristics of any one stage.

Using a combination of the rear panel fixed gain options as well as the front panel variable gain control you can achieve maximum results between phono noise and best headroom.

Using the front panel gain adjustment control on the GCPH, you can set the Gain Cell for the perfect gain to feed your preamplifier or maintain absolute control from zero gain to any other gain and feed your power amplifier directly from the GCPH!

This is a vinyl lover’s dream come true.

Complete control over any cartridge and it can act as a complete system or an outboard phono preamplifier to feed your preamplifier directly. 

Available gains and impedances

From the rear panel you can adjust the gain of the GCPH to 48dB, 54dB, 60dB and 66dB.  You can then adjust the Gain Cell for even more gain from the front panel.  In short, the GCPH will provide enough gain for just about any phono cartridge ever made.

Impedance setting are equally flexible.  You can choose, 100 Ohms, 500 Ohms, 1000 Ohms or 47K Ohms regardless of what gain setting you are using.  Many vinyl lovers use a moving coil cartridge at the standard moving magnet impedance setting of 47K and adjust the turntable’s VTA such that the increase in overall system brightness is reduced.  The combination of proper turntable setup and higher impedance for Moving Coil cartridges can result in some incredibly dynamic and open music on your system.

Huge power supply

Last, but not least, one thing we’ve learned over the years is that you need a healthy power supply for a phono preamplifier to sound its best.  We were the folks that introduced the notion of a high current power supply for low current draw products, and the GCPH is no exception.  Within the chassis is a huge toroidal transformer feeding giant capacitors and multiple regulators.  

Everything in this power supply is designed to give you the finest performance a phono stage can possibly offer.   We, like you, love vinyl, music and high-end audio.

Inputs and outputs

The GCPH is a true balanced design from input to output.  It features the highest quality connectors and you can feed your preamplifier or your power amplifier with either single ended RCA or balanced XLR connectors for best sound.

The GCPH is a true high end state of the art preamplifier, designed specifically for the demands of vinyl and the wants and needs of music lovers the world over.  You simply will not find a better phono preamplifier at any price.  Period.

If you’re into vinyl and high-end audio then it would make sense for you to stop by your local PS Audio dealer and ask for an audition of the GCPH phono stage.  It’s truly a remarkable phono preamplifier.    

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