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Sutherland Engineering's PhonoBlock (Pair)
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Sutherland Engineering's PhonoBlock (Pair)

Phono Amps by Sutherland Engineering

Our pricing for this product is the "MAP Pricing."  This means that the prices shown here are the "minimum advertised prices" permitted by the manufacturer. Because these are already the lowest prices possible,  the additional incentives usually available under  "Frequent Flyer" program do not apply to this item.

International sales may be allowed, but will require approval.

Manufacturer's Description:

This from Ron Sutherland...

The PhonoBlock is the phono preamp I designed for my home system. Its design was a self
indulgence. I built it to please me. There was no consideration to accommodate any market
influences. That mind-set gave me the absolute freedom to build an uncompromised and, in
my opinion, the best phono preamp.
- Ron

Another path to the same destination.
Almost always, upscale designs are laden with features. More features are touted to represent advancement, product differentiation AND a rational for the upscale price. The PhonoBlocks don’t play that game. Their elevated performance is achieved by NOT cluttering the signal path with deleterious
features. Complexity is not the path to purity. Elegant refinement is.

Much of the PhonoBlock’s effortless musicality can be attributed to power supply capability. The power supply is not ‘sized’ for the gain stage’s load. On the contrary, gain stage power requirements place an insignificant load on the power supply’s capacity. The power available to the amplifier section is a
bedrock solid foundation. Precisely defined by fixed current regulators, shunt voltage regulators right at the load and over 100,000 microfarads (per mono chassis) for energy storage. It takes nearly 20 seconds for this huge reservoir to fill up when AC power is applied.

For a design guided by simplicity, the PhonoBlock’s power supply may, at first, appear plenty complicated. Admittedly, it is both simple AND complex. It is a long chain of individually simple elements. Each element has a function of either filtering or regulation (also doing a filtering function). Each element inserts a level of isolation. The accumulated isolation is unprecedented.

The chain looks like this:
• AC power entry connector
• AC fuses
• First torroidal transformer
• Dual pi ferrite bead / film capacitor filter
• Second torroidal transformer
From here, there are two parallel power paths. One for the first
gain stage and another one for the final gain stage. EACH of
the two separate paths has these elements.
• Slow recovery, discrete diode, full-wave bridge rectifier
• Initial filter capacitors
• Constant current regulator
• First RC pi filter
• Second RC pi filter
• Shielded ribbon cable between shielded compartments
• Cross over from the right compartment to the left compartment
• Third RC pi filter
• Forth RC pi filter
• Fifth RC pi filter
• Constant voltage shunt regulator
• Electrolytic and film capacitor bypass at the active devices

You can clearly see that each element adds ‘distance’ from the incoming AC power source. This is also apparent when you look at the physical layout of components. Each element adds a physical distance from the AC power connector. All listed items before the ribbon cable are in the right shielded
enclosure. They are in linear order from back to front. The ribbon cable goes from right to left, taking power to the front of the audio board. Power filtering elements then go in linear order from front to back on the audio board. Finally, you will see the electrolytic and film capacitors very closely clustered right
at the chips they are powering.

Simple, logical, straightforward, reliable AND effective.

Once a circuit topology is optimized for sound quality, it is critical that the surrounding physical environment is supportive of that achievement.  Like so many other aspects of the PhonoBlock design, the case is unassuming, classic --------- but with a unique, purposeful twist.

There are two shielded enclosures behind the machined front panel. The right side contains the AC power supply and left side contains the analog audio circuitry. We get the performance advantages of shielded isolation and the tidiness of unification.

And yet there is another concealed advantage. Usually the cable interconnecting audio and power supply sections is hanging out in space, exposed to radiated interference and other environmental uncertainties. The PhonoBlock interconnection is hidden away, protected and totally shielded.
You don’t even see that cable. It is securely tucked into a machined channel in the aluminum front panel.

There are other details making the PhonoBlocks special.

Some are small.
For instance, if the front panel logo were simply silk-screened ink, sitting on the surface of the panel it would, over the years, rub off. It is actually a black dye anodized INTO the aluminum. You can see and even feel the difference.

Some are big.
The base of the PhonoBlock is laser machined 12 gage cold rolled steel. That’s about1/8” thick. That substantial platform is protected with baked on epoxy power coat.

Feet are custom machined from Delrin with rubberized cork inserts.

The theme of robust construction is also evident in the circuit boards. Fiberglass FR-4 is a well established, top quality choice for circuit board material. However, what you will see in the PhonoBlock is over the top. At 1/8” thickness, PhonoBlock circuit boards are twice as thick as normally seen. Individual parts are anchored from any mechanical movement.

Anytime two conductors are at a different voltage potential, there is an electric field generated between
them. The dielectric (the insulation between conductors) within that field become involved in charge storage. If not carefully considered, that extra charge storage can time smear details of a musical signal. Circuit board material is a dielectric. With normal double-sided construction, there are copper conductors on each side of the board. Unintentionally, a new capacitor is introduced into the circuit, formed by top surface copper, bottom surface copper and the circuit board dielectric sandwiched between the two. It is NOT the quality of capacitor we want to have in a high-end signal path. Some manufactures make the situation even worse by going to multi-layer boards in the analog audio sections. Instead of two layers of copper, there are four or more layers of copper. Even worse than that, the dielectric between layers is much thinner and the undesired capacitive effect is inversely proportional to thickness. At best, some manufacturers make small, incremental improvements by using exotic board material. The PhonoBlocks addresses the issue of circuit board dielectric in a novel – yet elegantly simple way. All signal carrying conductors are on the top plane of the circuit board. There are no copper conductors on the bottom plane, opposite signal carrying regions. Thus there are no electric fields generatedbetween top and bottom layers. The circuit board dielectric is not exposed to electric fields and there is no undesired storage in circuit board material. The circuit board dielectric is not improved ---------- it is removed. It is as if a window were behind you, instead of in front of you. It is still there, but not in the
way of clarity.

PHONOBLOCK specifications

Cartridge Loading
50 Ohms
100 Ohms
200 Ohms
475 Ohms
1k Ohms
10k Ohms
47k Ohms
blank card, can be configured for 1 to 47k Ohms plus capacitance

Gain settings
45 dB
50 dB
55 dB
60 dB
blank card, can be configured for 40 to 70 dB

17” wide
17” deep
3.25” high

24” wide
24” deep
11” high

Net 21 lbs each
Shipping 26 lbs each

110 – 120 VAC, 10 watts, each
220 – 240 VAC, 10 watts, each

Pricing Information

Price: $10,000.00
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