AUDIO HUNGARY QUALITON PHONO REVIEW PART ONE



Weekend is here with a lots of fun ahed! Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono preamplifier just arrived for a test and review directly from their headquarters in Hungary.

In very short time, Audio Hungary managed to create quite a presence on the high-end audio market and there are many positive reasons for that.


I've already reviewed Audio Hungary Qualiton APX 200 power amplifier and Qualiton APR 204 Qualiton tube preamplifier here and happily awarded them with Mono and Stereo Highly Recommended Award. Both amplifier and power amplifier have proven to offer not only a lot for the money, but highly engaging musical experience, that is not on the everyday audiophile plate. 


So, when Andras Fabian asked me if I want to evaluate their Premium Phono preamplifier, we quickly set for what's needed.


A good week later the package arrived with two shiny boxes and associated accessories.

THE QUALITON PHONO


The housing of the Phono is made from the same mirror polished stainless steel as with all of the Qualiton A series. This give both units a distinguish and eye pleasing value. They look stylish and reflect a certain aura, especially with when the tubes start to glow gently through the wanted ports on the top cover.


Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono was designed from the ground up as a premium category vacuum tube phono stage with extreme low noise and distortion level. It was made to complement the A series of Qualiton products.


The MM card is installed by default. MC card is an extra and cost a bit less then 400 EUR. The slot on the back of the main unit's chassis offer an easy installation of MM and MC cards, for lower and higher impedance cartridges. Any card can easily be swapped with simply unscrewing of the four screws, removing the MM module and with insertion of the MC board into the connector inside of the phono. When module is locked, you only need to tighten it back with the screws.


In the signal transmitting circuit the audio processing is done via Tungsram ECC83, as well as Tesla E88CC double triodes. The standard RIAA correction is implemented with the use of classic passive network between the amplifying stages. No negative feedback is applied with this particular design. The nominal input sensitivity is 5 mV and nominal effective output signal is 500 mV.


The interior of the device has a unique thermal design for optimal cooling and shortest signal path. In order to achieve the lowest possible noise level Audio Hungary team have separated the power supply from the main phono chassis.


With outboard, separated power supply Audio Hungary managed to avoid the negative effects of power supply transformer magnetic field. Along the design process they discover significant benefits with signal-to-noise ratio and with better, more involving musical experience, when power supply was farer away from the signal circuit.

Qualtion Phono preamplifier uses passive RIAA correction and its accuracy was repeatedly measured and checked on the Rohde & Schwarz UPV Audio Analyzer.

The dual mono structure delivers the output level of the left and right channel operation within 0.5dB.

Interestingly, both power transformer and the MC transformers are made in Audio Hungary own factory. Step up transformer uses  unique 30 years old lacquered copper wires, that were left as a stock at the Audio Hungary former company. The MC transformers bobbins are made from bakelite and the core constitute of special material alloy with high μ value. Power and MC transformers double shielded and lowers the noise due to stray field of power transformer.

Stabilised power supply is separated not only for the lower noise, but also to deliver better thermal operation. Both units are connected with the military grade power supply connectors.


And the most important part... There are only tubes in signal path. Audio Hungary have chosen a premium selection of NOS Tungsram ECC83 and Tungsram (or Gold Lion) E88CC valves.

SUM UP


Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono preamplifier possesses a unique organic quality, that is evident from the very first note being served from the turntable.


Tube based phono preamplifiers are always associated with unique three dimensionally and Qualiton Phono embodies this qualities with ease, expanding the basic attributes to the level of performance, that is usually reserved, for a higher priced phono stages. As with the rest of the Audio Hungary products, Qualiton Phono is priced reasonably and perform more then notch about its given price.



All in all. So far, I'm having the similar impact, like with the Audio Hungary Qualiton APX 200 power amplifier and Qualiton APR 204 Qualiton tube preamplifier. I'm positively surprised and inspired by what Qualiton Phono delivers!

In the second and final part of the review I'll go more in depth  with the music references and sum up my conclusions.

Stay tuned...

Matej Isak

PRICE


3750€ with MM card. Additional MC card - 390€.

TECHNICAL 


Nominal output level 500 mV
Input sensitivity - with MM card 5 mV, to nominal output level
Input sensitivity - with MC card 0.4 mV, to nominal output level
Number of input ports 1 MM-level input per channel, or optionally 1 MC-level input per channel
Number of output ports 1 line level output per channel, with 500 mV nominal output level
Max. input signal - with MM card 100 mV
Max. input signal - with MC card 2 mV
Gain - with MM card +40 dB, (f = 1 kHz)
Gain - with MC card +62 dB, (f = 1 kHz)
Total harmonic distortion - with MM card < 0.07%, (f = 1 kHz, input level: 5 mV)
Total harmonic distortion - with MC card < 0.2%, (f = 1 kHz, input level: 0.4 mV)
Frequency response 20 Hz - 20 kHz, (-0.3 dB)
Input impedance - with MM card 47 kOhm
Input impedance - with MC card 145 Ohm
Signal-to-noise ratio - with MM card > 70 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio - with MC card > 65 dB
Tubes required 4 x Tungsram ECC83; 2 x Tesla E88CC
Weight 5.4 kg
Dimensions 35 x 8 x 30 cm
Warranty: 2 years

CONTACT


Audio-Hungary Kft.
Nádor u. 28
4400 Nyíregyháza
Hungary

Tel: +362 02595922