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 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.

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

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


Michael Franks - The Art Of Tea

The very album that had elevated Michael into the global worldwide recognition... This is really a masterfully crafted record released on the Frank Sinatra's Reprise label and its more than worthy of its vinyl prime time. If you take in consideration the star crew of musicians like Joe Sample (Keyboards), Larry Carlton (Guitar), Dave Sanborn (Alto Sax), Michael Brecker (Tenor saxophone) and as cherries on top two legends; Al Schmitt performing the duties the mixing engineer and Doug Sax as mastering engineer, this should ignite the interest for any music lover.

The Art Of Tea has a certain, one of the kinds organic flow and one can instantly recognize Franks' unique musical DNA. As usually, Franks' luxurious deal with the label allowed him to choose top musicians to ornament his compositions. What might seems like an easy listening music LP, actually hides the layers of rhythms and sounds expertly crafted into a remarkable sonic collage.

This album calls for a mightier phono preamp with the ability to keep up with rhythm pace and relief like soundscape structure. The Qualiton Phono preamplifier had never exhibited a problem with skipping off the beat or following the pace of the music.

I like and love The Art Of Tea for its vibrant nature and its clear definition of the instruments. Electric piano and metallic percussion (hi-hat, rides, crash) can too quickly step into the realms of over-emphasizing. Qualiton Phono had managed to decipher the information from the black grooves with a great momentum, clarity and dynamic impact pointing at the performance associated with double chassis high-end audio devices sized far above Qualiton sheer imprint and most importantly greatly exceeding its price. Qualiton Phono ability to track the dynamic shifts, note-overlays and sense of space was a stand out feature, highlighted more than once in my listening notes.

Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono refreshing sonic delivery of the Art Of Tea neither recalled solid state nor tube attributes. Personally, this is always a huge thumb up as it shows, that both designers in charge for the circuits and manufacturer (who has the final word) have understood the core advantages of contemporary tube designs.

FIM - The All Star Percussion Ensemble 

If you really want to put a stress on any high-end audio product or the complete system, here is the very record that will easily help you out. From the lowest depths up to the heavenly heights of the spectrum, The All Star Percussion Ensemble is a great reference ready to assist each and every time, when the serious evaluation is needed.

There are many criteria to judge a component under review with this record. The ability to render sudden dynamic shifts, the raw percussion orchestra energy and sense of the space, that acoustical instruments are formed into are certainly on the top of the list.

Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono greatly expanded the gravity of the percussion orchestra. The motivic development of the score was expanded with a great forward-driving momentum.

The instrument was formed with a believable scale and complex musical lines were easily interpreted without being smeared into the *plastic* like behavior too often associated with the Qualiton Phono given a price range.

The crescendos and diminuendos were followed easily and Qualiton could form a seamless whole rather than acting with a dissecting attitude. This unwanted sonic behavior is linked even with some phono stages with the much higher price tag. Hats off to the Hungary Audio team for such performance.


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

Tube-based phono preamplifiers are always associated with unique three-dimensionally and Qualiton Phono embodies this quality with ease, expanding from 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 than a notch about its given price.

All in all. It's great to have a pleasant *déjà vu*, with the similar impact of the Audio Hungary's Qualiton APX 200 power amplifier and Qualiton APR 204 Qualiton tube preamplifier I've already reviewed.

I'm more than positively surprised and inspired by what Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono could deliver in terms of music's flow. This double boxed phono preamplifier certainly deserves the recognition and that's why I'm happily giving out the Mono and Stereo Highly Recommended Award!

Audio Hungary has started an interesting and most positive momentum with their line of products andI'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of products they'll reveal in the future.

Matej Isak


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


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


Audio-Hungary Kft.
Nádor u. 28
4400 Nyíregyháza

Tel: +362 02595922