Trichord Research Diablo phono stage review

The Trichord is a full blown phono stage that can handle both MM  and MC pickups. It came with the external power supply, that grants even better performance. Phono stage got plugged in for a burn for the perod of three weeks. But even in the burn in time I couldn't resist listening to it. I just keep drawing me in for the listening, so thats what i did!


The first serious listening was with a low budget Audio Technica MM cartridge. Despite its price it sounded really good. The silly little MM did the job VERY good when working together with the Trichord. I didn't expect such a low end cartridge sounding like that. Big and very dynamic. Really soul-full and with the  typical dryness of the MC´s... Fast and agile, with tons of space both between and around the instruments. Hmmm. Ver interesting!

For a good measure I let the Trichord burn in for another week just to be sure it wouldn't change the tonality any more.

I replaced the silly ( good sounding ) MM cartridge with the bigger new and improved Audio Technica OC9 MKIII. The loading and gain adjustment is so simple to do on the Trichord! Just flip the phono strange top side down and there are two switches. One is for the gain the other for load. I decide to load the Audio Technica OC9 MKIII with highest gain. 47K load was the most optimal for this particular setup. Turntable acting as analog front end was the newest version of VPI Scoumaster II with the external PSU and there latest 9" arm. This was a very good match for the cartridge.


Lets drop the needle at listen to what the Trichord has to offer!

First thing I noticed was the back ground noise or should I say "the lack off." Tricord was DEAD quiet. And by that I mean so quite, that the spatial information on every single record being played was layered out with so much realism and detail, that knocked my socks off! The detailing that little box was throwing at me was first class. You had that feeling of being able to stand up and walk in to the soundstage. A feeling I usually only get with my Audio Note M6 phono preamplifier. Not bad - Not bad at ALL!

Second: The Tricord had a smoothness and eternal flow that seemed borderless. Music was really getting out to the listener. If the record was on the warm side the Trichord would play it warm and vice versa if it was coldish! Don't put on a bad recording and expect it to charm the pants of you beacause it wont! The Tricord is pulling out every detail your setup has to offer. Both in good terms and bad terms. It will not cover up a bad record with a lush warm layer, but serve it as IT IS! That can both be a good thing both also a bad thing if you have tons of 80´s record with very bad sound. The Trichord will not emphasise it, but just play them unchanged! On the other hand. If you have a tons of good records you will really be covered in good sound. 

Third: The Trichord is simple. Simple in use and simple to setup and very simple to like. The build quality both external and internal ( yes I've had a peek inside ) is looking like it could last a very long time with thousand of hours with trouble free enjoyment. The Parts used seem like something NOT just random picked, but very well planned.

Despite being head over hells with the OC9 MKIII I couldn't resist trying the Trichord with some other cartridges. I've replaced the OC9 with my one of a kind Takeda San. That just took the Tricord to a whole other level of dynamics and detailing. Music was breathing freely and expanding even further in to my listening room.


Fritz Reiner - Rimsky-Korsakoff: Scheherazade was filling the room with such a liveliness and coherent sound. Details was fast and resolving. Dynamics was hard hitting with a heft bottom and with an expansion mostly reserved for the ultra high end gear. I was really enjoying how the Trichord presented this record! Its a difficult record to play with ease, but the Trichord had no problems keeping the music in a iron grip.

John Coltrane - Coltrane (Prestige) was up next. Sound was smooth and extended. Full of soul and heart. Its a warm record,  but still very detailed. Trichord was really showing off here. What came in, came out. But layered so lively. I had the illusion of seeing John's Sax, even in bright day with some in house noise ( daughter was home that day ).

Freddie King - Getting Ready had my 3 year old daughter dancing around. Trichord was pulling every single tone out with so much pace. Freddie's guitar felt like carved out of the stone. The dryness of the strings and the echoes of the drums was very realistic. Me and my daughter just had a rocking roll blues concert together and we both had such a blast listening to that record via the Tricord. I think we put the record through 4-5 times in a row. Getting ready is the right title for both the album and for the listener...

Lorna Hunt - All In One Day is such a beautiful record. Her voice was presented beautifuly. I got the shivers several times. The track Piece Of My Heart had so much space information that iIcould her the sound bouncing of the walls in the record studio. The vibes of the guitar were served absolutely. Micro and macro details were fast and full of transients. I had to listen to that track over and over as it was just that darn good! It was that good it almost hurt me on inside to hear how she was putting all of her inner self in to the track. In many aspect the Trichord did the job better than my Audio Note M6 did. The M6 had a little glare, the Trichord didn't. It was so transparent.

Johnny Griffin - Introducing Johnny Griffin was blasting away. Full of life and tons of timbre from the drummers act. The speed of this album is upwards and fast. Despite being from 1957 the quality is darn good. I literary count set still with listening to this album. The Trichord had my foot stumping as the music just keep coming. Piano strokes were delightful and real. It was very easy to hear that the drummer in the background had some serious fun and almost see him smiling as he was going in for the solo´s again and again. Even when going down with the tempo the foot stamping feeling it was still with there. Isn't that what we all are looking for!?

Wynton Kelly Trio - Smokin' At The Half Note is another album with a fullest rytm and pace. Are very jazzy album. Trihord Diablo really lived up to its name here as it was playing the HELL out, and smoked most other phono stage in that price range. It has the fun factor ten times higher, jointed with an absolutely transparent soundstage, that makes music come alive. Air guitar and air drumming was on the menu with this album passing through the Diablo! So much my daughter look at me like as I was a bit crazy ( I'm not :) ). The smallest guitar riff´s was very catching. The bass notes were moving right to the listeners chests. What a way to having fun with the half note album.

Georgie Fame - Rhythm & Blues At the Flamingo. One more album within the Jazzy genre had to be mentioned. Its more an rock and roll than the jazz, yet with a twist. A twisting style of the playing. Its an old album with ditto old sound. But still very appealing sound. Green onion track brought back some memories from my childhood remembering me how my mother was twisting the heck out of me. Those good old memories. Thanks Trichord! It played that oldie with exactly a one of kind tightness and smoothness....

Neil Young - Living With War. Getting the grove on this album can be a bit of a challenge for some of the phono stages. If the phono stage in play isn't up for it this album will be no joy at all. The Trichord manage to pull it off with such a ease and control ill place in on my top five phono stages I ever listen to. Its very easy to convey this album wrongly, but Trichord didn't! The sound was very lush and powerful with a superb soundstage. Very big and with a tons of impact. Very dynamic and very well behaved despite some of the tracks can easily be a bit to much of an intake. That just show how controlled the Trichord is no matter what you throw at it!

Ill sum this review up with the Gary Karr With Harmon Lewis - Adagio D’Albinoni album. Recorded live, this album is  one of the best recording ever made with those two artist. Truly magical music captured. The Trichord Diablo serves this with so much organic energy and realism. The soundstage to say it at least STUNNING with the pitch black background. All the overtones of the organ are right here. Powerfull strokes are presented with the most dynamic response. The bow on the bass tells so much to the listener... Story is almost unreal and the Tricord really shines. Diablo surpassed my expectation to what a phono stage in that price range can do. In other words. Shot the F... up at take my money. This Phono stage AINT going back. Over my dead body!


To sum it up easy so everybody is able to comprehend this.

If your looking to upgrade your existing setup or in the market for a new serious contender and being on a budget look no further. The Trichord is among the best phono stages out there despite the lower cost ( compared to much expensive competition) It can easy work together with ultra high end gear without setting back the high-performance experience. Diablo comes with a small foot print and share physical size, yet the sound is everything but small. Its by far the easiest adjustable phono stages out there and handles almost every cartridge. It wasn't shy in any way with having 10.000 dollars cartridge as a partner. The better cartridge and gear you use together with it, the better it performs. A remarkable phono stage. Trichord will get your money well worth with the cost of this phono preamplifier. 

But do bare in mind. Despite being one of the best deals out there at the moment it will not shy back by covering up bad recordings with a fake layer, that some phono stages can do. It will strike back realistic and honest if you serve it with something bad! 

Highly recommended! 

Kenneth Jensen

Diablo Technical Info

Specifications for Diablo phono stage

Stereo phono amplifier for Moving coil and Moving magnet cartridges. Part active, part passive RIAA equalisation.
Switch selectable cartridge resistance loading (DIP 1 and 2)
33 ohms For Moving Coil cartridges
100 ohms For Moving Coil cartridges
1000 ohms For Moving Coil cartridges
47,000 ohms For Moving Magnet and some Moving Coil cartridges

Switch selectable capacitance loading (DIP 1 and 2)
100pF For Moving Magnet and Moving Coil cartridges
1000pF For Moving Coil cartridges

Please refer to your cartridge specification for correct loading settings.
Switch selectable gain (DIP 3 and 4)
Cartridge Type Sensitivity

MC Very Low: 100uV to 250uV (74dB)
MC Low: 250 to 400uV (70dB)
MC Normal: 400uV to 1mV (63dB)
MC High/MM Low: 1 to 3mV (52dB)
MM High: 3 to 5mV (48dB)

RIAA reproduction characteristics

20Hz to 20,000Hz +/-0.25dB

Output voltage: 0.5V at 1KHz
Power supply requirements

The Diablo can be powered from either an AC or a DC power supply.

AC requirements: two independent supplies of: 0v / 18v ac, 0v / 18v ac.
DC requirements: two independent supplies of: 0v /-22vdc , 0v / +22vdc

To avoid problems only use Trichord power supplies.
Dimensions and Weight

Overall case dimensions for Diablo: 185mm x 58mm x 112mm (D x H x W)