Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lounge and Copla phono stage combo...

I got the opportunity to audition budget phono stage that base on LCR schematic, It is Lounge Audio together with Copla step up. My expectation was high as I always wanted to have LCR base phono stage even better with tubes.

A friend lend me the units for few days at home for me to evaluate with my system which currently running on Puresound P10 tube phono with Cinemag 3440AH step up. 

This is not the only audition for Lounge phono as I did 2 more sessions with friend's system. I will summerise the outcome and as brief as possible.

I power up the units for about 1 hour before the analysis and while doing that I listen to P10 for A B comparison. The music used was Kenny G live, YES 90125 and Halie Loren. 

The bass is the most prominent for you to notice. It goes deep with grunt and the midrange a little forward. After few minutes of listening I start to find the weakness of Lounge and it was obvious. 

The tonal balance is not well proportioned, the kick bass is detail though but the energy was not distributed well as what I used to listen to many systems. The hump on bass is actually covers it weakness. The mid range is just cluttered in heavy mix music. The separation?...almost nowhere to be found especially with lots of musical instruments. It just a chunk of sound in the centre and I tried hard to do the "separation" mentally as it is on my very familiar tracks. Please bear in mind this evaluation is between lounge and puresound. The perfomance ratio between them.

The vocal a little coarse when Halie Loren track been played. The feel of live recording stage were missing, the stand up bass lost its organic pluck and body resonance. It just plain bass. 

The Lounge induced higher gain noise too and that mistakenly heard as excitement in sound by many. This is not for me and I got a little frustrated as it doesn't do well in my system especially when its blue LED glow in the dark.

Maybe Puresound and cinemag combo a little tough for Lounge and the following second audition was done at friend's place. He is using Thorens TD166mk2 with Nagaoka MP110, NVA amplification and Schiit Mani phono.

I have seen and read about Schiit phono review in the web and I guess this is a fair head to head fight with Lounge phono. Lets begin...

Lounge phono sounded bass heavy as usual but it was not as refine as schiit. The sound staging schiit delivered was way was big but believable with fine detail. The Lounge suffered of being trying too hard to impress. The important part of music being truncated along the session. With Schiit Mani the music sounded easy with greater sense of flow. It will let you listen to music without being nitpicking.

The depth in presentation of Schiit is nowhere to be found in Lounge. Schiit is a great little phono and value for money too at usd129. I must add that the Schiit Mani power supply has been upgraded using Swagman Linear power unit, a definite gain in its performance. The dynamics and transients are great, the bass is not deep but very articulated and controlled and there is no graininess or obvious rolloff.

The third session was between Lounge and cambridge phono. Bass?..I"ll skip that.

Noise a little higher than the cambridge. The vocal of Adele was very good on cambridge and laid back while Lounge shows smearing, forward and not refine as cambridge. 2 pairs of ears during the demo, so trust me...😂.

post script: Imagine if you looking at two design of houses. The first one with solid foundation direct to the ground, bricks wall and tiles roofing. Looking robust with windows and front door with solid wood.

The second one is elevated wooden floor, wooden walls with glass windows and wooden front door with glass panel. Not as robust as the first one but looking good and you can still see what is inside the house through the glass windows and door.

That is the analogy between the Lounge and Schiit comparison that I could gives. It's the matter what you looking or listening in sound reproduction.

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