Clearaudio Absolute Phono headshell mtg M/C phono stage & separate power supply

CL 45 PS ABSOLUT
NZ$ 18,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Clearaudio

"Take the best and make it better, only then is it just good enough." Peter Suchy

New
Clearaudio are proud to announce our new product "Absolute Phono":
  
The Absolute Phono is suitable for all Clearaudio tonearms and will be installed by Clearaudio in our factory in Erlangen, Germany.
 
The Clearaudio Absolute Phono is the world's first active headshell moving coil phonostage. A tiny circuit board installed in the headshell of the tonearm amplifies the highly sensitive moving coil cartridge signal at its source. As a result, the signal to noise ratio is improved by approximately ten decibels across the entire audio bandwidth.
 
The Absolute Phono is designed and constructed without compromise. The sophisticated power supply is located in a separate chassis to keep mains-borne interference to a minimum. Power to the headshell-mounted amplification stage is routed from the power supply via the main chassis.
No relays or coupling capacitors are used in the signal path as they would otherwise degrade the sound. In addition, hand-selected state-of-the-art non-magnetic silver Clearaudio Glimmer capacitors are used at key areas throughout the circuit where they further contribute to the exceptional sound quality.
 
The Absolute Phono features two pairs of outputs: both balanced feeding XLR connectors and unbalanced feeding RCA phono sockets. To avoid interfering with each other each of these outputs has its own dedicated output driver stage.
 
The Absolute Phono's standby power consumption follows the latest EU directive and is below 0.5 Watts.
 
For ease of use the Absolute Phono is equipped with a bright blue single multi-function switch for 'On', 'Off', 'Mute' and 'Standby' modes.
 
The Absolute Phono is suitable for all Clearaudio tonearms and will be installed by Clearaudio in our factory in Erlangen, Germany.
The circuitry of the Absolute Phono is designed to work perfectly with any moving coil cartridge from any manufacturer. This is ensured due to the selected current amplification control which eliminates the need to set the correct load resistance and load capacitance. The optimum operating condition is always set automatically.
 
FIDELITY 
 
Harnessed at Source
 
There is a revolution concealed “right at the front” of Clearaudio’s Absolute Phono phono-stage, 
waiting to be unleashed! 
 
A FIDELITY exclusive about an (almost) out-of-sight analog dream
 
Clearaudio Absolute Phono 
 
Peter Suchy is in a magnificent mood and joking around with his son Robert. Yet Junior is not distracted by any of this joviality and remains focused. Within a short space of time he has set up the Clear- audio turntable innovation in the Fidelity editorial office and fitted it with two different tonearms. And this ensemble, an ode to precision engineering, does indeed look truly impressive. It cuts a fine figure even on the otherwise visually imposing LignoLab TT-100. Absolute Phono? Yes that is exactly what this turn- table looks like.
 
Actually you couldn’t be more mistaken. Since Absolute Phono, the real star of this show, works undercover and remains out of sight, or at least a key part of it is. Absolute Phono is neither the star- shaped turntable nor the tangential or pivot tone- arms, featuring identical cartridges. The compact yet substantial box that Robert Suchy has set up on the rack right next to the turntable is the first thing that provides a clue as to what Absolute Phono actually is.
 
Dynamic duo
 
This attractive box of technological tricks – incidental- ly it dovetails perfectly with the turntable’s aluminium / Panzerholz (armer-plated wood) sandwich design – is one of two components that make up Absolute Phono. The other component is a tiny amplifier circuit board, which is so small that it fits into a tonearm tube or even into a headshell. And it is incorporated right there on the cartridge at the analog playback source. As is not visible on this actual example. This is where Absolute Phono can really work its magic. (Roland Kraft will detail technical background information later in this article.)
 
We can state the following as fact - Absolute Phono is a two-part MC phono-stage, whose “outside operator” makes a difference right at source and gives record playback another decisive edge. So you can definitely say that this duo represents a quantum leap in analog playback quality. And those who feel like it, can engineer their own personal analog revolution. The fact that Absolute Phono is presumably the first phono-stage to come with its own tonearm seems radical enough. Or put another way - this phono-stage does not work without a tonearm (more accurately, without 
a Clearaudio tonearm). But that is the only guideline that you have to accept when using Absolute Phono. 
 
For you can use other manufacturers’ moving coil systems and turntables – they are fairly relaxed about that in Erlangen. On hearing this statement, Roland Kraft and I briefly consider whether we should insert a Denon DL-103, but then reject this idea as soon as we hear the first sounds generated by the proprietary Da Vinci cartridge. On the one hand that is down to the ultra-transparent performance of the MCs, which make you sit up and take notice straightaway. On the 
other hand there is the not inconsiderable amount you have to pay for Absolute Phono. You have to add the required tonearm to the almost five-digit Euro figure - you can’t purchase a state-of-the-art product at a bargain basement price!
 
In our case a total of two tonearms is required – the Universal pivot tonearm and the tangential TT-II. In order to compare them, we need only swap the special Sub-D jacks, which lead from both “absolute” arms to the equaliser module – a 30-second job.
 
Incidentally listening to records is an equally simple pleasure if you combine Absolute Phono with other turntables and MC cartridges. Since the required arm already features a factory-fitted mini circuit board and special cable, not only is installing the required MC system in the arm but also fitting the arm to a turntable is no more fiddly than usual. On the headshell the standard four wires are linked to the system’s connector pins, whilst at the other end of this analog chain the equaliser module provides a complete, equalised and highly amplified line signal via XLR or RCA phono sockets. It’s as simple as that. There are also no mechanical limitations whatsoever; you can only spot an “Absolute” arm because it features a connecting cable with Sub-D jack. 
 
Noise? What noise?
 
Peter Suchy regards Absolute Phono as the fulfilment of an age-old pipe dream, yes almost an analog vision. Yet the boss of Clearaudio is not just proud of the fact that the technology works. He has also brought a small case full of LPs with him and starts to put on a couple of selected records. In my own stock I myself still have two other versions of one of the vinyl disks he brought with him which now sound completely different to what I can remember. It is almost unbelievable – this ensemble, featuring Absolute Phono, delivers such a crystal-clear sound that it almost takes your breath away, well at least makes you hold your breath during quiet passages.
 
Precision dynamics, a love of fine detail and spatial transparency plainly set benchmarks, a direct consequence of the really amazing signal-to-noise ratio that this no compromise phono device delivers. If pressing quality is up to scratch, you should take a closer look at the fader before things then start to “really hot up” on the vinyl. Groove noise and other audio defects de facto hardly have an impact any more. Even on essentially well-worn old vinyl chestnuts, such as Joe Jackson’s 
immensely popular album, Jumpin’ Jive played hundreds of times over, I discovered details I had previously missed. Whilst Absolute Phono reveals production quality to be rather mediocre, at the same time I am still so “close” to or even “engrossed” in the music, that I sit there spellbound until the Da Vinci reaches the fade-out zone. There is no doubt that this analog ensemble possesses genuinely stunning monitor qualities coupled with unerring drive, which conveys an overall impression of superior capability. But which pressing is the better one? Where was the sound editor careless? What is Tom Waits’ percussionist actually doing there backstage to the left, 30 centimetres behind the grand piano? And, hang on a moment, isn’t somebody just in the process of furtively sidling off the stage? Absolute Phono makes the answers more than obvious – the integrative display of all information is totally a matter of course for this ambitious analog project. The listener is drawn into a 3D sound experience without any unnecessary distractions.
 
My vinyl heaven
 
Even the differences between tangential and pivot tonearms are worth noting. Whilst the TT-II knows how to convert its concept-related advantage into crystal clear openness and unerring directness, particularly towards the middle of the record, I sometimes even prefer the less complicated style of the Universal arm and its occasionally “more rounded” performance. 
But we are now really splitting hairs, so to be on the safe side we should take a look at the bigger picture. 
 
Oh yes, this really is vinyl heaven... Put in hi-fi terms, this fantastic inner and outer tranquility that the Absolute Phono triumvirate conveys is expressed within the hi-fi system by a previously unheard of musical vigour. Ranging from previously undetected “black” details to an explosive display of dynamics, from the expressive colours of a solo instrument to the complex chaos of a Zappa number – Absolute Phono simply  deciphers everything! 
……..Cai Brockmann
 
 
 
 
The Stillpoints Ultra Mini, is the successor to the original Stillpoints. It is a smaller version of the Stillpoints Ultra Stainless. They are a significant improvement over the original Stillpoints.
 
The Ultra Minis feature four full tiers of ball bearings that act as "vibration filters" to reduce the transfer of vibration.
 
Differences between the Ultras and the Ultra Minis:
 
The Mini Ultra is designed to be an isolator that rests between a shelf and a component. They can handle 50 pounds per Stillpoint, whereas the Ultra SS can handle up to 1000 pounds per Stillpoint. Obviously the Ultra Mini is designed for smaller components. The Ultra Mini can be used to isolate small bookshelf loudspeakers and most audio componets. The Ultra Mini is height adjustable to .160" or a little more than 1/8". 
 
What you will hear
 
The Ultra Mini will deliver improvements like a greater sense of space around instruments and performers, low-level detail retrieval, and micro dynamic shadings.
 
 
Stillpoints Component Feet - An Overview
 
Audio component feet should help isolate your components from external vibrations, dissapate internal vibrations, do so without altering the tonal balance, and finally help you hear more of the music that is already in the recording. Stillpoints can help you achieve  all of these things, and the results can transform your audio system's performance, much like a major component upgrade. Call us today at +64 21 880 884 to arrange try a set of stillpoints by taking advantage of our in-home audition program, or our 30 day money back guarantee. Either way, you can hear what these amazing products can do in the comfort of your own home, and in your own audio system. No pressure from salespeople. Just you, the product and a few days time to make a decision whether they are right for you.
 
Stillpoints are state-of-the-art audio component feet that reduce mechanical vibrations and decouple components from surfaces. Stillpoints are the only bidirectional isolation device that has no direct vertical path through them. Meaning you cannot draw a vertical line through the Stillpoint and have perfect contact all the way through.
 
Using proprietary stainless steel and ceramic bearings, the Stillpoint essentially takes the micro vibrations coming from the component that is sitting on it and dissipates them (top-down). It also decouples the component from the surface that the Stillpoint is sitting on (bottom up).
 
Frequencies
 
Most other component feet work in the 20hz to approximately 1kHz band. The Stillpoints work with 100 nanosecond and down vibrations. These are the frequencies that harm the audio signal the most. They act as a filter on these frequencies, and the benefit is passed into the audible band.
 
What You Get
 
The main benefits are;
 
#1 - No tonal shift whatsoever. Other products fool you into thinking they are doing good by altering the tonal balance of your component. Not so with the Stillpoints.
 
#2 - By reducing these ultra small, nano vibrations, the component, speaker, etc is able to reveal the resolution it is capable of. Particularly harmonic resolution and tonal textures. Microdynamics improve as well.Increased resolution means a more 3 dimensional soundstage.
 
#3 - Instrumental decays are more natural and have a longer sustain, just like real music.
 
Ultra Mini vs. Ultra SS vs. Ultra 5
 
Stillpoints Ultra Mini: 
Designed for components weighing 50 pounds or less, the Ultra Minis feature one ceramic ball bearing that acts as a "vibration filter" to reduce the transfer of vibration.
 
Placing a component on top of the Ultra minis
Resolution will increase immensely, bass will tighten up and amazingly the treble will become smoother and seem more open. The soundstage and its entire perspective will also change from laid back to upfront. Not in an aggressive way, but just a change in perspective.
 
Height: 1.25"
Diameter: .65" to 1"
 
 
Stillpoints Ultra SS:
Capable of handling over 1000 pounds per foot, there isn't much in the audio world that the Utra Stainless Steel can't handle. The Stillpoints Ultra is a four tier filter using ten ceramic balls. Meaning there are four levels of ceramic bearings, twice as many as the original Stillpoints. The Stillpoints Ultra in Stainless Steel transfers energy faster than aluminium and is more stable. It's ideal anywhere in the system but most effective under loudspeakers with the appropriate adapters.The bottom has a 1/4" 20 threaded hole to fit additional adapters from Stillpoints.
 
What you can expect
Components placed on top of the Ultra SS will sound bigger and bolder with more authority than components placed on Ultra Minis.
 
Height: 1.5" to 1.8"
Diameter: 1.25" to 1.35"
 
 
Stillpoints Ultra 5: 
The Ultra 5 employs five pockets of Stillpoint technology per unit, 20 ball bearings, twice as many as the Ultra SS. Making The Ultra 5 the highest level of dissipation and decoupling you can get. They are made for very large and heavy components and loudspeakers. 
 
What improvements can I expect?
Heavy components set atop the Ultra 5 will have much more articulate and exact but also gained more drive and solidity
 
Height: 2.25"
Diameter: 3"
 
FAQ
 
Should I go with 3 component feet, or 4?
 
All Stillpoints can be used in either a 3 or 4 foot configuration. The four foot configuration does sound slightly better.
 
Can I buy adapters that will allow me to screw Stillpoints directly in place of my component feet, or speaker spikes?
 
Yes. The Stillpoint Ultra SS and Ultra 5 have threaded holes at their base that are made for adapters the Stillpoints offers. They offer metric or US sized adapters that will allow you to screw the Stillpoint directly to your component via the component feet threaded holes, or your loudspeaker via its threaded spike holes.
 
I use traditional speaker spikes that go through the carpet and couple directly to the subfloor. Isn't that superior to a Stillpoint, that merely sits on top of the carpet?
 
No. The Stillpoint is equally effective, and does not induce tonal shifts when placed on different surfaces. You will notice that when you spike your speakers on carpet vs. tile vs. wood there are tremendous tonal shifts between the surfaces. The Stillpoints reacts the same way regardless of the flooring surface you put them on.
 
I have a flooring surface that scratches easily, can I use Stillpoints on my delicate surface without damaging my floor?
 
You can definitely reduce the chances of damage by using s Stillpoint Ultra Base. this 3" in diameter base for the Stillpoint Ultra will reduce the per square inch pressure exerted on your flooring surface.
 
I also need to level the component that I want to use Stillpoints on. What are my options?
 
The Mini ultra does have some adjustment capability for levelling, as does the Ultra SS. The Ultra 5 can be levelled if used with the Ultra Base.

Specifications

Specifications

Technical specifications:
Power supply: Switching power supply
                     Input: 50 – 60Hz / 100 - 240V / 150mA 
                     Output: 5.9V / 850mA
Standby power consumption: 0.5 W
Signal to noise ratio: 90 dB (A-weighted)
Channel separation: 90 dB
Gain (@ 1kHz): 50 dB
Maximum output voltage: 3.5Vrms
THD: <0.001%
Output impedance (balanced XLR): 64 ohm
Output impedance (unbalanced RCA): 32 ohm
Equalisation: RIAA standard, deviation less than 0.1 dB 10Hz–100kHz-0,1dB
Frequency response: clearaudio 9-pin connector
Input: Outputs: Unbalanced RCA phono 
                      Balanced XLR
Pin configuration; output XLR: Pin 1 = GND (Shield) 
                                           Pin 2 = Hot (+)
                                           Pin 3 = Cold (-)
Dimensions (H x W x D in mm): Headshell amplifier: 3.2 x 9.5 x 20.6 mm 
                                            Phonostage: 56 x 240 x 145 mm
Weight: approx 3.8kg
Warranty:  5 years *
*Only if the warranty card is filled out correctly and sent back within 2 weeks to clearaudio
 
Clearaudio electronic is not responsible for typographical errors in descriptions. Technical specifications subject to change or improvement without prior notice. Availability as long as stock lasts.