The new iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label is a phono preamplifier with particularly clean signal processing and flexible adaptation to different pickup systems.
Even if it is actually a rather inconspicuous component of a hi-fi chain, a phono preamplifier in particular is assigned an extremely difficult task. It is responsible for amplifying the very low output signals of a record player’s pickup, and all the quality “wasted” in the process cannot be made up for by even the best subsequent hi-fi chain.
If you expect the best results when reproducing records, you should not save money on the phono preamplifier, even if it would be obvious in many cases to use the phono preamplifiers integrated in many amplifiers, even in the cheaper price segment. In the end, this is nothing more than a compromise, that has to be clearly stated, but the investment in a separate high-quality solution is the only optimal solution.
It is precisely for this task that iFi Audio now wants to offer an ideal product, namely the new iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label. According to the company, this is a phono preamplifier that offers particularly clean signal processing and thus claims to provide the best basis for optimal playback of records. Extensive adjustment options are also intended to guarantee the best possible adaptation to different pickup systems and thus offer a level of quality that is normally not found in the price range in which the new phono preamplifier iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label is offered.
The iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label is part of the broad family of compact electronic solutions offered by iFi Audio, the sister of the iFi Audio nano iDSD Black Label and iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label systems.
Once again, the manufacturer’s new phono preamplifier features a solid housing made of extruded aluminium, whose front ends are also made of aluminium, in this case black anodised. This gives the iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label a design that is quite unusual for this product group, but due to its very compact form factor it can really be integrated into any hi-fi chain without any problems.
The connections are all located on the stinr side, the inputs on one side, the outputs on the other. Both inputs and outputs are equipped with high-quality gold-plated RCA sockets. It should be emphasized that the iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label is of course equally suitable for MM and MC pickup systems and that there is a separate input for each.
When setting up the iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label, however, you first have to look at the underside of the unit, because there are really countless DIP switches available for configuring the respective pick-up systems. All parameters are listed here in tables, so you don’t have to look up the manual – very handy! On its website the manufacturer also offers a so-called iPhono Calculator, which ejects the exact setting of the three switch batteries after entering the corresponding product from the iFi Audio range of phono preamps and the type of pickup system.
Once you have found the right settings for impedance, capacity and gain, you can choose between six different EQ curves. Three of them are based on the RIAA equalization, plus an equalization according to DECCA as well as Columbia, in order to reproduce vinyl treasures from the good old days as well.
According to iFi Audio, the design of the circuit was based on the reference PH-77 developed by Thorsten Lösch for AMR. The outstanding sound and the outstanding measurement values are not only due to a cleanly constructed circuit board with selected components from Burr-Brown, TDK and Nichicon, but also to special technologies such as iFi Audio Class A TubeState Technology and iFi Audio Direct Drive Servoless Technology.
For the power supply an at first glance simple external plug-in power supply is provided, although this is the latest ultra low noise plug-in power supply from the iFi Audio iPower X series.
The new phono preamplifier from iFi Audio is already available in specialist shops. For this new iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label you have to budget € 1.099,- according to the distributor.
Getting to the point
In order to guarantee first-class quality in the reproduction of records at an attractive price, iFi Audio now wants to offer an ideal product, the new iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label. This is a phono preamplifier with particularly clean signal processing. Extensive adjustment options are also intended to guarantee the best possible adaptation to different pickup systems and thus offer a level of quality that is normally not found in the price range in which the new phono preamplifier iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label is offered.