Darlington Labs Phono Preamps

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by Azimuth, Dec 18, 2020.

  1. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Um...it does. Like @ogodei says, wall wart does not matter. It is only a step down transformer to take 120V down to 24V. The conversion from AC to DC, smoothing, filtering, regulating, takes place inside the box. This is the same design as a lot of Schiit small form factor products as well as many others.

    And you are only partially correct on the noisy output. Noisy output is also determined by the input and output gain and amplification. Just like any amplifier, a power supply will have something to do with this, but either using and op amp or discrete stage, no matter how clean the input power, there will still be noise of some kind.

    One quick look at the specs and you can see Ketih not only provided SNR, but also how much above the 3rd harmonic.

    MM-3: S/N: >77dB A-wtd, <0.03% 3rd harmonic and higher.
    MM-5: S/N: >77dB A-wtd, <0.02% 3rd harmonic and higher.
    MM-6: S/N: >78dB A-wtd, <0.015% 3rd harmonic and higher

    Now I would still love for someone here who has measuring capabilities to check this MM-5 out.
     
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  2. StageOne

    StageOne Friend

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    I've been listening to vinyl for a few years, almost exclusively at my friends house, but he was kinda enough to loan me a
    turntable as I'm trying to decide how much I want to budget for a vinyl rig. Do I stay in the budget category or go all out.
    He initially had a Mani and recently acquired an iFi Zen preamp and we were both amazed at the improvement in sound quality. It was better in every respect. Soundstage was much wider with more depth, bass hit harder and was extended, and the treble, a bunch more air. So I was curious to see how the MM-5 would do seeing as they were similar in price...

    Setup: Vector Research VT-250 (Stanton 681EEE cart) >> Freya S >> Aegir monoblocks >> Spatial Sapphire M3s

    I started off with the Mani to get reacquainted and it actually sounded pretty good on my system. After a few albums, I swapped to the iFi and again the improvement was easily noticeable. Snares and drums were particularly snappy. There was a bit of muddy bass, but that could be the table or cart. I didn't hear it as much on my friends Sol. I spent a day with the iFi to really get adjusted then swapped in the Darlington MM-5. Now the price on both is pretty close, $149 for iFi, $179 for the MM-5. With that, I was hoping I could hear some differences and some parts would stand out.

    Well, I was kinda shocked, 10 secs in you can tell it's really impressive. Take the difference from the Mani to the iFi and turn it up a few clicks. There were many times I uttered the words.. “damn” and “Wow”.. or something similar but more explicit.

    vs iFi
    Soundstage - slightly wider but more depth, I think my small room limits the width.
    Bass - extends deeper with much better control, tighter. I don't get any muddiness that I did with the iFi.
    Mids - smooth and placement is a few rows back, adds to the depth of the soundstage. Voices, are just so detailed.
    Treble - greater sense of air and detail. I did notice a some simbalance but I think that can be remedied with a cart/tone arm adjustment.
    Overall, better micro and macro-dynamics. It punches harder yet retains the very small details. Guitar has this incredible sustain and decay.

    Running through my albums...

    The drums on SRV Voodoo Chile have this solid thump, if you turn it just enough you can feel the thump in your chest. And the rest of the drum kit is just right on. This is another song I just listened to over and over.

    "Echoes" cover by Rodrigo y Gabriela, there is a part where they are dragging a pick up the strings and the texture/detail is just amazing. I later switched back to my Gungnir and sadly, it was lacking. It was nice, but not.. wow.

    SRV "Tin Pan Alley," this song I listened to so many times. the bass lines and guitar just kept bringing me back for more. I've heard this song hundreds of times but never like this.

    Sohn "Lights" The bass just comes in so hard and punchy.

    Back to SRV, I've been listening to the CD recordings for ... a long time... and always thought they could remaster them as most were produced in the 80's and sounded just ok. But, the vinyl just blows them away. They come alive with so many nuances I've never heard. Pretty sure they were mastered for vinyl.

    The MM-5 has the magical "just one more song" aspect, it's impressive.

    Thanks SBAF for the loaner program and thanks to @Keith Richardson for lending the MM-5

    My friend who loaned me the table and additional preamps heard the MM-5 and subsequently ordered one ... and a MM-6 for his two tables. Yeah, it’s that good.

    TL;DR, from a value proposition, it’s the SW51+ of phono preamps.

    Of Course, now I really want to hear the MM-6 !!!!
     
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  3. SpeedSmith

    SpeedSmith Rando

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    Great review StageOne. And thanks for allowing me to drop vinyl gear off at your house. <evil grin> "Mrs StageOne" is going to blame me for the slippery vinyl-clad slope you're about to fall down. Call me scapegoat. ;)

    As soon as the Darlington Labs preamps arrive we'll give them a run with the same process: Mani >> iFi >> MM-5 then MM-6 on the Sol with the Opus3 and the Nagaoka MP-200. I can't wait!

    Based on Keith's recommendation I ordered both with the stock 100pF loading as that was friendly to all the carts I currently own as well as many that I aspire to.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
  4. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    First off, thank you to Darlington Labs/@Keith Richardson, @rtaylor76 , SBAF for doing this loaner tour, I had a lot of fun auditioning the MM-5! I have owned a variety of phono stages over the years, and the MM-5 is for sure one I would consider if I was looking at the under $500 options. Is it perfect/ a giant beater? No, but in the right system it could be just the ticket, and is very capable, fun, and dynamic budget option.

    For trying this out, I was testing it vs the Akitika phono stage (available in kit form if you want your own enclosure, or built-in to a PR-102 preamp as I have it), the Tavish Design Vintage with Tung-Sol tubes, and to an extent the Mani from it being my main phono stage for a couple years early in the hobby. I will get ahead of it and just say, the Tavish is a different price bracket, and frankly was the clear winner in these comparisons.

    Chain for testing: Pro-Ject Classic Evo with Sumiko Amethyst MM Cartridge -> Phono Stage -> Akitika PR-102 -> Akitika GT-102 -> Graham Chartwell LS3/5A

    Test Albums: Donald Byrd “Stepping Into Tomorrow”, The Bird and the Bee “Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates”, Fleet Foxes “Crack Up”

    I am going to go ahead and provide some thoughts on each phono stage with each recording, and then try to kind of summarize my thoughts. I tried to pick a few records that were well pressed/mastered and would provide a good variety of styles to compare, and I changed up the order in which I tested them for each album. Skip to the bottom if you don’t want my listening notes and want a TLDR.

    Donald Byrd – Stepping Into Tomorrow
    • Akitika
      • This phono stage is incredibly quiet and transparent sounding, for sure the least colored that I tested. A good baseline phono stage.
      • The intro track on this album is incredible and gets me every time. From the Akitika the percussion has nice drive and rhythm, but I find the keys to be slightly recessed, although when I listen to the digital version of this track they are mixed low as well.
      • Jingly percussion and sax on “Design A Nation” is a delight. Perfect center soundstage for sax, can really hear the reed sound/detail.
      • Vocals on “We’re Together” are slightly shrill and thin, but everything else full bodied. Made up for by the piano notes that are absolutely slammin
      • At the end of “Think Twice” there is this hard stereo panning click percussion that sounds incredible, but more on that later.
      • Despite being a bit technical sounding compared to the other two phono stages, really has great PRAT and this album is a delight still from this phono.
    • Darlington Labs MM-5
      • VERY BOLD sound. If you need some body/weight to your chain this is what’s up
      • Little bit of etch to the edge of sounds unfortunately. I mean only if you are really nitpicking, but after coming from the Akitika is stuck out.
      • A bit congested stage wise because everything is just BAM in your face, lacks the air and finesse the Akitika has.
      • Trumpet sounds better from the MM-5 than from the Akitika, sax is worse though and less realistic sounding.
      • Things seem to kind of hit with a thud, not enough natural sustain/decay
      • It is just ever so slightly noisier, less black background
      • Imaging is a bit less precise.
      • Piano less natural, but has nice weight.
      • For sure colored and not lean or technical, very dynamic phono.
    • Tavish Vintage
      • Lush sax/trumpet without the etch/brash nature the MM-5 had, and to an extent the technical presentation of the Akitika had.
      • Deeper and wider stage, some smearing together, less pinpoint imaging than the Akitika
      • Not quite as quiet and technical as the Akitika, but darn close.
      • Literally can’t get work done when using this stage, toe-tapping escapism at its best
      • Pretty similar tonality to the Darlington, but with more technical finesse.
      • Back to those panning little click percussion sounds on “Think Twice”, turns out both other phono stages were smearing the sound. With the Tavish you can hear the nuance of the percussion instrument and make out not just single clicks but the mechanics of the instrument.
      • Vocals have the most natural presentation of all three stages and have just a bit more swagger for lack of a better term.
      • Despite the MM-5 being a bit bolder/dynamic, bass slams the hardest from the Tavish

    The Bird and The Bee - Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates
    • Tavish
      • A bit honky, but lots of drive and very dynamic
      • Top end just a bit shrill and fatiguing
      • Synth sounds are very convincing/realistic, sounds like I am listening live
      • “Sarah Smile” intro is hypnotic. What really struck me is the weight to the snare on the track. Could swear someone was playing a snare right next to my desk.
    • Darlington MM-5
      • Actually has a bit of an edge over the Tavish on this album. Still vivid presentation the Tavish had, but is served well by being a bit less technical/being a bit more bloomy. Tames a recording that is maybe just a bit too harsh.
      • Still just loses a bit to the Tavish on realism of the sound. That just inherent difference between being well-recorded (via the MM-5), and realistic sounding (via the Tavish)
    • Akitika
      • Ended up being my favorite on this record. Brings a finesse/delicateness that is needed as things feel mixed a bit hot
      • The one trade off vs the Tavish/Darlington though is percussion is just a bit hollow from this. “Kiss on my List” drums are just not realistic without tangible weight like they get from the Tavish/MM-5.
    Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
    • Darlington Labs
      • Ok disclaimer…I forgot to take notes on this one, and no longer have the MM-5 to compare. That is a good sign though right? I had not listened to my pressing of this album in a while, and I got lost in the music. Loved the earthy textured vocals at the beginning of the album, the cacophony intro blew me away, some of the reverb/water sounds are gorgeous, was just mystified at how good this record sounds.
    • Akitika
      • Intro cacophony just lacks a bit of grunt/realism that I thought the MM-5 did well, but vocal layering underneath is stellar, and I appreciate the extra separation.
      • Perfectly pleasant rendering of an album I love
      • While maybe still just a little bit lean as I noted on the other albums, it still is an emotional listen, no stunting of that aspect.
    • Tavish
      • Just that extra bit of romance and texture, a tier above the other two phonos.
      • Less black background than the Akitika, about on par with the MM-5
      • The intro cacophony has a visceral aspect the other two lacked.
      • Vocal depth spooky, wet, natural, really in good space in the mix.
      • Every bit as technically proficient as the Akitika and as dynamic as the MM-5, but with that inherent magic, dare I say extra plankton that moves things from great to exceptional
      • Heard some aux percussion in the mix pop through that was buried when listening via the other phonos.

    I think this ended up being a bit of an odd comparison because the MM-5 is a lot more accessible, either effort or budget-wise than these other two phonos. The Tavish is magnitudes more expensive, and the Akitika is a kit phono. I wish I had a mani/iFi zen/pluto or other budget option for this comparison. That being said, I think it ended up being an eye-opening test. The Akitika turned out to be a bit lean/technical but technically proficient, while the MM-5 prioritizes a bold dynamic rendering of the records, and the Tavish is kind of a goldilocks option combining some best aspects of both of them.

    TLDR:

    Darlington Labs is clearly doing great work bringing these affordable phono products to market, and while I did not have some other budget options for direct comparison, I think you would be well served with the MM-5 and it can easily go toe-to-toe with other budget phonos. I never felt like it was letting me down, and while it lacked some technical finesse compared to the other two phonos, it was bringing a lot to the table for the asking price. My main disclaimer is you really only want to pair this to a system where you feel you want a bolder/warmer sound. It for sure is prioritizing that bold, full-bodied sound that a lot of people expect of their vinyl collection. For example, I probably would choose this over the mani based on memory unless I already had a very warm chain. The Mani can be a bit shrill/lean from what I remember, and the MM-5 has a much more realistic, full sounding signature, just at the cost of some technicality and air/stage. I hope my impressions do not come across negative, as overall I feel this is a winning value product that should be in consideration for folks new to the vinyl hobby.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  5. DignifiedAndOld

    DignifiedAndOld Rando

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    I get the sense from your review (and some others) that the Darlington would not pair well with Nagaoka cartridges, which are described with similar qualities and would probably be a snugly/warm overkill? Sounds like something like an AT VM540ML or 740 would be an excellent pairing with the Darlington?
     
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  6. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    This was my thought too in reading this review. It is important to think about synergy. I do know Keith mentioned early in this thread that he turned using a Ortofon 2M Blue. I know a VM540ML and the 740 have similar voicing as the 2M series. I find Nagoka carts super warm and gooey.

    I will say even with my Shure M97xe, which is also a bit warm, sounded fine to me on the MM-5. The MM-6 is slightly less syrupy zand does add a touch of air up top over the MM-5.
     
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  7. SpeedSmith

    SpeedSmith Rando

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    As soon as the MM-5 and MM-6 arrive I'll let you know my impressions with the Nagaoka family. As StageOne mentioned earlier, we listened with the Stanton 681EEE (a warm cart on a less than resolving table) and were surprised by the capabilities of the MM-5. I have an Nagaoka MP-110 on a (budget friendly) Sony PS-X45 and the MP-200 on a Schiit Sol. Yes, these carts are on the warm side no doubt. But I think the Darlington units will scale well with these. At least I hope so. I'm coming from a Mani and the iFi Zen to the Darlington. So I'm likely the target audience. I was in the market for a bigger jump to a Sutherland phono pre, a KC Vibe. The Tavish Design tube phono was also on the list. So I'm excited to hear that the MM-5 showed well at least. I'm hopeful that the Darlington MM-5 and 6 will be the ticket for the gear I have now.
     
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  8. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    Shoot I have a MP-150, I should have thought to test it, was just on a tight timeline with work commitments so kept testing to one setup.

    I could see it being a bit overkill, but where it could end up working is if it has more rounded transients and takes care of some of that etch I experienced with the MM-5. For sure worth a test. Having previously owned the 2M blue, I see how the 2M series could be a great fit for this phono.
     
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  9. shredical

    shredical Friend

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    i placed an order for the MM5 yesterday. Have an iFi phono on the way too to compare it to and plan to keep the one that suits me best.
    Have an AT540ML on hand to try it with. Sadly the MP110 that i have on order won't make it in time. i do tend to like a warm sound and willing to sacrifice some resolution for.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    You guys are killing me. I so much want to move into my new home so I can set up my TT instead of being locked up in this tiny apartment. I'll get to these in time.
     
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  11. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I've had some conversations via email with Keith about his thoughts on the MM6 versus other popular products in the market and how it would fit my setup. The end result is that I will be getting an MM6 soon (to be shipped this week) so I'll then be able to compare it with my Mani and the black cube which a friend of mine owns. According to him, this would be interesting for him too because they called the MM6 "KBC" internally (kill the black cube) so I'm very curious about this as well
    I also have a Nagaoka cart so I'll be able to post my opinion on that synergy.

    I'm wondering if a loaner in the EU might be possible as well (assuming there is interest). I'll have a conversation with the loaner gods once it arrives and I've tried it out and so on.

    EDIT: a loaner is possible, but Keith and the guys from Darlington would like to know which of their products would people like to loan - the MM5? MM6?
     
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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
  12. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    I got to spend a week listening to the MM6 in a system I'm putting together for a friend. TT is a Mitsubishi LT-5V (very fun TT, btw) with a Shure M97xE cart, QUAD ESL speakers.

    In this combo the MM6 sounds great. My observations go along with what @rtaylor76 said somewhere above: Smooth sound going toward tubes, not at all lean but not lush. Colored (not in a bad way) with a faint touch of congestion & warmth due to a slightly loose low end. Good extension up top, a little airy-ness, neutral without getting into bright.

    This is an excellent value for the price, it was a good week of listening and I'd be happy to have this as a daily driver for a MM setup.
     
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  13. shredical

    shredical Friend

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    My copy of the mm-5 finally arrived phew

    initial after 1 mins impressions
    Don’t like the turn on/off ‘whumpf’
    Airy..but maybe a little lean in the bottom end

    update more later..and not when it’s so cold..will let it warm up for an hour or two before critical listening
     
  14. SpeedSmith

    SpeedSmith Rando

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    I leave my MM-5 up all the time. I did the same with the Schiit Mani it replaced. So I've not experienced the 'whumpf'. But the Schiit Mani would go full nuclear if you turned it on with the rest of the system "lit".

    I little burn in helps with cohesion.
     
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  15. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    I forgot about the warmup. I only found it only needs about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually leave my phono pres plugged in and on all the time, but the full lows might not come in right away and sound a bit lean. Not bad though.

    And yes the Schiit is super bad about the rush in and the TCC stuff as well. Schiit has a warning about this in their manual.
     
  16. scblock

    scblock Friend

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    I've been stewing on this for a while, but here are my impressions of the Darlington Labs MM-5 loaner.

    I made all comparisons on my main 2-channel stereo, with consistent equipment from the preamp on: Schiit Saga (OG), Russian Tung-Sol tube, Schiit Vidar, Vandersteen 2c speakers. I ran comparisons between the MM-5, a later gen Schiit Mani, and a U-Turn Pluto preamp. The last was built into my U-Turn Orbit turntable and so could only be compared using that table. I compared the Mani to the MM-5 with the U-Turn table and my Schiit Sol. The Sol has a Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge, while the Orbit has an Ortofon OM-5e.

    It wasn't really feasible to accurately level match these, but I did use an SPL meter to try to match average and peak sound levels, and I listened at my typical 70-75 dB level.

    In my opinion all three phono preamps sounded "good", as in if I wasn't making direct comparisons between them I would happily listen to records all day with any of them. The mastering and condition of the LPs themselves seems more important; I mean no preamp can fix some of the inner groove damage some of my older used records have.

    All told, if I were to boil things down to the essentials, I would rank the preamps as MM-5>Mani>>Pluto.

    On the U-Turn Orbit table, the built-in Pluto preamp sounded for the most part nicely musical, and overall well balanced. But in comparison to the Mani it was lacking in punch and fullness, especially in the midrange and upper bass. The Mani had stronger bass and drum hits without ever feeling unbalenced, and more engaging presentation overall. It felt like the Schiit preamp brought a lot more emotion to the party, and the difference was not small.

    The MM-5 in comparison was much of the same, but just a little bit more. It felt like the MM-5 was adding a little more contrast and excitement to the sound.

    I heard similar things on the Sol, but with that table could only compare the Mani and the MM-5. While the jump from the built-in Pluto preamp to the Mani was big, the difference between the MM-5 and Mani was more in the details. That said, listening on the Sol with the MP-110 cart reinforced my impressions from the U-Turn table. The MM-5 had more defined and engaging attacks than the Mani, especially drum hits and bass notes.

    For the most part I would choose the MM-5 over the Mani, and either over the Pluto preamp built into my U-Turn table. The differences between either of the standalone amps and the built-in one were big and uniformly positive. Between the Mani and MM-5 is closer, but the MM-5 edges it out on overall dynamics and engagement.

    My only negative note is that I felt like the MM-5 could occasionally over-emphasize some of distortion and noise on some of the worse pressings in my collection. It seemed like the Mani was a little more forgiving of "well loved but not well cared for" copies of records from the 70s and 80s.
     
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  17. Joseph Wilson

    Joseph Wilson Rando

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    Hi everyone - I just finished with the Darlington MM-5 and am very impressed with the value this preamp demonstrates.

    I compared the Darlington with three other preamps:
    Internal phono stage on Music Hall a15.2 Integrated Amplifier
    Schiit Mani
    Jasmine LP2.0MKii (upgraded with Wima Caps)

    Turntable - Denon Dp-790 with AT440MLA cart

    Speakers - Elac FS209.2 / REL Storm III subwoofer

    The Darlington lifted a vail and brought the soundstage forward where the Schiit and internal Music Hall phono preamp sounded distanced. The soundstage was also presented wider, taller, and deeper. Dynamics were spatially more dimensional as well.

    My friend who has been building tube amps for decades complimented the Darlington's tube-like quality and was astounded at the affordability of the amp when I mentioned its price point. Like me, he also took note of the squished soundstage on the other amps in comparison.

    We used a Decca original pressing of Bert Kaempfert's greatest hits for playback reference - playing four songs four times each through the different phono stages.

    We also included my girlfriend who arrived as we were demoing the amps. She is a non-sophisticated listener who knew nothing of each preamp - she commented on the clarity and depth of the Darlington after only one song.
     
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  18. tommytakis

    tommytakis Gear Cycler SoCal Edition

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    First off, thank you @rtaylor76 for letting me join the loaner tour last minute, really glad I got to try this loaner!

    Recently got myself a vinyl rig thanks to @k4rstar nudging me in the right direction. I've been using the ifi Zen Phono and wanted to see how the MM-5 compared.

    Listening Rig:
    Dual 1019 w/ Soundsmith Otello > ifi Zen phono | Darlington MM-5 > Elekit 8800 (triode mode) > Fostex BLH + Realistic Super Tweeters
    vinyl.jpg
    LP used: Eva Cassidy - Night Bird
    nightbird.jpg
    **I'm still new to vinyl so I don't have much in my collection right now and chose this because it was my most dynamically nuanced sounding LP in my collection so far.
    - This will be a brief review since I am still getting used to the vinyl sound and will only talk about areas I feel confident discussing.
    - Overall tonality seems warmer than the ifi Zen, when I was switching back and forth between them, I noticed the overall LP sounded more mid-centric where the vocals take up the majority of the space and couldn't hear the rest of the instruments as clearly as the Zen. I prefer the Zen's tonality with my rig.
    - Zen also sounds overall livelier with better sense of drive and groove. MM-5 sounds a bit dull to me in comparison where I couldn't get sucked into the music or toe tap to the same LP that I was able to with Zen.
    - attacks feel a bit rounded/blunted on the MM-5 than the Zen especially when it comes to cymbals.
    - Clarity seems to be roughly about the same level but maybe slightly better on the Zen with slightly better image clarity.
    - MM-5 is a bit nosier sounding than the Zen and once I play through a side, I hear some noise from my speakers. When I switch to the Zen, I don't hear it anymore and it's pretty damn quiet. I'm suspecting my subwoofer might be the culprit because the Zen has a subsonic filter to counter that.
    - all in all, I'm not sure if the MM-5 is a good fit for my rig. It's not a bad phono, but I just couldn't jive with it at least with my rig. I'm not sure whether it's because I'm using an Idler drive, maybe my subwoofer messing w the sound? or maybe just poor system synergy. I was really hoping to like the MM-5 more because I prefer the overall aesthetics of it more ( do not the flask shape of the Zen) but with better microdynamics and clarity along with lower noise floor, I will be keeping my Zen phono until I can save up for a meaningful upgrade.
     
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  19. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I got the MM-5 loaner in thanks to @Azimuth

    I used a secondary setup of Schiit Sol with Soundsmith SMMC3. My reference MM phono is Frankenphono TC750.
    My 2-channel setup is FreyaS —> Aegir —> LS50 + Rhythmik L12

    The good:
    Darlington labs clearly knows how to build a phono! The case is solid and well built. This doesn’t feel like a budget phono. The sound is on-par with the Frankenphono and doesn’t have a bulky LPS or exposed parts.

    Based on the sound alone, I think the $185 asking price for the MM-5 is very reasonable. The sound is clear and has a solid mid-range focus, which plays nicely with moderately-priced gear.

    The bad:
    I think a phono should include a subsonic filter. This applies to the Frankenphono and the MM-5. The Frankenphono is based on the TCC TC-750 which is a $30 phono though. I used to not care because I was headphones only and was oblivious. Now that I’m primarily 2-channel/sub with my analog rig I can see the effect of my poorly isolated Sol and the subwoofer interacting. I don’t like seeing my speakers spazzing out and assume it must have a negative impact on the sound. I had to turn my sub down to minimize this effect.

    Darlington Labs addresses the lack of subsonic filter on their FAQ:

    Why don’t you offer a switchable Subsonic Filter?
    Our units (MM-6 and MM-5) feature a slightly tailored low frequency response which does include modest subsonic filtering.
    —————————————————

    If they say so...
    I saw the same amount of woofer chuffing on both phonos.

    The problem for Darlington Labs is this is a competitive segment with other good budget phonos offering both MM & MC inputs as well as subsonic filtering. As @tommytakis pointed out something like IFi zen phono presents a substantial value that is very hard to beat. I haven’t heard the iFi zen phono but previously owned the Iphono3 and it was pretty dang good.

    I expect that Darlington Labs will adapt to the marketplace and be competitive. Hopefully they will eventually offer some higher tier MC phonos; I would be very interested to hear that.

    Pics or it didn’t happen:
    11D09CE5-81D4-430A-A983-005E3480A19E.jpeg A7850F29-2FCE-41EA-B6F9-CE5B38F3959A.jpeg
     
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  20. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Both the last two reviewers had some issues with this. @tommytakis also has an idler and thought it might be that. It was not my experience at all with my SL-1200 in my 2.1 setup with the sub right next to the rack with the 1200 on top of that rack. I will have Keith check out this unit when it gets back. I just wonder if all the shipping something came loose.

    I see in the FAQ's that it was a design decision for SQ to have the low frequency slope they use. Some old integrated receivers used to have a subsonic filter switch built in.

    I spoke to Keith about the subsonic filter and something they are considering in later versions of the MM-5 and MM-6 with a possible internal dip switch. No official word, but he said it is possibility.

    Keith also has dropped the MM-3 from production for the moment and possibly indefinitely.
     
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