GOLD NOTE PH-10 Phonostage
Gold Note, founded near Florence, Italy just over seven years ago, has been creating just such a range of very attractive audio products with extensive features that are easy to set up and use. Part of Gold Note’s 10-series entry-level line, the PH-10 is an innovative solid-state phonostage with an interesting feature set and an impressive number of functions.
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The PH-10 (and matching optional PSU-10 power supply) are half-width components, which make for easy and flexible placement in, or on top of, a cabinet or rack. Three colors are available (silver, gold, or black), and the overall fit and finish is excellent. Sleek and stylish diagonal vents cut into the top, sides, and bottom gives the PH-10 the rakish air of an Italian sports car. The Gold Note logo is stamped into the top and is repeated in a small gold medallion on the ¼”-thick front panel of each component. Very classy!
Features and Functions
A key feature of the PH-10 is that all functions can be adjusted on-the-fly while playing music, allowing specific individual settings to be made for every record. Three different LP equalization (EQ) curves can be selected: RIAA, America-CBS-Columbia, and Decca-London. Moreover, each of these can be configured as an “enhanced” mode, providing a slight boost at the upper end of the EQ response curve. Additionally, nine impedance loading settings (10, 22, 47, 100, 220, 470, 1000, 22k, and 47k ohms) can be selected on the fly to allow optimal matching with a large number of cartridges quickly and easily. The PH-10 also provides four different gain settings (–3dB, 0dB, +3dB, +6dB) to adjust the nominal gain of 65dB for moving-coil and 45dB for moving-magnet cartridges.
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The Gold Note PH-10 is a really fine phonostage, and one that provides an outstanding value proposition. It’s beautifully designed and executed with high-level fit and finish. Its innovative front display and single-knob control interface makes selecting and setting its comprehensive functions and features a veritable breeze.
Summing up, there are a number of good phonostages in this price class, the Parasound JC Jr. and the venerable E.A.R. 834P, to name a couple. I haven’t heard the Parasound JC Jr, but I owned the 834P for a number of years, and the PH-10 is better. Better-designed, better-built, and with a considerably more innovative and comprehensive feature set. If I had approximately $1600 to $2000 to spend on a phonostage, I’d get the PH-10. It’s that good. I’d open up a nice pinot noir, put an LP on the turntable, sit back, and enjoy the music.
Some phonostages pursue “absolute technical objectivity” as their goal. The PH-10 is not that kind of product. It’s all about the music. If you’re a “truth-seeker,” there are other phonostages to choose from, but you’re a “pleasure-seeker,” then the PH-10 is for you. Like a fine wine or a fine car, the PH-10 satisfies, both in the moment and as a lasting memory.
– Stephen Scharf | Jul 14th, 2020 | The Absolute Sound