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After a long listening session with our Japanese phonostage via the Trafomatic Reference One linestage, we swapped phonostages and started all over. A favorite LP which covers upright bass with various voices in a duo setting plus electrical bass and heavily distorted guitar is a so-called audiophile KM pressing of Rob Wasserman’s Duets where we could tell the general difference within one side. The first impression was that with the Trafomatic Phono One the music was more inspiring and involving.

On side 1 bassist Wasserman duetizes with himself via multi-tracked overdubbing. In the higher registers his acoustic upright was more velvety where the Tri phonostage had emphasized the transients more. On the next track Lou Reed joins his former bassist on his signature distorted Fender whilst Wasserman switches to Clevinger electric upright. Here the guitar displayed more edge, more New York City grittiness with the Trafo than Tri. The combination of turntable, arm and cartridge plus Tri had a detailed character with a forward image projection that leaned toward to the listener. With the Trafomatic the image extended instead more behind the loudspeakers whilst the physical transducers played hide and seek.

Dutch guitar maven Harry Sacksioni released Vensters in 1976 which features not only his mastery of the solo 6- and 12-string guitar but his ensemble qualities when accompanied by strings and woodwinds. Side one is fully occupied with the title track which takes the listener on a meditative journey through a meandering soundscape that borrows typical ‘70s guitar rock riffs softened up within an epic more symphonic setting. Through the Reference Phono One that soundscape including the extensive use of glockenspiel grew an extra lyrical dimension. There was no coloration, just tonal richness which beautifully captured the production that's devoid of any additional studio effects. Sacksioni’s extensive musical history already at the time included long stage experience beyond the rock ‘n’ roll environment in more intimate theaters which paid off here with sheer beauty sans frills.

Neil Young’s This Note’s For You is another favorite and one where Young enters the realm of Chicago Blues, horns'n'all. This album begs for extra SPL and our 100dB Pnoe horns were happy to deliver whatever the Trafomatic system could dish. At these elevated volume settings the all-tube system proved to be dead quiet. Not a hum, hiss or other noise escaped except for the occasional tiny tick from the grooves. Whilst the album's horn section somewhat outplays Neil Young’s vocal capabilities, the full blast of masterfully played brasses was really well addressed - shouting where needed, smooth when softly whispered and fast as a nitrous-injected Mustang. We stuck with the Zu DL-103 for its fearlessness with tougher stuff and here that very feature matched beautifully with the broad musical appetites of the Serbian Phono One. Bravo!

Joni Mitchell’s collaboration with the late Jaco Pastorius in Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter is one of our collection's examples of 70’s jazz fusion. Jaco’s unique sounding Fender Jazz bass groans and moans and lays a formidable foundation for Mitchell’s vocal artistry and acoustic guitar. On "Jericho" Jaco plays one of his finest parts on his singing fretless bass. With this system open e-strings were no problem and at real-world volumes this track made our hearts jump for joy. We loved the contribution of the Phono One in all its essential neutrality more and more.

At this juncture we received a PTP Audio Lenco 75-based turntable called the Solid12 with Thomas Schick 12” tone arm for review. This deck came equipped with another reworked Denon DL-103 now in a Midas aluminium case. The Schick arm is heavier than the DFA 1o5 to extol a slightly warmer darker overall sound. Nothing wrong with that, just a matter of taste. The idler wheeler deck is the ultimate party machine, the foot-stomping do-it-all, the Dr. Feickert a bit pickier. With both turntables at the ready it was not always easy to decide which turntable's character best matched the moment's music. Whatever the outcome, the Phono One did its job in full peace and quiet.