iFi’s new iPhono3 Black Label phono stage is the perfect fix for vinyl addicts, ensuring every record is heard just as the artist intended
iPhono3 Black Label over other phono stages
- One of the quietest phono stages. Bar none.
- Ultra-low distortion. High gain of 72dB en par with flagship phono stages.
- Computer-matched high-gain bi-polar input transistors and more
- Driven by iFi’s Class A TubeState engine and Direct Drive Servoless design
- Wide range of settings – gain, load and EQ curves – to precisely suit the connected phono cartridge and the record being played
- Ultra-low distortion and class-leading dynamic range
- Super-low noise floor – one of the ‘quietest’ phono stages at any price, lets you hear every detail
- High gain of 72dB on par with high-end phono stages at twice the price
The direct approach
Unlike a typical phono stage, the iPhono3 Black Label’s circuit is direct-coupled – that is to say, there is no coupling capacitor from cartridge to output. This is achieved without a conventional DC servo; iFi calls this design Direct Drive Servoless, incorporating a proprietary DC Infinity circuit to boosts DC gain to a level approaching infinity.
Once the feedback loop is closed, the DC gain cancels all offset voltages to deliver a direct-coupled output with 0V DC offset. The key to the DC Infinity circuit is that it only changes the gain below approximately 0.01Hz, while leaving the AC behaviour of the circuit at higher frequencies unchanged, injecting neither noise nor distortion into the audio signal. This contributes greatly to the iPhono3 Black Label’s audible clarity, accuracy and transparency.
Let the music flow
At the iPhono3 Black Label’s heart lies iFi’s third generation TubeState engine, the result of four decades of research into valve and transistor technology by the company’s Technical Director, Thorsten Loesch. TubeState is solid-state circuitry designed to capture the key attributes that make valve circuits so sonically appealing whilst maintaining ultra-low distortion.
The TubeState engine delivers a sound of exceptional poise – crystalline clarity without a hint of edginess; free-breathing dynamics; engaging pace and timing; and a soundstage brimming with texture and fine detail. From the moment the needle hits the record, everything sounds crisp and clear, yet no single element within the musical whole is over-emphasised – you hear the music, cohesive and in its entirety, as it was intended to be heard.
Sonic tailoring to suit you, sir
Gain can be adjusted between 36dB and 72dB, alongside a wide variety of load values – eight for MC cartridges and a further five for MM cartridges. Spending a little time to set up the ideal combination to match the cartridge on your turntable delivers great sonic reward – iFi has created an online ‘cartridge calculator’ to assist with this.
A toggle switch at one end of the iPhono3 Black Label allows the user to select between three EQ curves: RIAA, Columbia and Decca. It can generally be assumed that LPs produced from 1980 onwards were made using RIAA equalisation, which means they should sound best with the RIAA setting engaged. But records released before1980 may have been made using different equalisation and may sound better with the Columbia or Decca EQ curve engaged.
Sum of the parts
The iPhono3 Black Label comes with the 15V version of iFi’s new iPower X ultra-low noise AC/DC power supply. This delivers an exceptionally low noise floor and contributes significantly to the phono stage’s class-leading performance.
Freq. Resp.: 10Hz – 100KHz (±0.3dB)
20Hz – 20kHz (±0.2dB)
Dynamic Range: MM (36dB): > 108dB (A-weighted)
MC (60dB): > 106dB (A-weighted)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: MM (36dB): > 85dB (A-weighted re. 5mV)
MC (60dB): > 85dB (A-weighted re. 0.5mV)
Overload Margin: MM (36dB): > 26dB (re. 5mV, @ 1% THD)
MC (60dB): > 22dB (re 0.5mV, @ 1% THD)
Maximum undistorted output: 7V (Load >= 600 Ohm, THD <=1%)
Total Harmonic Distortion
(THD): <0.005% (MM 36dB 1V out 600R Load)
Output Impedance: <100Ω
Input Voltage: 15V/1.2A, AC 100 -240V, 50/60Hz (with iPower X)
Power Consumption: < 5W (ships with iPower X 15v – do NOT use any other power
178 x 64 x 26 mm
7.0 x 2.5 x 1.0 inches
Weight: 265g / 0.58 lbs
iFi - micro iPhono3 Black Label phono stage
This is fantastic device. Better than the previous incarnations of iPhono preamp. Low noise floor is simply stunning and flexibility of this preamp helps you dial just about anything you want to meet specific cartridge requirements. Very neutral in sound captures more than the other preamps I have used so far. At this price this preamp simply overshadows anything else at this price point and even beyond. Great investment for vinyl aficionado.