The King Is Dead…

While the circuits used in previous 10 Series products are in a very real sense, evolutions of their 1 Series brethren, the P10 breaks that mould. It employs an entirely new topology, aimed squarely at reducing the unit’s noise floor. I’ve discussed the differences between the P1 and the new P10 in detail, in an earlier piece ( However, here are the brief highlights:

Circuit Topology – the P10 employs a five-stage topology (as opposed to the P1’s three), with two passive EQ stages sandwiched between three active gain stages. By splitting the passive EQ so that the low frequency gain occurs later in the envelope, they have succeeded in reducing the noise floor while increasing the gain.

Inputs – the P10 offers four phono-inputs (two current-gain and two voltage-gain), one more than the P1. The performance of the voltage-gain inputs has also been improved significantly, increasing the unit’s compatibility with MM cartridges and SUTs.

Features – the P10 offers switching for stereo/mono and absolute phase, a high-pass (rumble) filter and, like the L10, the application of local or global feedback to the circuit as a whole (of which more later).

EQ Curves – like the P1, the P10 offers owners the option to add additional EQ curves for record replay. As well as the EMI, Columbia, Decca and Teldec (DGG) curves featured on the P1, the P10 also provides Philips, NARTB/NAB and Capitol/AES curves too. As delivered, the screen of the unit changes colour in order to reflect the selected replay curve, reducing the chances of accidentally leaving the wrong curve engaged– a feature that users can override or alter if they wish. The P10 also allows users to select the additional Neumann high-frequency pole for any curve/record. Again – more detail later.

IR Remote Control – the P10 comes with one of CH’s small, five button IR remote handsets. This allows you to adjust all the important operating parameters listed above from the comfort of your listening seat. While the CH-Control App already offered that facility to P1 users, most P1s being used in non-CH systems probably weren’t network connected. The IR remote makes such switching easier and simpler but best of all, it allows those listeners who use curves to switch those at the push of a button, a crucial operational advantage.

Like the other 10 Series products, the P10 is a two-box design with its own, dedicated external power supply. That reduces the number of steps on the upgrade ladder, but P10 owners can still upgrade to the P10 4-box or 4-box extended (double the inputs) topologies. Also like the other 10 Series units, the P10 is available in very fetching Anthracite or Champagne finishes as well as CH’s ‘standard’ blue/grey. The P10 will cost you $76,000 USD (with the cards containing the seven optional curves adding $2,250 for the set). That compares to $31,000 + $17,000 for a P1/X1 pairing, or more significantly, $89,000 for the P1 four-box. I’ll be comparing the P10 to both the P1/X1 and the four-box iteration but, given that the L10 outperforms the four-box L1, I’m not exactly spilling the punch line when I say that the P10 not only manifestly outperforms the four-box P1, despite its significantly (15%) lower price, it allows the owner the additional saving of two support levels and three power cords – a monetary, practicality and real-estate bonus that’s not to be sniffed at.


One of the first questions I was asked, shortly after the arrival of the P10, was also one of the most interesting: in musical terms, is the P10 more like the L10 or the M10? The answer, I discovered somewhat to my surprise, is that the phono-stage’s musical qualities are more akin to the power amp than the line-stage. Whilst the P10 certainly exhibits the sonic invisibility, the uninhibited dynamic response and the unimpeded, frictionless sense of music simply happening that characterise the L10, what marks it out as exceptional is the absolute sense of planted stability and authority it brings to the performance, qualities that separate the performers and the recorded acoustic from the speakers, placing them solidly in the room with you.