By now you’ll have figured that this phono-stage pushes my musical buttons – and I’ve tried to describe why that is. Does my enthusiasm blind me to its shortcomings? No – but for me its musical strengths more than outweigh them. What are its weaknesses? Beyond the lack of adjustability and the limitations that imposes on cartridge choice, the Vinyle 3000-MC’s failings are mainly presentational. This is not the most transparent phono-stage at the price, or the one with the highest resolution and greatest separation. Those honours probably rest with the TEAD Groove+ SRX II – perhaps the best value voltage-sensing phono-stage there is. If that’s your thing, then the TEAD is a safe pair of hands. Nor can the 3000-MC match the tonal purity and lucid clarity (or the switchable EQ capability) of the CH P1/X1 – but that’s hardly surprising, given a factor of ten in the price difference between the two, although there’s precious little else, regardless of price, that gets close to the P1. But what the Vinyle 3000-MC does do is get you closer than anything else I’ve heard to what makes the CH so exceptional – and it does it at (literally) a fraction of the price.
So no, the Vinyle 3000-MC isn’t a CH P1 on the cheap. But then it ain’t trying to be. Instead, it’s trying to give you the biggest musical bang for your bucks – and succeeding admirably. That ability to deliver a sense of musical presence and purpose, combined with its natural pacing and tonality are huge benefits when it comes to investing life and vitality into your system’s performance and the musical performances you ask it to play.
I ran the Fuuga cartridge in the Kuzma Stabi M, feeding an L1, X1, M1.1 chain of electronics to considerable musical effect. I ran the Stabi M with the Rigid Float and the Ortofon SPU Royal N, feeding the Vinyle 3000-MC and the Levinson 585. I could have saved a hunk of cash (and not a little real-estate) by downsizing to the Stabi R and the Konus Audio Integrale 2000. In fact, deck aside I did just that and ran the Konus Audio Components with Living Voice’s Auditorium R25A – and loved that system too. It delivered some serious musical insight at what is for these days an astonishingly reasonable price. Just for the hell of it, I broke out €200 worth of pre-loved Telefunken CS-20 and a variety of different cartridges, including Lyras and the Fuuga (?!) and that just rocked!
Why the laundry-list? Because it demonstrates just how versatile (in system terms at least) the Vinyle 3000-MC really is. Its fundamentally musical character and qualities allow it to co-exist quite happily with equipment at both ends of the price range, holding its end up in a high-end context, injecting some serious vim and vigour into a budget esoteric setting – and making great music while it does it. It will play good discs and the not so good, without fear or favour, always managing to extract the musical core of the performance, whatever obstacles the recording or pressing might pose. It really is the very model of a modern
Major General… errr, phono-stage, perfectly poised to play records new, old or somewhere in between. It makes me wonder just how good the 3000’s baby brothers are?