Gold Note’s extensive range of products are less well known than they deserve to be. After you read this review of the Gold Note PH-10 phono stage – and especially when you read the price of this component and what it has to offer – you’ll wonder why the company doesn’t receive more top-line recognition.
The PH-10 is a decently sized black or silver box with a knob, a small screen, and a logo that looks like it should be a Roman coin. The logo is reiterated on the top panel and as a watermark on the screen. Through a series of turns and pushes of that one knob, you can navigate a surprisingly deep and rich series of phono set-up and use options, far above the things you’d expect for the price.
At this level, and often way beyond this price point, adjusting cartridge loading or gain is performed by adjusting a series of DIP switches. Lose the manual or have the kind of long-sightedness that gets to almost everyone over 40 and that becomes a chore. Gold Note, on the other hand, make such adjustments easy, quick and simple. The PH-10 offers nine different load impedance options and four levels of output. You have two phono inputs, and the option of balanced or single-ended output, and there is even an optional valve power supply (not supplied) and a range of other upgrades including an EQ curve enhancer, gain stage enhancer, and an optional valve output stage. There’s even a USB port for upgrades.
The really clever part is using that 2.8in TFT screen to navigate the options open to you, by scrolling round the screen itself. Top left corner, you have the choice of cartridge input. Top right, the ability to switch between MM and MC in very broad terms. Bottom left, load and gain options, then the option to turn the display off, and whether optional cards and power supplies are fitted. In between all these is a representation of the EQ curve used, and yes... you can switch between RIAA, Decca, and Columbia curves. The optional enhancer, as the name suggrests, allows you to tweak those curves slightly.