The Herron Audio VTPH-2 Vacuum Tube Phono Preamplifier
While tubes have a long and honourable history when it comes to amplifying the signal from moving-magnet cartridges, moving-coil stages relying on thermionic devices are altogether more rarified and tend to be temperamental. So, given Herron Audio’s reputation for sound engineering, solid technical performance and exceptional consistency, it’s no surprise to find that, whilst Keith Herron’s VTPH-1 standalone phono-stage coupled passive RIAA equalization with tubes for its moving-magnet section, the moving-coil version added a solid-state stage to provide the necessary extra gain. Otherwise, the unit was business as usual for a Herron design: thoughtful and conservative engineering (for which read “solid” as opposed to the all to frequent “flaky”), matched parts, exemplary technical performance, almost obsessive attention to detail. And like the other Herron products, the result was a performance that belied the surprisingly modest price-tag. Which was a bit of a problem. You see, the VTPH-1 was a no-holds-barred, minimalist design intended for a few analogue die-hards of Keith’s acquaintance. Unfortunately, the word got round and demand rapidly outstripped supply, causing a rapid reappraisal of the situation – and a far less rapid evolution of the design into a more manufacturable and user friendly device. Along the way component choice and tolerances were further refined, along with some of the thinking behind the product.