I read the following email last Monday morning. It made my day, my week, and my month! With great sense of humility and appreciation I post it here in full, with only minor formatting.
Sent: Sunday, March 5, 2017 10:22 PM
Subject: Phono 2 review
This has taken a while..... been in heaven!
Please use any of the following as you see fit. You may edit all or part at your discretion.
Thank you my friend!Vista Audio Phono 2 ReviewAssociated Equipment
Sota Star upgraded to series Vhttp://www.sotaturntables.com
Eminent Technolgy 2 Tonearmhttp://www.eminent-tech.com/main.html
Monster Alpha 2 MC cartridge
McIntosh MX-117 preamphttp://akdatabase.org/AKview/albums/userpics/10004/MX117%20Brochure.pdf
McIntosh MC-2155 Amphttp://sportsbil.com/mcintosh/Amps/MC2155/MC2155_own.pdf
Mirage Omni S-12http://www.hometheatersound.com/equipment/mirage_omni_s12.htm
Interconnects Diy "Dark Matter"http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/?p=1490
Speaker Cables Diy "White Lightning Moonshine"http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/whitelightning/moonshine.html
Power supply Furmanhttp://www.furmanpower.comIntroduction
I have been a while writing this review, but as you will come to understand the Vista Phono 2 has demanded a serious amount of "chair time"!
Prior to the arrival of the Vista I have spent years aquiring equipment and fine tuning my setup, in my dedicated listening space. My final lineup has been so wonderful despite many auditions I have not added any new gear in over a decade.
The Sota/Eminent combo is a well known symbiosis.
The McIntosh Mx-117 has a unique and maybe the best MM phono stage made.
The McIntosh Mc-2155 is legendary
The Spica Angelus (Angelii?) in a small room are amazing.
"Dark Matter" interconnects....Cardas and Switchcraft.... beautiful!
"White Lightning Moonshine" I built them and never looked back!
Back in the eighties I had been listening to the Monster Alpha Cartridge, designed by Hisayoshi Nakatsuka of Zyx fame, built by hand, and highly compatible with the ET arm.The Audio Vista Phono 2
Jump forward to 2016 and on one of my rare boxes of audio cleanout days, I discover an unopened Monster Alpha 2! The Mx-117 has a truly superb MM phono section but will not accomodate the 0.3mv of the monster.... phono stage shopping!
I came across Boris and Vista Audio through my phono stage research. Reviews of the Phono 1 and 1+ were credible, written without encumberence of sales, by audiophiles like you and me. In my best "Serbian" I contacted Vista in reference to a tantalizing photograph of a "Phono 2" printed circuit board prototype.
Firstly I discovered Boris speaks perfect english, and that the Phono 2 was indeed a prototype that he was working on. I gave him the specs for the Alpha 2, and with the variable loading and gain we believed a good match would be possible.
I offered to help fund the project, after all where for a few hundred USDollars can you get a hand made phono stage with variable load & gain? My offer of funding was rejected as Phono 2 was already in the works and would be available for sale after thorough testing was complete.
Wow a boutique audio manufacturer in a stable financial condition, who was willing to bring a product to market properly!
I immediately pledged to be patient.
Patience apparently is rewarded. Testing of the Phono 2 took many months. For some a wait like this drives them to turn elsewhere, to me this demonstrates the absolute dedication of a designer/manufacturer to his craft. Boris maintained contact with me throughout, and finally offered me serial # 4 which I promptly purchased and had him sign the unit.
Shipping from Serbia to the USA is apparently very inexpensive, and super fast.... nothing however prepared me for the packaging I received.....encased in a plain wrapper, within a custom six sided polystyrene enclosure, was a printed sleeve wrapped foam case cut out for the Phono 2 and power supply. This is how you pack and ship, absolutely 5 stars!
That first weekend I installed the cartridge, Phono 2, and the extra pair of interconnects required. It took a couple of weeks experimenting to settle on tracking force, VTA points for various record thicknesses, and gain and loading for the cartridge. This also allowed about 50 hours or so for burn in.
On the Phono 2 I ended up with 65db of gain and 147ohms loading. I set the filter to 10Hz fast rolloff.Listening
I have tried to be as varied in my listening as possible in order to give a review consistent with many musical genres.
The Vista Audio Phono 2 keeps giving me one word...... "precision"
The Phono 2 can throw an immense and deep soundstage if required, yet also can deliver an intimate space or line array if the source requires. The soundstage is always reflective of the space required not overblown or contained just precise.
Instrumental positioning is extremely acurate, air and note placement again precise.
The following are excerpts from my listening notes.Diana Krall live in Paris
The audience surrounds me, the band extending well beyond the speakers, the piano peddle noise draws attention, the unusual way Diana pronouces "S" in words.....Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd Jazz Samba
Deep, wide, the precision of instrument placement. The tone emanating from that saxophone.Muddy Waters Folk Singer
The chairs creak!
That Organ is playing in my kitchen! (Kitchen is on the right side of music room wall)
The studio air just "clicked" on!
This is the best blues recording ever!The Bee Gees Gold
Intimate...the difference between their voices is startling, at any time even on harmony I can pick each one.
This is beautiful. They are so talented.Emerson Lake & Palmer Trilogy
Unlike the instruments firmly located in space the synthesizer sounds swirl around me even overhead "from the beginning" has never sounded like this!La Boheme Pavarotti/Berlin Philharmonic
Full orchestra and chorus soundstage huge!!
Pavarotti in his prime everyone should hear this!Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
I have been transported to another place and time! Harry walks around the stage singing and talking to me while the audience laughs, applauds, and sings along all around mePink Floyd Dark side of the moon
Rotary speaker overload... those solos, the highs the harmonics. AAA+++Conclusion
With the Phono 2 I wish I could convey the shimmer, the way notes hang in the air, the accurate musical bass.
The exquisite placement of instruments, artist, and backup vocalists on the realistically sized stage.
If you are like me with a lifetime of musical enjoyment and are looking for a phono stage, look no further than Vista Audio Phono 2. She will serve you well through the years to come, integrating with your future systems or cartridges.Final Thoughts
The Phono 2 gives you everything you want, quality, adjustability & compatiblity all wrapped up in a boutique package at a price so reasonable you wonder why this is not on every "class A highly recommended " list on the planet.
Then you realize Boris cares about music, does not place full page ads, buy lunches or send reviewers gifts.
I say bravo Boris and Vista Audio, you have a truly great phono stage that really plays music!