Just in case you've not been introduced (though in all likelihood, you have), German firm Clearaudio has been manufacturing quality cartridges, turntables and hi-fi separates since 1978 – a quick glance at the Award-winning Clearaudio Concept and its younger brother the Clearaudio Concept Active with phono preamp should put you right in the picture.
Now, the company has updated two of its popular mid-priced phono stages, namely the Balance Plus and Basic Plus.
The new Balance V2 (main picture) combines three key devices in one: preamplifier, phono stage and headphone amplifier, so there are options here for every type of vinyl spinner. The new V2 advances the technologies of the previous Balance Plus, while retaining the latter’s options for adjusting and fine-tuning to your particular system and preferences, moving between modes at the flick of a switch.
The Balance V2 features a fully balanced circuit design with independent circuitry for left and right channels, promising excellent stereo separation and a realistic soundstage.
Its volume control allows the unit to be connected directly to a power amp or to an active loudspeaker system. As well as the usual RCA outputs, the Balance V2 features balanced XLR outputs and a 6.3mm plug headphone output. A simple switch allows you to choose between moving magnet and moving coil mode, too. From there, the Balance V2 promises to automatically harmonise with almost any high-end phono cartridge without the need for further adjustments.
High precision RIAA equalisation boasts an accuracy of within 0.1dB, while an optional subsonic filter should deal with any unwanted low frequency noise. A separate power supply in its own sleek, resonance-shielding aluminium casing also promises to keep any potential interference at bay.
On to the second upgraded model, and Clearaudio is quick to tell everyone there's actually nothing ‘basic’ about the Basic V2 phono stage (pictured, above). Furthermore, we are not to be fooled by its cool, minimalist design. Within that sleek aluminium casing (available in silver or black anodized finish) lies, says the company, an inner world of highly refined features.
On the outside, there’s just one visible control: a single power switch on the upper surface. On the underside you can switch between moving coil and moving magnet mode. Like the Balance V2, Clearaudio promises that the Basic V2 is compatible with almost any high-end phono cartridge without making any further adjustments, but of course you can choose to fine-tune its parameters from a range of settings, if you want. An optional subsonic filter, for example, should attenuate any unwanted low frequency noise, while RIAA equalisation accuracy is again within a claimed 0.1dB.
The Basic V2 is billed as the perfect all-rounder for both audiophiles and music lovers. We haven't yet had the pleasure, but there's plenty to like on paper...
The Balance V2 and Basic V2 are available now, priced at £2,510/$3500 and £990/$1500 respectively (inclusive of VAT). More information and a list of dealerships worldwide can be found at Clearaudio.