MC/MM input stages are optimized for current noise and voltage noise respectively. Unlike the more common arrangement of an MC head amp feeding into the MM stage, the two stages are fully independent, realising an equally short signal path for both. Input gain is switchable in 5dB steps over a 40dB range. Input resistance and capacitance are individually switchable. Available EQ settings cover practically all known cutting curves ever used, including most for 78 RPM.All settings are software controllable, either on the fly using a PC or tablet computer or directly stored under the preset buttons. And since the preamp can route any input through the phono stage, only one is needed even if you have multiple turntables and elements connected.The basic Makua is an extremely transparent gain stage and a programmable routing matrix. The 6 preset buttons on the unit’s faceplate are programmable via USB or Bluetooth to access any combination of channel, processing and routing. In a system with mainly digital sources, the preset buttons would be programmed to select between them. Vinyl lovers on the other hand might want to use several buttons to select the same turntable but with different EQ settings to suit their large collection of historic LP’s. All five inputs are switchable between XLR and floating RCA connections, and all can be assigned as either phono or line.All stages in the Makua use discrete amplifier modules in a little known topology called “single-ended driven differential.” Compared to doubly executed signal paths, this structure prevents noise from propagating all the way through. The Makua is amazingly immune to influences like mains quality and choice of interlinks. The relay-based volume control directly controls the gain of the output stage. Dynamic range and linearity of this arrangement is much greater than those of stepped attenuators. Operation is smooth and entirely glitch free.
Inputs and outputs:Five balanced and five unbalanced inputs, all routable through optional processor boards like the phono stage.Two parallel outputs for bi-amping.Four programmable trigger outputs.Processing:Balance and input gain offset.Phase invert and mono sum.Optional tone control.Full software control of routing and processing.Performance:Maximum input/output level: 20 dBu (7.75 Vrms)Unweighted noise voltage at unity gain: 1.9 uVInput impedance: 100 ohmOutput impedance: 44 ohmDistortion at maximum signal level (THD, IMD): not measurable, estimated around -150dB.Bandwidth >200 kHzGain range: -70 dB to +15 dB.Dimensions and Weight:420mm(W) x 110mm (H) x 345mm (D). Depth includes volume knob and connectors.11kg
I could only listen for about 10 minutes, but I liked what I heard quite a bit. A clean, clear, precise top end that was utterly grainless, with true tone midrange on horns and piano, nice extended bass, and an incredibly low noise floor, in fact I was kind of stunned at how quiet the unit was between LP tracks, and while some of that was definitely courtesy of the Air Tight PC-1 Supreme LOMC cartridge’s variation on a line-contact stylus ($10,995 USD – review HERE), it’s the pre-amp, and phono stage’s job to get those infinitesimally puny electronic signals ramped-up to line level with as little fanfare as possible. And the PC-1 has certain requirements, it’s one Ohm internal impedance, and .4 mV output require some finesse from a phono stage, and luckliy the Makua seems to have the chops to deal with the PC-1s needs, and then some. I’ve used a number of excellent phono stages that offer a galaxy of loading options, but the only problem was always having to get up off my lazy ass to make the adjustments (Gah… I just sat down!)… with the Makua, that problem seems to be solved. Sign me up for a review model please.