Tube PHONO preamp interference - RFI, EMI, bad grounding?


Hello!

My tube phono is picking up interference most probably from the air. It's EAR yoshino 834p, using three 12AX7 tubes. It's sounds pretty amazing and I willing to try everything to keep it. 

Here is a sample of the sound - 

 

The rest of the setup is ARC LS16 mk1, Classe CA200, Chord Qutest, Technics SL1200 with Nagaoka MP200, Tannoys D700

I have tried many things already -

- grounding the phono to the preamp, grounding the phono to a socket, covering the phono with a pot, saucepan - no change

-plugging the phono preamp alone into an integrated (Bryston B60) and removing other stuff.

- the important part is I have taken the phono to two other places and it worked perfectly fine, even with the cheapes cables.

- I haven't had any problems with previous phono preamps which were all solid state. 

- if I unplug the turntable the signal fades to about 50%

- if I try different RCA cables, there's not much of a change even they are shielded (audioquest mackenzie, supra etc.)

- the signal also fades when I grab the cables. Also works if I grab or squeeze the output cables. 

- I have tried to wrap the cables into aluminum foil, I have noticed a difference but it's still unlistenable.

- I have tried pluging in a 5 meters long RCA output cable and walked with the phono preamp around the room. It's simply like carrying an antenna. Placing the phono on the floor helps but again, the interference is still present. 

 

Do you have any suggestions what else to try? Is there some kind of grounding that would prevent the phono preamp acting like an antenna? 

I haven't tried a new set of tubes yet. 

I think the 12AX7 are simply too sensitive to all the mess in the air. The ARC LS16 preamp was catching the same signal very quietly when I took it's cover of. 

Thanks!

Filip

128x128filipm

@filipm you have 3 tubes? And the noise is in both channels? I’m assuming one of the 12ax7 tubes is a rectifier? I would just replace that one to start with. 

Going back to ss doesn’t sound very appealing :)
 

Well there may be other tube units that won’t have the same issue. Also, pretty sure you can get a good solid state phono amp that would equal or beat your EAR in performance and noise rejection. 

probably yes, but what could that be? :) This one cost me $1100, sounds awesome at this price. Maybe Audio Research PH5 could beat it. 

There are three  tubes but they are not left/right channels. All of them work for both channels equally. I have read something like that, the first one might be a rectifier. 

I'll order the tubes and maybe the tube shields as well.

@filipm , making a phono pre-amp is not rocket science. Good low noise design, good quality transformers (if they are MC and use them), precision parts for the RIAA curve, and some other basic engineers concepts. When it comes to tubes as well, your cartridge likely has enough distortion that the distortion of the tubes almost does not matter.

 

In my experience, most of the "sound" from a phono preamp comes from the matching between the cartridge and the preamp, and not some inherent advantage or disadvantage of the preamp. If it does not at a minimum have several matching resistor choices for MC and MM, I would not want to use it. Even then, for an MC, a mix of capacitor and resistor matching will yield the flattest response. I am not saying that is your personal goal, just it can be.

 

Why this matters is don't get hung up on your particular preamp. I would be taking it to a friends house and verifying there is not noise in a completely different location so that you can sell it. Then I would buy a preamp with a good range of matching resistor selections so that you can tune the sound for your cartridge.

Thanks for letting me know what model.

Was wondering about  provisions for a MC cart.

Asking to see what else is inside the box that might be picking up the signal?

And the unit is solid state rectified, all three tubes are used in the signal path

Heres an obvious, and silly question, but are the tubes properly seated in the sockets? Could they have been jostled with all the moving about?

Definitely WiFi or cell phone antenna too close to inputs. I've added a small RF filter to the front of my stages to combat this.