Lucid Labs Catalyst Phono Preamplifier
The Catalyst Story
After being asked to recommend a sub $125.00 phono preamplifier by countless friends we decided to do some research...the results, we couldn't find a single solution we felt was worthy of a recommendation. Our Singularity Phono preamplifier sounded great but was too expensive. After some R&D work we decided that we could combine design cues from the singularity with parts carefully selected to maximize value and arrived at the Catalyst. We've been testing the catalyst for almost a year now and it sounds fantastic. If you are looking for dynamic, highly detailed sounding vinyl playback, the Catalyst is for you.
Prelminary testing results
testing completed with a QA400 Audio Analyzer on 45dB gain model
Lucid Labs Catalyst vs Audio Technica AT-PEQ3
Lucid Labs Catalyst-Yellow (THD 0.00486%,)
Audio Technica AT-PEQ3 Green (THD 0.01934%) msrp $119
Emotiva XPS-1 (THD 0.00811%) msrp $149
Prelminary testing shows within +/-0.5dB of RIAA
Testing results with a QA400 audio analyser show that when tested against the Audio Technica AT-PEQ3 (former runner-up for Stereophile magazine joint budget component of the year at $119.00) and the Emotiva XPS-1 our phono preamplifiers have significantly lower total harmonic distortion and noise values.
Who needs this?
Anyone with a turntable that wants high-quality audio output. If you are using a receiver or turntable with a built-in phono preamplifier, switching to an external phono preamplifier is a great way to significantly improve sound quality. Internal phono preamplifiers typically rely on bare-bones circuitry featuring high noise and distortion levels. If you are using an existing phono preamplifier in the same price range as the Catalyst this is an excellent way to upgrade your sound with out breaking the bank.
What makes our Phono Preamplifier Different?
Unlike most phono preamplifiers on the market, particularly in our price range, we don't skimp on the circuitry. We opted to use multiple gain stages and a passive filter section to help reduce unwanted noise and distortion. Our design utilizes high quality components like high tolerance through hole resistors and high quality film capacitors throughout. Many other products offered in the same price range use simple, single gain-stage topologies with and active filter sections resulting in higher distortion and an increase in unwanted noise. We also hand make every unit in the USA, test every single unit, and stand by our work.
What does a phono preamplifier do?
The output level from standard phono cartridges is significantly lower than line-level. The result if you plug a turntable directly into a line-level input will be extremely low volume, tinny sounding audio. Years ago the recording industry decided on a standard equalization resulting in decreased record groove widths allowing for longer play times and reduced groove damage. A phono preamplifier amplifies the cartridge signal back to line level while applying an RIAA equalizer curve to make sure that bass treble and mid-range are all amplified the appropriate amount.