Sutherland Phono Preamp

Anybody using one of his preamps? I’m very curious about his quite unusual design.

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I owned a phd, loved the thing!

I also owned a sutherland Director pre. I would love to compare it to my pass. I have always considered it one of the best preamps I’ve owned. Sold it because I couldn’t get the auto switching (not a fan) to work with my home theater receiver (long gave up combining tv and hifi). Ron Sutherland took my call and attempted to help but I just couldn’t get it to switch, there was no manual option. Regardless, his gear is amazing IMHO!!


I’ve owned 4 over the years. Most recently the DUO, the DUO upgraded with the LPS and the Little Loco Mk 1. You didn’t specify which type of phono pre. The DUO is a conventional voltage domain design. The Little Loco is an offshoot of the Phono Loco and is a total departure from Ron’s previous designs. It is current mode (transimpedance) intended for low/medium output moving coil carts only. I’ve written about it on a previous thread. It is so good I sold my Rega Aura to make it my new reference. Ron has blown the doors off with his take on current mode, so much so I expect he’ll retire the DUO soon and focus only on transimpedance for his entire product lineup. I’m sold, obviously.

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have the insight, which I used in the system described in the following post prior to the SPP.

The experience I described in the aforementioned post happened with the insight as well but to a lesser degree. Not quit as huge, encompassing stage/effect. Manhattan Transfer Vocals were nice, human sounding. Chuck Mangione Children of Sanchez horn, bass etc joyful, real sounding. I did not enjoy having to open the case to change settings;yucky poo.

Enter the SPP; everything the insight did and so much more. Everything sounds more real, much larger sound stage. Vocals, instruments more defined in space. The more settings, ability to change without opening it, sans the custom knobs, gives me a warm fuzzy.

I enjoyed the insight immensely.

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I’ve been tempted by the Little Loco myself. I’ve met and spoken with Ron a number of times over the years at shows. A really nice, genuine fellow. His rooms always sound wonderful. If I wasn’t using an XP17 I’m pretty sure Sutherland would be where I’d go.

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I owned the Hubble and now have the PhonoBlock. I think they are both great. My local audio shop carried his line. After hearing them, I always wanted to buy one and finally did.


I find the “transimpedance” design intriguing. I’m not about to give up my Pass XP-27, but I just like to explore new ideas.
Anybody have issues with cartridge matching, assuming MC cartridge?

No issues here. One of the advantages of transimpedance design is load is no longer a concern. The cartridge looks into a virtual short. The Little Loco does have a feedback resistor in the input stage, three values that control the ‘gain’ of the I/V block. That’s it. As long as the Little Loco provides enough ‘gain’, it is literally plug and play. It has sounded superb with every low/medium output MC cart I’ve thrown at it. Ron even addressed an issue for a small percentage of potential users with the Mk 2. The Mk 1 required the phono cable shield to float, meaning the ‘-‘ signal conductor couldn’t be connected to it. That is a non-issue for most tonearms including my SME-309. The Mk 2 obviates that constraint. See JA’s measurements section of the Stereophile Mk 1 review for his discussion of Sutherland’s transimpedance topology. There is no downside to this approach whatsoever.

I’m borrowing @aangen it seems nice! He can share more with his thoughts.

Mine is not a Little Loco. It is just an Insight. It’s nice. If I would have stayed with Sutherland I would have gone Little Loco at least. But I went with Gryphon instead. It seems nicer.

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Sorry I must of been a little loco when I wrote this.

I’m using the D battery operated Ph3D (when I’m not using my Hagerman phono tubes). It’s an intro into Ron’s design, really. He’s my kinda guy. 95% sure he doesn’t offer the battery operated stuff and moved to a separate PS. He still supports everything he’s done.


I might buy one just to play with.

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There ya go. That is the 4th Sutherland phono pre I’ve owned over the years, and the first. The PH3D was an introduction to fresh thinking about phono preamp design. He no longer uses battery power supplies for any of the current product lineup, because of the perception (that I never convinced myself was valid) battery power doesn’t deliver the last word in dynamic punch. Something else to point out is he was using switching power supplies but has been ditching that approach for linear power supplies. I have experience with that change. My DUO utilized the switching power supplies, but within half a year after I bought it Ron introduced the LPS upgrade. I sent my DUO back to Kansas City for that upgrade. It was worth it. The upshot is Ron listens to his customer base and doesn’t hesitate to incorporate changes in his designs based on that feedback. I like that. A lot.