Allnic Audio H-1202 Phonostage Review
The Allnic Audio H-1202 is the successor to the popular H-1201 and is Allnic Audio’s entry-level Phonostage. So how did it fare in our system and could it compete favorably with the more costly Zesto Audio Andros 1.2 Phono?
Read on to find out.
I recently acquired the Allnic Audio L-5000 DHT Linestage and became an instant Allnic Audio convert. So much so that I decided to contact Allnic Audio’s North American importer, Hammertone Audio, to see what gives re their phonostage offerings. After a couple of emails, I spoke with David Beetles, proprietor of Hammertone Audio, based in Kelowna, British Columbia. A few days later a small package arrived at my door via FedEx…..
- The H-1202 is Allnic’s new entry phono preamp. (Actually available in the USA since around December 2018)
- It replaces the H-1201, over which it offers much higher performance and greater flexibility.
- The H-1202 captures a large slice of the magic of the amazing H-1500II and H-7000 phonostages.
- It will trade blows in the marketplace with far more expensive competitors.
- At its $3750 MSRP, it is considered to be a giveaway price.
The Allnic Audio H-1202 MC/MM Phono Preamp
As you’ve probably guessed by now, the FedEx man delivered an Allnic Audio H-1202, smaller than I expected, like a slightly scaled-down version of my L-5000. Smaller yes, but it’s still a solid, beefy, heavy little bugger, weighing in at 9.9 lbs and measuring 12.3 inches x 9.1 inches x 5.6 inches (W x D x H).
With the unit sporting a brushed aluminum chassis and front plate, it has a similar ‘open-air’ aesthetic to its higher-priced stablemates, the H-7000 and H-8000 DHT, whereas the L-1500 II has a more conventional appearance with tubes and other necessary gubbins living inside a box. (The H-1202 is also available in black finish).
The front panel of the H-1202 gives home to a rotary knob for selecting between moving magnet and moving coil, and two small push-button/LED pairings, one for power and one for mute.
Courtesy of the Importer’s website, the H-1202 has the following features:
- High-quality, NOS E180CC twin triode tubes
- CR type RIAA equalization, precisely compensated within +/- 0.3dB
- Automatic, all tube voltage regulation circuit, ensuring exceptionally stable and quiet operation
- High quality Moving Coil (MC) Step-up Transformers with Permalloy cores
- MC transformers with variable gain (+22dB, +26dB, +28dB and +32dB)
- No negative feedback design
- Pure Class A operation
The four NOS E180CC twin triodes are actually Mullards, taken from a large inventory purchased by Allnic Audio’s owner/designer Mr. Kang Su Park, completing the tube compliment are a single NOS 7233 and 5654.
Those of us used to a high degree of flexibility may feel slightly shorted by the MC loading options on the H-1202, since you can’t select gain independent of impedance. There are four options for gain and each has a corresponding impedance locked to it. The gain options are +22dB, +26dB, +28dB and +32dB and these values must be summed with the native gain of the unit which is 40db. So the actual working gain options are 62db, 66db, 68db and 72db and the corresponding impedances are 29, 69, 117 and 278 ohms. Gain is easily adjustable on the fly via the two selectors, one atop each of the L and R channel step-up transformers. I like the fact that one doesn’t have to try to fish around behind the unit or swivel it sideways to access the rear panel, for making basic adjustments.
For Moving Magnet cartridges, voltage gain is +38db (1KHz) and maximum Input Voltage (MM, non-clipping) is: 20Hz / 30mV | 100Hz / 60mV | 1KHz / 300mV | 10KHz / 500mV
Input Impedance for MM is set at the most common 47kΩ and is not adjustable.
There’s nothing of a surprise to be found on the rear of the unit: MM and MC Inputs, ground connectors and a pair of RCA Outputs. I’ve never needed a ground lead for any turntable/phono combination in my current listening room, and I didn’t need to hook anything up to the ground connection on the Allnic. It was dead, dead quiet.
Setup is quick and easy. You’ll likely already have an idea of the preferred gain setting for your MC cartridge, but it’s worth trying different settings to see their effect on the sound. You can go from a slightly flaccid presentation to one with far more dynamism at the twist of a knob (OK, two knobs), so there’s no reason not to experiment. I’d recommend using the mute button when switching between MM and MC or adjusting the MC gain settings, to avoid the slight pop that I encountered when forgetting to do so.
One thing you will need to experiment with is isolation, as there’s a transformation of the sound when moving to anything other than the unit’s own rubber feet. Standing on its own four feet the unit presents a sound which is overly warm and syrupy, insufficiently dynamic, and all too tubey in a negative sort of way. I moved between SST’s brass Audio Points™, a couple of different spring devices that I have on hand and some Mapleshade footers that proved too big for the Allnic’s small chassis. Once you get your preferred isolation device settled on, you may want to remove the rubber feet as they get in the way of placing your cones or springs or whatever juju device you favor, in my case the Audio Points. (I haven’t removed the feet on my unit because I do not own it)
I haven’t found the Allnic to be all that sensitive to cable choices, neither power nor signal. Of the signal cables I threw at the unit, my favored turned out to be a 1m pair of Harmonic Technologies Pro Silway III between Allnic Phono and Allnic Pre, but no cable I’ve tried so far sounded bad. I use the Origin Live Silver Hybrid external tonearm cable, supplied as an upgrade for my Origin Live Illustrious arm, and that worked fine. When later switching out the Origin Live Resolution/Illustrious setup and trying my Music Hall MMF 11 turntable, I rolled a couple of different cables between the Music Hall and the Allnic but didn’t hear any night and day differences, so I settled on a pair of Anti-Cables Level 3.2’s with the additional shielding option.
For power, my ESP Reference worked great, as it has with every component I’ve used it with, so it remained connected for the duration. It’s perhaps useful to mention that Allnic manufacture their own line of power and signal cables and I understand these to be something quite special. At the time of writing, Srajan Ebaen of 6Moons uses a full loom of Allnic Audio’s ZL Technology cables, and there’s a glowing review of the cables to be found at his website (6moons.com).
The remainder of the equipment used in this review can be seen at the foot of this page.
EQUIPMENT USED IN THIS REVIEW INCLUDED:
Origin Live Resolution Turntable With Full Manufacturer’s Upgrade Package
Origin Live Illustrious Tonearm with silver wire harness upgrade
ZYX Ultimate 100/Z
Music Hall MMF 11 Turntable
Project 9cc Carbon Tonearm with Oracle Audio Damping Kit
Goldring 2200 MM
Zesto Andros 1.2 phono preamp
Thor TA1000 MKII preamp
Thor TPA 60 Monoblocks
Edge NL10.2 Power Amp
Aerial SW-12 Subs (x 3)
Harmonic Technology Pro-Silway III RCA, Bogdan Audio Toto RCA’s, Tara Labs Master Speaker Cables, Anti-Cables 2.1 speaker cables, various isolation accessories etc etc.