What are the important things for me to consider between the LFD Zero Le MK3.0 & 3.1 with the onboard phono stage and without please?
- The main board for both versions is slightly different. Not sonically different, but in terms of construction. This means that the LFD on-board phono stage is not a retro-fit. This means if you want it with the phono stage you have to order it with the phono stage.
- When comparing both versions using the line level inputs i can hear no sonic difference whatsoever – however hard i try. Thus you should not believe that one version is superior to the other. The only difference is that one has a phono stage and the other does not.
- The onboard phono stage is both MM and MC. All that is required is to make or break one small solder link on the board. This is very easy. A degree in advanced electronics is not required for this task. Dr Bews feels that a soldered link is sonically more acceptable than the silver plated switch he uses (or used) on some of his stand-alone Phono Stages.
- Although Dr. Bews is a little dismissive of the quality of his on-board phono stage, it really is a fine unit. Certainly up to the standards of any stand alone unit I have heard up to say £500. Not quite as good as say the PS Audio GGPH phono stage, but terrific value as you are only paying around £250 for the on-board.
- It's worth mentioning that Dr. Bews built the unique battery-driven phonostage for the R&D department of SME. That unit (not available to the public) is a cost-no-object device that, as far as I understand, remains SME's reference standard. Against this achievement I suppose that sonically he might feel that the onboard phono stage of the Zero Le III is only adequate. However when looked at in isolation, the on-board phono stage is a minor miracle of dynamics, compact size, simplicity and value.
- Finally delivery on the version with the phono stage is usually 50% longer than the non phono stage version.