NAD PP-2 Phono Preamp Reviewed

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Every once in a while, along comes a bargain so scarily good that we can only judge it a fluke. When that same product comes out in revised form, with nothing further improvements the price remains stupidly low, you gotta start thinking the fluke has become a coincidence.

NAD's PP-1 phono stage has been part of my system for five years. It's the device I fall back on when I want to play LPs through pre-amps and integrateds lacking phono stages. My only complaints about the PP-1 were the lack of a moving-coil stage and the fitting of a short, shitty captive lead. Both concerns have now been addressed...and then some.

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Housed in a tidier enclosure (i.e. no screw heads visible at the sides), the PP-2 differs by a smidgen in height; at 5.3x1.38x2.75in (WHD). With its small 'wall wart' power supply, it's still tiny enough not to cause space problems. The front still bears an green LED, while the slightly more crowded back contains two sets of gold-plated phono inputs for m-m and m-c, an earthing post, a toggle to choose between m-m and m-c, a pair of gilded output sockets and the mains input.

HTR Product Rating for NAD PP-2 Phono Preamp

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NAD_PP2-review.gifInternally, NAD improved parts quality, tightened the tolerances and refined the circuit layout, somehow managing to install metal film resistors and film-type capacitors in an 'economy' phono amp. NAD increased the power supply voltage from 15V to 24V, a bonus immediately apparent through audibly greater headroom, quieter operation and better overload margins. In effect, it sounds like a turbo-charged PP-1. But the big news is the moving-coil stage, specified at a nicely 'average' 100 ohms/180pf setting good for 60dB gain (m-m section is specified as 47k ohm/200pf and 35dB gain). Input sensitivity for the m-c stage is 0.2mV, which means that the PP-2 will handle most medium-to-high gain cartridges.

Competition and Comparison
To compare the NAD PP-2 against other products, read our Audio Research PH5 phono preamp review.  Please also read our article NAD Introduces USB-Equipped Phono Preamp For Ripping LPs To Modern Systems.  You can also visit our NAD brand page for more information.

Not wasting any time on price-related considerations, I fed the NAD with Transfigurations, Lyras and Koetsus, and it shamed none of them. The sound is sweet, smooth and coherent, open and airy, if not quite as 'huge'-sounding and palpable as, say, 2k's worth of fine-tuneable EAR. But the main issue with products of this humble a level is normally the refinement on offer. Trust me: this baby never sounds crude and always allows the detail through. And it loved the Koetsu.

At 50, the PP-2 is almost absurdly priced. You simply cannot kvetch when there's a phono stage - and a fine one at that - on sale for the price of four CDs. It will solve the LP dilemma for just about every line-stage pre-amp or integrated going, bar extreme high-end units that reveal its negligible shortcomings. If there's ever a PP-3, and it betters this bargain, we've got a conspiracy.

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