31 January, 2016

Brief Review: Hagerman Bugle2 Phonoamp

Image result for hagerman bugleBrief Review: Hagerman Bugle2 Phonoamp (40 db MM version)


Sometime ago, my friend/taskmaster icefox accidentally left this phonoamp at my place, and yesterday I found some time to play with it. This is the MM version (40 db gain).

The Hagerman Bugle started as a Kickstarter project, is now a regular offering, and can be had as a kit or assembled, with choice of different gains. Official link here.

Bugle2 - Phono PreampAssociated Equipment
Turntable 1 Garrard 301 (grey/grease)-Ortofon AS-212S-Denon DL-103
Turntable 2 Thorens TD-124 Mk I-SME 3009R-Denon DL-103
Step Up Transformers (SUT) Kondo KSL-SFz and Denon AU-320
Phonoamp 47 Labs Shigaraki
Preamp Wavac PR-X2
Amp Wavac MD-300B
Loudspeaker TAD 3401

Sonic Impressions
  • General As I do not have a MM cartridge, I used a SUT for MC duties. The Denon SUT proved more suitable than the Kondo. The Bugle2 sounds clear, clean and neutral, with a low (but not quite exceptional) noise floor. For me, the treble is perhaps just a tad on the bright side: this is why it sounded more comfortable with the Denon SUT than the silver Kondo; also, the sound turns just a little lean with the fast and detailed Ortofon arm. In terms of musical flow, I feel the Bugle2 is lacking a bit (see below). Overall, I'd say this is a very good phonoamp for the money, and would please many audiophiles, but those who treasure more subtle virtues may want to look for alternatives.
  • vs 47 Labs The much more expensive 47 labs is obviously superior on almost all counts, particularly in rhythm and pace. The 47 is even cleaner, but also more colorful.
  • vs Others I still remember very well my phonoamp shootout last year. The Micromega MyGroov (now being discounted in the US) IMHO is more musical, with better rhythm and pace.

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