FIRESTONE’S RANGE of tiny boxes covers most audio functions and though this is the only phono model, it seems to have plenty of options that make it quite the all-rounder.

Some of these require access to the inside to flick board-mounted switches, which makes something of a nonsense of the rear-panel warning about the risk of electric shock. Mind you, even with the supply disconnected, there is still the theoretical possibility of an electric tickle from the internal batteries – yes, this is a battery-powered product.

That has some clear advantages when one is dealing with such tiny and vulnerable signals produced by cartridges. You can, however, use the supplied wall-wart while listening.

Gain is applied by op-amps, and not particularly fast ones, which limit output level at high frequencies, though this is probably academic with any real-world LP.

What does slightly concern us is the rather high minimum gain, which may cause overload with MM cartridges when playing very ‘hot’ LPs.

Indeed, we did see signs of that with a couple of discs and on the whole, we’d consider this phono stage as best suited to MC cartridges, including ‘high output’ ones which will suit the lowest gain setting well.

The sound is a shade on the bright side, but it’s very lively and engaging and we particularly enjoyed the sound with well-recorded dance music – the epitome of foot-tapping!

Bass is well controlled, perhaps just a shade lean, but rhythmic and powerful and detail is good.

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