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Phono stages Group Test - ANT Audio Kora 3T Ltd

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Phono stages Group Test
ANT Audio Kora 3T Ltd
Trichord Diablo NC
Icon Audio PS3
Holfi Batt2RIAA
Anatek MCR
Conclusion
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A.N.T. AUDIO KORA 3T LTD  £775

ant_kora_3t

This comes in a rather unassuming black extruded aluminium box, measuring just 48x91x133mm and tipping the scales at a bare kilogram. At the back are the usual input and output sockets, and power socket for another ‘wall wart’ power supply. This is a more substantial affair than that of the Lehmann, and may be a little awkward to fit in to some gang sockets. The right hand side of the back panel contains the earth terminal and a small knob for fine-tuning the DC operating point of the circuit. It works by slightly changing the DC bias of the circuit allowing a little ‘tuning’ of the phono stage to the cartridge.


Factory preset has the pointer at the 12 o’clock position, with adjustment available from the 7.30 to 5.30 positions. After a bit of experimentation I settled for the factory preset and got on with the listening. There’s an old motto which says “keep it simple”, and Alex has done just that with just three transistors per channel, running single ended Class A, and a passive RIAA network.


SOUND QUALITY

Although the Kora 3T is over twice the price of the Black Cube Statement, I wasn’t fully prepared for the jump in sound quality. The smoothness and detailing of the composite sounds of the Philharmonia Orchestra was a revelation. There was a maturity and authority in the performance of the Bruch that many aspirational units, several times the price of this, would have difficulty matching. The 3T Ltd.’s tonality was exceptional from a solid-state unit, being dark and velvety and thus more akin to the best tube stages. An expansive soundstage extended to the outer edges of the speaker cabinets, but within that area a wealth of detail greeted the listener. Although not the deepest I have heard, it reached back far enough for the orchestra to have room to form themselves into their correct seating arrangement, and to be precisely located in their right places. The level of micro-information reaching my ears was a testament to the simplicity of the design. Menuhin’s bowing was displayed clearly yet subtly, without the feeling that attention was being especially drawn to it.

 

Cellos and double basses had a solid foundation below the other instruments, creating a very cohesive and unforced sound. Staying with double basses neatly leads into Pierre Michelot’s playing of jazzed-up Bach. The Kora caught the subtleties of the swing and the rhythm that the Loussier team injected into ‘Chorale’ with aplomb. I found myself moving feet and tapping the arm of my chair to the beat. Changing musical gear to the 1965 album ‘Everything’s Coming Up Dusty’ found Miss Springfield in excellent voice covering Little Anthony and the Imperial’s soul classic ‘It Was Easier To Hurt Him’. Again, the transmission of the beat caused spontaneous movement of arms and legs to occur, showing what a naturally beguiling performer this is!

 

The Kora is an extremely musical device that presents its message in a pleasantly understated way. It’s not shouty, forced or explicit – quite the reverse in fact. It has a dark, beguiling nature that you don’t expect from a device at this price, and such a natural musical gait. The only caveat is that there’s an upgraded version coming soon, with a better power supply – I can’t wait to hear this.


verdict 4

Rich, expansive performer with a wonderfully musical demeanor.



A.N.T. AUDIO KORA

3T LTD £775

A.N.T. Audio

+44 (0)1803 833366

www.ant-audio.co.uk


FOR

- balanced, neutral sound

- expansive soundstage

- snappy timing


AGAINST

- wall wart PSU



MEASURED PERFORMANCE

The equalisation of this stage was deadly accurate, with gain rolled off slowly below 40Hz to a -1dB point at 22Hz, so there is some lowering of gain (9-10dB) at warp frequencies around 5Hz, but the Kora does not have an IEC warp filter. It will sound tonally accurate, but with well weighted bass.


Input noise was very low at 0.07uV and gain a useful x1337 (63dB) for MC cartridges. An output overload ceiling of 6.7V transferred back to the input as 5mV, good enough figures for overload not to be an issue with today’s cartridges.


The Kora 3T measures well in all areas. It is neatly engineered and will likely sound good. NK


Frequency response 22Hz-100kHz

Separation 73dB

Noise (e.i.n.) 0.07uV

Distortion 0.08%

Gain x1337 (63dB)

Overload 5mV in / 6.7V out


FREQUENCY RESPONSE

ant-kora-3t-mm-phono-fr1




 

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