Phono stages Group Test - Trichord Diablo NC

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Another fairly compact unit, measuring just 117x190x55mm, the Diablo sports a crisp aluminium case finished in grey, offset by a brushed alloy facia. This example was supplied with the optional Never Connected Power Supply which uses a system of switching the input current between two electrolytic capacitors via a diode bridge rectifier and a MOSFET switching circuit.

Underneath the Diablo itself are four banks of dip switches, one pair controlling loading, ranging from 100pF to 1k Ohm. The others are for gain (74, 70 and 63dB for MCs and 52 or 48 dB for the MM setting). Internal circuity includes Analogue Devices and Linear Technology audio-grade bipolar and J-FET operational amplifiers. RIAA equalisation is part passive and part active, using audio grade capacitors and resistors.


Starting with ‘Electric Roundabout’, the Diablo dived into the mix with gusto, bringing to the surface a range of textures to the sound that the other phono stages sampled so far made less obvious. This rather bright light brought to bear on the proceedings worked very nicely in the context of my own review system, vividly highlighting the use of synthesiser effects, and this was driven along by a tight kick drum. Still, the crispness of the Trichord’s tonality did not do many favours to the surface noise present on a forty four year old mono pressing, but the definition given to Dusty and the instrumentalists gathered around her was aided by the widest mono image I've ever encountered - impressive stuff.


Wishing to provoke a reaction from the Diablo, I cued up ‘Vicino a te’, the final duet from Giordano’s opera ‘Andreas Chenier’. The action takes place during the French Revolution, and ends here with Chenier and his lover Maddalena in the Bastille, awaiting execution and singing of their undying love in a tune which culminates in an explosion of massed trumpets, rumbling timpani and crashing cymbals. My suspicions were proved right, as the sharp presentation of the music only just stayed within the realms of acceptability. Returning to calmer waters with the Loussier Trio and the detailing became more of a pleasure again, as attention focused in turn on the piano on the left, the drums occupying the centre, with the double bass playing tunefully, if slightly dispassionately on the right.


The Diablo struck me as a listener’s phono stage, rather than a dancer’s one. Timing was very accurate, but a bit ‘strict tempo’ to my ears, lacking the more organic rhythms of the ANT Audio Kora 3T Ltd. This unit is all about clinical precision and vivid contrasts between dynamic light and shade.

Many will love the top Trichord, as it certainly would ‘wake up’ an overly laid back or loose sounding system. So adept at producing accurately staged and detailed sonic images, it nevertheless lacks a certain lyricism found elsewhere.


verdict four globes

Vivid, captivating and explicit sounding phono stage that’s best used in smooth sounding systems.



Trichord Research Ltd.

+44 (0)1684 292792



- super detailing

- good imaging

- precise timing



- needs careful matching

- cerebral nature



The analysis of equalisation accuracy and frequency response shows the Diablo has slightly accentuated higher frequencies, in the 75uS curve above 1kHz with both MM and MC cartridges. This will add a little to insight and detailing. Gain was maintained down to 10Hz; there is no warp filtering. As a result cone flap may occur with warped records but bass will be deep.


Gain with moving magnet (MM) cartridges was high at x230 (47dB) and x 400 (52dB). With moving coils it measured x1460 (63dB) and x3230 (70dB), with an option of x5850 (75dB). There’s enough gain to cope with all cartridges and insensitive amplifiers requiring at least 400mV in. Overload occurs at 9.3V out, a high value, allowing healthy input overload ceilings.


Noise (equivalent input noise, A wtd.) was low at 0.06uV with MC and 0.08uV or so with MM, so the Diablo is very quiet. Distortion was minimal and channel separation high.


The Diablo is a well thought out phono stage with plenty of adjustment to cope with all cartridges. NK

Frequency response MC 10Hz-32kHz

Separation (MM, MC) 78, 68dB

Noise (e.i.n.MM, MC) 0.08uV, 0.06uV

Distortion 0.002%

Gain (MM, MC)

x230, x400, x1460, x3230

Overload (MM,MC)

41mV, 6mV in / 9.3V out








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