The MMP-4 Soundsmith preamplifier is the number one phono preamp by this American manufacturer. It was originally designed to bring out the best in the company’s Moving Iron cartridges, but its quality and versatility means that it is also compatible with the majority of high output moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges. It has a highly sensitive input that can handle all cartridges with an output level of over 1.5 millivolts. Its load resistance is 47 000 Ohms and capacitance is 100 pico-farads.
Its aluminium housing is relatively basic, and this simple aesthetic and graph design on the front makes it look like it belongs in a lab rather than a Hi-Fi system! Personally, I really like the overall look. No Power On LED indicator. It has the bare essentials, namely a pair of RCA sockets to connect the turntable and a pair of RCA for the amplifier. There is also a ground plug and female socket for the outboard power supply. Note that the latter is a 24V DC supply with very low consumption (300 milliamps). All of the MMP-4’s components are of a very high quality, and the circuit has been optimised to carry the signal with as little noise and colouration as possible.
We tried out this preamp with the Ortofon 2M Black, Grado Sonata and Soundsmith Otello cartridges. We recommend leaving the MMP-4 on for at least 24 hours prior to use. The sound quality was plain to hear from the opening bars. This preamp very clearly delivers definition, spaciousness and dynamic range, with never a dull or disappointing moment! With the Otello, the noise level was incredibly low, and even the smallest of details was reproduced with impressive precision. Vocals are full of presence and openness. The bass is not as deep as we expected (remember this is a phono preamp costing under €600!) but it is very nuanced and particularly well articulated. It works wonders with the double bass and funk electric bass in particular. The treble flies high, without a hint of stress or harshness, retaining a sense f brightness as it blends perfectly into the top end of the mid-range.
This little Soundsmith isn’t the sexiest phono preamp on the market, but it knows how to play and could even be considered one of the best in this range. If you have a mid-range MI or MM cartridge and high standards but don't want to break the bank, this Soundsmith MMP-4 is the phono preamp for you! Franck
Compatibility: MI/MM and high output MC
Input load: 47 Kohm/100pF
Gain: 43 dB
Min input: 1.5 mV
Chassis: Blue aluminium
Power supply: Outboard 24v DC