A new phono preamplifier from Sutherland is always great news! We follow Ron Sutherland very closely because we’re big fans of his philosophy and radical, technical approach to phono equipment. Here at maPlatine.com, we think his creations are among some of the best on the market.
The Insight phono preamp is an intermediary model between the excellent 20/20 and the famous PH3D. It uses the same phono stage, but with several adjustments, including better quality components and circuitry. The battery power supply has been completely replaced, however, by a low consumption DC power supply built into the chassis.
As per usual with Sutherland products, the power supply board is separated from the sound card. They are even separated by a 10 cm gap. In fact, the Insight has two entirely separate chassis. It is fully non-magnetic and insulates the circuit from all electromagnetic and electrical interference.
Gain and load can be set via DIP switches. For each of these two elements you can choose from 5 values: 40-60 dB for gain and 100 ohms-47 K Ohms for the load! This opens up several options when it comes to MM and MC cartridges.
What I like about Ron Sutherland's products is the remarkably simple design and ease of use. It couldn't be simpler – just adjust the settings, plug it in, and the music will start! Don't bother looking for a switch – there isn’t one. Anyway! You'll forget all about the technological side of things soon enough. Simplicity might seem like a given, but it isn't necessarily. In my opinion, a lot of products complicate things too much by overdoing it on the technology. What I mean by that is when you're listening to a record, you want to hear what’s been cut into the grooves, not what’s been soldered to the preamp’s printed circuit board! From the opening bars, this preamp’s reproduction quality is closer to the 20/20 than the PH3D. It has inherited the balance and timbre quality of the latter, and the dynamic range and transparency of the former. It also seems to deliver better articulation and precision in the lower registers than the PH3D. Despite using a power supply rather than battery power, there is no hint of distortion or noise discolouring the music. The Insight has retained all the nuance and texture of the PH3D, and even of the discontinued Hubble!
In conclusion, the Sutherland Insight is the company's most affordable high-end preamp, delivering sound quality that puts preamps twice or three times its price to shame. Highly recommended!
The Absolute Sound - Editors' Choice 2013
Stereophile - Class A - Recommended Component Franck
Compatibility: MM and MC
Adjustable gain: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 dB
Loads: 100, 200, 1k, 10k, 47 KOhms
Power supply: DC
Consumption: 5 w
Dimensions: 43 x 31 x 6.5 cm