The MMP-3 preamplifier is a streamlined version of the Soundsmith MMP-4. It was originally designed to bring out the best in the American manufacturer's mid-range and high-end Moving Iron cartridges, such as the ZEPHYR, BOHEME and AÏDA. However, its high quality means that it is also compatible with all 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 black anodised aluminium housing is relatively basic. Its design and the icon on the front make it look like a lab device… You either love it or loathe it! 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 large 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). Its components are completely different to those used in the MMP-4, and are in fact far superior in terms of quality and tolerance. For example, the circuit and capacitors have been optimised to ensure that the signal is carried with as much neutrality and precision as possible.
We couldn't resist trying out this preamp with the Ortofon 2M Black, Grado Master and Soundsmith Zephyr cartridges. We naturally recommend leaving this MMP-3 on for at least 24 hours prior to use.
From the opening bars, the difference in quality compared to its little brother is undeniable – it really brings the definition and precision up a notch. The dynamic range is excellent evenly spread across registers. The biggest difference we noticed compared to the Soundsmith MMP-4 has to be the bass, which is deep, well-articulated and dynamic. The frequency response also is larger and more natural. Overall, the MMP-3 has all the spaciousness and dynamic range we have come to expect from Soundsmith products, with never a dull or disappointing moment! With the Zephyr, the noise level was incredibly low, and even the smallest of details was reproduced with impressive precision and clarity. Vocals have remarkable presence. The treble flies very high, with all the softness of analogue sound.
This Soundsmith phono preamp isn't the sexiest on the market, but it knows how to play music where many of its competitors only know how to produce sound! If you have a high quality MI or MM cartridge and high standards but don't want to break the bank, this Soundsmith MMP-3 is a sound investment. Franck
Compatibility: MI/MM and high output MC
Input load: 47 Kohm/100pF
Gain: 43 dB
Min input: 1.5 mV
Chassis: Black aluminium
Power supply: Outboard 24v DC