by Oliver Amnuayphol
If you've been around hi-fi for a while, chances are you're already familiar with surround sound shaman and car audio extraordinaire Jim Fosgate, founder of Rockford Fosgate, creator of Dolby Pro-Logic II surround, and holder of over 25 patents. No question Fosgate has an extraordinary legacy in specialist hi-fi components, so when he releases something new it's sure to be a showstopper--like this shiny new phono preamp, simply dubbed the Signature. Courtesy of a joint partnership with Musical Surroundings, the Signature phono preamp resulted from Fosgate's testing of more than 100 different designs over 30 years and is chock-full of all the best features--like all tube amplification and rectification with no solid state devices in the signal path; switchable moving-magnet and moving-coil gain settings (42.5 and 60.5 db, respectively); and variable load settings from 100 ohms to 100K ohms. What's more, Fosgate's SRPP design features a novel power supply utilizing over-spec'd local storage capacitance (instead of regulation) for each tube stage, and internal PC board layout is configured as a "dual-mono" design. With all that's gone into Fosgate's Signature phono stage, it certainly looks the business and should be quite the value at $2499. Available now.
And after you get the boss Fosgate phono pre, how do you make sure your cartridge is sending it the
maximum musical goodness? By perfectly aligning your phono cartridge of course! One of the alignment parameters critical to good sound (but often very difficult to achieve) is correct cartridge azimuth, or your cartridge's left-right axial tilt. Simply put, if your cart's azimuth isn't perfect, you're just not getting proper channel balance or separation, let alone fully developed stereo imaging. Unfortunately, you can't just eyeball the azimuth to get it dead-on; usually you'd need an oscilloscope or other expensive gear to set this properly, or hope 'n pray to the vinyl-luvin' gods that your cart's cantilever
is perfectly aligned within its generator and housing (for a full explanation of azimuth ins and outs, check out Michael Fremer's great analog piece on the subject here). But now, thanks again to Jim Fosgate's brilliant mind, there's an inexpensive and easy to use tool to help you with that, too--the Fozgometer! This handy-dandy device allows you to dial in your cartridge's azimuth with 100% accuracy by using a “Log Ratio Detector” Jim Fosgate developed
for surround processor steering logic circuits to measure channel
separation. Simply plug in the leads from your tonearm or phono stage and adjust your cartridge's azimuth according to the instructions until the center LED turns green. Easy-peasy! And believe you me: Once it's dialed, you'll immediately hear improved stereo imaging and soundfield depth like never before. And at only $249, the Fozgometer costs much less and is easier to use than the 'scope or other similar methods, making it an absolute bargain. I'd say get one right away, but you can't: the Fozgometer is back ordered everywhere, so just get one as soon as you can.