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Moving to The Police and their Certifiable reunion concert in Buenos Aires was surprisingly a much better match than anticipated. The live ambiance, saturated guitars and slightly muted drums were rendered with intensity and a strong feel of the real event. The ASR offered a much cleaner presentation, less distortion on the guitars, more distance and separation between the musicians but also a lesser live vibe. The Nano was completely lost - too much information and density to deal with for the little guy. The resultant sound was too compressed and scaled back to be compelling. The SQ-PH-1t stayed right on the line between too much detail and not enough air and did a superb job taking me to Brazil that night.

But not everything was perfect with the SQ-PH1t. The reserved bass gave Demon Days by the Gorillaz a very incomplete feeling and Harmonia Mundi’s La Folia revealed in a very sharp light that the SQ-PH-1t is not very comfortable with brutal dynamic contrasts and extreme transient explosions. That said, the solid-state Clearaudio Nano didn’t do any better on this firework of impacts and instantaneous pace changes. Clearly the extra money spent on the ASR Mini Basis Exclusive showed its colors on both these recordings. When moving out of the realm of tonal richness and seduction into muscle and dynamics, the ASR clearly eclipsed the other two phono stages. Of course the Flight Phono delivered both in unlimited quantities but that’s why it costs four times as much as the SQ-PH-1t. For once I could hear the difference in price without ambiguity, more than I can say for a lot of high-end gear.

Towards the end of the review period, I experimented with a quartet of NOS Mullard 12AX7s. The four tubes add an extra $400 to the bill for a total just over $2000 but the difference was quite substantial. It added a little dynamic capability but more importantly in my mind, extended the reach in both treble and bass without losing out in midrange magic - actually gaining there with improved transparency and better texture.

With this extra investment, the SQ-PH-1t became fully competitive with the ASR Mini Basis Exclusive while being very different in style. The German is strongly solid-state with superb dynamics and extension, crisp transients and superb silence of operation while the Chinese-made American leans towards a stronger vintage tube voice with midrange magic but limitations in dynamics and extension. Which you prefer is a matter of taste but both are excellent representatives of their respective breeds. Blending the qualities of both is possible but comes with a significantly higher sticker

All in all the SQ-PH-1t is a phono tube preamplifier that does not pretend it uses transistors. If you are after that vintage tube flavor—you know who you are—to match with a high-efficiency hornspeaker in need of treble sweetening while preserving a wet and intense midrange, the SQ-PH-1t absolutely should be considered. Similarly, if you need to give some tonal enhancement to a cartridge on the dry and disembodied side, the SoundQuest is a perfect candidate for the job. It will definitely be very forgiving of imperfections in associated gear while being more transparent than most entry-level models.

This Epilogue reports on my concluding impressions after I'd completed the 6th installment of this review series.

Quality of packing:
Reusability of packing: A few times.
Ease of un-/repacking:Easy.
Condition of component received: Flawless.
Completeness of delivery: Perfect.
Website comments: Complete and informative.
Human interactions:
Very good.
Pricing: On the high side for a Chinese-made tube phono preamplifier but build quality and performance do support the asking price and although the need for a good power cord and upgraded 12AX7s can push the total past $2000, they should be considered mandatory to fully exploit the SQ-PH-1t’s potential performance.
Final comments & suggestions: Association with Class-D amplifiers needs to be considered with care as excessive noise levels could result.
Manufacturer's website