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For the review of his Trafomatic Reference Phono One company owner and designer Sasa Cokic also sent along the matching Reference One linestage. These two combine beautifully with our EL84-based Trafomatic Kaivalya monos. They mate well not only electrically but visually. Each part of this system uses clear anodized aluminum and matching knobs whilst sporting the same white lacquer finish for the wooden casework and transformer covers. The only difference are the white and amber LEDs in the power amplifiers where the preamplifiers are equipped with blue ones. With our equally white Pnoe horns, the overall cosmetics alone are stunning we think.

Packaging was how these things should be—no fuss and sturdy—and the trip from Serbia to Holland passed without any damage inside or out. At 10kg the 430 x 370 x 130mm phono stage is no lightweight which presumes plenty of internal transformer iron. Sasa designed the Reference Phono One as a single-ended class A circuit. There are two input types like any modern phonostage should have. The MM input has 45dB of gain, the MC 67dB with the addition of Lundahl step-up transformers. Noise and hum are down a respectable -78dB. To give the following linestage something to work with, the phonostage puts out 1.2Vrms at 660Ω over the RCA sockets.

At the back sit three sets of input connectors - a pair of RCA terminals for MM with an input impedance of 51KΩ next to two pairs of MC inputs, one unbalanced, one fully balanced. A rotary switch adjusts MC input impedance for both RCA and XLR from 20Ω to 50, 100, 200 and 500Ω up to 1KΩ. Sasa’s RIAA deemphasis circuit shows a frequency response of +/-0.4dB for the RIAA correction curve.

To obtain the desired RIAA function and necessary signal gain, Sasa did not reach for the classic solution of embedding the correction curve in the gain stage nor did he opt for the almost classic tube solution of twin-triode 12AX7 voltage gain. What took the most trial and error time of this design was the passive RIAA network. Routing the audio signal through the network which is standard MO for almost any phono stage was a complete no-no in Mladenovac, Serbia. As a gesture for the New Year, Sasa then offered to include the basic circuit schematic in this review [see on the last page]. Proprietary was no concern here and the DIY community gets a wonderful gift we think.

The production version differs slightly from the basic design in certain details. It uses two EF806 low-noise/low-hum pentodes per channel which also share one half each of a single 6H6-EV double triode. Low noise designs require very stable low-noise power supplies. To achieve best power rectification and stabilization, Mr. Cokic uses three tubes where a choke-filtered EZ81 rectifier is followed by an EL84 pentode then EF86 low-noise pentode. The hefty input transformer in the power supply is responsible for the bulk of the 10kg total weight.

Our Dr. Feickert Blackbird turntable with DFA 1o5 tone arm only connects unbalanced to a phono stage and our own Tri TRV EQ3SE phono stage has no choice but RCA. Using the balanced inputs of the Trafomatic Phono One with adapters was no option as that input is fully balanced. We had to stick to the RCA inputs which of course share the Lundahl step-up transformers with the XLRs.