The TP-6.5 Series II Signature Phono Preamplifier is a major update and improvement to the TP-6.5 Signature Phono stage. Its upgrades include circuit enhancements originally developed for the acclaimed TL-7.5 Series III Reference Preamplifier, as well as newly designed, more robust power storage for the active MC stage.
The original TP-6.5 Phono preamplifier complemented the top of the line VTL TL-6.5 and TL7.5 Linestage Preamplifiers, matching them in sonic performance, user interface and cosmetics. The new TP-6.5II pushes the analog envelope even further, utilizing the latest innovations from VTL. The result is a phono stage that substantially improves upon the performance of its predecessor.
The phono stage employs hybrid JFET/tube circuitry for quiet operation, multiple low-noise cascaded regulators and shielded power supplies for increased dynamics, accurate 4-corner passive RIAA equalization and 68dB of gain from the balanced outputs, all in a single chassis unit. A wide selection of load and gain settings as well as other input functions are easily accessible via both front panel and remote control.
One of the design breakthroughs in the TP-6.5 II is the use of the shunt regulator in the power supply, which offers superior regulation and ripple rejection and minimizes the sonic impact on the audio signal due to lowered amplification in the regulator. The result is a noticeable lowering of background noise contributing to stability and better delineation of midrange and midbass. There is more air around the voices, more finesse, extension, and nuances – giving an overall more lifelike impression. Especially noticeable improvement in the active MC Stage is its speed and dynamics.
Further improvement in the TP-6.5 Series II comes from the implementation of massive low impedance power supply storage in the active MC stage, fed by multiple cascaded regulators and capacitance multiplier circuits. The resulting rigid, low impedance power supplies prevent power supply ripple and other noise from affecting the sensitive MC signal. The new gel capacitor technology, which offers dramatically higher capacitance in much smaller packages, is key to the breakthrough in the TP6.5 II’s active MC stage directly contributing to its remarkable lower noise level and ability to handle very low output cartridges.
The TP-6.5II also offers a high quality transformer Moving Coil step up option, both to offer a low-noise MC step up, and a second MC stage. This second MC input replaces the original MM input that is normally standard in the TP6.5 Phono Stage, and uses the existing MM input to provide access to the transformer MC step up.
The addition of the step up transformer allows both for appropriate loading for very low-output cartridges, and the flexibility of handling different cartridges with different step up methods, as in some cases certain cartridges can sound substantially better with transformers than they do with active gain stages. The transformer also allows the cartridge to be loaded via the transformer, instead of via the loading resistor, retaining as much of the signal available from these cartridges as possible.
Switching between the inputs is done only after the signal has been amplified, avoiding signal losses inherent in switching the fragile MC signal straight from the cartridge.
This option offers the maximum MC cartridge handling flexibility, and also accommodates multiple arms and multiple MC cartridges, as both inputs can be connected simultaneously.
Full front panel functionality:
- Input selection
- MC Gain adjust: 5 steps of 6dB: 44dB, 50dB, 56dB, 62dB, 68dB
- MC Step Up Option Gain: 65dB balanced output, 59dB single-ended output
- Load setting: MC: 100Ω, 250Ω, 470Ω, 1kΩ, 2.5kΩ, 4.7kΩ, 47kΩ and User Defined, and MM – 10kΩ, 22kΩ, 47kΩ and User Defined.
- Load setting for MC Step Up: 47Ω, 100Ω, 470Ω, 1.0kΩ
- Mono switch
- Phase flip, absolute, and channel to channel
- RIAA select, for Enhanced RIAA and Rumble cut
- Input select
- Phase reverse
- Rumble cut
- Cartridge Load
- 2 single ended inputs, with discrete load settings for each input
- Single-ended and Balanced outputs, with 68dB total gain balanced
- Active Hybrid low noise J-FET driving high current 12AU7 MC gain stage for highest resolution of small signal levels
- All high fidelity tubes: 12AU7, 12AX7, 12AT7, all operating in linear range
- Accurate 4-corner passive RIAA filter, with split pole for greater accuracy
- Zero loop feedback
- Gain trims for accurate channel to channel balance
- Signature and Reference-level coupling capacitors
- Shock mounted gain stages for resistance to vibration interference
- Extensive RF filtering on AC path
- Switchable RF filtering on both inputs
- Low radiation UI core power transformers, with dual mono supplies, and separate logic supply
- Dual mono multiple cascaded precision-regulated and shielded power supplies for low noise, with film bypass for high frequency performance
- High quality transformer MC step up option for low noise and excellent match to low-output MC cartridges
- Quiet sleep mode on processor when not in use
- Quiet 7-segment LED display on the front panel (for gain and load display)
- Rigid braced steel and aluminum chassis for EMI, RF, and hum shielding with minimal interference from vibration
- All noisy components steel shielded for low RF and hum radiation
- Additional steel shielding on amplifier section for lowest noise
DocumentationTP-6.5 II Data Sheet
|Vacuum Tube Complement||2 x 12AU7 MC (MC Stage), 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 12AT7MM, 2 x 12AT7|
|Inputs||2 pairs single-ended/RCA|
|Outputs||1 pair balanced out XLR out, 1 pair single-ended RCA out|
|Remote control functions||Power, MC/MM Source Select, Gain up/down, Mute, Rumble, Load, Mono, Phase|
|Maximum Gain||MC: 62dB single ended, 68dB balanced, MM: 35dB single ended, 40dB balanced|
|Input Impedance (Cartridge Load)||Selectable MC: 100Ω, 250Ω, 470Ω, 1kΩ, 2.5kΩ, 4.7kΩ, 47kΩ, User Defined
Selectable MM: 10kΩ, 22kΩ, 47kΩ, User Defined
|Frequency response +0-1 dB||1Hz – 100kHz|
|Maximum Output Voltage <1% THD||10 VRMS @ 1kHz (10kΩ load)|
|Channel Separation||>70dB @ 1kHz (>65dB @ 20kHz)|
|Power Consumption||80 Watts|
|Dimensions W x D x H||17.5 x 17 x 4.75 inches (44.45 x 44.45 x 12.06 cm)|
|Weight||50lbs (22.72kg) Fully packed in one box|
… The first thing you notice is the greater control and articulation in the low range of the VTL, which is to be expected knowing that this is a key signature of the “family sound” of the company.
… The soundstage is monumental, but the VTL has a clear margin in the depths of the soundstage and the focus of soloists. This is the same feeling that I had when I did the comparison between the line preamps of the two brands [ARC is the other brand in the comparison]: the VTL gives the feeling of a “blackest black” in a note.
As for the MC input, known as I have a distinct preference for passive stage, I have to recognize, however, that with cartridges designed for active stages, for example with the Clearaudio Goldfinger, you get a better result: in the case of Goldfinger the feeling of having removed the handbrake and in the Lyra Titan, to date the only low impedance cartridge which I think can sound good with an active state, the difference between the two configurations is reduced to a matter of taste, a hair more punch and speed for MC Step Up transformer, and a hair of airiness and tonal neutrality to the active input.
…So, sooner or later it had to happen: after years of honorable service the [ARC] Reference Phono glorious career was beaten, though not humiliated and obviously I have not heard all the phono stages of creation, … I have no doubt in saying that the VTL TP-6.5 is clearly my new phono stage reference.
- Marco Benedetti, Audio Review, No298, Italy, February 2009