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Allnic H 1201 Phono Stage Review

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Soundstaging and imaging, or should I say “space”

Like I have already said here is a part of music reproduction in which Kang Su Park’s designs excel.  It’s not just that his soundstaging are wider and deeper — which they most certainly are — but that his designs let you more easily place things in the recording space. No, the 1201 doesn’t match the H-3000 here, but I dare say I have heard no other phono-preamp that betters the soundstage of the little Allnic.

It has that special Allnic ability not to let anyone instrument overshadows any other; they each have their own space.  This results in more air around each instrument, and more of the breath that makes a system sound more like real instruments and real people.  In most reviews when I get around to talking about soundstage, I say it’s not all that important to me, but you just can’t say that about Kang Su Park’s designs.

The midrange and top-end

The upper midrange and top-end of the H1201 are truly beautiful, not for the money, but in absolute terms.  With good recordings they are fluid and sweet, with lots of presence,  and just fun to listen to. It’s not quite as revealing as the H-3000, but a little more forgiving of bright recordings.

The midrange and lower midrange are equally well done.  Small differences can be heard in voices and breathing; instruments have a rich harmonic structure.  Friends, it just goes to show you that there really can be magic in those glass bottles, even without spending five figures.  One of the things I really like about great valve products and often talk about is when voices take on an almost scary, real sound.  This little phono preamp gives you a real glimpse of that magic.

Let’s talk about the bass

When reviewing the H-3000 I said, “It’s in the reproduction of the lower midrange and bass that I get really excited about this phono preamp.  It’s so natural, so fast, so powerful, and yet it never jumps out at you and says ‘I’ve got great bass.’ Instead, it just lets drums sound like drums, basses sound like bases, and best of all, music to sound like music. One of the most important things in natural sounding bass is texture and air.” Well, the H-1201 isn’t the equivalent of H-3000 in bass reproduction.  Still, I have to admit I was shocked at how good as it was, but here is a place where it just doesn’t hold its own with five-figure phono preamps.  I know this isn’t a fair comparison, though.

The H-1201 reproduces drums, acoustical and electric basses with excellent impact and a fundamental rightness. It allows you to hear air and texture without even the slightest hint of boom, looseness, or hangover in the bass or mid-bass.  It gives you quick fast attacks followed by nice decay. Compared to most tube linestages and phono preamps, it is faster and tighter in the bass, but never lacking in tone or color.

Micro-dynamics and PRaT

This is another area where the H-1201 exceeds expectation.  It has fast micro-dynamics and transients.  When you combine this with the bass and mid-bass speed and power, plus its great dynamics, you get a phono preamp with very lifelike PRaT.  It draws you in and makes you tap your feet.  The overall sound is clean, transparent, very dynamic, and incredibly dimensional.

Allnic H 1201 Phono Stage

Conclusion

The H-1201 isn’t a giant slayer if you’re comparing it to phono stages over $10,000, but if you’re comparing it to phono stages under $10,000 it just might be. I have to admit I was quite taken with this little phono stage. It’s well built, looks great, is flexible when it comes to matching cartridges, and best of all – it sounds great!

One Response to Allnic H 1201 Phono Stage Review


  1. Ren says:

    Jack,

    Just read your review of the Allnic h-1201. I firmly recalled that you reviewed a Vacuum State SVP-1 a few years ago. While I don’t have my Vacuum State anymore, I am intrigued by the Allnic and would like to know how the h-1201 sounds compared to the svp-1 and possibly how the h-1201 compares to Allnic’s middle model – Allnic H1500 II SE PLUS.

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