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Sphinx Project 4
3 Reviews
rating  4.67 of 5


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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Makz a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 6, 2002

Bottom Line:   
The Dutch 'Sphinx Project 14' hybrid tube/mosfet power amplifier has always been a bit of a worry for Sphinx. Especially the mkI was a disaster. Due to a production-failure the PCB was quite useless, and they had to re-wire the entire circuit by hand, which left a very service-unfriendly machine that was almost impossible to repair.
With the mkII they got it better, but still they had a lot of problems, mainly with the power-source for the tube section. By now this design was known as "the boomerang", because they just kept coming back for repairs. The mkIII was completely re-designed, and is by far the most reliable version, although comments on the internet seem to indicate otherwise. The Dutch distributor offered pj14 owners to replace it with the full transistor design pj18, at a very reasonable extra payment. People who did this got an amplifier that was 100% reliable, but lacking a lot of the "magic" of the hybrid pj14 design. And there's the catch. Although the 14 had a lot of problems, it's sound was fantastic!
The one I have has a specially designed power source (usually referred to as 'the export-version')and has no problems, well, just a little one; after switching it on, it needs quite a long time to warm up. If I turn off the 'mute' switch too shortly after flicking the power switch, it will stay in "mute", and I have to swich it off and on again. But this is just a minor flaw which can be repaired easily at low cost.
A possible solution for preventing bigger problems is giving it enough "cooling-space", and adding larger heat-sinks to the power-supply in the tube section.
Listening to the 14 is quite an experience. It's sound is very neutral, yet powerfull, with a slight tendency towards "euphoric", due to the tube input stage. It's tonal range is extremely extended, just like the dynamic range. There is an incredible amount of detail, and it all sounds as if it goes effortless, and there is an unlimited supply of overhead power. No matter what kind of music I play, the soundstage is very large, and just seems to "fit". If you feel like taking a chance by buying one, make sure that it is the mkIII you're getting! If possible, check the serial number with your local distributor for repair-history. And if you get a good one, like me, you will have one of the finest power-amplifiers ever to be built in The Netherlands.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Makz a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: May 24, 2002

Bottom Line:   
This may well be the last pre-amp I have ever bought. First of all, it looks great. I bought it off the guy who actually designed it (externally that is...). It goes very well with my project fourteen. Soundwise it's a beauty. Mine's the mkIII, and let there be no mistake; this is by far the best version. It's power source was completely re-done and the PCB-layout was optimized. This results in greatly improved reliability, a very holographic soundstage, and an extended dynamic range with extreme inner detail without getting too forward. For a tube pre-amp it is very quiet (depends a lot on the tubes you choose), and you can use E288cc's if you can lay your hands on a good pair (like me ;-).
There is no Phono-stage in mine, but I prefer it that way. The standard phono-stage used by Sphinx used to be "MC-only", and since I have a high-output MC (DL160 by Denon), it wouldn't be much use to me anyway. Now I can choose any external phonostage I like. The only minor comment I could think of (had to contemplate very hard) is the fact that the volume control (Alps, by the way) is mechanically devided into steps. I like it "step-less", but I must be having an Alps "Black Beauty" lying around somewhere, so I'm safe...
If you can get it for a similar price (please note that the price is in Euro's)you should not hesitate to buy, you'll be doing youself a favour!

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $925.00

Purchased At:   second hand

Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Laurens van de Weg a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: June 21, 1998

Bottom Line:   
Beautifully shaped and voiced preamplifier !
If you find one take it !

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Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile

Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

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