Product Spotlight – RCM Audio The Big Phono

Being one of the top hi-fi showrooms in Europe, we naturally read and hear about a lot of products. We are constantly listening to and assessing new products. Generally we already have some idea of the brand or the product. Rarely are we truly shocked.

So when one of our distributors told us his reference phono stage was the RCM Audio The Big Phono we were very intrigued. We asked if we could try it and the rest was history.

We set up The Big Phono in our demonstration room with the Brinkmann Balance record player and were almost instantly wowed. It was clear this was a special product. Our Sales Manager Jason then took The Big Phono home and was so impressed that he decided to buy one for himself and upgrade his home system (pictured below) as well bringing one in for permanent demonstration at KJ.

Jason commented “Rarely am I so shocked by a product’s sound that I feel like a kid in a sweet shop and have to buy it! This was the case here. The Big Phono is everything vinyl should be – huge dynamics, quiet background and a breathtaking soundstage. A true masterpiece. You haven’t heard analogue reach it’s potential until you’ve heard this!”

RCM Audio is a very interesting company. They are an off-shoot from Poland’s top audio distributor RCM. After selling the Vitus Audio MP-P201 phono stage, owner Roger Adamek felt that the product used a philosophy that most phono stages were missing out on, he also felt there were ways to improve it. After searching and realising the product he wanted did not exist, he decided to develop his own.

The Big Phono took four years to design and bring to market. It is a versatile phono stage supporting MM and MC cartridges. There are two inputs (RCA) and two outputs (1 x XLR & 1 x RCA), each has a separately adjustable load. There are eight impedance values to choose from, from 20 Ω to 47 kΩ, and seven gain positions, from 0.3 mV to 5 mV. The RCA connectors are rhodium-plated top quality units from Furutech. Details like this never go unnoticed.

The casing of the The Big Phono and its separate power supply were commissioned by RCM to Thrax Audio who specialise in this. They are beautifully milled from two 65mm thick aluminium blocks which are then precisely fitted together to form a clamshell. These rigid enclosures provide excellent shielding of the sensitive preamplifier circuits. Carrying the cases in from the courier when they arrived, I could not believe they contained a phono stage. Although the units are fairly large, they are unassuming and quite minimalist in their appearance.

The separate power supply is the heavier of the units, this is largely due to the two 200w transformers inside. The Big Phono uses a dual-mono design with these transformers supplying the left and right channel separately.

All of this is very impressive, but what is really important is the sound. Fortunately, the Big Phono gives almost unbelievable vinyl reproduction when matched with a high-end player / cartridge. It is difficult to get across just how good this phono stage is with words alone. You need to hear it to believe it.

Nonetheless I will try. The first word that comes to mind is superior. It is very natural with incredible dynamics and it reveals what the record is capable of in a way that none of us here had heard before. It is not just the subtle details that are unearthed but the emotion in the music is far more evident; it’s a unique experience. Vinyl is such an incredible medium when done right, the RCM Audio The Big Phono is the best we have heard at giving you what you should be getting.

If The Big Phono is above your budget, RCM also have two other models which are both exceptional for their price. The Theriaa MK II is available for £13,500 and the Sensor 2 MK II is £3,250. We keep all three models in store and available for demonstration. We highly recommend all of them. Get in touch to arrange a demonstration.

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