Introducing the Talos Reference phono system - the result of years of research and development in phono preamplification design

“After spending thousands of hours researching, building & testing various designs, including discrete solid state, tube hybrid, and opamp phono stages, we settled on an all tube, three stage, all transformer coupled uniquely designed phono stage. One that brings something new to the analog world. Our goal was to design and built the best phono preamplifier, a unique cost no object implementation. We strongly believe we have done so.”


A phono preamplifier generally consists of three subsystems -
Input Stage, RIAA Stage, Output Stage

A phono preamplifier generally consists of three subsystems – Input Stage, RIAA Stage, Output Stage. The input stage, responsible for the main amplification of the delicate signal sourcing from the phono cartridge. This task is extremely difficult. The signal level is only a few microvolts rms, comparable to the noise level picked up in the majority of interconnect cables, along with thermal noise of some active devices.

The input stage must amplify the signal to the last micro detail coming from the vinyl groove, whilst rejecting noise coming from external sources, cables and the turntable electro mechanical system. The selection of the active device used for the input stage is as critical as the design of the topology used.

Operational amplifiers were rejected for this cost no object design. Although their performance on the benchmarks were impressive, all opamp designs failed to deliver the detail, flow and sonic bliss associated with top analog systems.

Many discrete JFET implementations, balanced or single ended, were more then satisfying regarding measurable performance. However none of them was quite there, and fell short of our expectations, to stand next to an absolute top system. In addition their high input capacitance presented several problems to the cartridge loading.


The detail retrieval from the Talos Reference input stage is phenomenal

Input Stage

Our input stage is a proprietary topology using the E280F super tubes. The input stage is a true differential design. The signal from the cartridge is amplified as a perfectly symmetrical signal, either RCA (floating) or XLR input is used. Any noise picked anywhere in the signal chain, from the cartridge pins up to the phono preamplifier inputs are rejected. The two tube banks parallel-feed (parafeed) two mumetal transformers for complete noise rejection.

The input stage can be accompanied by an optional custom, balanced-to balanced step-up transformer, built to exact customer’s needs, to tailor-fit each cartridge used. The detail retrieval from our input stage is phenomenal.

SUT & Cartridge Loading

The Talos Ref comes equipped and internally pre-installed with our specially designed SUT. The SUT is 18db step up ratio, and be preordered with custom step up ratios. Our SUT transformers are also wound using fully geometrically/electrically balanced windings, thus outputting a true balanced output, thus fully benefit from our differential tube input stage.

Amplifiying the extremely low level signal in differential mode has the advantage of cancelling out common mode noise Common mode noise is electrical noise picked up anywhere from the cartridge body up to the inputs of the phono stage, Thus the Talos Signature has a very high SNR.

The unit comes with no internal loading presets, as this would predefine and limit loading combinations. Loading is thus provided by our loading modules. These are custom built on request, and tailored to a clients cartridge portofilio. Loading modules can be used for both direct and SUT inputs. Loading modules can be any value requested, and users can load any input independently.

Double-T LCR filters are the most transparent and dynamic filters available today

RIAA Stage

The second stage of a phono system is the RIAA equalization circuits. Almost all phono preamplifiers use CR (capacitor-resistor) filters, usually in feedback loops for opamp designs, or between gain stages in some more expensive tube and discrete JFET circuits.

The Talos preamplifier had to use the best possible RIAA equalization technique, so we used a constant impedance transformer coupled LRC RIAA equalization subsystem. A small transformer loaded tube SET amplifier drives the RIAA transformer system. The RIAA equalization curve is achieved within 0.2 db in the audible range, and the ultra low constant impedance of the LCR circuit is virtually sonically transparent.


Output Stage

The third stage in the Talos Reference is the output stage, and is a transformer coupled triode stage using the E280F super tube. A step down transformer provides low output impedance, galvanic isolation and more than enough power gain (voltage and current) to drive any amplifier on the market.

All power supplies are located in a matching second chassis, while local capacitor banks in the main chassis provide local decoupling

Power Supply

The small SET amplifier driving the LCR RIAA and the small SET output amplifier are both powered by their own separate power supply units.

The external power supply is connected to the main chassis via a heavy duty umbilical chord. This ensures complete magnetic separation between the power transformer and the eight signal transformers.

The Talos Series phono systems are our answer to designing and building the best phono preamplifiers. Accompanied with a top analog turntable and cartridge system, we firmly believe that they are the top reference audio source today.

Technical Specifications


Tube compliment:

8x E280F  4x 6d22s

Total system gain::

62db. 80db max gain using the  +18db SUT input.
Custom step up ratios/impedances available.

Noise floor:

<88db unweighted

Maximum Signal to noise ratio:


RIAA accuracy:


Max Output:


Max input overload:

Can be used with Very high output MM carts without overload


480 mm W x 350mm D x 165 mm H


79kg total

Talos Series Information





Standard gain (direct)




Custom SUT gain range

+12db ~ +26db

+12db ~ +26db

+12db ~ +26db

Number of optional SUTs (pairs)




Custom direct gain range

48db min 62db max

48db min 64db max

44db min 60db max

Input stage

Differential stage, Level 1

Differential stage.
Dual Adjustable tube banks
Level 2

Differential stage.
Dual Adjustable tube banks
Level 2 Gen 2


Set driven Level 1 LRC

Set driven Level 2 LRC

Set driven Level 3 LRC

Bias control for Input stage

Auto cathode bias

All stages have AC link bias system.

User configurable

All stages have AC link bias system.

User configurable. Dual monitors

Output stage

SET amplifier

Set amplifier. AC link bias

Inverted Triode proprietary


Power supply input

Tube rectified. Independent 

Tube rectified. Independent.

Quad choke

Tube rectified. Independent.
Quad choke

RIAA Power supply

Solid state rectification. 

Common with output.

Dual choke

Tube rectified.

Common with output.

Quad Choke

Tube rectified.


Quad Choke