The phono stage I am going to review this time comes from a recently established company in Italy and to give you a clearer view, especially for non-Italian readers, I think it would be worthwhile to give you some information about the company and the designer behind it.
Going back to the early ’80s, in northern Italy, close to the town of Vicenza, a group of investors decided to create a company manufacturing speakers with both excellent performance and trendy looks and finishes. The company was Sonus Faber that through several company evolutions has now become, the McIntosh Group.
One of the technicians in Sonus Faber was Fabio Serblin who, in 1991, decided to create his own company Fase Evoluzione Audio that produced, until 2002, several excellent amplifiers both with its own name and also as Sonus Faber. At that time they produced a phono stage named Phonodrive that is still very well regarded today, having very low noise, a wide and deep soundstage, and sounding very well. It was the typical phono stage of the ’90s with a separated power supply and a small long box with a black flat front.
Rumours say it is one of the best MC phono stages (without a step up transformer) for the Denon DL 103 and I have tried to find one in the past, but it is on sale very seldom since owners don’t like to part with them. In 2002 the production stopped and Fabio Serblin continued in the audio business as a designer for other brands until 2020, when he decided to reopen his businesses with two distinct brands: Serblin & Son that produces and distributes amplifiers through the traditional channel of importers and dealers and Faseaudio that sells a dedicated range, only available on-line. Faseaudio has today one product in their range and that is the Phonodrive 2.0 we are going to test.