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Musical Surroundings Nova III Phono Preamplifier

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Best Phono Stage Sound in Its Price Range

Built in California, the Nova III is the latest version of Musical Surroundings' larger phono stage with incredible flexibility and performance, delivering the best sound in its price range. Like the Phonomena II+, the Nova III has rear panel switches for easily accessible and highly flexible gain and loading adjustment.

Third-Generation Design

Nova III is the third-generation generation Michael Yee design, featuring an updated discrete dual mono audio circuit with a maximum 65dB of gain and a new power supply design that Yee describes as “effectively eliminating the wall wart”. The Nova III incorporates a large, regulated power supply providing greater dynamics and image dimensionality, instead of using batteries as in previous generations.

The new internal power supply provides super low-noise voltage regulation. It features an isolated DC to DC converter, dual inductor de-coupling, 10,000µf of regulation and uses premium polypropylene bypass capacitors. Further performance enhancements are available by adding the optional Musical Surroundings Linear Charging Power Supply.

The Nova III is a complete phono preamplifier with RIAA equalization that amplifies the output signal of either a moving coil or moving magnet phono cartridge, increasing the signal to a nominal “line level”. The Nova III may be used with a receiver or an integrated amplifier. If you use separate components, a line level control unit (preamp) is required before the power amp, since there is no built-in volume control for the Nova III.

Input Loading Switches

The Nova III is highly configurable. To set the input loading, there are two eight-position rear-panel switches, one for each channel. Refer to your cartridge owner’s manual to determine proper input loading settings. The factory setting for input loading is 47,000 Ohms.

A two-position switch #1 controls capacitive loading, which is often used with moving-magnet cartridges and has little effect on moving-coil cartridges. When using a moving-coil cartridge, you can try both capacitive loading positions to determine the effect. This switch gives you a choice of OFF (100pF) or ON (200pF).

Switches #2-8 control resistive loading, which is primarily used with lower-output moving-coil cartridges. Most moving-magnet along with medium and high-output moving-coil cartridges use approximately 47,000 Ohms. Low-output moving-coil cartridges typically use 2000 Ohms or less. Typically, a lower resistive setting provides increased focus and tighter bass, while a higher setting provides more openness.

Novel Implementation of a Subsonic Filter

Some records have sonic components (due to cutting artifacts or an off-center “center hole”) that are low in frequency and cause woofers to move at a worrisome way. These subsonic components can cause distortion such as “Doppler Shift”. Implementing a subsonic filter usually involve adding quite a lot of electronics, which can degrade the sonic integrity.

The Nova III has a very novel implementation of a subsonic filter where a subsonic filter is implemented with OpAmps, but the audio portion of the signal is “stolen” from the OpAmps before the OpAmps can degrade the signal, but the low frequency noise is already removed. This “stolen signal” is then amplified by the Nova III’s discrete circuitry. This allows the Nova III preamp section to pristinely amplify the signal.

The Nova III has a button for alternating between Normal and Subsonic Filter modes. The system automatically mutes when the Subsonic filter is activated or is deactivated. This is a five-second mute. The LED indicates the Subsonic Filter is activated.

Mute Selection

The Nova III has a button for alternating between Normal and Mute modes. The LED indicates the Mute Mode is activated. The Mute Mode cannot be changed if the Mute is activated automatically by the Subsonic Filter selection. The user must wait approximately five seconds for the automatic mute to change back to unmute automatically.




Third-generation version of the Nova phono preamp

Upgraded circuitry

New internal power supply

Black or Silver finish

Made in California

Audio Circuit Highlights

Super Matched Pair/Low Noise input devices

Hybrid RIAA Equalization

Michael Yee proprietary Subsonic filter

Micro-processor control for Mute and Subsonic

Multiple gain settings with 65dB maximum

Extensive loading settings on rear panel

New Internal Power Supply

Super Low Noise voltage regulation

Isolated DC to DC converter

Dual Inductor de-coupling

10,000µf of regulation

Polypropylene bypass capacitors

Linear Charging Power Supply (optional)



Gain Switches: (dB) 40, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51.5, 52.7, 53.7, 56, 57.5, 58.4, 59.4, 60

Input Load Switches (Ohms): 200pF/300pF, 30, 40, 50, 59, 80, 100, 121, 150, 243, 280, 380, 475, 660, 1k, 2k, 47k, 100k

Dimensions: 9 7/8” w x 9 7/8” d x 2.5 ”h

Weight: 5 lbs.

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