We don't get 'reviews' sent in from Astin Trew customers - well that's to say we didn't till Steve sent in this one!
' My search for the best performing phono stage for under £1000 has resulted in me trying units from Musical Fidelity, Tom Evans and Highphonic. Disappointingly none of them gave me the presentation I was looking for particularly in the bass.
I was attracted to the HiFi World 5 star review which described the Astin Trew AT8000 as one of the best phono stages under £1000 with nothing to criticise at the price. It also has symmetrical balanced outputs which is unusual at this price level.
The standard of finish is very high and much better than some of the others I tried. Yes the transformer is inside the same case. This does offer the benefit of when the electronics ask for more power its immediately on tap. Therefore there is no further transformer box to accommodate. The delicate electronic stages are inside a Faraday cage to help protect the delicate analogue signal. The analogue output signal is very quiet so you won’t experience the noise of some valve stages.
How does it sound? In one word, ‘musical’. I am listening to it now as I write this. Pace and rhythm are spot on to give you that boogie factor. The soundstage is very wide with what I would describe as walk in sound staging. There is also low listening fatigue so you can listen for hours and suffer from that just one more record syndrome. The range of output and loading options is great to the best from your analogue front end. I settled on medium gain and 100 Ohm loading for my Lyra Delos.
Astin Trew did suggest I try the balanced outputs because they do sound different. I do prefer the balanced output which gives a more powerful presentation with better bass performance. This stage also responds well to better cabling and I settled on a home made solid core silver mains cable and Nordost Tyr XLR as my interconnect.
I would summarise the AT8000 as a product that doesn’t attract attention to itself. It does things in a manner that doesn’t attract attention to itself so you can get on with enjoying the music. If you want to improve on its performance you can, but it’s going to cost you a lot more money.' Steve Paines UK
Thank you Steve, for taking the considerable time and trouble to write that - we are so impressed, its going into the 'Reviews' section of our web site as well - together with the photographs Steve has taken of the AT8000 in action! (email available if anyone wishes to validate authenticity).