Parks Audio – Budgie: Class A Tube Phono Pre Part II
It’s been about 4 weeks since I received my Parks Audio Budgie phono pre. After the Impressions post, I started a more extensive account of my experience with this lovely bit of tube gear. I ended up scrapping most of it, because something happened along the way…before we get to that, let’s get an update on the Budgie.
We’ve established that the Budgie is remarkably transparent, and compliments my Bottlehead amp nicely. Not surprising, considering the single-ended design, ya? And, the Exacta loading system provides 16 settings, making it very easy to adjust the load for your preferred MM cartridge. The switches are right on top, between and above the tubes, so making adjustments is quick.
If tubes are your first choice, or you are curious about what tubes may bring to your analog chain, the Budgie is an excellent choice in the $400 range. Add to this the large selection of readily available NOS and new production 6922 tubes and variants, and you’ve ample opportunity to tailor the sound. The stock EH6922’s are available for $20US or so, I believe, and there are numerous options starting at that price.
I’ve swapped in my Telefunken E88CCs since my first impressions post, and have about 100 hours on them. I hadn’t broken them in before selling the amp they were originally intended for, so they’ve been gathering dust. No longer. They do sound gorgeous – natural, extended highs, a clear midrange that reveals the nuance of acoustic instruments, and a defined low end. They best the stock tubes on all fronts, though the EH6922’s aren’t bad at all. In fact, their mid-forward character pairs nicely with the Bottleheads linear character. In contrast, pairing the solid state phono pre with the BH amp lent a drier character that isn’t ideal for me. I want a touch of humidity and bloom. I’ll likely pick up some other tubes with character similar to the EH and see how that sounds. That said, these Tele’s aren’t going anywhere soon.
Now, back to what is for me the most exciting bit – I’ve gone analog.
I’m going to cover it in another post, but the Budgie sounded so good that it inspired me to upgrade to a new turntable.