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Keces Sphono and Spower

06.03.2020 // Dirk Sommer

With the matching cartridges, the Keces Ephono turned out to be a real bargain: So much superb sound and substantial usage of materials plus good workmanship can hardly be found elsewhere at this price. The Sphono now also offers higher load impedances and even more features. Does it also have more to offer in terms of sonic performance?

Regarding the Ephono, I had wondered where Keces did cut costs considering its highly customer friendly price, but only became aware of the fact that both manufacturer and distributor were quite stingy with information on the technology. And even if the Sphono is more than three and a half times more expensive than the Ephono, you certainly mustn’t expect more facts on circuit details for the higher price. Aside from highlighting the built-in features, the product information of the company, which became known as a specialist for power supply technology, merely points out that the external mains supply, called the Spower, provides two voltages: 15 volts, as well as plus/minus 48 volts. With this unusually high voltage, reminiscent of the Voltair technology from SPL with its plus/minus 60 volts, you probably needn’t to worry about headroom or overload stability any longer. Instead, one can splendidly speculate about the issue whether the Sphono works with an active, semi-active or passive RIAA de-emphasis, since any further particulars cannot be obtained.

The front panel and its controls: The rotary switch for selecting the inputs, next to it the gain switches for MM and MC cartridges, followed by the switch for selecting the type of equalization, and the subsonic filter
The front panel and its controls: The rotary switch for selecting the inputs, next to it the gain switches for MM and MC cartridges, followed by the switch for selecting the type of equalization, and the subsonic filter

Let's now move on to the features: The Sphono has four unbalanced inputs, two for moving-magnet and two for moving-coil cartridges. Individual loads of 47, 100, 150, 220, 330 and 470 picofarads can be switched in parallel to each of the two MM inputs, while for the two MC inputs load impedances of 56, 100, 220, 470, 1200 and 47000 ohms are at the user’s disposal. By combining the individual values, of course also intermediate values can be defined. For those who do not want to be involved in complicated calculations, we recommend the Sengspiel Audio calculator (www.sengpielaudio.com/Rechner-parawid.htm ) for the parallel connection of resistors.

The reverse sides of the Sphono (below) and the Spower
The reverse sides of the Sphono (below) and the Spower

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