High resolution Moving coils
Like all of the Whest Audio designs, the whestTHREE Signature has been designed for use primarily for MC (moving coil) use. This means that to obtain the lowest possible noise levels and highest resolution, we recommend the use of low to medium output MC cartridges.
During the development of the whestTHREE Signature we used:
Ortofon MC ANNA (0.20mV), Denon DL 304 (0.18mv), EMT JSD6 (0.18mv), Lyra Delos (0.6mV) and the Dynavector XV1-T (0.35mV) for much of the listening tests and noise measurements.
High performance MM use
Because of the 'impressive' neutrality of the whestTHREE Signature in MC mode, we know that absolutely ANY high-end high performance MC cartridge can be used. For MM (moving magnet) use, the input capacitance has been trimmed to give the flatest response curve for many of the new breed of high-performance moving magnets and moving irons on the market today. In MM mode the whestTHREE signature will easily 'see off' the competition even if the competition is running a 1500 EUR MC cartridge. This is because apart from the trimmed input stage, the whestTHREE Signature also employs an 'elevated power rail' section unseen in a phono stage in this price range. This gives a greater dynamic performance as well as lower noise specs for 'earth shattering' micro detail resolving power. Given a great MM cartridge, in MM mode the whestTHREE is spectacular.
For listening in MM mode we used the Ortofon 2M Black, Goldring 2500, Grado Reference 1 Phono and Audio Technica AT440 MLA, Rega Exact and the 2014 Roksan Corus Silver.
Class-A output stage
Like all Whest Audio phono stages, the whestTHREE also employs a fully discrete Class-A high output current output stage. This coupled with the omission of an output capacitor means that the output from the unit is directly coupled to the following preamplifier. Even the very best 'audiophile grade' output capacitor would degrade the performance of whestTHREE output quality which is why the design ensures a far higher level of performance than what is normally expected at this price level.
The whestTHREE Signature comes as standard fitted with true balanced outputs which are fed from the output of the Class-A stage. While most manufacturers are content with using a 2.00 EUR IC chip to perform the balancing process and degrading the signal further, the whestTHREE Signature processes the signal exactly like many high-end microphones and mixing desks.....this means a perfect balanced feed if you are using long signal lines.
The whestTHREE Signature is equipped with 8 resistive load and 8 gain options for maximum flexibility with the wide range of cartridges available today.
The resistive load options are 100, 220, 330, 470, 1k6, 15k and 47k ohms.
MM gain is covered by 42dB and 46dB. High output MC is covered by 50dB, 53dB and 56dB while the low output MC sets are 60dB, 65dB and 72dB.
The standard 'shipped' setup is 65dB/100ohms which will suite 95% of MC cartridges today. For the other 5% it is just a matter of removing 2 small M3 screws under the head unit which will give you full access to both channels load and gain switches.
HVDM power supply
A new bespoke external power unit has be designed specifically for the whestTHREE signature. The HVDM (high voltage dual-mono) power supply utilises a 'whest designed' extremely low mechanical noise high current toroid transformer. Unlike most other manufacturers today who use 'off-the-shelf' transformers to save on cost which also has a negative impact on audio quality, the HVDMs transformer has been designed for low noise and low signal level use. Low mechanical noise means less noise on the power rails and with 'specific secondary outputs' means the all important audio circuits in the whestTHREE Signature sees only what it 'needs' to see.
To connect the whestTHREE Signature to the HVDM power supply, Whest Audio had designed 2 special XLR cables capable of handling currents far higher that what is required for the whestTHREE Signature head unit. The whestTHREE Signature comes with its own RCA-RCA 1.2m OFC Audiophile interconnect and 3.5mm Jack to RCA interconnects for connecting to your audio system and connecting to your computer system for high resolution transfers.