The Maverick Phono Preamplifier
The Maverick Phono Preamplifier
Interested in building a whole F&R system by adding a Turntable, Tonearm and Cartridge?
Different combinations will incur different levels of discount. Select the components you are interested in and email us for more details.
Fern & Roby designed the Maverick Phono Pre-Amp to be what they had long been looking for themselves—a superb phono that they never want to let go of but also unapologetically wouldn't break the bank.
The phono pre-amplifier is such an important part of an analog system that Fern & Roby felt it was imperative to deliver on all of this and produce a world class sound in a high value, quality package. Value shouldn’t be defined by price alone, and great design should include smart engineering and good manufacturing decisions.
After looking at some of the key challenges involved in creating a very low-noise phono pre-amp that handles all the detail and nuance of great playback with delicacy, a simple and elegant approach was taken in the Maverick's design.
By emphasizing a spareness of aesthetic detail along with creative internal modularity, careful component selection, and user friendliness, Fern & Roby are able to offer an excellent phono pre-amplifier to those who love great vinyl, care about hi-fidelity, and like to be involved in the process of making their system sound great!
The Maverick is for users who don't want to be passive in their enjoyment of the phono preamp—the first stage is a user-replaceable daughter board that can be easily removed, and clients are invited to engage with the Maverick by swapping out a Moving Magnet (high output), and two Moving Coil (low output) daughter boards that are included with the unit in the base price. This modularity allows for easy configuration of different loading and gain settings for all types of cartridges.
Fern & Roby feels that providing the opportunity for our clients to explore and swap out their preferred & configured first stage easily provides the experience that we all crave in hi-fi, the chance to participate and improve the experience and experiment intelligently.
Auditioning different cartridges and experiencing the nuanced differences without major challenging alterations is great fun and so shouldn't be made difficult by poor design. With the Maverick, you can preconfigure your different daughter boards and just swap them out when trying a different cart. The daughter board doesn’t require any special skills or exotic tools to swap out and it can be pulled out to work on changing the loading and gain easily.
Loading and Gain:
Many phono pre-amps have jumpered connections for changing the loading and gain like ours, but our chassis design makes this easier than most.
Jumpered connections are one of the more viable of the economical, modular, and adaptable approaches available, and don’t add the significant cost or size that complex servo mechanical switching entail (details that would push a great phono out of the reach of most people). Fern & Roby wants their products to be accessible and great! This means economy of scale and simplicity of design.
The modular circuit topology of our pre-amp puts the RIAA equalization and a fixed moderate gain in the chassis mounted board and delegates input loading, EMI filtering and a majority of the gain to the daughter board.
Through-hole construction where it counts:
Fern & Roby took a hybrid approach to the debate between surface mount vs. through-hole component selection, and their design allows for a more careful selection of strategy, balanced with economy of space and manufacturing cost. Passive components in the signal path are through-hole for the sake of noise performance and the ability to hand-match critical values. The surface-mount components in the design allow for the compact layout that we desired.
In the interest of minimal harmonic distortion (THD) and long–term stability, the chemistry of capacitors in the signal path received significant design attention during our product development process. The decision at the end was to deploy film-dielectric instead of electrolytic or ceramic capacitors. This also contributes to a graceful aging of the design. Film capacitors do not contain wet chemistry that will break down over time. Use of modern, low offset error opamps allows for DC coupled outputs (no series capacitors).
Fern & Roby like things with weight, even small things, and the Maverick's chassis has a density and materiality that everyone will appreciate. Machined from ductile cast iron bar with a lid of solid brass, this is an heirloom quality audio component that has the aura of well-patinaed piece of military or scientific hardware. It looks and feels like an artifact, and will last as long.
There is only one switch: the mute. Mini xlr connectors were chosen for the power and input so there would be a solid connection and standard RCA connectors for the output to make it easy to use standard interconnects. The Maverick comes with an adaptor for RCA inputs for standard tonearms. The F&R unipivot tonearm comes with a balanced input, shielded Cardas cable with a Mini XLR to plug directly into the Maverick for a solid and world-class connection to the phono. All of these choices kept the Maverick small and enable it to live as close to the tonearm as possible, keeping the signal path short where it is most vulnerable to RF noise.