whest MC REF V phono stage

The MC REF V is Whest Audio (UK) flagship reference product. This reference phonostage is a departure from the current way of looking at signal integrity and the power supply’s behaviour on the signal. Where most others will use very exotic components to try to achieve a decent sound, Whest Audio have designed, from the ground up, a RIAA playback system using radical audio principles plus some of Whest’s very own R&D ideas amassed over the years.

The MC REF Vis a 2 box unit with each box being a single channel each box contains

  • 1 x ultra low noise power transformer
  • 20 x discrete voltage regulators
  • 20 x ultra low ESR hand matched smoothing capacitors.
  • 2010 version uses a new fully discrete (28 components) ultra low noise input module.

Whest MC REF V

No large capacitors are used because we are dealing with small signals. Many companies do not understand the relationship between signal size, speed and capacitors. As such, Whest phonostages from PS.30R onwards is even lower in noise compared to battery operated units.The MC REF V is a very different machine compared to the PS.30RDT SE. The PS.30RDT SE is as quiet but because of the way MC REF V is designed, it resolves so much more information and sounds so much more dynamic doing it. The stereo circuit board size for the PS.30series is 275mm x 125mm but one single channel of the MC REF V PCB is 250mm x 270 and this excludes the 20 x discrete regulator PCBs on each channel. There is just so much more within MC REF V than meets the eye!Listening to MC REF V will make you realise why Whest do not use or recommend battery powered units because Whest’s voltage rails are 1.5 times higher than and about 3 times faster than even the best battery supply phonostage out there.

What about the chasis?

The MC Ref V chasis is not simple at all. It is a non-magnetic, hand-built and of hand welded structure. Making it out of a MUCH heavier material actually makes the it sound worse. If you imagine – it’s light but rigid with an internal PCB suspension designed to do a specific job. The structure of the case allows the suspension to work correctly. It is not the same case as the PS.30RDT SE, it just looks the same!

In fact Whest put a lot of R&D into the chasis of all their phonostages. The Whest .30 series and MC REF V chassis is the strongest type of design available using 6063 aluminium. This design uses no screws to hold the chassis together. The strength of the chassis is made by physically connecting (via welding) the sides, rear and a section of the top. This chassis cannot twist or bend and offers a ‘uniform’ spectrum of vibration to the PCB.The nice thing about a uniform spectrum is that it is easy to understand and therefore damp. The damping that is applied is not to the case as this is too inefficient, instead it is to the PCB where it is required.

All of these things have been built in the Whest 30 series and MC REF V. No other company has spent so much R&D in case design as well as electronic design. Whest purposely did not go with a large milled section of aluminium (like Boulder) as this just increases the price and offers nothing to the audio quality. With Whest’s chassis design, it is cheaper than those heavy ones which means more resources is spent on the electronic design. This is why the MC REF V sounds the way it does.

Summary of MC REF V Dual Mono Phonostage Features:

– Impedance Balanced Output circuitry
– Ultra low noise input stage
– Hybrid RIAA stage
– On-board Whest Designed discrete voltage regulators
Pre-regulators in high current supply. The power supply which is inside the MC REF V is fully regulated and will allow a variation of +/- 10% with no effect to the sound quality.

Type: Dual Mono configuration (2 identical channels)
Impendance Settings 6 settings (user-defined during order or factory default – 100, 220, 470, 1k, 15k and 47K)
Capacitance Settings 6 settings (100pf per switch) – for low output MM or Decca cartridgge
Gain Setting 4 settings from 52db i.e. 52,58,63 and 68dB (can be user-defined during order)
Input/Output RCA (Input), RCA or XLR (Output)
Chasis High quality 6063 aluminium with PCB damping
Dimensions (W/H/D): 430mm x 290mm depth x 80mm
Manufacturer website: www.whestaudio.co.uk
Review: Blue-starfish user review

Listed at GBP 9,900 the MC Ref V is designed and built for the most demanding vinylphiles and could well be your last phonostage. This phonostage will have significant impact on your analogue system and would challenge many vinylphiles’ long held beliefs of analogue chain ranking.

In 2011, Whest introduced their own matching Whest powercord (optional) with each order of PS.30 upward models. Both length and UK/US plug configuration can be customised.

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