Rolls VP29 Component Upgrade

I’ve been poking my head around phono preamp forums for a while. There were several posts about replacing capacitors and amps in their preamps, making them sound better. A few years ago I got a Rolls VP29 phono preamp on sale for around $30. It does a pretty good job connecting my Sears LXI turntable to my Bose bookshelf speakers (both Goodwill finds). I saw a youtube video by This Does Not Compute, where he replaced components on 2 different low cost phono preamps. One of them is a re-branded Rolls VP29 like mine. I thought it would bea fun project to do, and see what, if anything changed. Here are the components I ordered:

The capacitors are the “Fine Gold” Nichicon capacitors intended for audio equipment. Over all the parts cost around $12 including s/h. The new capacitors look really fancy. The board is through hole, so everything was pretty easy to de solder and then add in the new parts.

Before:

After:

Did it work?

Well I didn’t break it 😛 After swapping in the new parts a really strange thing started to happen, EMI interference. I heard a loud repeating thumping sound coming out of the speakers. Turns out putting it right next to my WiFi AP was a bad idea.

Now it works. It sounds much “fuller”. I’m no audiophile, but I do notice a different. Highs are clearer and the bass seems richer. My wife, who is a musician, could tell the difference immediately (see before and after audio). Now all I need is to find a proper project box to put this in.

If you need a phono preamp the Rolls VP29 is pretty good for the price. If you can get it for less than $35, and you don’t mind doing some soldering, this is a fun little project that can be done in about 2 hours and improves your low-end hi-fi’s sound :).

or i could drop a couple thousand on on of these: https://www.vincent-tac.de/en/product-lines/tubeline/pho-701.html

Additional Thoughts 08-03-20201

If I were to do this again I would do a few things differently. First I would try to find the Rolls VP29 used. It's not very expensive used, but I've been on "buy as much used as possible" kick lately (less waste). Second I would place a socket where the Op Amp goes, so I could easily switch between more than 1 chip. I have few other phono preamps, but with the upgraded components, this is one of the best preamps you can get for the price.

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