In the world of phono preamps, Ron Sutherland needs no introduction. He has consistently produced products that offer tremendous value and performance.

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Indeed, his 20/20 phono preamp has been my long-time reference. At $2200, I am confident it represents a terrific value, but that is a major investment and absent a high performance turntable and cartridge, it is a difficult expense to justify. For $1400, Sutherland offers the Insight. With the introduction of the KC Vibe, Ron has now broken the important $1000 barrier. With the KC Vibe, you can now taste Sutherland magic for $895.


The first thing you notice is that while physically quite small, the KC Vibe is solid. The chassis is made of steel and that heavy-duty vibe continues around back with the gold-plated input and output jacks. My guess is that the jacks are the same ones used on the more than twice as expensive 20/20. The rear panel also includes a ground post to address any ground-generated noise. The KC Vibe also utilizes an outboard power supply, just like Sutherland’s other products. Sutherland does not use dip switches on their phono preamps. Here too Sutherland utilizes jumpers mounted directly on the circuit board. You make loading and gain adjustments by removing the black top plate of the chassis and positioning the jumpers at your desired settings. It’s very simple and all that’s required is a screwdriver to open the chassis and a pair of tweezers to position the jumpers.

Sutherland Preamp

The very flexible loading options include 100, 200, 475, 1k, or 47k Ohms. You can choose gain settings of 40, 45, 50, 55, or 60dB. Between the loading and gain options, all but the lowest moving coils should be easily accommodated.

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