There will be a big phono stage shootout at ETF.05

The rules of engagement are few, and they're simple:

› The shoot-out is a knock-out contest between two phono stages

› All participating phono stages will be paired at random by the organizers. the pairing also decides which phono stage plays first. it is possible that two favorite phono stages or two phono stages from the same participant will have to compete against each other in the first round of the shoot-out (poo-poo happens.)

› The shoot-out will be blind. The audience will know which two phono stages are in the shoot-out, but only the organizers will know which phono stage is actually playing.

› The playback volume of the two phono stages will be adjusted to within ± 1 db

› A selection of songs will be randomized. The two phono stages under test will play the same three randomly selected songs (60 seconds max. per song and phono stage; in case of too many participating phono stages, the organizers will reduce playing time and/or number of songs in the first rounds)

› After the 2 x 3 songs, the audience will vote. The candidate with more hands in the air is promoted; the looser will be outta the game

› If the number of participating phono stages is odd, the organizers will in advance determine one pair of phono stages with a lucky looser (the looser gets a second chance by running against another phono stage too)

› The procedure will be the same in the next rounds - the contestants will be paired and the songs selected at random until only one more phono stage is left over - the winner of the ETF.05 phono stage shoot-out

› Very, very important: there will be *no discussion* period. If the audience does not come to a clear decision, the organizers will have the last word.

The shoot-out is open and free for all / and only to participants of ETF.05:

› Each participant can enter two phono stages maximum for the contest. (If you want to enter more than two, find a participant of ETF.05 that does not enter a phono stage...)

› The shoot-out is limited to 60 phono stages.

› If this limit is reached, the organizers will reduce the number of possible entries to only one phono stage per participant. If the total then drops to less than 40, the organizers will randomly pick "second" phono stages until the limit is reached again.

› The phono stages can be DIY or commercial products, they can be tube-based, solid state or hybrid designs, but they don't have to.

› The participants have to subscribe their phono stages by e-mail to the organizers ( by November 24, 2005 the latest. Please tell us (1) with how many phono stages you participate and (2) whether the output of your phono stage is balanced or unbalanced and (3) what kind of output connectors your phono stage has.

› The shoot-out will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2005. All participating phono stages must be delivered for measuring the actual gain by Friday evening, December 1, 1800hrs

› The builders of the three best phono stages will be asked to reveal the circuit of their phono stage and tell the audience more about the design

The phono stages must comply with the following specs:

1. Gain has to 40db or more (the following line stage will have an attenuator at the input so that all phono stages will be listened to at the same volume referenced to 0db@1kHz)

2. The cartridge used for the shoot-out will be a Benz Ebony HO, known as "the best high-output moving coil of the world". It has an output voltage of 2.5 mV into 47k (3.45 cm/sec with JVC TRS07). The turntable will be an EMT 938 with a Fidelity Research FR64s tonearm.

3. The cable used from tonearm to phono stage has 5 pin DIN connectors on both ends. The phono stages must accept a male 180 degrees 5 pin DIN connector for the incoming signal. Check out the pin-out drawing at the end of this announcement. We will provide an adapter for RCA-DIN, but you might not want to compromise the sound of your phono stage using an adapter... important: the wiring of the tonearm is balanced and ground-free - please take this into consideration when you build the phono stage and--very important!-- you must provide a ground post on your phono stage

4. The phono stages must run either on 230 vac/50hz or on batteries. we will not provide a line conditioner, step-up x.former for 115vac or similar - if your phono stage needs clean juice, make sure the power supply filters out mud and crud.

5. The output of the phono stages must be available on either RCA, CAMAC or XLR, signal can be balanced or unbalanced

6. There will be an attenuator unit between the phono stages and the following line stage. This attenuator with z in=100k ohms i.e. the phono stages must be able to drive this load. The input of the line stage is RC-coupled. (Subject to change, but the 100k more or less stands.)

7. If your phono stage hums - tough luck...

Ok. And now for the prizes you can win.

First price will be the Beny Ebony HO. this cartridge with a list price of us$ 3000.00, which was sponsored to ETF.05 by Alfred Lukaschek of Benz. This is also the cartridge that will be used for the shoot-out i.e. it will be perfectly run in by the time it's handed over to the proud winner.

Second price will be the "Little Sis"-phono-stage built and sponsored by Steve Bench (you've seen it last year, the tiny Altoids tin box!).

Third price will be the tonearm cable used for the shoot out, custom made by Allen Wright of Vacuumstate; retail value around 600 Euros.

Other prices will be a free participation at ETF.06 - sponsored by the organizers of either ETF.05 or ETF.06 (I’ll have to sort this out with Guido… —once again subject to change) plus donations to come.

In addition to those prizes, each participant will receive an official certificate.