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Arion Phono Stage Testimonials

Sweet, silent, and holographic. This phono stage brings out the best in my record albums.

Jeff Joseph


Last but hardly least requires a quarter-turn over to Bettinger Audio Design. Mike Bettinger is the guy behind the clever audio guts of the integrated amplifier and the spectacularly-well-received new Arion phono stage ($6,500 - a joint venture with Luminous Audio). I have one of those latter here and will offer that Michael Fremer nailed the character of that phono pretty spectacularly; I think it is one of the very best solid-state phono preamplifiers on the market today.

Sonically, this room was harder to get a handle on. Not because things weren't smooth and refined - there were too damn many people wandering about to do more than browse. Like I said, it was a very popular room. But what I did hear? I think these guys are on to something. I dig the aesthetic. I dig the artisanal approach. And I want more.

Very well done.

By Herb Reichert - Posted: Aug 31, 2015

"And me being "me," I swear I could listen through the system to study and admire the contribution of the excellent Arion phono preamplifier by Luminous Audio ($6395). It seemed like such a spot-on trusty servant that delivered up healthy scoops of musical art, texture and audio science. (There is a reason Harry Weisfeld was using an Arion to show off his and Mat's new creations for VPI.)"

The Luminous Audio Arion phono preamp is a gem! It punches way above its weight and compares favorably with phono preamps costing 2-3 times its price.
Its build quality is first class, its ability to resolve complex details is impeccable, and its musicality is second to none.
At its price, it is one of the best values in high-end audio.

Vinh Vu
President and Principal Designer, Gingko Audio

This is a review of a recently completed phono stage project that is a joint venture between Mike Bettinger (GAS Audio) and Tim Stinson (Luminous Audio). I had the occasion to hear the unit in two different systems and was also able to compare it with another phono stage each time.

Knowing the type of work that Mike Bettinger does (I have one of his "Son of Ampzilla" amps in my system) I knew that the preamp could be something special. This is a "cost no object" preamp that will accommodate any type of cartridge. The parts chosen by Mike are the premier parts available based on his 30 years of building and repairing audio equipment of all types.

The first system I heard consisted of Mike's electronics, a DIY table with DIY isolation and Martin Logan SL3s. The second system used a VPI Traveler, a high end tube integrated (not sure what company) and some excellent full range large bookshelves. Suffice it to say that both systems were able to display the excellent sonics or shortcomings of any preamp that you tried.

In the first system we compared Mike and Tim's preamp (we will call prototype) to a Yaqin tube preamp, an excellent Chinese preamp with British Mullard tubes. After listening to both preamps with folk, classical and rock music I have the following comments:
The Yaqin has a very musical and warm presentation - something I would expect from these tubes. When switching to the prototype I noticed a veil lifting. Things were a little quicker, more open and extended. The bass was more controlled - almost an impression of leanness but just not bloated when compared to the tubes. The frequency range seemed more balanced. The only advantage the Yaqin had is that the midrange was warmer but this is a subjective difference since you sacrifice other qualities.

In the second system we compared the prototype with a Threshold Fet 10E. To me the difference was even more obvious. After playing a "Crystal Clear" recording of Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall with the Threshold we switched to the prototype and the difference was immediately obvious. Here is what I heard: A veil was lifted. Dynamics were much more DYNAMIC. Vocals were much easier to understand. It was just more musicality coming at you. The sound was more "alive". Overall it was the type of sound that drew me in and I wanted to just sit and listen.

Mike and Tim will be demonstrating the new preamp at the upcoming Capitol Audiofest in July and I would urge anyone looking to upgrade their phono stage to stop by their room and give it a listen. This will also be for anyone who wants to hear the culmination of 30 years of trying to come up with what might be the most musically satisfying phono preamp you can buy.

Ray B.