SS3601 Discrete Op Amp Review – Quad 44 Phono Preamp

The SS3601 Discrete Op Amp has been reviewed in a Quad 44 Phono Preamp – By Graeme Newman.

SS3601_Quad44_CQuite a few years ago I had a spare M/M phono input board from my Quad 44 preamp, which I housed in an external case.  It’s based on the TLO71 op-amp, and after the terrific success I had with Sparko’s Labs SS3602’s in my DIY line stage, I had to replace the op-amps in my Quad 44 with his SS3601’s. I expected a dramatic improvement over the original op amps and I wasn’t disappointed!
I listened to the upgraded phono preamp through my DIY linestage (fitted with Sparko’s Labs SS3602’s) via my Technics SL1200 mk2 (with silver-plated o/p cables) and an Audio Technica AT120E cartridge.

The original op-amps were very clean and quiet, but the sound stage was flat and lifeless, with little depth and shine.

With the SS3601’s in their place the phono preamp was dramatically transformed into an excellent M/M phono-stage!  The depth and space was amazing, and individual instruments could be heard and placed in the sound stage.  The AT120E is an amazing lower-midrange phono cartridge (in my opinion) and it sounded quite amazing through the upgraded Quad phono-stage. I listened for over a week to everything from Sibelius to Pink Floyd, a lot of fusion jazz such as Weather Report, Pat Metheny and a wide range of metal-mastered and Direct to Disc pressings of Laurindo Almeida and Mannheim Steamroller.  All sounded excellent, with the before-mentioned air, excellent resolution, shine and life that was far superior to the original op-amps. It seems that Sparko’s Labs discrete I.C.’s are excellent upgrades to any I.C.-based audio equipment, and now having used both I.C.’s offered by Sparko’s Labs in projects, I will use his op-amps in anything I build from now on, and swap out anything I already have that can be upgraded. You have to try their op-amps!

For more information on the Sparko’s Labs discrete op amps, see –

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