Tube Preamp Reviews

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Robert Deutsch  |  Dec 27, 2011  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1991  |  3 comments
I must admit that, for a long time, I found it difficult to accept the idea that a major portion of one's audio budget should be spent on the preamplifier. Speakers, yes—they produce the sound; amps drive the speakers, so they're important. And source components? Well, everyone knows it's garbage in/garbage out. But a preamp? Even the name suggests something that's not quite the real thing, like pre-school, pre-med, or premature. Unlike amplifiers, they don't have to contend with loads that sometimes approach a short circuit, and heat dissipation is not normally a problem. What's the big deal?
John Atkinson  |  Jun 16, 2008  |  First Published: May 16, 1989  |  0 comments
As I write, it is garage-sale season here again in Santa Fe, and a recent sign near my home advertised "Over 3000 LPs, good condition, low prices." To my surprise, the seller wasn't a yuppie enamored of his new CD player but a true collector discarding the duplicates and dogs from his collection. 30 minutes later, many LPs heavier—including a mint Flanders & Swan At the Drop of a Hat (footnote 1)—and not too many dollars lighter, I returned to a great night's listening courtesy of the black vinyl disc.
Anthony H. Cordesman, Various  |  Nov 10, 1996  |  First Published: Nov 10, 1986  |  1 comments
It takes more than passing courage to make another assault on building the world's best tube preamplifier. You face stiff competition from well-established firms like Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, and Counterpoint. Such units can't be made inexpensively, and you face the steadily growing problem of tube supply: it is getting harder and harder to get tubes that are stable, have predictable sound and performance characteristics, and are long-lived. And you have to show audiophiles who have been burned before that you will still be around when they need service.
Robert Deutsch  |  Nov 30, 2009  |  0 comments
"Are You a Sharpener or a Leveler?" was the title of my "As We See It" in the February 2009 issue. The terms sharpening and leveling come from work in the field of perception by the early Gestalt psychologists, sharpening referring to the exaggeration of perceived differences, leveling to the minimization of those differences.
Steven W. Watkinson  |  Apr 10, 2018  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1984  |  5 comments
In appearance the Counterpoint SA-7 tube preamplifier is quite attractive, possessing the thin, low-profile look currently in vogue. There is a mute switch which (if you remember to use it) protects your amplifier from the preamp's turn-on and turn-off thumps. Unfortunately, the volume control on my unit didn't track accurately, and it was necessary to adjust balance with each change in volume. One unusual feature: the balance control allows very fine gradations in balance adjustment (a large movement of the control results in a small change in balance).
Art Dudley  |  Dec 24, 2005  |  0 comments
My opinions keep changing—more evidence of life before death, I suppose—including my thoughts on audio-system hierarchies. I used to think that preamps were among the most sonically influential components, certainly more so than power amplifiers. I'm not so sure anymore (footnote 1).
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 09, 2010  |  First Published: Oct 18, 2010  |  0 comments

It doesn't take a genius to appreciate the audacity of naming a company after Albert Einstein, the iconic science and math whiz. Clearly, company founder and owner Volker Bohlmeier knew what he was doing—this German brand of boutique electronics has enjoyed worldwide critical and marketplace success since its founding more than 20 years ago.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Jun 19, 2004  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments
When PR guy Adam Sohmer first told me about the Fosgate Audionics FAP V1, I thought that the impressive-looking device would be the first all-tube preamp-processor—heck, the first tube anything—in my multichannel system. Then I looked closer at the user's manual I'd downloaded from Fosgate's website. Hmmm. No Dolby Digital, no DTS—just Dolby Pro Logic. Of course, the FAP V1 is Jim Fosgate's signature expression of Dolby Pro Logic, and I guess that counts for something. But the more I thought about it, the more interesting a prospect the FAP V1 seemed.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments
This is an era in which products and websites are "launched," but in the past two years Herron Audio has sort of oozed its way into the public ear. With little visible promotion or splashy advertising, Herron is now spoken of within an ever-widening audiophile circle.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 26, 2000  |  0 comments
There's a whorish aspect to reviewing that some readers and industry critics never tire of mentioning, as if they've stumbled onto some great revelation: that we writers seem to flit from new product to new product, sometimes gushing like cracked fire hydrants over one amplifier one month, only to gush over another amp the following month.
Dick Olsher  |  Nov 21, 2012  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1993  |  0 comments
In its comparatively few years in the marketplace, the line-level preamplifier appears to have established commercial parity with its full-function big brother. That this was inevitable was clear as far back as the mid-'80s. The advent of the CD and the proliferation of digital sources argued for a modular approach to preamp design. In such an environment, line-level sources (eg, DAT, CD, even analog tape) deserve special attention.
Michael Fremer  |  May 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1998  |  0 comments
"It costs as much as a car—and not a used jalopy, either." That's what goes through your head as you contemplate this magnificent $20,190 piece of audio jewelry. I don't mean "jewelry" pejoratively; the tubed Jadis RC JP80 MC Mk.II is a gorgeous, gleaming hunk of retro-looking machinery. Two hunks, actually: an equally large remote power supply is connected via an umbilical cord terminated with an elbow connector the size of house plumbing.
Jonathan Scull  |  May 26, 2001  |  0 comments
The L2 Reference sits at the top of Lamm Industries' preamplifier line. According to the manual, its "unique" circuitry uses specially selected, superlinear, high-voltage MOSFET transistors that ensure class-A operation from input to output, with no overall negative feedback at any stage. All stages, including the high-current output buffers, are single-ended.
Robert J. Reina  |  Jul 31, 2014  |  4 comments
I've long been impressed by the design, construction, and sound of the tubed electronics produced by Vladimir Lamm, but I'd never had a Lamm Industries product in my house. So I asked for a review sample of Lamm's flagship line-stage preamplifier, the LL1 Signature.
Art Dudley  |  Sep 25, 2005  |  0 comments
On the first morning in June I opened all the windows in my listening room and played Classic Records' LP reissue of Dvorák's Cello Concerto (RCA Living Stereo LSC-2490), with Piatigorsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The sunny weather put me in a fine mood, and so did the sound of my music system, which made me feel prouder than usual: Was ever a Linn record player more expertly adjusted? Wasn't I smart for keeping those Lamm monoblock amplifiers? Could a pair of Quads possibly sound better than mine?

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