Tube Preamp Reviews

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Dick Olsher  |  May 06, 2015  |  First Published: May 01, 1989  |  0 comments
The Lazarus, a slim, quite elegant unit finished in black with red and gray legends, lived up to its advance billing: it literally rose from the dead! Out of its coffin (ie, shipping box) and plugged into the wall, it showed no signs of life. Troubleshooting revealed a blown AC mains fuse. That in itself was not a major problem, but what worried me was the root cause of the trouble. Preamplifiers as a rule are not power-hungry, so a current surge at turn-on sufficient to destroy the 250mA slow-blow mains fuse appeared symptomatic of a major circuitry failure.
Herb Reichert  |  May 26, 2016  |  0 comments
This is a true story about a surprising 1W integrated amplifier—a push-pull, class-A, output-transformerless tube amp—that drove my DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 speakers to 90dB average levels with grace, spiderweb detail, liquidity, and—unbelievably—a small degree of bass slam.
Art Dudley  |  Jan 04, 2014  |  2 comments
If you travel along Route 20 in upstate New York, you might see the hitchhiker my family and I refer to as the Old Soldier—so called because this slightly built man, whose age could be anywhere from 55 to 90, is always dressed in a military uniform from some long-ago campaign. When we first saw him, his topcoat suggested a recent return from Chateau-Thierry; in more recent sightings, the old man has taken to wearing the trim khakis and sharply creased legionnaire cap of the late 1940s—chronological zigzagging that made me think, at first, that this traveler was aging in reverse.
Art Dudley  |  Aug 24, 2017  |  9 comments
In January of 2014, some of us wondered if the sudden death of designer Ken Shindo would spell the end of the company he founded in 1977: It was hard to imagine Shindo Laboratory being led by anyone but its founder, a former Matsushita engineer who made it his life's work to study not only the designs of audio's golden age, but to learn the sound of every vacuum tube, every passive part, every circuit variation that he might reasonably press into service.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 29, 2006  |  0 comments
"It's a series of tubes."—Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), explaining how the Internet works
Art Dudley  |  Jul 01, 2007  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2007  |  0 comments
Just about any consumer-electronics product that needs to generate voltage gain can be made with a vacuum tube. It isn't hard to do. It's no big deal.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 29, 2007  |  0 comments
When audio designer Ken Shindo was a little boy, his father kept an enormous collection of 78rpm records in their home in Tokyo. During the final days of World War II, the Japanese authorities did their best to evacuate the city, but the elder Shindo was steadfast: He refused to leave, for fear that the records would be gone when he returned.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 19, 2010  |  1 comments
At our best, audiophiles are the selfless and generous custodians of a thousand small libraries, keeping alive not only music's greatest recorded moments but the art of listening itself. At our worst, we are self-absorbed, superannuated rich kids, locked in an endless turd-hurl over who has the best toys.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 18, 2010  |  0 comments
If you've followed their story here and elsewhere, you probably know that Tokyo's Shindo Laboratory (footnote 1) has a reputation for defying the two most monolithic of all high-end audio commandments.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 23, 2015  |  8 comments
If you look at it from a distance and squint a little, Luxman's Classic CL-38u preamplifier ($4200) could almost be mistaken for that most classic of all classic hi-fi products, the Marantz Model 7C control center. The aluminum front panels of both models have, at their centers, a row of four distinctive toggle switches, flanked on each side by four control knobs. Even more noticeable are the stylish wood enclosures—standard on the Luxman, optional on the Marantz—which make both preamps appear ready for duty at the Playboy Mansion, ca 1963, or perhaps an appearance in a Life photo essay titled "At Home with Steve McQueen."
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 27, 2006  |  0 comments
Still burning in my bank of childhood memories are misty images of the glowing green lettering on the McIntosh tube preamps and tuners that populated the windows of the audio stores that once lined lower Manhattan's Cortlandt Street. Leonard's and most of those other retailers are long gone—as are most of the audio brands that shared their windows with McIntosh, and that once symbolized the might of American innovation and manufacturing. Even the World Trade Center, the controversial complex that replaced Cortlandt Street's "Radio Row," where the hi-fi industry was born, is tragically gone.
Sam Tellig  |  May 12, 2002  |  0 comments
"It took long enough," as I said to Larry Fish and Roger Stockholm.
Corey Greenberg  |  Oct 07, 1995  |  First Published: Oct 07, 1992  |  0 comments
"I remember Momma!"
Wes Phillips  |  Dec 03, 2006  |  First Published: Jul 03, 1996  |  0 comments
It's hard to know what to call the SHA-Gold. It is a superb headphone amplifier—maybe even the target all future headphone amps need to shoot at—but it's also a full-function preamplifier. At two grand, it's not exactly a unit you'd add to your current system just to get a headphone connection...Wait a minute! What am I saying? I'm sure that there are folks out there who would add this to their existing reference systems as casually as I'd buy the Audio Alchemy headphone amplifier—but they'd be missing out on a great line stage.

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