Rogue Audio 66LSR preamplifier Page 3
A Smooth Operator
Some of my encounters with "affordable" tube gear have been downers: lack of focus in the bass; overly bloomy, colored mids; indistinct, decidedly soft top ends; and a lack of resolution. But the 66LSR manages to have its cake and eat it, too. While a triode preamp at this price will, in all likelihood, never have the kind of crystalline detail and frequency extension craved by stone solid-state freaks, the 66LSR has a real sense of ease and musicality. This is not slobbering triode my-fi, but tautly focused hi-fi.
I achieved extraordinary layering and soundstaging depth using the $1295 Rogue's second preamp out to the Soliloquy 10S subwoofer ($1200), with the ultra-revealing Joseph RM7si speakers ($1799/pair) driven by either the Nu-Vista 300 power amp ($5600) or its $1500 sibling, the A3CR. The aural evidence suggested that this tubed front-end offers more than enough precision and bass control to please even the most finicky consumers, regardless of their power-amp pedigrees. No reason you couldn't use the Rogue to warm up some of the very fine, heavy-duty, high-current, solid-state amps out there for $2000 or under—without compromising depth, focus, or high-end extension.
Ultimately, you'll have to weigh the tradeoffs based on your own tastes and room anomalies. I'm engaged by the musical merits of any good solid-state or tube design, and have no interest in issuing papal bulls as to which doctrine reigns supreme. The Rogue 66LSR proved a supple, compliant silent partner for every amp I had on hand. It conferred a touch of refinement on the Baron without unduly softening its elemental bark and bite or adding to its noise floor. I was torn between the hybrid Nu-Vista's razor-sharp resolution, frequency extension, detail, and mountain-stream transparency and the Rogue's smooth, sweet clarity, full-bodied natural tone, and extraordinary soundstaging. Sure, the Rogue's top end was comparatively softer than the Nu-Vista's, but it was still sweet and nicely detailed. Then again, in many ways the Rogue's soundstaging exceeded the Nu-Vista's—a real shocker.
If you're in the market for a good, modern, cost-effective tube preamp, the Rogue is a superb team player that can turn the double play with a variety of tubed and solid-state power amps. Rogue Audio's 66LSR preamplifier proves just how accessible and affordable high-end audio can be. It took me by surprise—this is a lot of performance power for the buck.