Nagra PL-P preamplifier Page 5

Phono stage
Time for analog, the PL-P's raison d'être. Let's consider A Mozart Soirée, from a January 1976 concert featuring Yehudi Menuhin given at the Salle Pleyel in Paris (EMI ASD 3329, a desirable series). I began with the Oboe Quartet in F, K.370. The joyous first-movement Allegro is sure to lift your spirits no matter how overcast they might be. The Nagra perspective asserted itself: I was seated onstage, the musicians arrayed before me. Notes: "The airy acoustic is transparent and natural beyond words. There's an exactitude that the Nagra brings to the re-creation of the soundstage that is in all ways exceptional. It offers explication, exceptional clarity and detail, and precision-built soundstages. Tweaked just so—VTA spot on, Harmonix TU-812 Tuning Record Weight, TARA The One draped about the PL-P and custom-grounded for phono—the sound is phenomenal."

I found myself moving my seat slightly forward toward the speakers, more than I'd done with the all-enveloping BAT (which developed a larger soundstage) or the ultra-aesthetic and more distant-sounding YBA 6 Chassis (an even larger soundstage and greater transparency). Doing so improved the palpability of imaging I'd enjoyed earlier with eyes shut. Immersed and deeply involved in the last movement of the Flute Quartet in D (K.285), I jotted some notes: "Elegant and charming, the multiple sonorities on the soundstage are a pleasure to experience. The flute sounds effervescent and expressive, the plucked violin remarkably true-to-life." I jumped out of my seat when someone in the audience sneezed. "The viola and cello show great refinement and clarity. The soundstage is alight with harmonics and texture. The viola is vividly tight and acoustic, radiating its energy in the listening room just as in life."

Once again, I appreciated how the PL-P walked the line. It was rather cool and analytic, yet that very clarity allowed all manner of tonal color to develop. Bloom, yes, but not too much—nothing artificial, no preservatives.

Would I want one?
That's a good question—one that some of you may be lucky enough to ask yourselves. It depends entirely on how your brain is organized. I think that, for some listeners, there can be no better preamplifier than this. It's the kind of preamp with which you can settle down for an extended tour. In five years, the flush of satisfaction when adjusting your modulometer will be the same as today. It's a fantastic-looking object, contemporary Eurochic, sleek and desirable. And it makes a classy analog engine for those with the vinyl to justify it.

But K-10 and I are wickedly spoiled. We've enjoyed some utterly wonderful sound in our reviewing adventures. We've heard how good it can be. I have to admit that my tastes run toward a presentation with a little more...soul. I choose that word carefully. In some certain way, some components, with proper setup, yield a sound that may be said to more easily communicate the emotional component of the music and performance. I find those front-ends more involving. The Nagra is more poised and neutral, preferring to occupy itself with a single-minded attention to tracking a clean signal.

But then, I'm a reviewer. Change, perforce, is my middle name. However, if you're other than a feckless gear-changer and can afford the best, you might well find long-term happiness with the PL-P. Don't surround it with lean-sounding componentry, and feed it the best signal you can manage. In the final analysis, no matter how picky I am, the Nagra PL-P is surely Class A down to its core.

240 Great Circle Rd., Suite 326
Nashville, TN 37228
(615) 726-5191