Superphon Revelation preamplifier Sam Tellig on the Revelation Dual Mono

Sam Tellig on the Revelation Dual Mono, September 1985 (Vol.8 No.5)

When I first heard the original Superphon Revelation Basic a year or so ago, I was impressed with its sound, if not its features. At $399, it was, indeed, a revelation—one of those rare cases in which a product name that sounds like hype simply isn't.

The Revelation delivers a superb sense of spaciousness, excellent imaging and detail, and tonal neutrality. The original Revelation (which I call simply the "Basic") makes a number of more expensive preamps sound like poor values.

On the other hand, there are other good, inexpensive preamps around. The Basic needed just a little something to give it a clear-cut edge over the competition. That something is the new Dual Mono version, and it costs the same $399; the Basic is now S329!

Keep in mind that 1 haven't heard all the expensive preamps that J. Gordon Holt and Larry Archibald (not to mention Anthony H. Cordesman) have had in their systems—but I've auditioned some of these pricey preamps, and heard others in various systems. The only preamp that surpasses the Revelation Basic Dual Mono wiih moving-magnet cartridges is the Klyne SK-5, and that by a relatively small margin, especially considering their relative prices (the Klyne costs S2750, footnote 1).

The Cheapskate is not saying that a good Signet moving-magnet (like the MR 5.01c) into a Superphon Dual Mono will outperform a Koetsu Black running into a Klyne. With the right moving-coil cartridge, the Klyne is able to extract detail you'd never imagine was on the disc. But the margin becomes very small with moving magnets—you can do almost as well with a Revelation Basic Dual Mono.

Incidentally, the Superphon has gobs of gain—you can use some moving coils straight in. A cartridge with 0.8mV output or more should be okay, but the one I tried with 0.5mV output was too low for comfort.

Of course, your Superphon Dual Mono won't look or feel like a Klyne. Indeed, it looks and feels like the S399 preamp it is. The Superphon has twin volume controls, which 1 find a pain in the keester.2 And this preamp is shy on inputs: phono, two aux inputs (for CD player and tuner, say), and a single tape monitor.

Normally, you leave the preamp on all the time, turning it "off" with its mute switch—no pop. But if you have a momentary power interruption and your power amp is on, you'll get a pop.

Enough quibbling—what do you want for four hundred bucks, state-of-the-art? Well, sonically, that's about what you get! The Superphon allows me to hear subtle differences among cartridges 1 couldn't detect before. It also proved to me that when you have an excellent preamp and power amp, the next thing to futz around with is cable. The combination of the Dual Mono and the Eagle 2 amplifier is the first I've had in the house where switching interconnects made a truly major difference.5

So here it is: the Superphon Revelation Basic Dual Mono is one of the greatest preamps ever produced and one of the greatest audio products ever made. And it retails for $399! Hallelujah! And shame on you all manufacturers who make preamps that sound half as good at twice the price!

There is just one doubt lingering in the back of my mind. Apparently the Superphon Revelation Basic preamps have undergone a number of stages in their evolution. Some listeners have been less enthralled than I have been—I suspect they listened to different versions. As always when buying equipment, I recommend you purchase with a money-back guarantee.

Footnote 1: Of course. the looks, construction, and feel of the Superphon are all bargain basement compared to the Klyne's simple luxury. And I suspect the Klyne will feel just the same in five years.—Sam Tellig

Footnote 2: I adjust the volume controls by ear while standing between the two speakers; since my preamp is between the two speakers, it's fairly easy.—Sam Tellig

Footnote 3: Hi-fi is truly a difficult hobby: you know when you've made it by the number of intractable problems you uncover.—Larry Archibald

Anton's picture

One of the greatest preamp lines of all time.

I still use two: Both are the Revelation 2 in space cases, one has a volume control for each channel, the other has a volume and balance set up.

They are still very competitive. Superlative.

I look around for Stan Warren from time to time, but find nothing.

If any of these pop up on the used market, buy buy buy!

tonykaz's picture

These things sell for around $200 on Ebay, there is one for sale just now.

I knew Stan, years ago, now I understand he's up in Oregon.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I was a seller of PS Audio stuff starting with the PS 4 Preamp.

allhifi's picture

Oh, to go back (to 1985). I really enjoyed the openness and honesty from the writer's here. Such polite, no-nonsense frankness that has long since vanished from society -and many hi-fi mag's.

I recall the Superphon name (in 1985) from a hi-fi store I'd soon find myself (surprisingly) employed. Though I don't recall listening to it. Or seeing it, come to think of it-lol.

Oh those days, to return would be grand indeed. Everything back then seemed far more accessible -and affordable. In fact, for hi-fi purchases that would remain the same for the next twenty years; by 2005, the price explosion began in earnest. The reasons unclear to this day.
Yet the insane pricing of hi-fi goods will, mercifully come to an end. And fast. Just as fast as it had escalated circa 2005 -perhaps faster. Here's hoping.