Solid State Preamp Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Dec 26, 2004  |  0 comments
When, on his long-running TV variety show, Jackie Gleason used to order up some "traveling music" from music director Ray Bloch, he got a live orchestra's worth. But when Gleason, a composer and conductor in his own right (he wrote his show's unforgettable theme song, "Melancholy Serenade"), actually traveled, his listening options were severely limited compared to ours. By the time the comedian died in 1987, Sony had introduced the Walkman cassette player, but Apple's iPod was still more than a decade in the future.
Shannon Dickson  |  Jun 06, 2004  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1999  |  0 comments
The Jeff Rowland Design Group has long been renowned for the exquisite quality of its chassis. The company was one of the first to promote fully balanced topologies in preamplifiers and amplifiers in the high-end market, one of the first to offer a sonically acceptable remote control, and one of the few to offer a battery power option for their amplifier line.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 14, 2016  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1991  |  0 comments
As I write these words in January 1991, we're right in the midst of an annual media feeding frenzy: the "Best of the Year" follies. This usually takes the form of lists compiled in groups of ten for reasons that must hearken back to some obscure Druidic practice. You know the routine: "Ten Best Books of the Year," "Ten Best Films of the Year," "Ten Top Personalities of the Year," "Ten Best Sports Plays of the Year." Every corner of the media seems eager to get into the act. Special-interest magazines are hardly immune. Car enthusiasts can get their fill of "Cars of the Year." Computer literates find their favorite rags full of the "Ten Best Computers/Computer Accessories/Computer Programs." And music magazines regale us with the "Ten Best Recordings of the Year." Everyone with access to a transmitter or printing press has got, it seems, a little list.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 27, 2003  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1992  |  0 comments
Stardate: 3087.6. Location: somewhere in the 4th quadrant. In response to Captain Kirk's orders, Mr. Sulu throws a few well-chosen levers and sliders—not much different in design and function from those used by Flash Gordon and Captain Video—to redirect the Good Ship Enterprise where no man has boldly gone before. New adventures begin immediately after the bridge crew pick themselves up off the deck and nonchalantly resume their stations.
Robert Deutsch  |  Dec 18, 1997  |  0 comments
One of the differences between mass-market and high-end audio is in product model longevity. By this I don't mean that high-end products necessarily last longer—although I think they generally do—but that models remain in a manufacturer's product line longer, perhaps being refined in an evolutionary manner. This helps products retain their value, and, when new models are introduced, these involve more than a cosmetic upgrade and some additional bells'n'whistles.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 03, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 03, 1987  |  0 comments
Klyne Audio Arts has an almost Zen-like approach to the design of its products. Like the best Japanese designs, Klyne's preamps are aesthetically pleasing in appearance, do exactly what they're supposed to, and their controls are not only where you would expect them to be, but have an almost sensually smooth action. Internal construction, too, is a work of art—the kind of design which, transferred to a tapestry, would grace the wall of any listening room. You have to see the insides of a Klyne preamp to appreciate how attractive-looking an audio component can be. But physical beauty is only one aspect of Stan Klyne's designs; of all the electronics manufacturers I know of, Klyne Audio Arts also makes products more adjustable than any others, so as to appeal to the needs of what I call compulsive tweaks.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 19, 2010  |  First Published: May 19, 1985  |  0 comments
Klyne Audio Arts is such a low-profile outfit that I marvel at its continued existence. It is reliably absent from the Audio and Stereo Review annual equipment directories, and if Stan Klyne has ever run an advertisement for any of his products anywhere, I haven't seen it, Yet Klyne Audio Arts always manages to have an exhibit at CES, where they display some of the most beautiful preamps and head-amps we see there, only to go underground again for another six months.
Wes Phillips  |  Dec 17, 2006  |  0 comments
Talk about going from the ridiculous to the sublime. One day I'm reviewing the $139 Sonic Impact Super T power amplifier, and the next day Krell Industries delivers their $10,000 Evolution 505 SACD/CD player, $15,000 Evolution 202 preamplifier, and their $30,000/pair Evolution 600 monoblocks.
Lewis Lipnick  |  Aug 20, 1995  |  First Published: Aug 20, 1991  |  0 comments
About three weeks ago, while perusing the gear in a local audio retail establishment, I overheard a salesman, who could well have been selling used cars, giving a classic spiel to an obviously confused customer. "You see, sir, all preamplifiers basically sound alike, especially with line-level inputs. The only differences are in the number of features." He went on to tell his prey that spending big bucks for high-end products such as Krell or Mark Levinson (neither of which he sold) would be a big mistake. I choked back my automatic response of a certain bovine term, but thought it better to continue my fly-on-the-wall masquerade.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 08, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 08, 1994  |  0 comments
Compared to the Krell KSA-300S power amplifier that I also review this month, the KRC preamp's design is, at first glance, almost conventional. But its thoroughly high-end internal design has been equally well thought-out and executed. Its main, four-layer, glass-epoxy circuit board is for the audio signal, DC power, and ground—two layers for the latter are said to minimize noise. The gain stages are pure class-A and complementary. As in the amplifier, the circuit is direct-coupled, with servo circuits controlling the DC offset. The fully regulated power supply is housed in an external chassis. Seven inputs are provided: four single-ended, two balanced, and one single-ended tape. All inputs are line-level except for the optional, single-ended phono stage. (This review will address the line stages; a Follow-Up will discuss the phono stage's operation.) There are three outputs: balanced and single-ended main outputs, and a single-ended tape output.
Martin Colloms  |  Oct 28, 2007  |  First Published: Jun 28, 1994  |  0 comments
There's always a certain amount of jockeying for position at the very top of the High End. Every few months, a new star burns brightly, getting all the attention. While the constant turnover at the cutting edge helps to define the state of the art, audiophiles should keep their eyes on the longer term. It's a company's track record—examined over a period of years—which defines its position in the market and the credibility of its products.
Wes Phillips  |  Oct 07, 1997  |  First Published: Oct 07, 1996  |  0 comments
About a decade ago, I read in Stereophile about the SRC, an add-on remote-control unit manufactured by Acoustic Research. I bought one the next day ('swhat happens when you work across the street from a hi-fi shop). Suddenly I was able to make incremental changes in volume and balance from my listening position—and let me tell you that that's the way to do it. What a phenomenal difference in realistic dynamics and soundstaging.
Anthony H. Cordesman  |  Oct 23, 2012  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1987  |  2 comments
One of the most striking aspects of high-end audio is that you can never take any component for granted. Most of the radical change in audio at present takes place in new front-end and speaker technologies, but other components are changing as well—and with at least as much impact in making recorded music seem believable.
Art Dudley  |  Jun 20, 2017  |  3 comments
"As the original L2 circuitry was virtually flawless, it was the emergence of new electronic components that opened up a possibility of [even better performance] . . ."

So begins one of two booklets—one a collection of specifications and interior photos, the other a distinctly thorough user's manual—included with the new L2.1 Reference line-level preamplifier from Brooklyn's Lamm Industries, earlier products from which have impressed me as among the best available. Indeed, coming from almost anyone else, the above quote would strike me as trivial boasting—but I know from experience that there's nothing trivial about designer and company head Vladimir Lamm.

Larry Greenhill  |  Dec 03, 2008  |  First Published: Mar 03, 2001  |  0 comments
The roadster's throbbing rumble became a roar as the tachometer soared above 4 grand. Like a giant hand, its thrust jammed me back into the seat. Racing along low to the ground, feeling every curve and bump, I began to understand: the automotive virtues of smoothness and insulation had been swapped for firm road grip and the ability to transmit to the driver each jolt and curve in the surface below. Long before I'd climbed into the driver's seat of Porsche's Boxster S, I had known about its low-end snort and speed—the main reasons I was considering a lease—but I had not known about its ability to join sensation and purpose in such an intense bond.

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