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AHall

The "Right" preamp for me

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Right, I'll say it again:  In the right circumstances, all that is needed for attenuation can be obtained from a variable resistor (aka potentiometer).  The point remains, however, that, despite the fact that such a 'passive' device might suffice, "the right circumstances" to which I just referred above include more than electrical compatibility; what remains, which may be an even more important consideration, is whether or not the end-user prefers one end result over the other.  In my experience, 'passive' and 'active' do not necessarily sound the same, despite both being satisfactory in terms of suitable impedance matching, cable length, cable capacitance, surrounding electrical environment (EMI, RFI, etc.).  I have more than one line stage and active phono stage (MC), and, with speakers capable of 104 dB and 106 dB, background noise is truthfully zero, except for residual noise associated with the power amplifier (a great assortment of single-ended and PP OTL, push-pull pentode, single-ended triode (yes, directly heated).

 

My vehement disagreement had more to do with broadly sweeping statements about active preamplifiers being essentially nothing more than sources of noise and distortion.  That is quite simply NOT a universal truth.  I have both the building experience and understanding about PSU design to know that is very possible to build and/or buy an active preamplifier with virtually zero residual noise artifacts.

 

And again:  EVERY single element in the signal path, active or passive, is going to impart something of itself onto the signal passing through it.  When it comes to passive parts, such as your metal film resistor example above, the net result of the effect on the tympanic membranes in the ears of the listener is going to be both a matter of degree and highly variable from one individual to another.

 

If active preamplifiers are nothing more than noise and distortion boxes, I suspect someone should take it upon themselves to inform the great many companies devoted to the development and production of high quality audio equipment that, to push their active preamplifiers into the marketplace is a practice devoid of worth and just plain wrong.

 

Summing up:  The advice I am comfortable giving those who ask about what preamplifier (or any component, for that matter) might be a good candidate to audition, would be to share that there are a number of different possibilities in terms active and passive devices, and to try a few of both to determine what might be most suitable for both the electrical compatibility between components in their system, as well as what they, as distinct individuals with their own priorities, tastes, and preferences prefer.  If asked for my personal opinion, I would offer it, but want to make very sure that I qualified what I said by explaining that it is simply my own opinion based on what I like; and, as such, can't be taken as what would necessarily be best for someone else.  Were I to say something along the lines of "I know which is best because I've heard them all, so you should buy the same thing." would be a compromise of my own integrity.  Moreover, it would deprive the person to whom I was giving that advice of having the opportunity to choose for him or herself -- something about which I feel strongly.

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There must be a communication breakdown for you are not understanding me. I am not arguing preference at all, we like what we like. What I am saying  is it is a universal truth and a fact that an active gain device is going to add noise and distortion, significantly more than a resistor.

 

Answer this question for me. Which is going to be more transparent? (i.e; Add less distortion, noise, phase shift etc..)  A metal film resistor or a DHT line stage amplifier?

 

You used the word "suffice".   Ask yourself what goals you are trying to accomplish. For example, "how do I attenuate my CD players output to feed my power amplifier?". Does it make any sense to attenuate it down to millivolt levels, then use an active gain stage to bring it back up to an amplitude it was already at? Not really, and now it has more noise and distortion than it did to begin with. It seems extremely counterproductive to me and if it doesn't to you then you are kidding yourself. You may prefer one thing over another but it doesn't hide the facts of the matter, it adds noise and distortion.

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Yes, you're right...without a doubt. I'm kidding myself and '...it adds noise and distortion.'  I will absolutely keep that in mind.

 

edit:  wink

 

 

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I bought a krell kav-250p on audiogon for $770 shipped. Hooked it up in hopes to finally get a decent sound from the khorns. Fingers crossed! Bam! These things are absolutely unbelievable now! I can't express how happy I am in the difference it made. Holographic, 3D, fast, tight, clear, and man do they bass HARD. I truly believe they nearly rival my sw115 sub during bass boosted music. Completely different than I was getting from my Yamaha as a preout. Totally blown away how important this preamp upgrade was. 

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You are obviously very pleased -- good!  I'm encouraged that you went with your own instinct on this, and your description is not unlike others I have read on this and other forums.  There is no universal right or wrong choice....

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