roksponsmallTrinnov Audio is announcing their support for Roon music software, with availability expected in the first quarter of 2017. All existing Amethyst and Altitude32 preamplifier/processors can become Roon-Ready with a simple, and free, software update that includes a 60-day complimentary Roon license.
More »

The Lab12 pre 1 just arrived at Hifi Pig Towers and here it is being unboxed. We’ll be reviewing this valve preamplifier and you can WIN this very unit worth £1200 by visiting Hifi Pig’s stand at The Indulgence Show that takes place the 14th to 16th October at the Novotel London West in Hammersmith, London. All you need to do is pick up a postcard from our stand, or ask for one if you see us and follow the instructions to be in with a chance of winning! More »

LAMM Industries, of Brooklyn, New York have announced a new version of their L2 Reference preamp (pictured), the L2.1 Reference, which is going to become commercially available in October 2016. The L2.1 Reference employs a pure class A operation from input to output, with no overall feedback at any stage; all stages, including high current output buffers, are single-ended. Also featured are specially selected high voltage super linear MOS-FETs in the signal path and TKD stepped potentiometers for volume control. The preamplifier’s audibly neutral power supply features a choke contained filter, a full-wave vacuum tube rectifier and vacuum tube voltage regulator which, say LAMM, ‘allow it to virtually eliminate the hum and buzz and, ultimately, to ensure the authenticity of the essence of sound throughout the entire dynamic range without any colouration’. Other features include 3 inputs; one tape/home theatre processor loop; output signal phase switch; balanced and single-ended outputs; protection circuitry designed to enable manual muting of the output signal; and built-in remote on/off for LAMM power amplifiers.


In a nutshell, the L2.1 Reference includes the following upgrades and modifications as compared to the L2 Reference. Increased immunity to unwanted radio frequency interference propagated via both radiation and conduction over signal lines & AC power systems. Certain modifications in protection and time delay circuitry. Improved signal/noise ratio. Replacement of a number of critical components with newly available types of better quality and utilisation of a technologically new type of pc-board with gold-plated traces and through-holes. The preamplifier parts like military-grade DALE/VISHAY metal-film resistors, RCD wire-wound resistors, TKD 41-step volume control potentiometers, BOURNS multi-turn potentiometers, VISHAY electrolytic capacitors, ELECTROCUBE, EPCOS and RIFA/KEMET film capacitors; HAMMOND chokes, god-plated NEUTRIC connectors, and military-grade low-noise long-life vacuum tubes. The L2.1 Reference also features a custom-designed super-low noise power transformer.

Retail price is likely to be around 22,000 US$


Sponsorship button

The Baby Reference V2 is the latest incarnation of this British company’s TVC preamplifier and costs £6120 in standard form. Stuart Smith tries it out for Hifi Pig.

For the last few months since the Baby reference arrived I’ve been using it with a pair of Merrill Thor Class D power amplifiers, our Avantgarde Duo XD loudspeakers with the front end being the Lampizator Big 7 DAC being fed by files from the computer. Cables have been a mix of Tellurium Q, Vermouth Audio and Chord Company, with power conditioning via a Lab 12 gordian unit.


Read the full review. 


Sponsorship button


The Baby Reference V2 is the latest incarnation of this British company’s TVC preamplifier and costs £6120 in standard form. Stuart Smith tries it out for Hifi Pig.OUTSTANDINGLARGE300DPISTARONLINE More »

The £5500 Audio Music AM RT-1 active TVC single ended valve preamplifier is made and designed by Mr A M Fang in Guangdong Province in China. It comes with a fine pedigree, but will it cut the mustard with Dan Worth.  More »

The £5995 Leema Acoustics Libra is both a DAC and a preamplifier with a plethora of inputs that should be ample for anyone. Dominic Marsh gets to grips with it for Hifi Pig.  More »

Australian brand Burson have announced a Noir Edition of the Conductor V2+ headphone amplifier/DAC/preamplifier. Hifi Pig had one of the older versions of this in house for a few months driving Audeze cans and it offers very good value and great sonics for money at USD 1499.Burson_conductor_dac_headphoneamp_preamplifier

The Noir Edition will have the same spec as the classic silver one. ie.

8.2W per channel @ 16ohm,

Class A

SABRE32 ESS9018 DAC + Xmos USB receiver making it DSD256 / DXD / 32bit384khz able

Remote Controlled Preamp

5 years of warranty

The Noir version will be Available later in August.

Sponsorship button

Karma-AV have announced the availability of the Mark-Levinson № 526 dual- monaural preamplifier.  The № 526 is a 12-input dual-monaural design featuring Pure Path circuit topology, a class-A ‘Pure Phono’ stage, a 32-bit DAC, and a class-A Main Drive Headphone output. 28506315356_d66b00a514_h

Designed and engineered at HARMAN’s Engineering Centre of Excellence in Shelton, CT, USA, the Mark Levinson № 526 offers a signal path that is fully discrete, fully balanced and completely dual-monaural, with a discrete, balanced R-2R ladder volume control to maintain the highest level of sonic purity, resolution, transparency and dynamic range.

There is the choice of two balanced and three single-ended analogue audio inputs, stereo phono inputs and six digital inputs, supported by the Mark Levinson ‘Precision Link’ DAC and HARMAN Clari-Fi® music restoration technology. 28506331336_949b44e010_h

The Mark Levinson № 526 offers digital decoding up to 32-bit, 192kHz from PCM and double-speed DSD.

Its proprietary ‘Precision Link’ DAC incorporates an ESS Sabre32 Reference converter. Six digital audio inputs including asynchronous USB, AES/EBU balanced, TOSLINK optical and coaxial unbalanced, feed the digital signal path. For listeners whose libraries contain older or lower resolution content, the № 526 incorporates HARMAN Clari-Fi® music restoration technology.

In addition the № 526 is equipped with a ‘Pure Phono’ stage, which operates in class-A throughout, offering a fixed-gain MM section with five capacitive cartridge-loading settings, and an MC section with three gain settings and 10 resistive cartridge-loading settings. An infrasonic filter intelligently compensates for rumble and warping. 28506337826_d46f881270_h

The № 526 preamplifier delivers its signal to balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) stereo outputs, as well as a 1/4-inch (6.3mm) Main Drive Headphone output integrated with the front panel metalwork – a first for Mark Levinson. The Main Drive Headphone amplifier circuit drives up to 32-ohm headphones in class-A by employing the main output circuit rather than a secondary signal path.

The № 526 features a 6000- series aluminium housing in black with silver trim. It can be controlled from the front panel, from the remote control supplied and via a comprehensive range of system integration connections. Like all Mark Levinson products, the № 526 is designed and handcrafted in the USA.


  • Pure Path discrete, direct coupled, fully balanced, dual-monaural signal path
  • 32-bit Precision Link DAC with three selectable filters and seven power supplies
  • Supports high-resolution PCM (up to 32-bit, 192kHz) and DSD (up to 5.6MHz)
  • Discrete, balanced R-2R Ladder volume control for precision and performance
  • Class-A Main Drive Headphone output for up to 32-ohm headphones using main circuit
  • Selectable fourth-order, 80 Hz high-pass filter allows seamless integration of subwoofers
  • Class-A Pure Phono stage with physically separated channels for MC and MM
  • 12 analogue, digital, and phono inputs; balanced, single-ended, and headphone outputs
  • Designed and handcrafted in the USA  

Mark Levinson No 526 Dual-Monaural Preamplifier typical retail price inc VAT: £15,000 ea

Sponsorship button

Burson got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us they are introducing the pocket sized, USB powered “Conductor Air”.  Details are pretty scant at the moment but they say that just like its full sized sibling, its a USB  DAC, Head amp, Preamp 3 in 1 unit.  Conductor-Air-S4

Key Features:

  • 185g uni-body aluminium enclosure
  • Xmos USB receiver capable of native streaming DSD256, DXD, 32bit/384khz audio files
  • SABRE32/ESS9018 DAC chip, just like the desktop Conductor V2+
  • Raising a 5V USB power to 18V resulting in 4 times the dynamic range and 500mW into 32ohm of power
  • Remote controlled preamp.

The conductor Air will come in both silver and black and will cost $499 when it is available in late August.

Sponsorship button

McIntosh has just announced three new products: the C2600 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier, the MP100 Phono Preamplifier and the MVP901 Audio Video Player.

C2600 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier

Building upon the C2300 and C2500, the C2600 incorporates the best of the previous models while adding McIntosh’s advanced digital audio section and upgraded tube circuitry design. The C2600 is a versatile preamplifier with 16 inputs to connect virtually all analogue or digital music sources. Analogue inputs include 3 balanced, 4 unbalanced plus 1 each dedicated Moving Magnet and Moving Coil phono inputs. Digital inputs consist of 3 optical, 2 coax, 1 USB and 1 McIntosh exclusive MCT connection. Three sets of balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs connect the C2600 to the rest of the system. The C2600 features a 32-bit/384kHz, DSD digital-to-analog-converter (DAC) and is capable of decoding and playing DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 plus DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. For headphone listening, there is the addition of Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®). Home Theater Pass Thru allows for seamless integration into a multi-channel home theatre system.mcintosh_C2600_news

MP100 Phono Preamplifier

The MP100 is the first dedicated phono preamplifier from McIntosh and is designed to help both new and experienced vinyl lovers get the most fidelity, performance and – most importantly – enjoyment from their albums. Like all McIntosh products, the MP100 is packed with features including: Moving Coil and Moving Magnet inputs; Moving Coil and Moving Magnet adjustable loading (6 settings each); balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs; optical, coax and USB digital outputs; and a Mono switch for when playing mono records to decrease noise and play the signal correctly. There are many ways to integrate the MP100 into an audio system. If someone is just building their system, it can become the main part of the setup. For someone who already has a system with an older but working preamp, the MP100 is a way to add modern phono features. For home theatre systems where a turntable is desired, the MP100 is an easy way to add full phono preamp capabilities without having to get a full-sized stereo preamp that would undoubtedly duplicate many of the home theatre processor’s features. When used with a properly configured conversion program, the MP100 can “rip” the records to a computer via USB to produce high quality digital files. The digital outputs are fixed at 24-bit/96kHz to capture the full dynamic range of a record while optimising digital file size. If an album has a very loud section, the digital output clipping protection prevents harsh sounding and speaker damaging distortion from being recorded to the file. Compact in size at just 3” tall, it shares the same 11.5” narrow chassis design as the MXA70 Integrated Audio System, MHA100 Headphone Amp and MB50 Streaming Audio Player to help build a cohesive system. It can also easily be added to a system comprised of standard, wider width chassis.


MVP901 Audio Video Player

With its ability to upsample 1080P and lower resolutions to 4K Ultra HD, McIntosh MVP901 can breathe new life into a vast movie library and is a perfect complement to the 4K compatible McIntosh MX122 or MX160 home theatre processor. Built in decoding of Dolby® True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ plus the MVP901 can also pass the latest object-based 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X™ and Auro-3D® to the compatible processor, it fully supports 3D Blu-ray discs while state of the art processing power allows for ultra-fast playback start speeds. A variety of advanced adjustments can be made to colour, image detail and video performance to improve picture quality. Not limited to just movies, the MVP901 can be also used for listening to music. CDs, SACDs and DVD-Audio discs can be enjoyed via an 8-channel, 32-bit/192kHz DAC that’s used in stereo quad balanced mode to produce high fidelity audio. The HDMI output can be used for multi-channel music playback. A triple laser optical pickup uses one objective lens for the different wavelengths and is optimised for various disc types. Three USB ports allow playback of audio and video files from flash drives. Network streaming and BD-Live is available through the ethernet connection.mcintosh_MVP901_news

Pricing* and Availability

Orders will be accepted soon for all three products with shipping anticipated in August. Target retail price for each (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded):

C2600: $7,000 USD

MP100: $2,000 USD

MVP901: $5,500 USD

*Pricing subject to change.


Sponsorship button

At £14500 for the pair, the Grandinote Proemio preamp and Silva power amplifier are far from bargain basement fodder, but do they warrant such a price-tag? Stuart Smith finds out.  More »


The long-awaited DAC/valve headphone amp and preamp from the Danish brand Copland has arrived in the UK courtesy of Absolute Sounds.

DAC 215 is a Universal Hi-res DAC, Preamplifier and Headphone amp.4478_Copland_DAC_215

The heart of the DA215 is a D/A converter with multiple S/PDIF inputs, PCM, and DSD capabilities using the ES9018 Reference 32-bit DAC in quad-mono configuration, 8 mono to 2 stereo configuration.  The company’s press release has the following to say “Combining four in-phase and four opposite-phase converters per channel, the statistical properties of the signals are taken to advantage; the signal power of the phases correlate and add-up in constructive addition, whereas the noise power of the phases are de-correlated, improving the signal to noise ratio of the resulting analogue waveform”.

The class-A buffering technology of the analogue filtering sections is borrowed from the Copland CD-players and composed by discrete transistors.

The DA215 incorporates an asynchronous USB input, three S/PDIF digital inputs, an analogue input, two analogue outputs (fixed and variable) and a complete pre-amplifier with analogue volume control and front panel headphone output featuring vacuum tube gain stages.

You can use the DAC215 for headphones playback. However, you can also use it as a high-end pre-amplifier with volume control, using the amplifier RCA outputs. The volume control and pre-amplifier functionality can be bypassed for pure DAC mode.4485_Copland_DAC_215_(rear)

The DA215 USB features USB 2.0 PCM 24/32 bit data transfer to 384 kHz, including native DSD64 and high resolution DSD128. The input is converted to i2s and it is connected directly to the DAC chip. Once connected, the computer recognizes the DAC and routes the digital audio data to it, bypassing the source device’s internal audio circuitry. The asynchronous USB-B port connects to the computer’s USB-A port. No power is taken from the computer. The regulated power supply for the USB input section has its own winding of the power transformer and the noisy computer line is completely interrupted by the use of digital Isolators.

UK RRP: £1998; available with black or silver fascia

Sponsorship button

“Designed and manufactured in New Zealand, the JAVA is sure to win the hearts and minds of audiophiles worldwide and bring music lovers closer to the music they love” say the company launching this new LDR pre-amplifier via Kickstarter.

Activated by light, the JAVA utilises LDR (light dependent resistor) technology in a unique circuit design. It works by varying current to alter the intensity of an internal LED, which in turn varies resistance to adjust the volume level, creating the purest possible path for the delicate audio signal.jqvq

The JAVA comes in three flavours :

JAVA SINGLE SHOT : With three pairs of unbalanced (RCA) inputs and a single pair of unbalanced outputs.

JAVA DOUBLE SHOT : It adds two further pairs of inputs and another pair of outputs, together with a headphone stage and remote volume control.
JAVA TRIPLE SHOT : The JAVA Triple Shot features a mix of two pairs of balanced inputs and three pairs of unbalanced inputs, as well as balanced and unbalanced outputs. Also included is the headphone stage and remote volume control found on the Double Shot.

If successful at the Kickstarter stage the pre-amplifier will be submitted for CE certification and – once approved – will be stamped accordingly, say the company.

Sponsorship button

Electrocompaniet have announced the EC1 6DX that incorporates and integrated amplifier along with a streamer and digital to analogue conversion.The built-in streamer is said to be flexible and easy to use. It can play directly from music services such as Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify, can be fed music through AirPlay or DLNA, and it can index and play from your own music collection stored in your network. The powerful hardware ensures that all popular formats are supported (including DSD) and that continuous software upgrades can support the latest and streaming services. ECI6DX_front_med-res

The streamer shares the same DNA as the ECM 2 and the new EC Living product line. This means that you can use the same apps and interface, and play all of the same music on all units. All units will work equally well together.ECI_6DX_rear_med_res

The ECI 6DX can be operated by their iOS & Android application, the universal webinterface, or with the straightforward IR remote control.

The converter will deal with 24bit /192kHz files, has SPDIF; 2 Toslink and a USB input. The streamer section has 802.11 Wifi with MIMO a 1Gigabit Ethernet and a USB for external storage.   Supported formats are: WAV/WAVE, MP3, AAC+, Vorbis, AC3, DTS, ALAC, FLAC, APE, WMA, up to 192kHZ/24bit, DSD, up to DSD 128 (5.6 MHz)


Preamplifier section    
Input impedance ( Balanced input ) 47Kohm  
Maximum input level 10 Volt RMS  
Noise floor ( 1Vrms, 20 – 20 kHz, balanced) -135 dB  
THD + N   (1Vrms, 20 – 20 kHz, balanced) <0.004%  
Gain (Balanced) 0 dB  
Amplifier section    
Output Impedance < 0,02 Ohm  
Frequency response 1 – 150 kHz  
Channel separation > 120 dB  
THD ( 20 – 20 kHz) < 0.004%  
Maximum peak current >100A  
Damping factor  8 ohm load >350  
I Input sensitivity  120W output 1.3Vrms  
Input sensitivity HT  120W output 1Vrms  
Gain HT Input x36 (31 dB)  
Rated output power    
8 ohms 2 x 125 W  
4 ohms 2 x 200 W  
2 ohms 2 x 370 W  
Width 465 mm / 18.3 inches  
Depth 405 mm / 16 inches  
Height 128 mm / 5 inches  
Weight 20Kg / 44 lbs.  


Sponsorship button


Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC announce the gold series Christine Reference Preamplifier

See it at the World Premiere at T.H.E Show 2016, California, Room 1417.ChristineFrontMA1027

“The Christine Reference Pre-amplifier is built with the finest components and attention to every detail like never before. Hand routed PCB layout of each trace, the placement of the trace, the length of the trace, the multistage power supplies, the selection and matching of the finest components, balanced configuration, isolation of power, all hand soldered connections, Silver plated pure copper wire with Teflon sleeving are only some of the engineering that make the Christine Reference Pre-amplifier so special.  Each unit is hand built and tested from the board level up to the finished unit. An external AC/DC Power supply unit ensures very quiet operations. The multistage power supply is so good, that power cords do not make a difference and the unit is impervious to noise on the AC line. ”


Frequency Response: to 800kHz 0.1db, 1.5MHz -3db

S/N:  110db

THD: 0.003%

Volume control:  -84db to +26db, 0.5dB steps, -84db attenuation, +26dB gain

Pre-set Gain range:  +/- 12db

Maximum volume and Minimum Volume Setting Range: 0 to 115db.

Input voltage Max:    +/- 10 Volts

Output Voltage Max: +/- 12 Volts

Inputs:   4 Balanced inputs

Outputs: 2 Balanced Outputs

Remote Trigger at 12 Volts, 20mA.

External Power Supply that is double fused.

1.25 inch White LED display.

Absolute Polarity selection: 0, 180



We’ve had the version one of this amplifier in the reference system for a while now and on the back of its performance we ordered the version 2 a few months ago. Jonathan Billington at Music First has been building it, and i’m sure others, since then, giving us regular updates as to how the build was going.

The Baby Reference arrived in a sturdy outer suitcase style box made of tough plastic with everything inside having being kept nice and safe from the vagaries of the international couriers. We’d been asked to open the unit to look at the personal message written on top of the transformer housing…i love little touches like that! More »

Aries Cerat have announced the completion of the Diana Series of amplification with the introduction of two new models, the Diana Forte amplifier and the Diana Mezzo, Class A pre-amplifier.

 Diana Forte Stereo Power Amplifier

The Diana Forte’s circuits are based on the Diana Integrated amplifier output and driver stages. The Output stage is scaled up to deliver over twice the power, achieving 60W (70W peak) per channel. The parallel SET output stage is built around the 813 DHT big bottle tube.  This in turn drives an oversized core OPT constructed using special winding techniques to deliver wide bandwidth at full power. Diana2

The amplifier driver stage is the 814 DHT tube, loaded with a double-C core bifilar wound inter-stage transformer. The Diana Forte’s amplifier is connected to its accompanying Diana Mezzo pre-amplifier via Aries Cerat proprietary AC link. As with the Diana Integrated and the Concero amplifiers, all stages are coupled with the company’s AC link method of coupling.

The output stage PSU is a dual, completely separate set of choke-filtered capacitor banks using yhe company’s own Super-capacitors.  The SuperCaps come from a selection of special purpose film capacitors with ESL and ESR parameters 100 times lower than any film or electrolytic capacitor.

The driver stage also uses choke filtered capacitor banks, with their own separate power transformer to avoid PSU cross-talk.

All tubes can be biased and monitored on the fly and can be matched using the Diana Forte as a stripped-down tube tester.


Max Power: 60W SE Class A (70W peak)

Max Power bandwidth: 15Hz- 110Khz

Noise floor: 100db

Combined gain: X 20 (26db)

Dimensions: 570mmW X 590mmD X 350mmH

Weight: 110Kg unpacked

Tubes: 2X814, 4 X 813


Diana Mezzo Pre-Amplifier

The Diana Mezzo is an improved version of the Diana Integrated’s pre amplifier stage. At its heart, the Diana Mezzo is a Single Ended Triode amplifier boasting an 814 Direct Heated tungsten DHT.

The output transformer is a double-C amorphous core, bifilar wound OPT.Mezzo2

Signal attenuation is performed by a relay-switched array of resistors, in a shunt/ladder hybrid mode.

A pair of Xenon gas rectifiers are used as rectifiers of the High Voltage PSU.

These rectifiers were developed as drop in replacements for some well known mercury rectifiers when mercury was labeled unsafe. So while they present the technical characteristics of a mercury rectifier, they are safe to operate. The high speed capacitor banks are double choke filtered.

Filament PSUs are quadruple filtered using a cascade of choke/resistor-cap pi filters providing very low noise floor for the sensitive filaments of the DHTs.


Gain: X7 (16db)

Attenuation level: 61 X 1db steps

Maximum signal input overload: 25V

Signal bandwidth @ 20Vrms: 10Hz-120Khz (-3db)

Dimensions: 500mmW X 350mmD X 340mmH

Weight:  55Kg

Tubes: 2 X 814, 2X 3b28

Sponsorship button

The Grandinote Proemio Preamplifier and Silva amplifier have just arrived at Hifi Pig Towers for review, but by way of a bit of a preview we’ve taken lots of lovely photographs of the unboxing of this Italian pairing. Prices in the UK for the Proemio Preamplifier is £6500 and £7995 for the Silva Stereo Amplifier.gn16s

The amplifier is a 37 W Class A dual-mono and the preamplifier is also Class A dual-mono. The pairing weigh in at a not inconsiderable 55Kg.

Click through for photographs. 

Sponsorship button

Leema Acoustics’ Elements range has expanded to include a new preamp with a high-quality DAC section, offering a wide range of connectivity for today’s digital devices. The new Elements Pre-Amplifier builds on the Leema Acoustics’ Elements integrated, adding a high-quality balanced output. Elements preamp

The new Elements Pre-Amplifier retains the familiar half-width-chassis form factor of the Elements product range and is built to the same standards as the full-width Leema models. A matching 160-watt bridgeable power amp is also available.

Leema Acoustics’ on-board digital to analogue converter offers a 24-bit/192kHz S/PDIF coaxial input, three 24-bit/192kHz S/PDIF optical inputs and a 24-bit/192kHz asynchronous USB input, enabling a wide range of source components.

Analogue inputs include three unbalanced stereo RCA inputs, a pair of balanced inputs on XLR, plus a 3.5mm input jack on the front panel. The output connections include one pair of balanced XLR outputs and one pair of stereo RCA. ELEMENTS PRE BACK

Full LIPS® implementation (Leema’s proprietary communication system) allows for easy system integration with other Leema products and home automation systems, and a remote control is also included. Additionally, an internal headphone amplifier provides a useful personal listening option.  Finishes include black and silver.

The Elements Pre-Amplifier is available now priced at £1,395


Sponsorship button

The Bespoke Audio Company announces the début UK showing of their highly acclaimed, award winning pre-amplifier this weekend at Bristol Sound & Vision 2016, Friday 26th – Sunday 28th February 2016, Marriott City Centre Hotel Bristol, Lower Castle Street, Bristol.

Frame and Logo

In 2015, the pre-amplifier was Hifi Pig Recommended.

The Bespoke audio company will be show parters with Harbeth Audio. They will use the pre-amplifier together with their SuperHL5plus loudspeakers in Room 234.

“The Bespoke Audio Company is founded on two principles: to hold the experience of the customer as paramount and to accept no compromise in anything we do. We want to raise the standards of what can be expected from a high end audio company. Nothing else will do for our customers, nothing else will do for us”.


Sponsorship button

The award winning Music First Audio Classic pre amplifier has now sold 500 units since its introduction in 2003. To celebrate this achievement a new version of the classic unit is being made available in a fabulous new range of colours.Baby_Classic_Chrome_Blue

The Baby Classic Pre Amplifier

The Baby Classic pre amplifier, using the Classic transformer, is a 2 input and output pre amp with a 24 position switch volume switch and 3 position ground lift switch. The back panel is built to the customer’s specification. Both RCA and XLR inputs are available in any combination.Baby_Classic_Back_panel

£1200.00, plus VAT if applicable.


Sponsorship button

Last year, Aavik Acoustics released their very first amplifier, the integrated amplifier Aavik U-300 and now the Danish company is to introduce two new amplifiers to the 300 series: the Aavik P-300 power amplifier and the Aavik C-300 preamplifier.

The two new Aavik Acoustics amplifiers will be introduced at the 2016 CES in Las Vegas.

The Aavik P-300 power amplifier devices never stop conducting current. This means that the amplifier circuitry never has to deal with residuals such as switching spikes and device “latchings”.Aavik-P300_front_white_bg

The Aavik P-300 has an ultra short and simple signal circuit design, where all gain and feedback is performed by a single transistor pair. This short signal path gives the Aavik P-300 a gain structure with extremely low distortion and a more than 90-degree phase margin for amplifier stability.Aavik-P300-rearpanel_white_bg

The Aavik P-300 has four 600 W power factor corrected resonant mode power supplies. The in total 2400 W power supply combined with the extremely large electrolytic power banks allow the Aavik P-300 to deliver peak currents in excess of 80 A.

The Aavik C-300 preamplifier

The Aavik C-300 is equipped with two built-in DACs (PCM and DSD) and a phono section. It also comes with three line inputs: two single-ended and one balanced, and an RCA and an XLR output.aavik_front_whitebg

The virtual ground circuits eliminate the possibility of injecting dirty ground noise into the delicate audio circuits.Aavik-C300-rear_white_bg


Aavik Acoustics’ inspiration from Scandinavian design traditions is easily found in the Aavik P-300 and C-300 amplifiers with their simplistic functionality and their beautiful minimalistic design. All chassis in the 300 series are made of anodized aluminium.


Sponsorship button

At £9000 the Bespoke Audio Co passive Preamplifier certainly isn’t cheap, but this is a hand-made in the UK, luxury product that is not meant to be within the reach of the majority of people. Stuart Smith takes a listen.  More »

McIntosh Laboratory launched the C1100: a luxurious two-chassis preamp with huge connectivity and McIntosh’s best technical performance to date and we broke the news about it way back in September here. XL_C1100C_and_C1100T_Angle_Left

The C1100 is now available in the UK with a price tag of £12,995 with Jordan Acoustics being the distributor.

Sponsorship button

British brand Exposure Electronics has long been renowned for creating high-performance audio components with involving musical reality, yet with an affordable price tag.

In January 2015, the brand released a new, enhanced ‘D’ edition of its 3010S2 integrated amplifier and now the preamp has been given the same upgrade.Exposure 3010S2D preamplifier with 3010S2 mono amps

Like its predecessor, the new 3010S2-D preamplifier comes with six line level inputs. However, one of these is now a direct AV input to enable integration within a surround sound system. There is still the possibility to fit an optional MM or MC phonostage, which is now joined by the option of a plug-in DAC board. The latter is capable of up to 192/24 bit PCM and DSD 64, and comes with two inputs: USB and BNC, with auto-switching between them. A tape output is included as well as two main outputs to allow for easy bi-amping.

The 3010S2-D now sports a brand new circuit board which has been remapped and features high quality relays for input selection to ensure the shortest possible signal path. There are no integrated circuits, as the signal path uses all discrete components including special high-quality capacitors. The new power supply includes a large custom-made torodial power transformer and adds extra stages of regulation for improved performance. 

Technical specifications

Input impedance 17K Ohms minimum (line input)
Input sensitivity 250mV
Gain 17dB ( x7)
Frequency response 20Hz – 20KHz ± 0.5dB
Total harmonic distortion <0.005% at rated output, ref 1KHz
Signal to noise ratio >100dB, A-weighted
Channel separation > 60dB @ 20KHz
Mains supply 110/120V or 220/240V, 50/60Hz (factory set)
Power consumption <25VA
Dimensions 90mm (h) x 440mm (w) x 300mm (d)
Net weight (unpacked) 5kg
Gross weight (packed) 7kg
Warranty 3 years

The Exposure 3010S2-D integrated amplifier is available now in titanium or black, priced at £1,060  (incl. VAT).

Optional additions:

  • On-board MM phonostage £240
  • On-board MC phonostage £240
  • On-board DAC £325


Sponsorship button

In 1973, the Audio Research SP3 was hailed as ‘the best preamplifier available’. The Reference Series from Audio Research was first introduced in 1995 and say Audio Research, ‘Has been the ultimate representation of performance, musicality and power.’ The Reference 6 is the latest preamplifier from the brand.Audi_Research-ref-6-news1

The Reference 6 is a solution to a need which arose after the creation of the Reference SE Series amplifiers. According to Warren Gehl, who is responsible for sonic development of all Audio Research products, the new series of Reference amplifiers offer ‘a level of musical and dynamic capability only made apparent when using the flagship, two-chassis Reference 10 preamplifier. Both preamplifiers of the Reference Series need the ability to provide the full benefit of this new sonic landscape. Increasing the tube count to six in the analogue section, and advancements in the power supply improved both macro- and micro-dynamics and lowered distortion. The Reference 6 also offers better bass control, relaxed purity and more dimensionality. Further improvements include a more grainless presentation, greater transparency, better speed, and more continuity across the musical spectrum. Quite simply, the Reference 6 improves upon its predecessor in every way for a more palpable and immediate musical performance.’Audio_research_ref_6_news2

Numerous elements – transformers, capacitors, wiring – are designs exclusive to Audio Research and the Reference 6. A completely new chassis has allowed a more beautiful aesthetic, but also provides more structural rigidity to assist in the dissipation of electrical and mechanical interferences. Six premium 6H30 tubes are now used in the audio circuit (increased from four tubes in the Reference 5SE) to provide an even quieter background and increased dynamic range. The tube-regulated power supply is also a new design. New circuit boards, circuit designs, and larger power transformer have been implemented to provide robustness and serviceability. A new volume control with finer step gradation and higher performance completes the system.
The first Reference 6 units, available in natural anodized aluminium with acrylic cover, will begin shipping in November.


Sponsorship button

sDP-1000EX from sOTM Audio is a high-end D/A converter and pre-amplifier with a USB audio function which supports DSD playback and has a battery power supply. 

USB audio uses an asynchronous mode to connect the digital audio source device such as a PC. It can playback a 32 bit/192KHz PCM signal (maximum) and DSD signal. In addition, the sound quality from the input source can be improved by the specially designed high performance clock and 32 bit up-sampler circuit.

All audio circuit parts including the DAC and preamplifier volume control are fully balanced circuits.  Not a single coupling capacitor is used in the audio signal path.sDP-1000_Front-e1418872157602

It has two battery packs installed, with one battery providing power whilst the other charges and switches between these functions automatically, so there is no additional work needed once it’s connected to a power supply for charging the battery. The sDP-1000EX will work continuously via battery power only.sDP-1000_Rear-e1418872178836


SB input

USB specification 2.0 or higher

USB audio class 2.0

32bit/192KHz PCM & DSD playback

Native ASIO support

Optical, Coaxial, AES/EBU input

Max bit-depth : 24bit

Sampling rate : 32KHz, 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz, 192KHz


Coaxial, BNC : 75Ω

AES/EBU : 110Ω

Balanced input

Max input voltage : 4 Vrms

Input impedance : > 10kΩ

Frequency range : 20~20KHz @ ±0.1dB

Unbalanced input

Max input voltage : 4 Vrms

Input impedance : > 10kΩ

Frequency range : 20~20KHz @ ±0.1dB

Balanced output

Output voltage at 0dB : 3.8 Vrms ±5%

Output impedance : 47Ω ±5%

Frequency range : 20~20KHz @ ±0.1dB

THD : < 0.003% @ 1KHz, 0dB

Unbalanced output

Output voltage at 0dB : 3.8 Vrms ±5%

Output impedance : 47Ω ±5%

Frequency range : 20~20KHz @ ±0.1dB

THD : < 0.003% @ 1KHz, 0dB

Volume control

Setting range : -75 ~ +10dB, 0.5dB step


Sponsorship button


The name of this French DAC/PRE derives from the word étalon, meaning standard, or measuring device. Dominic Marsh gets to grips with the 7530 unit and spills some blood for his art. More »

McIntosh Laboratory has launched the new C47, a flexible 12-input digital preamp that combines contemporary technology with the core values of the brand. The C47 has been designed to offer huge flexibility with both digital and analogue source components.

It offers a high-quality built-in phono stage for the direct connection of turntables, an advanced headphone stage with McIntosh’s proprietary Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®), plus four digital inputs.

The C47 is compatible with the latest high-resolution audio formats via its USB input, including DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 along with DXD 352.8kHz; its twin optical and single coaxial inputs can decode at up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. For optimum SACD playback, the C47 preamp can also connect digitally to McIntosh’s recently launched  MCT450  SACD/CD transport via its ‘MCT input’, creating a secure, custom DSD connection.

For analogue sources, the C47 includes two balanced and three unbalanced (fully assignable) inputs, plus Moving Coil and Moving Magnet phono inputs. All inputs are available all of the time – even those that have been assigned to individual devices, giving genuine flexibility of configuration.

With such a wide variety of source component connectivity, the C47 sensibly offers bass and treble tone controls for fine tuning. Further features include the aforementioned Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®), which brings an added dimension to headphone listening, while the C47’s Home Theatre Pass Through feature permits seamless integration into multichannel A/V systems.

The C47 incorporates classic McIntosh design cues, including a black glass front panel, an illuminated logo and brushed-aluminium end caps. It combines McIntosh’s contemporary solid-state preamplifier circuitry with a full complement of inputs and is perfectly suited to exploiting the full potential of today’s digital devices, while delivering the legendary McIntosh sound quality. Like all McIntosh products, the C47 is handcrafted in the Binghamton factory (New York) and boasts classic 1950s styling with contemporary features and technology.


Sponsorship button

At £129 this little passive pre has more inputs than its predecessor but costs less. What’s all that about then? Ian Ringstead finds out. More »

Another new preamplifier from McIntosh has been announced on the company’s website, hot on the heals of the C1100 that we broke news of yesterday.

“The C52 is the most advanced, single chassis solid state preamplifier we’ve ever made” the company say.
For connecting analogue devices, it includes 3 balanced and 4 unbalanced fully assignable inputs plus 1 each of Moving Coil and Moving Magnet phono inputs for connecting a turntable.XL_C52_Front_Top

On the digital side, it has 3 optical, 2 coaxial and 1 USB input. The optical and coax inputs will decode digital music at up to 24-bit/192kHz for high resolution audio playback. The C52 is also capable of decoding and playing back DSD files; the USB input accepts PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and supports DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 plus DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. An MCT input offers a secure, custom DSD connection for playback of the high definition audio found on SACDs when paired with the company’s MCT450 SACD/CD Transport​ . The C52 features a 24-bit/192kHz, DSD digital-to-analogue-converter. XL_C52_Back

The outputs have also been updated to be easier to operate when bi-amping or tri-amping so that your highs and/or lows are not inadvertently turned off. An 8 band analogue equalizer is also included.XL_C52_High_Angle_right_close_up_background

For headphone listening there’s Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) and the Home Theatre Pass Through feature allows for seamless integration into your multi-channel home theatre system.


Sponsorship button

The C1100 preamplifier from McIntosh has, say the company, “high level inputs having the lowest noise of any McIntosh preamplifier ever produced”. It utilises a two-chassis design where the control and power sections are completely separate from the audio section. XL_C1100C_and_C1100T_Angle_Left

The C1100 is comprised of the C1100 controller and the C1100 vacuum tube preamplifier. Inside each, the left and right channels are electrically and mechanically isolated from each other to allow true dual mono operation. The two units are connected together via a pair of specially designed umbilical cables that are shielded. While they are two separate units, when connected they act as one and are easy to control and operate from the included remote control or the C1100 controller front panel.L_C1100T_Front_Top

All power control, data ports and external control connections are located in the C1100 controller; the introduction of a dual microprocessor allows for an improved robustness of the control system. The C1100 vacuum tube preamplifier houses the audio connections and circuitry, featuring a total of 12 analogue inputs: 6 balanced, 4 unbalanced, plus an adjustable loading Moving Magnet and a Moving Coil phono input.

For outputs, 2 sets of balanced and 2 sets of unbalanced connections provide flexibility in connecting to your amplifier. Twelve vacuum tubes (6 each of 12AX7a and 12AT7) power the tube preamplifier. Compared to the C1000 preamplifier which had 8 tubes, the additional 4 tubes in the C1100 lowers its dependency on any solid-state support. The amplifier circuit has much higher common mode rejection, so any noise introduced by interconnect cables is significantly reduced. For personal listening, the headphone jack features a higher output than any of their other preamplifiers and uses Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®).The Home Theatre Pass Through feature allows for integration into your existing multi-channel home theatre system. XL_C1100C_Front_Top

The C1100 preamplifier employs fully balanced circuitry and has the classic McIntosh black glass front panels, blue meters, knobs, stainless steel chassis, illuminated logos and custom machined brushed aluminium end caps.


Sponsorship button

Burson Audio has announced the introduction of the new Conductor Virtuoso USB DAC, Headphone amplifier and Preamplifier Conductor-Virtuoso-2that can be used to drive headphones of desktop systems. The new Virtuoso supersedes all previous Conductor models.

Burson say that it has “significantly upgraded and refined previous generations of the Conductor. Besides big power, the Conductor Virtuoso includes a new, stunning 100-step volume control with a fresh and easy-to-read display. When the Virtuoso is turned on the volume indicators appear on the face of the thick, antiresonant aluminum front plate”.

Consumers can choose from two interchangeable DAC boards with different sonic characteristics, and the modular design should make for no-fuss upgrades. Another important consideration say Burson is that the Conductor Virtuoso doesn’t use densely-packed opamps, but instead all discrete circuitry which they say offers superior tonality, clarity and a lower noise floor.

The remote control is carved from solid aluminum with no visible screws.

The Conductor Virtuoso is shipping now with the ESS9018 Sabre DAC at $1,995USD / €1,850 Euros. The Burr Brown PCM1793 version is priced at $1,495USD / €1,451 Euros.

Sponsorship button

Densen have introduced an updated version of their B-250 preamplifier called the B-250 XS.densenbx

Improvements include a volume control using an attenuator made of Vishay metal film resistors switched by relays controlled by the microprocessor which Densen say has virtually no self-induced noise and extremely low distortion. The attenuator has 200 steps for precise control of the volume.

The new preamplifier also has sockets on board for the SA Board for surround and the DP-03 MM phonostage. The SA boards (Surround Audio Boards) are an add on for the B-250XS and will give 5.1/7.1 line input and line preout meaning you can connect a surround processor, DVD player, or SACD player.

On the back panel of the B-250XS there is a socket for use with internal DAC which Densen will soon be introducing. It will have USB, Toslink and coaxial digital inputs which you will be able to control from the Gizmo remote and from the pre’s front panel.


Sponsorship button



Parasound has announced the addition of a new 2.1 channel preamplifier to its Halo product line( Jerry reviewed the Parasound_p5_preamplifier_front_backHalo A21 amp some time ago giving it a Recommended award). The new Halo P 5 replaces the Halo P 3 preamplifier adding a DAC with coaxial, optical and USB inputs. Also included is a subwoofer output, home theatre bypass, phonostage and a motorised volume pot.

Inputs include one pair of balanced XLRs, phono, five stereo RCA inputs and a 3.5mm mini jack on the front panel so you can plug in your iPod or mobile phone.  Outputs are balanced XLR, unbalanced RCA and a choice of balanced/unbalanced subwoofer outputs.

The onboard phonostage will cope with moving magnet cartridges and pretty much all moving coil cartridges with a 100ohm/47 ohm switch for impedance matching.

Available in September the price will be $950 which would appear to be a good price for such a well loaded product.

Sponsorship button

An increasing number of music lovers use their computers to store and play music, yet still want better sound and more flexibility. The new Alpha Design Labs Esprit, aimed at audiophiles who wants “higher performance and increased flexibility”  offering as it does 24 bit/192 kHz, a digital preamplifier and a headphone amplifier.

The Esprit is designed around the 24 bit/192 kHz Wolfson WM8716 DAC and the CIRRUS LOGIC CS5361 24/192 analogue to digital converter.  It features optical, coaxial, USB and 2 analogue inputs.  The USB output can be used for recording to hard disk and the S/PDIF output will support digital surround sound formats from allowing surround material stored on a hard drive to be played through a suitable digital surround decoder. More »