Amp/Preamp Asylum

Looking for a new Amp or Preamp? If you're after tubes, post over here.

Return to Amp/Preamp Asylum


Message Sort: Post Order or Asylum Reverse Threaded

Are Passive Pre-Amps Lacking at Lower-Mids Compared to Active Pre's

208.131.186.2

Posted on May 14, 2011 at 19:50:37
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
"A comparison of passive/pre-amp less vs active pre-amps using one of the rare speaker-systems (perhaps the best Tannoys) which are truly competent at the lower-mids will easily reveal several of the better active pre-amps to be ridiculously superior, as the previously constricted lower-midrange is now unleashed to bring much more realism to the reproduction. The very slightly less clarity of the higher frequencies (not even a noticable factor unless directly compared to pre-amp less) is of little consequence in the context of the 'big picture' - of the vastly enhanced OVERALL REALISM. In this system, pre-amp less' presentation will still be slightly clearer in the higher frequencies but, more importantly, the critical lower-mids will also now be shown to be conspicuously and starkly MISSING, and the overall reproduction far from realistic, compared to that of the active pre."
Re; Stereo-Mojo & The Audio Critique as several seem to be adopting similar views on the subject . The full article from which the above was exerpted (is mainly about the Audio Critique) and is at my link below. Any similar experiences, here?

 

Hide full thread outline!
    ...
I suspect what they are hearing, posted on May 14, 2011 at 20:05:02
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
is an impedance mismatch most likely using a SS amp which tend to have lower input values. Attenuators do not work in all systems.

rw

 

RE: I suspect what they are hearing, posted on May 14, 2011 at 20:35:34
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
I see your point, but, with all due respect, I doubt it. The author of The Audio Critique knows all about impedance matches and mis-matches, and has used (and advocated) a passive/pre-amp less system for many years (fully optimized and used with an S.E.T. amp - not ss) until he recently when he tried and bought an active Coincident pre-amp. Stereo-Mojo tested the same active pre-amp and also compared it with pre-amp less using several tube amps and ss. The results were the same in those scenarios - more lower-mids from the active pre. I've done it myself, with the same outcome. Wonder if anyone else has.

 

RE: I suspect what they are hearing, posted on May 14, 2011 at 21:00:54
ahendler
Audiophile

Posts: 4821
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Joined: January 24, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
January 14, 2010
There is also quite a difference in passives. I have a Sonic Euphoria which uses a autotransformer instead of just a resistive attenuator. It is much less effected by load impedances than most passives and I do not find a midbass suckout
Alan

 

RE: I suspect what they are hearing, posted on May 14, 2011 at 21:15:29
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Operating pre-amp less, I didn't experience a mid-bass suck-out either. Bass is fine, middle-mids to the highest frequencies too. It's the lower-mids that seem to be absent, compared to my active pre, which also has a passive mode - same thing happens there too. Btw, autoformers are awesome - great choice.

 

I agree., posted on May 15, 2011 at 06:17:41
Dave Pogue
Audiophile

Posts: 10768
Location: DC Area
Joined: October 9, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
March 18, 2003
I've heard lots of systems incorporating passive linestages/controllers that sound very good to me, yet I still prefer my active pre (Aesthetix Calypso) and now I know more about the "why" of it. Thanks for posting this.

 

Don't experience that , posted on May 15, 2011 at 07:02:16
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
with my Audio Research preamp. Perhaps the Coincident is "enhancing" that region.

rw

 

RE: I agree., posted on May 15, 2011 at 07:26:39
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
I agree.
I've heard lots of systems incorporating passive linestages/controllers that sound very good to me, yet I still prefer my active pre (Aesthetix Calypso) and now I know more about the "why" of it. Thanks for posting this.

Hey, you're welcome Dave. Much obliged!

 

RE: 'Passive Pre-Amps' seems like an oxymoron. (nt) , posted on May 15, 2011 at 08:53:49
cdb
Audiophile

Posts: 2721
Joined: April 6, 2001
...

 

I tend to disagree, posted on May 15, 2011 at 10:10:48
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
What passive setup did you experience and the rest of your associated gear?

This is too much of a generalization about passive preamps. There are good ones and bad ones, and all of them require much more careful synergy between the components. And I'm not talking "synergy" in a hocus pocus or vague mythical way.

In my experience, the ideal passive setup will have source components with robust low impedance signal output and possibly higher voltage output than typical. My Cary 306/200 CDP comes to mind with it's 3vrms output. The power amp should have a good amount of gain AND sensitivity, and the speakers should be somewhat sensitive so you're not having to crank the volume way up to get modest listening levels. You want to have enough adjustment range in the passive so you're not at the extremes. Short interconnects with low capacitance are also desirable.

In my experience and in my system at the time, I found the respected McCormack TLC-1 to be very transparent but "thin" sounding in the mids. I found the popular Adcom GFP-750 to kill the dynamics in passive mode and not especially engaging in active mode, although Stereopile raved about this mid-fi piece several years ago. (I had to try it for myself, I didn't like it).

It all came together for me when I tried the Placette Passive linestage. It was not only unbelievably transparent and "clean" sounding but it had good midrange, bass, and treble extension. There was no "bass suckout" or lack of midrange. On the other hand, it didn't "color" the midrange and enhance it as so many linestages will do, especially vacuum tube units.

Dynamics were also excellent in my passive setup, probably in part due to the strong source signal and gain and sensitivity of the power amp in the system along with somewhat sensitive speakers. I didn't have to "crank it way up" in order to make the system come alive with dynamics.

Yup, the passive setup that I had was probably one of the best sounding I had assemebled. I also very much enjoyed the Cary SLP-05 vacuum tube linestage with incredible midrange. Incredible because like so many active linestages available, they are "voiced" to enhance certain regions and to cater to certain tastes. The Placette and other good passive linestages are none of that. They don't add to or subtract from the source.

So to make the generalization that passive linestages lack midrange is all wrong. What is your reference? A warm and robust sounding tube linestage? Nothing wrong with enjoying that type of sound - I certainly do as evidenced by my current setup. But to say that all passives lack midrange is just plain wrong. It may just be a matter of system synergy and your reference point.

 

RE: Don't experience that , posted on May 15, 2011 at 11:43:46
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Don't experience that with my Audio Research preamp. Perhaps the Coincident is "enhancing" that region.

Hi E-Stat,

That's not surprising. Here's another exerpt from that article linked below comparing pre-amp less to my own active ARC pre (not Coincident) Note, especially, the last 2 sentences; "

"The LS3 releases all that lower-mid information to amps and speakers capable of operating in this area. The result is enhanced realism; musical notes become whole, and complete, the resonance of certain instruments is liberated allowing the instrument(s) to sound truly like the real thing and as big as life, notes in this region are more full, they expand, they linger for longer, then they slowly fade into oblivion regardless of the cacaphony around them. I was lucky to have an amp and speakers that were capable of showcasing the considerable advantage the LS3 holds over 'pre-amp-less' (and other pre-amps) in the lower-mids - otherwise, I might never have bought it. If, however, ones amps or speakers also limit the lower-mids, as the vast majority do, then one will never notice that much of a difference in this area."

Here's, also a para-phrasing of Stereo-Mojo's comparison of 'pre-amp less' with the active Coincident pre; [Stereo-Mojo's reviewer reported in his review of the same pre-amp that his wife (perhaps the epitome of a non-audiophile) commented on the 'fuller' tone of this pre-amp, compared to 'pre-amp less'. In their opinion, the difference between the pre-amp less mode's performance and that of the active pre-amp in that system, while not being 'night and day', was certainly as much as 'pre-dusk and pre-dawn' - if you catch the drift. Not the greatest of anologies, perhaps, but by the context, we can safely assume the difference is significant, as the following would further indicate: They both consistently heard and felt the increased timbre and texture of instruments and voices, particularly piano, aboe, bassoon, saxaphone, tympami, close-mic'd strings, and both male and female voices. He and his non-audiophile wife both heard more bite and more roundness to the sound].

I really don' think it's an issue of the Coincident 'enhancing' the lower-mids since I've repeatedly demonstrated and experienced this with my own ARC over the past 8 years, or so. (This ARC also has a 'Direct' or passive pre-amp mode, btw). Oh, and I did run my system pre-amp less for years before being blown-away by the more natural & realistic performance of the ARC. And the more robust, realistic lower-mids is what really makes the difference 'cause the hi-mids and highs are definitely clearer thru the 'Direct' mode, or pre-amp less, but definitely thinner at the lower-mids, sadly.

But to more illustrate the fact that this is not an issue of the Coincident being enhanced, perhaps I could take the liberty of quoting one of our own inmates, Mike555 (from a post late last year) whose Prima-Luna may not be as clear as a Coincident in the highs, but his references to a more 'melodic' and 'better balanced' sound can only be ascribed to the similar performance of the active Prima-Luna at the lower-mids: "Hi. I have a Rega P5 feeding a Graham Slee Reflex M phono stage feeding a Primaluna Prologue 3 preamp feeding a McIntosh MC-2105 amp (with gain controls). I have discovered that, for some recordings, the output sounds better when the Graham Slee phono stage is connected directly to the McIntosh amplifier. The preamplifier mellows out the output, and make it sounds better balanced, but sometimes at the expense of the size of the soundstage and the level of detail. Is this unusual? Am I missing something by taking the preamp out of the chain?" [Re; the full thread at: http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/t.mpl?f=amp&m=161073 ]

As to your concern about not experiencing the difference, I refer you again to the last 2 sentences of the first quotation, even as I recognize the excelence of both your systems - congrats on that, btw. However, in my experience, many excellent and highly reputed components do not accord the lower-mids a similar level of prominence as they do in their superlative depiction of the rest of the spectrum. I'm not sure if this would apply to any of the components in either of your chains. And though I'm familiar with my own LS3, I'm not sure the SP9 (both ARC) shares the attribute at low-mid, though I think it should. Additionally, all great electro-stat di-poles such as yours depend a lot on 'boundary assistance' for reinforcement at the lower-mids in the sense that their characteristics, here, can be adjusted to cooler or warmer tones by placement. Mono-poles are also affected, but less so, by comparison. My suggestion would be, if you're so inclined, to try this experiment with your double-stacked (New) Advents, the SP9, and an amp renown for lower-mid performance - Mac, C-J, ARC, etc (most high-end tube-amps would do). If any of your own amps share this attribute, then you're good to go (I'm not familiar with their sound). I'm also not familiar with New Advents, but if their lower-mids are similar to Original Advents, and IF ALL other components are proficient at the lower mids, then you should EASILY discern the difference between pre-amp less and active pre.

But why bother. Were I you, I'd just wrap myself in the rapture of those SoundLabs. (Is it A-1? I don't recall).

Congrats, again, on 2 great systems!

 

Not sure I made my point clear..., posted on May 15, 2011 at 12:49:56
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
I was lucky to have an amp and speakers that were capable of showcasing the considerable advantage the LS3 holds over 'pre-amp-less' (and other pre-amps) in the lower-mids - otherwise, I might never have bought it. If, however, ones amps or speakers also limit the lower-mids, as the vast majority do, then one will never notice that much of a difference in this area."

I agree about the importance of the "warmth" region. In my case, I find no difference in tonal quality between using my ARC preamp vs. DACT attenuators with a GamuT CD-1. Only a loss of transparency and stage width using the preamp.

And though I'm familiar with my own LS3, I'm not sure the SP9 (both ARC) shares the attribute at low-mid, though I think it should.

I originally bought the unit as a MKII and had the factory update it to MKIII specs. That change itself improved the lower midrange output and removed a touch of thinness with the MKII flavor. I don't perceive any change of tonal balance when the preamp is bypassed and replaced by attenuators.

Additionally, all great electro-stat di-poles such as yours depend a lot on 'boundary assistance' for reinforcement at the lower-mids in the sense that their characteristics, here, can be adjusted to cooler or warmer tones by placement.

Couldn't agree more. I spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with speaker placement, backplate setting (bass control for the Sound Labs) and bass trap placement. Through listening and verification with measurements, I arrived at a roughly eight foot out from the back wall placement for the speakers with all the 18" trips behind them. I got extremely smooth response from 25 hz to 200 hz.

My suggestion would be, if you're so inclined, to try this experiment with your double-stacked (New) Advents, the SP9, and an amp renown for lower-mid performance - Mac, C-J, ARC, etc (most high-end tube-amps would do).

In the vintage system, I run a Manley DAC with tube output directly to a Threshold Stasis 3. As for New Advents vs. old, they have more power handling and better top end response with a simpler crossover (which I have updated). Advents don't mate well with tube amps at all because of their high output impedance. The Stasis works significantly better with them. And having the DAC line stage drive the amps directly improved resolution.

Is it A-1?

U-1s with the steel frame using the "Hot Rodded" backplates with improved passive parts. Click my moniker to find more details and pics.

Congrats, again, on 2 great systems!

Thanks.

rw

 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 15, 2011 at 14:01:17
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Hi AbeCollins,

Could I take the easy way out and just refer you to my response above? OK, so that will address several of your queries. And for the others, including the components of my system, perhaps the review of my ARC LS3 (comparing it to its passive pre-amp mode, and pre-amp less) posted here at the Asylum, should cover all the relevant issues - more so than I could duplicate them here. So I'll post that URL below.

Bye-the-way, in reference to your speculation about my having, "a warm and robust tube line-stage" - the LS3 is solid-state. And even further bye the way, in reference to the various sounds of passives; we should, perhaps, remember that the 'purest passive pre-amp is no pre-amp' - that was my reference (for many years) - no pre-amp!

But before I go, perhaps I should also mention that, like me, Arthur Salvatore (of High-End Audio web-zine) used a passive system for many years. He was its greatest advocate on this planet, the most vocal in its advocacy, and one of the most expert at its optimization. Yet, surprizingly, he's now abandoned his passive set-up citing, among other things, a better lower-midrange performance from his new ACTIVE line-stage pre-amp. It's impossible to find a better example than that, I'm sure you'll agree. I can look-up the link to his review, if necessary, and also that of Stereo-Mojo who did a similar comparison, and said pretty-much the same - only more so.

These are powerful indictments against the passive mode. Still, I was anxious to know what others have experienced.

Thanx for your input!

 

I've been using a preamp-less system..., posted on May 15, 2011 at 14:07:50
mkuller
Audiophile

Posts: 35132
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: April 22, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
December 28, 2003
...for about 10 years now - Wadia CD player connected directly to my Manley tubed amps.

Midbass and lower midrange are just fine.

It is all about system matching and there are few absolutes. Try it and hear for yourself.

Personally I don't care much for Salvatore or Stereo-Mojo.

Anyone can find just about anything they want on the internet these days.

 

RE: Not sure I made my point clear..., posted on May 15, 2011 at 16:39:27
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
E-Stat,

I realize, now, that you are serious about getting more 'warmth' from your (main?) system, in particular. I'm very sure your VTL 450 is absolutely capable in that regard - so that's not a problem. I wonder, though, if with the SoundLabs 8' out from the wall, whether the lower-mids are sufficiently reinforced. I'm not sure, another inmate, Duke LeJuene of AudioKinesis, is a SoundLab fan and (former?) user - let's hope he sees this and jumps in to advise you.

But from where I sit, and from what you've said, I'd be more inclined to take a serious look at that SP9. I know some ARC fans think the SP9 is not amongst the best of ARC pre-amps. And you 've mentioned: "I originally bought the unit as a MKII and had the factory update it to MKIII specs. That change itself improved the lower midrange output and removed a touch of thinness with the MKII flavor. I don't perceive any change of tonal balance when the preamp is bypassed and replaced by attenuators."

Regarding the SP9's 'thinness' you cited, I wonder if ALL of it was removed. I know no such thinness existed in (others around that era) the SP8, SP10, SP11, or LS3. The LS1 & LS2 are not highly rated, as I recall, and those were derived from (you guessed it) the SP9, I believe. Perhaps this could be where your issue lies.

Another of our inmates, Bambi, is expert on ALL things ARC, she owns SP8, LS3, and SP10, among others (amps included). She knows all about every pre-amp ARC has ever made (and perhaps some W.Z. Johnson hasn't thought of as yet, LOL) Let's hope she also sees this and jumps in to advise you on the SP9.

Bye the way, as far as tubes go, all ARC's tend towards the 'neutral' (some more than others). If it turns out that the SP9 is the actual cause for your concern then, in seeking an alternative, I'd look at the Conrad-Johnson line - notorious for bringing extra 'warmth' to a 'cool' system.

Oh, and regarding the 2nd system, I know the Threshold was totally awesome in most respects - not sure it was renown for its performance at the lower-mids, though, certainly not to the level of your VTL, I'm sure.

Best of luck with the SP9.

 

RE: I've been using a preamp-less system..., posted on May 15, 2011 at 17:10:37
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Hey Mkuller,

Try it? Been there & done that too (for quite a number of years, actually). Sounded great - still does - but.........

What more can I say?

Enjoy the music.

 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 15, 2011 at 18:54:55
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Are you trying to convince me and others that passive linestages are inferior in the lower-midrange? Or are you asking for our input? I already gave you mine.

Let me just say that I stand by my findings and don't feel the need to change my mind because some Arthur Salvatore had a recent revelation, or a change in taste.

It is a gross generalization to think that all passive linestages are inferior in the lower-midrange. It can also be said that the lower-midrange performance varies among even the best ACTIVE linestages in ACTIVE vs ACTIVE comparisons.

What I am fundamentally saying is that a properly setup system with a passive linestage can sound incredible and if someone perceives ACTIVE linestages as producing "better" lower-midrange performance, "in his system", that doesn't mean that I will come to the same conclusion for my system. I don't feel the need to agree with this generalization, nor have I heard it in my system.

Yes, there are preamps that will color the lower-midrange making it more prominent and perhaps more appealing to some but that doesn't necessarily make it "better".


 

Actually..., posted on May 15, 2011 at 19:51:19
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
I realize, now, that you are serious about getting more 'warmth' from your (main?) system, in particular.

Why on earth would I want to do that? As for me, I prefer a neutral overall response.

I wonder, though, if with the SoundLabs 8' out from the wall, whether the lower-mids are sufficiently reinforced.

This is a very important point. Regardless of the sonic signature of various components, you want a neutral result in the end. In room measurements vary by +- 1.5 db from 30 hz to 200 hz. As compared to live sources like my wife's baby grand, the lower midrange is as neutral as it measures. You might, however, prefer the garage system where there are 3db peaks at 160 hz and 320 hz which creates some artificial warmth.

rw

 

Very well stated....., posted on May 15, 2011 at 20:30:08
Robert C. Lang
Audiophile

Posts: 3586
Joined: March 1, 2001
And it's not just because I, too, employ a Placette Passive Line Stage (after making in-system comparisons with 4 other actives and one other passive).

It's funny for years many (the uninformed, especially) would take broad brushed swipes at "passive pre-amps" (symptomatic of being uninformed) as being weak in bass, dynamics, with rolled off highs. Now a new frontal attack against "all" passive line stages that "they" are lacking in the lower midrange. But you hear anything in these pages.

Robert C. Lang

 

Perfect, and I understand why...., posted on May 15, 2011 at 20:36:15
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Wadia 850 partial specs:
Single-box CD player with remote control, digital-domain volume control with 24-bit precision. Maximum output level: adjustable from 250mV to 4.4V to optimize volume-control action (4.4V RMS default). Measured frequency response: -3dB at 20kHz. Output impedance: <15 ohms.

You have a CDP capable of higher than typical output voltage and a robust low output impedance. This is perfect for a passive linestage setup or no linestage at all in your case. You have a very robust signal to drive the next stage with great dynamics and no loss of resolution in the excellent volume control.

Similarly, a CDP with a less than stellar volume control (or no volume control) but robust output signal is still a good candidate for a passive setup. By cranking the CDP volume control up 100% (essentially bypassing it) and using a passive linestage with higher quality components can yield similarly excellent results.

Your amps are spec'd with an input sensitivity of 1v for full output (high sensitivity), 30dB gain (lots of gain), and have sufficient intrinsic lower-midrange presence and overall warmth (EL34 tubes, love em!) to not need the added "coloration or enhancing" by an ACTIVE linestage with so called "better lower-midrange".

You just killed that myth!

It's about System Synergy.... what I have been saying all along and your system is a perfect example!


 

And you know the amps well...(nt), posted on May 15, 2011 at 21:44:15
mkuller
Audiophile

Posts: 35132
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: April 22, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
December 28, 2003
(nt)

 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 15, 2011 at 22:35:22
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
AbeCollins

R.C. Lang

Nope! Absolutely not! I've learned, from what I've seen at this forum, not to try to convince anyone of anything. This is not the place for it. That'd be like walking into a shooting-gallery with a target on one's back. No thanks. I've come to realize that many audiophiles are very set in their ways, some would tend to want to string you up from the nearest tree, if you disagree with them - I really don't need that.

As to the reproduction of music, I've heard people talk about different tastes in such reproduction. For instance, I know there're some who love a bright and 'airy' treble, or thunderous bass, or upper-midrange detail, etc, etc, and their systems reflect those preferences - nothing wrong with that - it's what they like, But I've also seen people go so far as to differentiate between 'my realism' and 'your realism' So far as I know, realism is absolute - in every aspect. As for realism in music-reproduction, there can only be one absolute standard - live music - there is no accommodation for preferences, if realism is the goal. But I've also found that in very many instances, realism is not the goal. The goal in such instances is a nice sound which caters to ones tastes and preferences - nothing wrong with that either. But why be affronted when confronted with the notion that one's preferences may not be conducive to the achievement of realism in music-reproduction? Measure it against the absolute standard.

For me, I measure my own system against that absolute standard. And I do whatever it takes to approach that goal as closely as possible. I don't care about fads, or electronic measurements, or catchy phrases, or trying to impress others with my gear. For many years, there has been a 30-piece acoustic band/orchestra which has played (and still plays) every few months, or so, on premises adjoining my backyard - this is the standard by which I measure my own system, in a quest to approach that goal. In the process I have done away with so-called 'state of the art' speakers (Spendor BC1's, at the time, turned away from Apogees too) and, yes, pre-amp less system operation (I'm telling no-one here to do the same). Yes, much of my equipment may be 'decent', but they're all connected to a DIY speaker-system which some may want to call a stack of crap, I wouldn't care one iota, as long as it, and my other choices, take me closer to the goal -and they do - much closer than those Spendors or pre-amp less, for instance. Am I telling you to do the same? No way!

In the process of participating in this thread, some of my opinions may be made apparent. But am I trying to convince people here to see things my way? Again I say - no way! I have a site where all my views on such issues can be freely accessed - not here. My focus with this thread is merely to gauge opinion and the experiences of others. Limited snippets of my own opinions may become apparent, in the process, but certainly not with a view to convince anyone here of anything.

Thanks for asking!

Oh, I almost forgot; 'Frontal-attack'? What attack? The premise is a question! Uninformed? Well, I suppose one could use a system for close to ten years, and still be uninformed about it - an idiot, for instance. You may have a point there! And bye the way, the ideal passive pre-amp is no pre-amp, nothing. Pre-amp less is the ultimate state of the art for 'passives', No 'passive' unit can be better than nothing. The only reason for a physical 'passive' unit is to provide a means of attenuation (thus the cause of the only differences between them) but the ultimate (in 'passive') is no pre-amp - nothing, and no name-brand passive unit can be better than that - nothing. Didn't you know that? Or are you 'uninformed'?

 

RE: Actually..., posted on May 15, 2011 at 23:21:22
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
E-Stat,

Here's what you said, "I agree about the importance of the "warmth" region"

Now you say, "Why on earth would I want to do that? As for me, I prefer a neutral overall response." I do too. But aren't you somewhat confused? And does your concept of 'neutrality' preclude the presence of 'warmth', as you call it?

As to your 'gracious' offer; a glance at the post above will comfirm that I'm perfectly happy with my own system - more than any I can think of. Go ahead and search - you certainly wouldn't find any thread with me complaining about my components, or the sound (and then turning around to pretend I wasn't - just to impress onlookers). So why would you want to make such an offer.

However, if you'll get back to me, I tell you exactly what you can do with it.

Have a nice day!

 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 15, 2011 at 23:25:44
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
"I've come to realize that many audiophiles are very set in their ways, some would tend to want to string you up from the nearest tree, if you disagree with them."

I've tried no-passive, several passive linestages, and several active linestages so I hope you don't place me in that "set in their ways" category. Nope, not me. I've played with various combinations and have listened for myself.

"The only reason for a physical 'passive' unit is to provide a means of attenuation (thus the cause of the only differences between them) but the ultimate (in 'passive') is no pre-amp - nothing, and no name-brand passive unit can be better than that - nothing. Didn't you know that? Or are you 'uninformed'?"

Given that you cannot run "nothing" in a real world system the comments above make no sense at all. Would you ever run your CD player directly into a power amp if it didn't have a built-in volume control (variable attenuator) of some sort ? I hope not.

Given that you cannot run full-out w/o an attenuator, then it stands to reason that the attenuation must come in the form of attenuating components either within the CD player or an outboard passive linestage.

What's the difference? Could be a big difference depending on the quality of the internal attenuator components or the external attenuator. There are sonic differences among attenuators whether they be internal or external. Just the same, there are sonic differences among the different brands of external passive linestages.


 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 16, 2011 at 00:08:30
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Hey AbeCollins,

Did you really say all this? - "Given that you cannot run "nothing" in a real world system the comments above make no sense at all. Would you ever run your CD player directly into a power amp if it didn't have a built-in volume control (variable attenuator) of some sort ? I hope not.

Given that you cannot run full-out w/o an attenuator, then it stands to reason that the attenuation must come in the form of attenuating components either within the CD player or an outboard passive linestage.

What's the difference? Could be a big difference depending on the quality of the internal attenuator components or the external attenuator. There are sonic differences among attenuators whether they be internal or external. Just the same, there are sonic differences among the different brands of external passive linestages."

I wouldn't even grace that with a response. I couldn't - even if i tried. Forgive me, I'm not trying to be rude - I just can't stop this infernal laughing - sorry. Really now! Just look at what you've said, think about it, and if you still can't see how ridiculous it is, then I certainly can't help you.

Bye the way, as a child, I sometimes watched Sesame-Street. I once witnessed Ernie selling Bert a bag of 'air'. For real - paid a good price too, Bert did. LOL

Should we send Ernie 'round to your place - prehaps?

 

There's another aspect to this., posted on May 16, 2011 at 05:08:30
Dave Pogue
Audiophile

Posts: 10768
Location: DC Area
Joined: October 9, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
March 18, 2003
All source components are not created equal when it comes to their performance thru passive linestage/controllers. I can remember taking a new CDP (Raysonic 128) to two friends' houses to hear in their system. Both are passive controller users.

The Raysonic sounded simply awful in one of them. Better, but not great, in the other. The first time, I thought something had happened to the unit and was immensely pleased when it sounded like it originally did, in my system, via the Aesthetix Calypso.

Then there was the time when another friend suggested that I run a phonostage I was using at the time directly into my monoblock power amps. It had a volume control, so that was at least theoretically feasible. We could hardly believe how bad it sounded "straight" into the amps -- bleached, threadbare, like a different phonostage altogether.

So system synergy plays a big role in all this.

 

Confused about what?, posted on May 16, 2011 at 06:13:36
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
I'll respond to your statement again:

that you are serious about getting more 'warmth' from your (main?) system, in particular.

No, I don't want *more* warmth. I took considerable pains to get audibly and measurably flat response and that is where I want the sound to stay. Don't need exaggerated response!

And does your concept of 'neutrality' preclude the presence of 'warmth', as you call it?

Not at all. Some electronics and systems sound thin in the warmth region. Some systems sound overblown in that region. I prefer neutrality to either extreme. Not thin. Not warm. Got it?

rw

 

Troll, posted on May 16, 2011 at 06:38:58
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Go back and read your ridiculous post (very last paragraph) that I was responding to. And now that I have shown how stupid it was, all you can do is laugh rather than reply intelligently. How very convenient. I've seen children "caught in the act" do the same thing.

It's clear to me that you have very limited experience and understanding of passive attenuation and how to properly apply it in a system. Instead you read about it in some rag and expect others to agree with your conclusion.

Now go back and read your very first post. I'll quote an excerpt here:

...."Re; Stereo-Mojo & The Audio Critique as several seem to be adopting similar views on the subject [passive vs active linestages]. The full article from which the above was exerpted (is mainly about the Audio Critique) and is at my link below. Any similar experiences, here?"

I provided my personal experience and backed it with examples and I don't agree. So now you want to argue because you didn't get the response you wanted.

I call this a "TROLL"


 

RE: Are Passive Pre-Amps Lacking at Lower-Mids Compared to Active Pre's, posted on May 16, 2011 at 06:42:08
clio09
Dealer

Posts: 1151
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Joined: January 29, 2006
Not in my system. I use a Lightspeed attenuator and Slagle autoformer volume control that I built. No lack of dynamics from wither, nor do I sense any lower-mids lacking. I have/had active preamps too. While I admit impedance mismatches can certainly derail the performance of a passive, with the exception of active buffers that I have, I haven't heard an active preamp that didn't flavor the sound somewhat. While the flavoring could certainly be appealing to the listener, it's my opinion that it is not true to the source, and that is what I'm after and my preference.

 

Ignore him. He's just trolling for attention..., posted on May 16, 2011 at 06:51:08
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
...as evidenced by his response to you as you attempt to provide your input which he asked us to do.

He's done the same to me. I provided my input backed with examples and all he wants to do is cite some online rag and convince you that you're wrong. And when he can't, he resorts to being rude.


 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 16, 2011 at 06:57:24
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
"'purest passive pre-amp is no pre-amp' - that was my reference (for many years) - no pre-amp!"

Here is where you are misunderstanding. This may not be the "purest" of all because the internal attenuator in your source may not be as good as a quality external passive attenuator / linestage. It is possible to achieve better sonics by bypassing your internal attenuator entirely. The easiest way to do this in most source components is to simply turn it's volume up 100% then use high quality external attenuation.

Do your homework and clean up your variables before jumping to conclusions.



 

He sure has a strange preoccupation, posted on May 16, 2011 at 07:07:34
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
with a characteristic that is highly system dependent.

My system is similar to Mike's in its "attenuator friendly" nature: GamuT CDP with both low impedance (75 ohms) and high output (4 volts) combined with a first cousin to the amp both of you have - the VTL MB450 - which also has high input impedance (137k ohms) and high sensitivity (1.5 volts). I also use short, low cap ICs.

There's nothing to fix. Sheesh!

rw

 

Now, if they , posted on May 16, 2011 at 09:02:56
JeffH
Audiophile

Posts: 4520
Location: Orange County, So Cal
Joined: April 5, 2000
could make a passive amplifier, life would be perfect. From what I'm reading a passive pre let's you enjoy the sonic signature of the amplifier better, even though not all passive pre's sound the same. My head is spin'n and it's only 9 am.

 

My experience mirrors your own, posted on May 16, 2011 at 09:16:16
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8445
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
All passive preamps I have tried (attenuators or transformers) robbed something from the music in terms of dynamics but it could be the lower mids lacking as you described. I think it has something to do with attenuating the signal just prior to entering the amplifier. An active preamp usually attenuates the signal and then gives it a big boost (i.e. gain is maximum) and its this driven signal that goes into the amp. Usually the gain is quite high (20db) and you have the umph of a good power supply behind it as well (assumming a really good preamp).

I have found that the problem is minimized if you have a VERY good output stage on your DAC, phonostage etc. but most are not good enough.

 

RE: I tend to disagree, posted on May 16, 2011 at 09:25:44
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8445
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
And yet you use and active preamp?? I have tried many "passive" preamps, even digital attenuation from the source, and NONE sound anywhere close to as dynamic and right as a good preamp. Even a not so good preamp has more get up and go.

I had a DAC, Monarchy Audio M22B, that had 6V output levels (or 3V take your pick) specifically for driving passives. Never sounded anywhere close to what it sounded like with an active preamp.

BTW, your system looks like it should be pretty good sounding so don't think I am bashing your system. I am just curious about the fact that you personally use an active preamp when you had the Placette before I assume? Also, a tube amp typically has a high input impedance...perfect for passive...or so we are led to believe.

 

RE: Not sure I made my point clear..., posted on May 16, 2011 at 09:29:10
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8445
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
"I agree about the importance of the "warmth" region. In my case, I find no difference in tonal quality between using my ARC preamp vs. DACT attenuators with a GamuT CD-1. Only a loss of transparency and stage width using the preamp.
"

You are sure about this? I have always heard a loss of dynamics when going passive and any slight gain in transparency is offset by a distinct loss of drive and bleaching of the tone. This has been true with many amps, speakers, sources etc. and many passives.

 

Sure? Yes, posted on May 16, 2011 at 09:47:41
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
As I have stated on numerous occasions, I acknowledge that attenuators don't work optimally in all systems. If anything, I find that bypassing the superfluous gain stage improves dynamics at the low end of the scale. For me, it's not a question of having a preamp or not. I use a preamp where its gain is needed - for phono. And leave it switched off when I choose the CD source.

If you find passives wanting, why is it that you choose one for use in your system?

rw

 

A valid question, and my response:, posted on May 16, 2011 at 10:04:01
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Good observation and a valid question that I have commented on in the past.

My main reason for using the ACTIVE linestage these days is a matter of convenience with it's I/O and switching. I have access to 8 pairs of inputs, both RCA and XLR balanced in my present linestage. It also has 3 pairs of outputs which is handy since I have solid-state and tube amps in the setup. I don't have to swap interconnects (I run two sets) when I choose to use the SS amps (mostly for background music while I work from home) vs the tube amps for more serious listening. It's convenient. ;-)

When my system was simpler, I loved the Cary CDP coupled through the Placette Passive, driving a pair of AES/Cary SixPac tube amps into my somewhat sensitive Tannoy Definition D500 speakers. There was no lack of bass, lower-midrange, midrange, treble extension, or dynamics. And it was extremely "clear" and transparent. I loved it!

If you're observant you will also notice that I chose an ARC linestage with 6H30 tubes for the current setup as I find these to be fairly neutral as tube linestages go. Again, I have no need to increase, emphasize, or enhance the lower-midrange or dynamics in any way as my system (with or without a linestage) is more than sufficient in these area.

Which brings me back to the whole "system synergy" discussion. I've tried passive and active linestages and I find both to be excellent depending on the rest of the gear in the system. And again, I'm not talking "system synergy" as a cop out excuse as so many folks do. There are technical issues (synergies) to consider which are much more critical in setting up a good system when using a passive linestage. These are often misunderstood, lost, and ignored in stupid PASSIVE vs ACTIVE linestage debates.


 

RE: Actually..., posted on May 16, 2011 at 10:28:55
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
E-Stat

If one were to go back over the history and content of our correspondence, one could get the distinct impression that there were issues with your system(s) you were seeking assistance at resolving. I use the word 'could' deliberately because I feel you were deliberately ambiguous in your outreach for advice so that you could get that advice , and then turn around and pretend that you were never seeking that advice in the first place. [A man of your (assumed) intellegence ought to be able to express himself vastly more clearly than you have, consistently. Therefore, there must have been a clandestine motive for the ambiguity}.

As to your motive for such a charade, my guess would be 'pride'. Perhaps you want to convey, to your peers, the impression that all is well with your system(s) even though you have significant issues that need resolving. At the very least, this would be extremely hypocritical. There are other descriptive terms I could use, but I'll refrain, in the interest of civility. Suffice it to say, I do not appreciate being used in such a manner. In keeping with your custom, I'd expect you to deny every word of this, but that is entirely expected, under the circumstances. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I sincerely doubt it.

With the above being said, I've already consigned that issue to the realms of ancient-history.

However, there is another issue which cannot be so easily written-off (or explained away) as there's no excuse for it. It is unfortunate that in the course of discourse, so to speak, some feel inclined to sneek-in snide remarks laced with tongue-in-cheek cynicism bordering on the blatantly insulting - for no good reason.

Your words; "As compared to live sources like my wife's baby grand, the lower midrange is as neutral as it measures. You might, however, prefer the garage system where there are 3db peaks at 160 hz and 320 hz which creates some artificial warmth."

What could have motivated you to say such a thing? You need not bother to respond, as I've lost my interest in conversing with you. Perhaps some other time - not this minute. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an apology to make elsewhere.

Thanks for another of life's lessons.



 

Self-promotion....crappy web site.... regurgitated garbage.... Aczel.... Salvatore.... yawn. , posted on May 16, 2011 at 10:37:02
carcass93
Audiophile

Posts: 7181
Location: NJ
Joined: September 20, 2006
Moderators have been alerted about the fact that you're registered as a regular "audiophile" - which is a violation in this case.

 

Yep - promoting his own web site that's as bad as it gets. I'd be ashamed. N/T, posted on May 16, 2011 at 10:41:57
carcass93
Audiophile

Posts: 7181
Location: NJ
Joined: September 20, 2006
N/T

 

Nope, posted on May 16, 2011 at 10:59:38
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
...one could get the distinct impression that there were issues with your system(s) you were seeking assistance at resolving.

I sure don't see how. First, I point out that I hear no difference in tonal response to using the preamp or not. You didn't accept my opinion and pressed on. In my second response, I reinforced the fact. Remember this?

In my case, I find no difference in tonal quality between using my ARC preamp vs. DACT attenuators with a GamuT CD-1.

And for the second time, you once again ignore what I said and press on. What part of "no difference in tonal quality" don't you understand? Then you introduce the ridiculous notion that I am "serious about getting more 'warmth' from your (main?) system". Huh? You continue to miss the point. Three times in a row. Is English a second language for you?

What could have motivated you to say such a thing?

You ignored my previous comments twice and for some reason, think I need or seek more output in the warmth region. I don't. If, on the other hand, you really like ripe output there, then you would clearly prefer the tonal balance with the garage system. Which is more a function of the room than the components.

Time to move on.

rw

 

Ah, convenience, posted on May 16, 2011 at 11:03:38
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
which is lacking in my arrangement. I have to switch interconnects to the power amp whenever I change sources. Not only that, but the CDP and preamp share the same power cord, so that is swapped, too.

Not the most convenient solution, but the best sounding in my system

rw

 

RE: Nope, posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:28:57
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
E-Stat: - Well, you're certainly a piece of.....work. Now I'm certain of the reason for your deliberate ambiguity. (Talk about bait & swoop). But why bother with that charade? You must really lead a miserable life. The evidence is there to see, you're already exposed for what you are. Look back at the thread - and then move-on. I'm gone!

 

RE: Sure? Yes, posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:30:42
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8445
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
wasn't really a choice as the amp I stock came that way (I was a dealer for KR Audio for a while).So its what I have and I could bypass it for better sound but don't feel its worth the effort. I do use an active preamp behind it though and turn the pot up to max as a work around (minimizes the effect of the pot at that way). So my system isn't really passive.

 

Good bye., posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:33:14
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
You've overstayed your welcome here. Next time you ask for input, accept it for what it is. Don't try to convince everyone that they need to adopt your point of view.

 

Ok, posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:38:26
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
I noticed under your equipment profile you list nothing under preamp.

rw

 

Any more edits? , posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:56:02
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
The evidence is there to see...

Indeed it is. My comments have been clear and consistent:

1. Don't experience that with my Audio Research preamp.

2. In my case, I find no difference in tonal quality between using my ARC preamp vs. DACT attenuators with a GamuT CD-1.

3. I don't perceive any change of tonal balance when the preamp is bypassed and replaced by attenuators.

4. I got extremely smooth response from 25 hz to 200 hz.

5. Regardless of the sonic signature of various components, you want a neutral result in the end. In room measurements vary by +- 1.5 db from 30 hz to 200 hz. As compared to live sources like my wife's baby grand, the lower midrange is as neutral as it measures.

6. No, I don't want *more* warmth. I took considerable pains to get audibly and measurably flat response and that is where I want the sound to stay.

I recommend that you redouble your efforts with understanding the English language. Best of luck with your crusade. :)

rw

 

RE: Good bye., posted on May 16, 2011 at 13:06:43
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
AbeCollins: - Don't be a fool. It's good the thread exists to look back on. I do have an opinion on the subject, but the content of my posts does not support your dishonest arguments. You are the main individual who has tried persistently to imply that I'm seeking to impose my views on others. Of what benefit would that be to me? What do I care whether you do as I do, or share my views? Your nefarious mind refuses to accept that this may just be a quest to gauge opinion on a pertinent topic. No, you prefer to highlight my own opinion, and attack it. Get real!

 

Oh the shame!, posted on May 16, 2011 at 13:06:44
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Next I'll be wanting a full function remote control. Oh wait, I have one of those too!

 

That's what happens, posted on May 16, 2011 at 13:16:11
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
when you have such a nefarious mind. :^0

rw

edit: I just learned that mine is diabolical. LOL

 

RE: Any more edits? , posted on May 16, 2011 at 13:46:24
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
E-Stat:

By picking out snippets to show yourself in a favorable light, don't you think the astute amongst us will immediately recognize your ploy to divert them from looking at the full thread and comfirming what a diabolical creature you really are? Why should you want to be so 'helpful'? Let them see for themselves.

I'm not inclined to bother with your quip about the english language, except to remind... no.. ...inform you.... that the onus is on the comunicator to get his message across, in as clear and concise a manner as is possible. Mixed-messages, garbled ambiguity, and a general lack of clarity (deliberate, or otherwise) causing 'misunderstandings', is a reflection on the sender (the communicator) not on the recipient of said (mixed) messages. Or weren't you aware?

 

Sooo..., posted on May 16, 2011 at 15:07:31
DAVID
Audiophile

Posts: 712
Joined: September 26, 1999
...was there an internal attenuator in your source unit or not? It's a simple question. Abe is right, it would be a rare setup that would allow a source unit to directly drive an amp w/o any volume control whatsoever. If this was your situation then let us know what that system was. If what Abe said is so foolish and laughable then it should be easy to tell us what you think is so stupid about his post and really make him look like a fool...otherwise the only person who looks like a fool is you.

 

If I may pop in here..., posted on May 16, 2011 at 15:13:58
DAVID
Audiophile

Posts: 712
Joined: September 26, 1999
...in my system a passive unit I previously used had greater or equal dynamics to two different tube preamps (Audio Res. LS-7 and a Decware ZTPRE) and had much better leading edge transient attack or impact. The one area where the passive was lagging was in the trailing edge where the sound wasn't as sustained as it was in the actives.

 

Put the bong down..., posted on May 16, 2011 at 15:19:42
DAVID
Audiophile

Posts: 712
Joined: September 26, 1999
...that's the only explanation I can think of to explain your responses.

 

Despicable!, posted on May 16, 2011 at 20:05:25
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Somehow I got this notion that it'd be a great idea to seek feedback from audiophiles here as to whether a phenomenon I've encountered (as have others) was noticed by audiophiles here, and how wide-spread this experience may have been.

In the process I've been attacked by two main antagonists, with one or two others taking pot-shots from the periphery. I've been accused of trying to impose my views on others, and of trying to promote one of my web-sites, among other things, non of which has any bearing on the truth, as may be bourne-out by the full context of the thread, as it stands.

It is truly unfortunate that such a great forum could be dominated by a few antagonistic bullies who seem to have nothing better to do than to patrol the threads, here, with a view to provoking arguments so as to manufacture excuses to hurl insults at the unwary. Time and again I've seen where, in such an atmosphere, a topic which could have been helpful to many is manipulated to the point where it degenerates into a farce, with insults being hurled from left, right, and center. Speaking from experience, in such an atmosphere, some who would want to participate and air their views, or raise interesting issues, are intimidated and, there-by, discouraged from doing so.

In addressing the accusations, I'll highlight a few segments of some of the relevant posts.

"I've learned, from what I've seen at this forum, not to try to convince anyone of anything. This is not the place for it. That'd be like walking into a shooting-gallery with a target on one's back. No thanks. I've come to realize that many audiophiles are very set in their ways, some would tend to want to string you up from the nearest tree, if you disagree with them - I really don't need that."

"In the process of participating in this thread, some of my opinions may be made apparent. But am I trying to convince people here to see things my way? Again I say - no way! I have a site where all my views on such issues can be freely accessed - not here. My focus with this thread is merely to gauge opinion and the experiences of others. Limited snippets of my own opinions may become apparent, in the process, but certainly not with a view to convince anyone here of anything." [No Link was provided}

"Re; Stereo-Mojo & The Audio Critique as several seem to be adopting similar views on the subject . The full article from which the above was exerpted (is mainly about the Audio Critique) and is at my link below. Any similar experiences, here?" [ The link given goes directly to the article itself, not to the site which was only mentioned 'bye the way' in one other post (displayed here)].

It is significant that of my many posts on this thread, that site was mentioned only once, in the process of making a relevant point. It is similarly significant that the Link provided to my article (not the site) was necessary to facilitate access to the rest of that article from which the quote was exerpted. (re; the first post on this thread).

If this is 'site-promoting', as some would claim, then string me up from a suitable tree. As to my profession, I'm not an audio-journalist, as some would seek to suggest. Those people are actually paid for writing about audio - I am not. Despite the presence of Google-ads, since I never ever did seek to promote it, no real revnue is generated from it. As a passionate audiophile, I sometimes write on the topic in my spare-time - that is; time spared from my actual money-making endeavours. Also significant is that since joining this Asylum last year, I have only fifty-odd posts, up to now. If I were seeking to promote anything, here, I'd certainly have been one of the most active of inmates. How ridiculous a suggestion is this? One indicative of the level of one or two small minds bent on mischief.

On the topic of this thread I started, I does seem to be serving its purpose after all, despite all the efforts to derail it, and despite the efforts to turn it into a market-brawl.. An advocate, in defence of passives, had this to say, "...in my system a passive unit I previously used had greater or equal dynamics to two different tube preamps (Audio Res. LS-7 and a Decware ZTPRE) and had much better leading edge transient attack or impact. The one area where the passive was lagging was in the trailing edge where the sound wasn't as sustained as it was in the actives"

Seems a fairly accurate statement, except that, compared with the best of actives, I'd characterize the leading-edge transient-response of passives as 'better, not 'much better'. But what is much, more significant is; "The one area where the passive was lagging was in the trailing edge where the sound wasn't as sustained as it was in the actives" If this is so, then this would be a debilitating handicap in the quest for realistic reproduction, one would think, as this is the area where the resonance of many instruments, and the completion of many notes, are effected. Reproduction of music compromised in this area would be also compromised in its realism, one would also think.

This I've also found, in my own experience; "A recent storm had caused me to disconnect the system for several days. Impatiently, I'd eventually reconnected without the pre-amp, that's what reminded me of what the LS3 did for the system, and inspired me to expand this segment...... Without this pre-amp the system, to me, sounds dry and analytical, the type of sound many seem to love, but with which I’ve long been dissatisfied as it lacks the afore-mentioned elements necessary for natural realism. It reminded me of how the system sounded before the LS3's arrival. Reconnecting this pre-amp returned the blossom, bloom, glow, linger & fade of appropriate notes, and also returned the all-important lower-midrange body."

To me, the premise of this thread seemed a valid basis for meaningful discussion.

I seriously wonder as to the sense of a membership, here, if the majority is exposed to the voiciferous minority whose main purpose is to intimidate. This is truly despicable!

 

Blah blah blah, blah blah., posted on May 16, 2011 at 20:18:19
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28241
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Man you are one long winded bag of hot air. I couldn't even read your entire post - which by the way, I found to be true of your website as well.

The only thing I can say is this. The next time you ask for feedback and don't get the agreeable response you seek, don't go attacking and ridiculing those who politely responded.

BYE.

 

You wrote.., posted on May 16, 2011 at 20:29:27
DAVID
Audiophile

Posts: 712
Joined: September 26, 1999
.."Seems a fairly accurate statement, except that, compared with the best of actives, I'd characterize the leading-edge transient-response of passives as 'better, not 'much better'. But what is much, more significant is; "The one area where the passive was lagging was in the trailing edge where the sound wasn't as sustained as it was in the actives" If this is so, then this would be a debilitating handicap in the quest for realistic reproduction, one would think, as this is the area where the resonance of many instruments, and the completion of many notes, are effected. Reproduction of music compromised in this area would be also compromised in its realism, one would also think."

It would be dibilitating if it were a significant difference. It was not. Noticeable when listening very closely (read anal like) but subtle none the less. I certainly never missed it. I should have been more clear.

The other thing two of us were on you about was your misunderstanding of what E-Stat was saying about the "warmth region". He was NOT talking about his desire for a warmer sound but that the region in the musical spectrum HE CALLED the "warmth region" was important because what is done there can produce either cool or warm sound..he wanted his sound to be neutral. He was simply referring to this region as the "warmth region". You kept harping on his secret desire to get warmer sound and then how he was denying it. You misunderstood what he wrote and wouldn't allow yourself to be corrected...even by the guy who wrote it! Very annoying.

 

No No No No!, posted on May 16, 2011 at 20:38:48
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
AbeCollins: - So you've crawled back out of the woodwork. I may be leaving, but I will not be intimidated by the likes of you. From what I've gathered, trouble-makers like you live for such encounters in an effort to fulfill empty, pathetic lives. But you're also extremely dishonest. You read the review I posted here, as I invited you to do, didn't agree with my points, and came back here with a full-frontal attack. Don't try to spin it your way. Despicable? You're the epitome of such a character. Good riddance to the likes of you.

 

RE: You wrote.., posted on May 16, 2011 at 21:26:16
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
David,

I will not be drawn into another senseless, non productive argument. But just to enlighten you I''ll reiterate; His points were made in an ambiguous manner (like the bible) subject to various interpetations. Anyone of reasonable intelligence should be able to express himself more clearly than that (even after his 2nd explanation, I was still having to guess at what his aim was - and I'm no fool). So either he's an idiot (which I doubt) or this was a deliberate ploy to bait me. It is understandable that you would interpet in his favor since you seem to make a habit of rushing to people's defence on issues you're not fully aware of. You did the same in assuming you knew why I was laughing at another of your cronies when, in truth, you don't have a clue.

But returning to this issue, you also seem to have missed what your friend said about his pre-amp. And this was long before he disclosed that he hardly uses it (and I don't blame him, I'd use pre-amp less over that piece anyday). Oh, and most importantly, you also seemed to have missed, conveniently, his tongue-in-cheek insult about me likely prefering the crappy-sounding system in his garage. (Crappy; by his depiction of it's characteristics). This, after cunningly baiting me for my input.

Nevertheless, thanks for graphically illustrating my point about the minority of pathetic bullies who seek mainly to intimidate. How quickly you have returned, is this all you do all day, every day? This fool is not shaking, I'm waiting on the others so as to put them in their places before I leave.

Bye the way, if you're interested in a possible reason the difference was so minor; " the rest of the system (the amps and,especially, the speakers) play a critical role as to whether the difference is nil, barely discernable, or 'night & day'....speakers which are lacking at the lower-mids (as many are) will not reveal that much of a difference, if any.

 

RE: Ok, posted on May 17, 2011 at 02:22:17
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8445
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
That's because the Monarchy M24 DAC ALSO has a separate line stage (with a separate input so I can run my phono stage through it as well) and you can switch the DAC output thorough the preamp or you can take it directly out, which I would do if I had another preamp. The preamp in the DAC has its own power supply and is even on its own board. It is a simple 1 tube per channel SRPP configuration that has a relatively low output impedance (a few hundred ohms) without negative feedback. The DAC output stage is also feedback free and I believe a similar SRPP circuit using one tube per channel.

It turns out that the preamp inside the Monarchy DAC is excellent. No, its not quite as good as the Silvaweld SWC1000 preamp I used to have (not much else is as good either...what a machine) but its far better than anything close to its price and better than anything I have heard SS. So I use it and then to switch from digital to analog is just a push button away.

Of course now I have an extra volume pot in the way, which is less than ideal but when its a full open I figure its impact is not major, sure sounds good anyway!

 

RE: If I may pop in here..., posted on May 17, 2011 at 02:28:46
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8445
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
Interesting, of course the problem with a passive design is that it is always taking something away from the signal and giving nothing back. Almost all active preamps first attenuate and then feed that attenuated signal into a relatively high gain section and then out to the amp. This means that the full drive of the preamp is going into the amp and not a resistor before going to an amp.

This could be why you were losing the decays earlier with the passives. It takes a VERY good preamp not to smear the sound somewhat on leading edges and most are not up to it. I had one of the best passive pres ever made (little known company called Purist from Germany) and my Silvaweld preamp still walked all over it in terms of tone and dynamics, although maybe not leading edge transients.

 

The term "warmth region", posted on May 17, 2011 at 06:24:41
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
is certainly not original to me. I've seen it used in print by Dick Olsher, Martin Collums, Wes Phillips, Peter Moncrief, Paul Seydor, et. al. And your interpretation is correct.

I guess our Jamaican's greatest confusion was over my comments about the change wrought by the MKIII version of my preamp (that event was 12 years ago) where it "removed a touch of thinness with the MKII flavor". Removed. Fixed. Corrected. MKII - slightly thin. MKIII - not. At the expense of confusing the issue with facts, the LS3 was released one year before the MKIII. Given the modest size of ARC, that most likely meant the same team designed and voiced both of them. I happily use it for vinyl playback where the phono EQ and gain is required.

So much whining over nothing.

rw

 

So much confusion , posted on May 17, 2011 at 08:06:10
E-Stat
Audiophile

Posts: 24356
Joined: May 12, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
And this was long before he disclosed that he hardly uses it

For the past fourteen years, I've always used it for vinyl playback. Admittedly, the usage is about 75% digital, 25% analog based upon the choice of music played from my library.

about me likely prefering the crappy-sounding system in his garage. (Crappy; by his depiction of it's characteristics)

Crappy sounding? Please read the system description found here. Unfortunately, it has some uncorrected room modes which creates artificial warmth. I don't have the room for a forest of bass traps there like I do upstairs. :)

rw

btw: Are you aware that by clicking the letter beside an inmate's moniker (the "A"), you get more details about them? That is also where you can read descriptions of their systems and find pictures.

 

RE: So much confusion , posted on May 17, 2011 at 12:18:20
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
E-Stat,

O.K. E-Stat, I was trying to avoid this , but you keep posting and re-posting with references to me, so it's impossible not to respond - you've drawn me out (I didn't get round to cancelling my membership as yet).

But since I'm not interested in continuing in a hostile environment, let me be the first offer the olive-branch , and let by-gones be by-gones.

OK, you said; "I guess our Jamaican's greatest confusion was over my comments about the change wrought by the MKIII version of my preamp (that event was 12 years ago) where it "removed a touch of thinness with the MKII flavor". Removed. Fixed. Corrected. MKII - slightly thin. MKIII - not. At the expense of confusing the issue with facts, the LS3 was released one year before the MKIII. Given the modest size of ARC, that most likely meant the same team designed and voiced both of them. I happily use it for vinyl playback where the phono EQ and gain is required."

In responding, let me reiterate the fact that I believe both your systems are great. In commenting about that one in the 'garage', I had already taken into account that those issues you had described must have been room-related. So in pointing that out you'd have been preaching to the already-converted, so far as I am concerned. Those speakers may not be cutting-edge, if not highly modified, but I'm a big fan of everything Kloss did, from A-R thru KLH to Advent (not too sure about those mini-monitor 'Ensembles' at Cambridge, though) but all these others display the prowess and articulation in the lower mids that many modern designs don't (ie with systems which can access these attributes). This does not mean I'm a fan of excessive 'warmth' or excessive anything, btw, but my own DIY speaker-system is based on a Kloss-inspired driver because of these said rare attributes. (So realistic, compared directly to 'real-time' live music, they make my formerly-state-of-the-art BC1's sound like toys)

In reference to the SP9 in your main system, you pointed out; "... the LS3 was released one year before the MKIII. Given the modest size of ARC, that most likely meant the same team designed and voiced both of them. I happily use it for vinyl playback where the phono EQ and gain is required." The SP9 is good, as are all ARC products. But perhaps I should start by also pointing out that the SP9 and the LS3 are two COMPLETELY different designs (the SP9 is hybrid, and the LS3 is purely solid-state, btw) with two completely different reputations as to their performance. For what it's worth, the LS3 is amongst Stereophile's recommended components. It's also listed with Audio Critic's world's best pre-amps, by Martin Colloms. Despite its reasonable price, I too belive it's one of the world's best, based on its performance. Nevertheless, and regardless of whether the same team may have assembled them, the SP9 and LS3 are two horses of completely different colors, by design, parts and, not least, by reputation. Let's just say, there are issues, even within the ARC community, regarding the SP9 and a couple others of said brand - all are not equal, so to speak.

.

.

EDIT, EDIT, EDIT! OK, so the proverbial 'olive-branch' has hung out there for about three days now. And since this individual has been actively seeking to bait others on other threads, there can be no doubt as to his stance here, After expressing what I thought of him, and then ignoring him, he kept posting with references to me. Why he did this is answerable only by him (Perhaps another bait?). The 'branch' is now withdrawn, and the gloves are off as I now further expose this individual for what he really is. [I've previously asserted that this is one of two main indivduals who saw fit to bait me into arguments irrelevant to the premise of this thread I introduced].

Refering to the quote above, here's what he dishonestly tried to spin, - "At the expense of confusing the issue with facts, the LS3 was released one year before the MKIII. Given the modest size of ARC, that most likely meant the same team designed and voiced both of them." - Absolutely dishonest, despicable! By this, he would like to convince everyone (not me) that his SP9 and the LS3 are similar in performance (re; voicing) and design. If, as an avid astute and well-informed audiophile, he has owned the SP9 for more than 12 years (and knows as much as which years these models were released) he WILL have known quite a lot more about his model, it's standing in the ARC line, its level of performance in relation to others in the line (including the LS3) - he WILL have known what I know (as I've outlined above, in politely rebutting his argument). This man is as trust-worthy and genuine as a $13-bill - watch out for COUNTERFEITS & FRAUDS!

I could go on in detail, but I will not. I'll just highlight a few tit-bits; "I guess our Jamaican's greatest confusion was over my comments about the change wrought by the MKIII version of my preamp (that event was 12 years ago) where it "removed a touch of thinness with the MKII flavor". Removed. Fixed. Corrected. .MKII - slightly thin. MKIII - not..." - He now stresses; "Removed. Fixed. Corrected...." but conveniently ignores the more relevant implications of "a touch of" - which I'll provide - 'a little of', 'some of', 'not all of'. This is a classic example of the two mouthed sentences with double meaning he deliberately (he's no fool) used to bait me into position for him to spew his insult and start an argument. Perhaps this is how he gets-off these days (or it could be even more sinister, as I suspect). "MKII - slightly thin. MKIII - not " is another likely lie, I'm sure, but I don't need to bother verifying this one as there is enough evidence here already.

His reference here, "I guess our Jamaican's....", could be significant, with far-reaching and sinister implications, but I'll leave that for the moment.

The other good ol' boy, his partner, employed different tactics which are no less obvious. Instead of concentrating on the premise of the thread, he was more interested in my personal opinion, what equipment I used, why would I generalize, and why would I come to such a conclusion - all with a view to finding an opening for an argument - do remember, non of this is really relevant - the premise is posed as a QUESTION. I admit, I gave him that opening when I busteded out laughing, and wrote as much (I just couldn't hold it any longer, I suppose).

All this combined with the fact that , once the argument started, there were others waiting in the wings to jump in with ridiculous accusations and efforts to get admin to take some form of action. Well I've got news - I've now decided, I AINT GOIN' NOWHERE! I've never been evicted from anywhere, but I'm willing to see this thru. Let whatever action be taken, let's see how domimant this clique of nice, decent and good ol' boys are, here at the Asylum. Let them do what they want to do. And then we'll see what gives as the manure really hits the fan! Let's see who or what the Asylum is really made of. Should be an interesting story!

Oh, and this ain't the first or 10th time I've seen or heard of this type of behaviour here. (How about you?). The question is: - WHY?

 

RE: So much confusion , posted on May 17, 2011 at 12:44:18
Say
Audiophile

Posts: 184
Joined: March 18, 2009
This post is to no one in particular. Instead it is an observation of mine over the years of listening with both passive and active preamps.

First conclusion I have is that people will state their taste more than anything else. The second point is that the system will dictate how the preamp sounds just as much as the preamp dictates how the system sounds.

After owning and listening with the ARC LS7, Golden Tube Audio Sep-1, CJ Premier 14, VAC Renaissance Signature and Promitheus TVC I can draw the following:

The ARC LS7 - is a lower rung model with good mids but limited highs

Golden Tube - I liked it till the volume control died on me. Fixed it but found better units later on. This preamp did a swell job once I changed the dual triode to a better NOS.

CJ 14 - good everything but still the golden glow.

VAC Ren - better then the previous units at everything, and still a golden glow.

TVC - best at the upper registers. Clear and uncompressed highs. Good at bass. Good at midrange. The only fault is that it didn't bloom like the CJ did nor throw an expansive soundstage like the VAC. Nor did the TVC have the mid/bass bounce and guts of the others till...

...and this is the best part. Till I got it right. Now it has very good mid bass. I just had to tweak my system and find an amp that suits those needs. I cannot go back to the actives with a fine TVC around unless I want to sacrifice detail. I lose too much (much is a relative term so take this as a relative observation) information for the sake of mid bass I now have anyway after tinkering.

 

RE: So much confusion , posted on May 17, 2011 at 13:05:25
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Hey Say,

Now, that's more like it! This is what we were hoping for, genuine feed-back about the issue at hand. Thanks for your input, Say, 'ppreciate it!

But what's your take on what David had to say about the trailing-edges of notes; " ...in my system a passive unit I previously used had greater or equal dynamics to two different tube preamps (Audio Res. LS-7 and a Decware ZTPRE) and had much better leading edge transient attack or impact. The one area where the passive was lagging was in the trailing edge where the sound wasn't as sustained as it was in the actives. "

 

RE: So much confusion , posted on May 17, 2011 at 13:57:32
Say
Audiophile

Posts: 184
Joined: March 18, 2009
Thanks for the support of my honest and personal opinion waj4all.

Regarding trailing edges, one thing I did notice and still do is that tubes will do that better than my TVC in comparison. Not that the passive is a slouch in that department but all of my active preamps did have the trailing effect in spades. Here is the kicker, with a decent tube amp the passive will allow trailing edges to flourish. It just won't create more by itself. Thus if a solid state amp is used down goes the trailing edge too.

As for leading edges I would rate the TVC as good but not best. Mabye its the transformers that take a millisecond or too off the timing. I don't really know. Therefore speed will be sacrificed a smidgeon and, thus, sustained decay only when...the amp is poor in that one area.

We have tradeoffs with each. Its down to a matter of choice and synergy one can get with what one has. With the Apogee speakers I can get the TVC (passive) to sing and give a rather good effort in the 0-60 sweepstakes yet even the Golden Tube preamp (active) was no slouch in that department either. The Vac even better.

 

RE: So much confusion , posted on May 17, 2011 at 14:39:48
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Say,

I hear ya bro'. Nice system, btw.

Enjoy the music!

WAJ.

 

TVC, posted on May 18, 2011 at 08:06:34
milpai
Audiophile

Posts: 586
Location: Ohio
Joined: August 21, 2005
Say,
I am glad you brought up the TVC topic in this post. I have the Promitheus Reference C-Core and I am totally happy with the music it makes. It did take me some time to zero in on an amp to match it. But it was worth it. The only sad part is Promitheus does not seems to be well regarded in audio circles (like here, Audiogon and AudioCircle) anymore. This has to do more with the "delivery times" rather than the product itself.
So, I am completely with you in what you say Say - about system matching.

 

Active vs Passive Pre: The Answers to the Premise, posted on May 18, 2011 at 13:41:46
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
This post is for the benefit of those who, having seen the title, came to this thread hoping to find the answer as to whether the premise is true, or not. However, considering that this long thread (68 posts) was, perhaps, dominated by issues having nothing to do with the premise, it may be difficult for the reader to form an accurate impression. The following, in roughly chronological order, is a condensed listing of the responses to the ISSUE only. Only one response, from each respondent is shown here, unless subsequent responses from a particular respondent expands on the issue at hand - repetitions are avoided, so as as not to confuse the issue. ALL who responded to the PREMISE are shown here, as far as I'm aware. Those who did not, are not.

A brief note on the lower-midrange; so far as I'm aware, this is the region where a lot of the resonances of many instruments are portrayed. It also incorporates the trailing edges and fade of notes such as portrayed by many instruments in live performance. The reader must decide how realistic the reproduction can be without it (or if it's compromised in any significant way) if this turns out to be the case. It is, indeed, a fact that passive systems display slightly superior clarity over active pre-amps, from high-mid to high frequencies. Whether that clarity comes at the cost of realistic performance in the lower-mids is the question we're seeking to answer. Some advocates of the passive system have described the lower-midrange performance of actives, generally, as; a 'pleasant coloration', 'enhancement', 'flavoring', etc. It is up to the reader to decide whether this is so, or whether this 'coloration' is actually accurate, more or less and, therefore, representative of the tone and general characteristics of live instruments.

Regardless of the respondents' preferences, the question is: Are passive/preamp-less modes 'less prominent' at the lower-mids compared to active pre-amps. For ease of tally a simple 'Y' for yes. or 'N' for no, is ascribed to each respondent. So as not to be disrespectful, in those cases where the respondent prefers the passive, while seeming to comfirm the premise - a '?' is indicated. In these cases, it is left for the reader to ascribe 'Y' or 'N' in tallying the 'votes' - based on what is actually said, regardless of preference expressed.

--------------------

Y - Dave Pogue - I agree., I've heard lots of systems incorporating passive linestages/controllers that sound very good to me, yet I still prefer my active pre (Aesthetix Calypso) and now I know more about the "why" of it. Thanks for posting this.

--------------------

N - E-Stat - Don't experience that , with my Audio Research preamp. Perhaps the Coincident is "enhancing" that region.

--------------------

? AbeCollins - I tend to disagree, What passive setup did you experience and the rest of your associated gear?

This is too much of a generalization about passive preamps. There are good ones and bad ones, and all of them require much more careful synergy between the components. And I'm not talking "synergy" in a hocus pocus or vague mythical way.

In my experience, the ideal passive setup will have source components with robust low impedance signal output and possibly higher voltage output than typical. My Cary 306/200 CDP comes to mind with it's 3vrms output. The power amp should have a good amount of gain AND sensitivity, and the speakers should be somewhat sensitive so you're not having to crank the volume way up to get modest listening levels. You want to have enough adjustment range in the passive so you're not at the extremes. Short interconnects with low capacitance are also desirable.

In my experience and in my system at the time, I found the respected McCormack TLC-1 to be very transparent but "thin" sounding in the mids. I found the popular Adcom GFP-750 to kill the dynamics in passive mode and not especially engaging in active mode, although Stereopile raved about this mid-fi piece several years ago. (I had to try it for myself, I didn't like it).

It all came together for me when I tried the Placette Passive linestage. It was not only unbelievably transparent and "clean" sounding but it had good midrange, bass, and treble extension. There was no "bass suckout" or lack of midrange. On the other hand, it didn't "color" the midrange and enhance it as so many linestages will do, especially vacuum tube units.

Dynamics were also excellent in my passive setup, probably in part due to the strong source signal and gain and sensitivity of the power amp in the system along with somewhat sensitive speakers. I didn't have to "crank it way up" in order to make the system come alive with dynamics.

Yup, the passive setup that I had was probably one of the best sounding I had assemebled. I also very much enjoyed the Cary SLP-05 vacuum tube linestage with incredible midrange. Incredible because like so many active linestages available, they are "voiced" to enhance certain regions and to cater to certain tastes. The Placette and other good passive linestages are none of that. They don't add to or subtract from the source.

So to make the generalization that passive linestages lack midrange is all wrong. What is your reference? A warm and robust sounding tube linestage? Nothing wrong with enjoying that type of sound - I certainly do as evidenced by my current setup. But to say that all passives lack midrange is just plain wrong. It may just be a matter of system synergy and your reference point.

--------------------

N - Mkuller - I've been using a preamp-less system - ...for about 10 years now - Wadia CD player connected directly to my Manley tubed amps.

Midbass and lower midrange are just fine.

It is all about system matching and there are few absolutes. Try it and hear for yourself.

Personally I don't care much for Salvatore or Stereo-Mojo.

Anyone can find just about anything they want on the internet these days.

-------------------

N - Robert C. Lang - Very well stated....., And it's not just because I, too, employ a Placette Passive Line Stage (after making in-system comparisons with 4 other actives and one other passive).

It's funny for years many (the uninformed, especially) would take broad brushed swipes at "passive pre-amps" (symptomatic of being uninformed) as being weak in bass, dynamics, with rolled off highs. Now a new frontal attack against "all" passive line stages that "they" are lacking in the lower midrange. But you hear anything in these pages.

--------------------

? - Clio09 - Not in my system. I use a Lightspeed attenuator and Slagle autoformer volume control that I built. No lack of dynamics from wither, nor do I sense any lower-mids lacking. I have/had active preamps too. While I admit impedance mismatches can certainly derail the performance of a passive, with the exception of active buffers that I have, I haven't heard an active preamp that didn't flavor the sound somewhat. While the flavoring could certainly be appealing to the listener, it's my opinion that it is not true to the source, and that is what I'm after and my preference.

--------------------

Y - Morricab My experience mirrors your own, All passive preamps I have tried (attenuators or transformers) robbed something from the music in terms of dynamics but it could be the lower mids lacking as you described. I think it has something to do with attenuating the signal just prior to entering the amplifier. An active preamp usually attenuates the signal and then gives it a big boost (i.e. gain is maximum) and its this driven signal that goes into the amp. Usually the gain is quite high (20db) and you have the umph of a good power supply behind it as well (assumming a really good preamp).

I have found that the problem is minimized if you have a VERY good output stage on your DAC, phonostage etc. but most are not good enough

--------------------

And yet you use and active preamp?? I have tried many "passive" preamps, even digital attenuation from the source, and NONE sound anywhere close to as dynamic and right as a good preamp. Even a not so good preamp has more get up and go.

I had a DAC, Monarchy Audio M22B, that had 6V output levels (or 3V take your pick) specifically for driving passives. Never sounded anywhere close to what it sounded like with an active preamp.

BTW, your system looks like it should be pretty good sounding so don't think I am bashing your system. I am just curious about the fact that you personally use an active preamp when you had the Placette before I assume? Also, a tube amp typically has a high input impedance...perfect for passive...or so we are led to believe.

--------------------

"I agree about the importance of the "warmth" region. In my case, I find no difference in tonal quality between using my ARC preamp vs. DACT attenuators with a GamuT CD-1. Only a loss of transparency and stage width using the preamp.
"

You are sure about this? I have always heard a loss of dynamics when going passive and any slight gain in transparency is offset by a distinct loss of drive and bleaching of the tone. This has been true with many amps, speakers, sources etc. and many passives.

--------------------

Interesting, of course the problem with a passive design is that it is always taking something away from the signal and giving nothing back. Almost all active preamps first attenuate and then feed that attenuated signal into a relatively high gain section and then out to the amp. This means that the full drive of the preamp is going into the amp and not a resistor before going to an amp.

This could be why you were losing the decays earlier with the passives. It takes a VERY good preamp not to smear the sound somewhat on leading edges and most are not up to it. I had one of the best passive pres ever made (little known company called Purist from Germany) and my Silvaweld preamp still walked all over it in terms of tone and dynamics, although maybe not leading edge transients.

--------------------

? - David - If I may pop in here..., ...in my system a passive unit I previously used had greater or equal dynamics to two different tube preamps (Audio Res. LS-7 and a Decware ZTPRE) and had much better leading edge transient attack or impact. The one area where the passive was lagging was in the trailing edge where the sound wasn't as sustained as it was in the actives.

--------------------

? - Say - This post is to no one in particular. Instead it is an observation of mine over the years of listening with both passive and active preamps.

First conclusion I have is that people will state their taste more than anything else. The second point is that the system will dictate how the preamp sounds just as much as the preamp dictates how the system sounds.

After owning and listening with the ARC LS7, Golden Tube Audio Sep-1, CJ Premier 14, VAC Renaissance Signature and Promitheus TVC I can draw the following:

The ARC LS7 - is a lower rung model with good mids but limited highs

Golden Tube - I liked it till the volume control died on me. Fixed it but found better units later on. This preamp did a swell job once I changed the dual triode to a better NOS.

CJ 14 - good everything but still the golden glow.

VAC Ren - better then the previous units at everything, and still a golden glow.

TVC - best at the upper registers. Clear and uncompressed highs. Good at bass. Good at midrange. The only fault is that it didn't bloom like the CJ did nor throw an expansive soundstage like the VAC. Nor did the TVC have the mid/bass bounce and guts of the others till...

...and this is the best part. Till I got it right. Now it has very good mid bass. I just had to tweak my system and find an amp that suits those needs. I cannot go back to the actives with a fine TVC around unless I want to sacrifice detail. I lose too much (much is a relative term so take this as a relative observation) information for the sake of mid bass I now have anyway after tinkering.

--------------------

Thanks for the support of my honest and personal opinion waj4all.

Regarding trailing edges, one thing I did notice and still do is that tubes will do that better than my TVC in comparison. Not that the passive is a slouch in that department but all of my active preamps did have the trailing effect in spades. Here is the kicker, with a decent tube amp the passive will allow trailing edges to flourish. It just won't create more by itself. Thus if a solid state amp is used down goes the trailing edge too.

As for leading edges I would rate the TVC as good but not best. Mabye its the transformers that take a millisecond or too off the timing. I don't really know. Therefore speed will be sacrificed a smidgeon and, thus, sustained decay only when...the amp is poor in that one area.

We have tradeoffs with each. Its down to a matter of choice and synergy one can get with what one has. With the Apogee speakers I can get the TVC (passive) to sing and give a rather good effort in the 0-60 sweepstakes yet even the Golden Tube preamp (active) was no slouch in that department either. The Vac even better.

--------------------

--------------------

That's it folks! Hopefully, this will be helpful to some in forming an opinion as to which is better for them. My own vote is not included, nor is my own opinion disclosed in this post. Thanks to all who participated. And special thanks to Morricab who seemed to bring a calming influence over the proceedings and, perhaps, influenced a re-focusing on the real issue at hand. My apologies to you, Morricab, for not replying directly, but I'm sure you'll understand that I was in the midsts of a storm, at the time.

If, btw, anyone else would like to contribute, please feel free to do so. Your preference is appreciated but, with a view to helping others, it's more important for you to state the differences you've found between active and passive, if any, in their performance at the lower-mids (including the trailing-edges of notes, etc.).

Thanks again, to all!

WAJ

 

Mama mia. MAMA MIA. Mama Mia. MAMA MIA let him go! nt, posted on May 19, 2011 at 22:03:55
kurt s
Audiophile

Posts: 1137
Location: California
Joined: October 12, 2009

 

been there, posted on May 20, 2011 at 10:07:41
Jagdeep
Audiophile

Posts: 701
Location: Asia
Joined: December 3, 2004
At the end of the day, the passives are just too laid back, for me at least
I got me a MacC2300 and have been a happy chappy since

 

RE: been there, posted on May 20, 2011 at 10:17:47
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Appreciate the input Jagdeep. But what difference, specifically at lower-midrange, did you find between the active and the passive, if any? (ie; If you're still there).

 

RE: been there, posted on May 22, 2011 at 03:36:57
triamp
Audiophile

Posts: 462
Location: USA
Joined: August 6, 2008
Well, how many dB down was the response in the lower mids than at 1 kHz? If you can hear frequency response differences, you can measure them. Some things that are audible are hard / not yet possible to measure, but frequency response is not one of these. There is no magic, no juju here. If the signal coming out of one setup has lower levels in some part of the spectrum than the signal coming out of another setup, you can measure this. You can use actual music, generated tones or noise to make the measurement, whichever you like. Measurements to fractions of a dB are easily carried out, which far exceeds the ear's ability to discriminate in terms of loudness differences.

My guess is that if this is not some impedance related issue, or a preamp that is not flat across the audio spectrum, then it is placebo effect and would vanish in blind testing. The speakers don't know that the sound is coming through an active preamp - but the listener DOES.

 

RE: been there, posted on May 22, 2011 at 06:51:31
Jagdeep
Audiophile

Posts: 701
Location: Asia
Joined: December 3, 2004
Sorry for the delay in response.

I use a passive preamp and was blown away by the purity of the sound, hard to describe, but then, there was something lacking. The mids were superb, but the lows were loose. There was no punch. The kind of music that shone best was simple minimalistic jazz and voices. But, pop, rock and normal jazz were just too lethargic sounding. Highs were OK but, the rate of decay of say...a triangle was too fast.

I added a unity gain preamp to the passive pre and things improved. Maybe, the source had difficulty pushing the signal to the poweramp. Dunno.

At the end, I just got the Mac C2300. Everything came to life.

Cheers
Jag

 

RE: been there, posted on May 22, 2011 at 08:10:29
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Hey Jagdeep,

No problem about the delay. I share your sentiments concerning the clarity of passives. I also know what you mean regarding the sense that something was missing. Thanks for sharing the benefit of your experience.

Enjoy the Mac, enjoy the system.

And...enjoy the music!

WAJ

 

RE: been there, posted on May 22, 2011 at 09:40:32
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
Triamp,

I beg to differ.

I've had amps which measure identically, in frequency-response - virtually ruler-flat from 20hz to 20khz - yet one displays more (and more realistic) lower-midrange prowess than the other - differences are apparent in other regions too. The same occurs with pre-amps, speakers, and other components. This is why we're always best advised to listen before buying, if possible - there are differences (including frequency-related) regardless of measurements.

It's been proven, time and again, that measurements do not tell the whole story. If so, then we could have bought our components whole-scale, based on just the measured specifications. We don't. Do we? Low-fi components would also be neck and neck with those at the high-end - some would even be superior, based on all measurements, or even just frequency-response measurements.

However, I do respect your views. Thanks for sharing them!

WAJ

 

RE: been there, posted on May 22, 2011 at 13:07:24
triamp
Audiophile

Posts: 462
Location: USA
Joined: August 6, 2008
We were discussing passive vs. active PREAMPS, and you are talking about amplifiers, so you're off topic- apples to oranges.

When you say "amps which measure identically, in frequency-response - virtually ruler-flat from 20hz to 20khz" did you measure what these amps were actually delivering into the speakers you were using? I'll bet if you did that, you'd find that they were more than 1 ~2 dB away from "ruler flat." In some cases, an amplifier that measures near perfect into a pure resistive load can vary by more than 6 dB from "ruler flat" - and you will CERTAINLY hear this.

I'm guessing that you actually made no measurements yourself, and that when you say " amps which measure identically, in frequency-response - virtually ruler-flat from 20hz to 20khz" you are relying on the published specification from the manufacturer, or a review test. Such measurements are made using a purely resistive load, not a speaker. All amps behave substantially differently into the complex impedance of a speaker; this is especially true of tube amps, transistor amps show this effect to a lesser degree but it is still present, especially with speakers that present "difficult" loads.

These effects occur because current can lead or lag voltage as a function of frequency when driving a speaker with it's crossover. No such effects are seen when a source (DAC, phono stage, tuner, tape deck) drives a power amp through a passive attenuator or drives the input of an active preamp. The input impedance of a power amp or a preamp is a very simple and "mild" load when compared to a speaker that must be driven by an amplifier.

 

RE: been there, posted on May 22, 2011 at 16:29:20
waj4all
Audiophile

Posts: 95
Joined: October 26, 2010
O.K., I hear you.

No further comment, though.

Thanks again!

 

Page processed in 0.056 seconds.