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My new tubes4hifi SP12 preamp. Early review with lots of pics in link

Ive noticed quite a few posts lately asking about good preamps, many tube based requests. I bought this preamp about a month ago, received it about a week ago, and first got around to listening to it now. I chose to wait before chiming in about it as I wanted to listen first. Usually a good idea :-) Well the wait is over….

I own and have listened to allot of great gear. And while I didn’t think I was missing out on anything major, I really only have 2 good tube preamps to compare my tastes with. While not really being on the hunt for a tube pre I couldn’t help but take notice to the amazing value everything at tubes4hifi has. Had I found tubes4hifi first before amassing quite a few tube amps, Id likely have an amp offering too. Anyway in reading about all of Roy’s various preamp mods, options and completed build offerings, the temptation really got the best of me. I thought, heck with it, only live once right. So I pulled the trigger on a completed SP12 with his PH12 phono option. Roy was VERY kind and accommodating in catering to my special requests. I wanted to spruce it up with any reasonable upgrades in the components. So I opted for best vol and sectors for the money. Roy pointed me towards goldpoint selectors and TKD vol pots. I also asked Mundorf Silver Oil caps be used. Honestly, Im kinda worried the s/o caps may not hold up well to the heat next to the tubes from what Ive read, but oh well. Ill enjoy em while I can and its not that hard to replace em. I also mentioned adding any kind of dampening and good feet to the pre, Roy did well on this too. I don’t want to go much further into the build description as I don’t think Id be doing it justice. Theres a reason I didn’t want to build it myself, Im no expert yet. Roy is!

So how bout the sound? Well, its what I was hoping it would be. Super detailed. Im getting it all in spades. The preamp hasn’t even been broken in I imagine and I don’t notice a hint of grain or harsh. No overly forward sound or that overdriven fatiguing aspect that Ive heard in other gear Ive owned. One thing I liked about this design was its tube rectified power but also having regulated filaments. Something Ive not heard before in other pres I own. It really has authority and slam when needed. Never cries when asked to deliver and be loud! While I cant speak for the sound of the usual alps vol pot, I can say this TKD seems to have PERFECT balance from silent to loud. Allot of my vintage stuff and some new stuff seems to not do near as well in the low volume adjustment areas. The pot seems to have perfect range and tone. And just feels really pro. Again its only in break-in stages and just sounds perfect. Im still using the stock JJ 12au7s Roy tossed in. I also bought NOS RCA cleartops from Roy to use. I really don’t feel Im missing anything right now, so cant wait till I hear the RCAs too. So far Im gonna have to agree that these Silver and Oil caps really sound amazingly detailed from top to bottom. Just amazingly airy detail. The physical build is also nothing short of stout. Nice thick 4mm face and 3mm rear. Sturdy as hell all around. Right now Im using the preamp with a Don Allen CD player, Don Allen 6550 push pull mono amps, stock JBL 4430 speakers. Im also using a home made quad core windows 7 computer with the asus Xonar essence STX sound card. This pre has really revealed the limits of my rough draft 192kbps rips of music, damn…. Was just listening to Neil Young live at Massey Hall 71, great CD with great acoustics and recording. Sounded breathtaking! Now Im listening to Mumford and Sons sigh no more. Not near as perfect a recording but great music no less. FF 15 mins… just compelled to try Grateful Dead, Reckoning, the live acoustic set. FF another 15 mins… Stones Exile on Main St with bonus tracks, Pass the Wine sounds F-in great! Last for now Hendrix Axis Bold as Love, can this ever not sound good?

So am I happy, you bet! As of now still haven’t had a chance to test the phono but Id be pretty damn surprised to find its anywhere south of the rest of the preamp’s quality. Dealing with confined gear area now. Give it a little time and Ill have some input on the phono.

Cant say enough about how great Roy is. Clearly knows his stuff. There were a few bumps in the road from Roy trying to accommodate my requests. But he handled it all like a professional and gentleman. Everything worked out as planned in the end.

Hope everyone enjoys the review. Pics courtesy of Roy on tubes4hifi’s site.

Thanks much

Dave



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Topic - My new tubes4hifi SP12 preamp. Early review with lots of pics in link - 2chJunkie 21:08:08 06/30/11 (29)

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