As a follow up to my recent thread seeking some inspiration regarding preamps and DACS I thought Iíd follow up with a little review.
I acquired some Quad ESL-57 speakers about 6 months ago and have them in my 3.5m x 2.5m listening room, sat pretty near field, about a 2m triangle, 12Ē off the floor. This suits me fine as I listen alone so always get the sweet spot. I also come to hifi fresh from a journey through headphone land and found my preference there was the AKG K701, a fast, dynamic can with accurate but not prominent bass. I find myself leaning in that direction with speakers too.
The Quad 303 I got has been recapped and serviced and the CD player is a joy to use. Both are going nowhere. Once I find something that is right, I like to fit and forget.
I was using a Dacmagic and a Quad 33 (serviced) in the mix. I didnít feel the DAC added anything compared to the CD player and was only making the streamed music sound better so I decided to move it on. I had read various things about the Quad 33 being way outclassed by modern preamps, (upgrades etc were another £100+), and although I thought it sounded good, I was keen to try something else. I couldnít afford to keep the preamp and buy another to do a comparison so I took a gamble and sold it.
After a brief spell of panic at having no hifi to listen to I got hold of a Promitheus TVC passive preamp through this very same Wam. It is the latest model, still has wooden knobs and sides with the metal plate top and bottom. Looks a bit strange in the rack with a champagne Sony and a Quad but passed the wife test as she thought it matched the sides on the speakers. Using 1 metre Hitachi interconnects. QED 79 strand speaker wire.
I wonít begin to get all technical and explain how it works. My understanding is that if you imagine the music is a car, a normal passive has full throttle all the time and applies the brakes, a TVC changes down a gear. If you are like me and donít care that much how it looks or works, just how it sounds, then read on.
Turning the volume up on the Quad 33 with no music playing, there was a definite background hiss. With the TVC I now understand when people talk about music coming out of a black background, there is not a sound either with no music playing or in between passages. Normal listening volume is between one third and half way on the wooden dial.
There is a distinct change to the imaging / soundstage. With the Quad 33 it was more centralised, e.g. with good recordings you still got good separation of instruments across the room but they all seemed to lean towards the centre and the very far right and left was only reserved for the odd effect. The TVC has widened things even further and Iím now hearing placement of individual drums in a kit, rather than just the position of the drum kit. There is certainly more detail than before and Iím hearing a different character to the sound which I presume is the CD and amp together with no interruption, rather than having the Quad 33 in the path.
I can only take it on faith that the TVC adds nothing to the sound. It certainly seems to work fine with my amp and so I can see no reason to change it. What I can do now is hear what my amp and CD player can do alone and then properly judge a new DAC when the funds allow.
Hope this makes some degree of sense. Iím not up on all the technical jargon; just tell it how I find it.