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Thread: Tisbury Audio Mini Passive Pre-amp

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Forest of Dean, Glos & Cambrian mountains, Wales

    Posts: 9,082
    I'm Jerry.

    Default Tisbury Audio Mini Passive Pre-amp

    Oooo - I've come across a rather special product - I feel a mini-review coming on!

    My luvverly Restek Consens pre has been, just occasionally, playing up a bit ... so I thought I'd get in a backup device just in case it has to be sent off for some TLC.

    I'd heard 'word on the streets' that the Tisbury passive pre was interesting, so I have duly invested in one to have a go.

    Unbelievably cute, and very well made and finished indeed, this wee beastie measures a mere 11x4.7cm at it's faceplate.




    Pretty much any combo of inputs and outputs can be had, as long as there are 4 of them!

    Lifting some of the blurb from the eBay ad .....
    "A passive preamp with a precision SMD stepped attenuator, silver plated OFC wire with PTFE sleeve, silver plated selector switch, and exceptional quality CMC gold connectors. The enclosure is anodised aluminium with a solid wooden front made from american black walnut. .... The volume control is a precise, audiophile grade 21 step attenuator with an array of laser trimmed SMD resistors, giving a tolerance of +/- 0.25dB .... These are available in 10Kohm (standard) or 50Kohm which can be used with tube based sources.
    We also Alps Blue Velvet potentiometers which can be used instead of the stepped attenuator"

    I have the stepped attenuator version. The steps in volume are about right with my speakers (mid 80dB/W sensitivity); not too large a jump per step.

    The sonics are a bit surprising. Very clear and lucid, the transparency on offer is way beyond the normal run of low price passives, and leaves some high priced ones in its wake as well! It may not have quite the rez in the mids of my very high rez active Restek, but it's still to a very high standard and can make for a more cumfy listen than the 'warts & all' Restek, which can be a little forthright in the upper registers. Another comparison is with the TVC passive pre-amps - it's less cosy and warm than they generally are, ime, and has higher rez across the freq band. I've had several TVC pre-amps and enjoyed them, but imo the Tisbury is better; more accurate and revealing.

    Unlike many non-TVC passives, dynamics are not noticeably diminished - TVCs are good at this, as well, ime.
    Bass is more than a little astonishing in its clarity, control and power. Really special.
    Treble is very extended and open, detailed, focussed and pure.
    Imaging is ... well, it's beautiful, both laterally and in-depth. Nicely focussed and very believable.

    A great, genuine high end product at a very low price for the sq it delivers, imho. My Restek pre is on gardening leave at the moment.
    Last edited by jandl100; 25-04-2013 at 07:40.
    Jerry

    Spotify Premium streaming, Wadia 151 PowerDAC, MBL 116F.
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  2. #2
    Join Date: Mar 2008

    Location: Dunfermline, Scotland, UK

    Posts: 12,276
    I'm inthescottishmafia.

    Default

    Looks good value Jerry.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Nov 2011

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Posts: 2,016
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Sounds good.

    Aren't passive preamps meant to not have as much control when it comes to scale and bass?

    I've no experience of any preamps; just trying to figure things out.
    Speakers: Usher mini dancer II DMD
    Preamp: MFA Baby reference mk ii TVC
    Amp: Sanders Magtech
    DAC: Longdog VDT1 transformer coupled DAC
    Source: Self built PC (SOtM pcie usb output card with upgraded ultra low jitter clock card, Paul Pang RAM, pure SSD, passive cooling & Paul Hynes Audio SR7EHD psu providing power on separate rails to each SSD, the CPU and SOtM card)
    Power: Isotek Aquarius Evo3 (Schuko)
    Cables: Speaker cables - TQ Ultra Black, Interconnects - SLIC Innovations Eclipse C x2, Curious USB cable x3
    Ancilleries: USB regen, Acoustic Revive rgc24 under dac, Acoustic Revive QR - 8 (inside DAC) Stillpoints under amp, Shunyata darkfield v2 elevators under cables, Franc Audio isolation platforms under speakers, RDC combi-bases and spikes under oak platforms on everything, Hi fi Tuning Supreme throughout, Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks on speaker cables and inside DAC
    Software: JRiver MC21, Dirac room correction

  4. #4
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Forest of Dean, Glos & Cambrian mountains, Wales

    Posts: 9,082
    I'm Jerry.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by realysm42 View Post
    Aren't passive preamps meant to not have as much control when it comes to scale and bass?
    Yep. But! --

    Listening again this morning - the bass is just astonishing in its power, depth articulation and control. I ain't not never heard it this good before -- active (valve or solid state), passive (resistive or transformer based). Hmm. Maybe it's just hit it lucky with the particular characteristics of my system.
    Jerry

    Spotify Premium streaming, Wadia 151 PowerDAC, MBL 116F.
    or
    >> Currently >>Spotify Premium streaming, Cambridge Audio 851D DAC/pre, Pass Labs X150 power amp, MBL 116F.
    or
    Spotify Premium streaming, Cambridge Audio 851D DAC/pre, LA Audio A-30 el84 integrated amp, MBL 116F.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Nov 2011

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Posts: 2,016
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Interesting.

    And well done! If its working that week that's great news.

    But it makes nothing clearer for me
    Speakers: Usher mini dancer II DMD
    Preamp: MFA Baby reference mk ii TVC
    Amp: Sanders Magtech
    DAC: Longdog VDT1 transformer coupled DAC
    Source: Self built PC (SOtM pcie usb output card with upgraded ultra low jitter clock card, Paul Pang RAM, pure SSD, passive cooling & Paul Hynes Audio SR7EHD psu providing power on separate rails to each SSD, the CPU and SOtM card)
    Power: Isotek Aquarius Evo3 (Schuko)
    Cables: Speaker cables - TQ Ultra Black, Interconnects - SLIC Innovations Eclipse C x2, Curious USB cable x3
    Ancilleries: USB regen, Acoustic Revive rgc24 under dac, Acoustic Revive QR - 8 (inside DAC) Stillpoints under amp, Shunyata darkfield v2 elevators under cables, Franc Audio isolation platforms under speakers, RDC combi-bases and spikes under oak platforms on everything, Hi fi Tuning Supreme throughout, Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks on speaker cables and inside DAC
    Software: JRiver MC21, Dirac room correction

  6. #6
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Forest of Dean, Glos & Cambrian mountains, Wales

    Posts: 9,082
    I'm Jerry.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by realysm42 View Post
    But it makes nothing clearer for me
    Me neither!
    Jerry

    Spotify Premium streaming, Wadia 151 PowerDAC, MBL 116F.
    or
    >> Currently >>Spotify Premium streaming, Cambridge Audio 851D DAC/pre, Pass Labs X150 power amp, MBL 116F.
    or
    Spotify Premium streaming, Cambridge Audio 851D DAC/pre, LA Audio A-30 el84 integrated amp, MBL 116F.

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Medmenham, Bucks.

    Posts: 400
    I'm MYLES.

    Default

    I dropped your name across on the 'Wam, as some guy was asking about exactly this.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Forest of Dean, Glos & Cambrian mountains, Wales

    Posts: 9,082
    I'm Jerry.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by myles View Post
    I dropped your name across on the 'Wam, as some guy was asking about exactly this.
    I've dropped the OP - Steve 'Bourney' - a PM about it already.

    I really don't want to get involved in a Wam punch-up about the active/passive debate!
    Jerry

    Spotify Premium streaming, Wadia 151 PowerDAC, MBL 116F.
    or
    >> Currently >>Spotify Premium streaming, Cambridge Audio 851D DAC/pre, Pass Labs X150 power amp, MBL 116F.
    or
    Spotify Premium streaming, Cambridge Audio 851D DAC/pre, LA Audio A-30 el84 integrated amp, MBL 116F.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Sep 2009

    Location: Essex, UK

    Posts: 3,469
    I'm Andy.

    Default

    Looks interesting Jerry
    System; Michell Gyrodec SE/ Orbe Clamp/ Gert Pedersen armboard mod/ HR PSU/ SME V / J7 Tonearm cable/Ortofon Cadenza Black// Jez Arkless Turbo nutter B------ /Trichord Dino+

    Amplification and loudspeaker set up is at the moment being split into two groups, comprising the following;


    1. Same sources as above; SONY TAF-770ES/SONY CDP761E/Cable Talk 3.1 loudspeakercable/ Harbeth Compact7ES2/ Stands

    2. Virtue Audio Sensation M451battery PSU, ClarityCaps upgrade/ Sensation M901/Russian PIO caps with Teflon bypass caps upgrade/ JT Dynamic PSU with various tweaks/ Connex Audio 5N Litz loudspeaker cable, Impulse H6 Loudspeakers.




















    Me so horny- Impulse H6 Horny

  10. #10
    Join Date: Nov 2012

    Location: India

    Posts: 38
    I'm Tirthankar.

    Default

    Congratulations on the pre. I myself use a passive pre in my setup and can attest to the transparency and accuracy.

    The thing about resistor based passive is that they are incredibly transparent compared to most of the active preamps, because its extremely difficult to design an active circuit playing with such small signal levels which a preamp works with. Well designed ones are super expensive. OTOH, the resistor based passive because of the use of just passive components with minimum level of signal distortion, can be made very accurate.

    However,
    • They have no active circuit or a transformer (like a TVC) and hence no impedance matching. Low output impedance from the source and high input impedance of the power amp is required. Also a short low capacitance interconnect between the pre and power is essential to bring the best out of a passive.
    • They only attenuate the signal coming from the source, hence a high source output coupled with high input sensitivity of the power amp helps.


    I see that you use a Krell 250a, which has a very high input impedance of 100k, allowing the circuit to push enough current. No doubt you are not seeing the loose or uncontrolled bass and reduced dynamics many people face when they dont take care of the impedance matching while using a resistor based passive.

    But I will be interested to know what volume levels you need to use on the pre, seeing that the input sensitivity of the power amp is pretty low at 2v. Probably you don't need much of the power which the power amp can provide and hence can get away with a low drive, or your source has a tremendously high output.
    JRiver Media Center with WASAPI(Event) - Asus Essence STX coax - XLO Ultra 4 - PS Audio DL3 (Cullen 4 mod) - VDH D102 mk3 - DIY Stepped Attenuator - VDH D102 mk3 - Quad 306 - AQ Indigo 2 Hyperlitz Biwire - B&W CDM1se = Musical Bliss

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