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Thread: passive pre-amp

  1. #1
    Join Date: Feb 2016

    Location: yorkshire

    Posts: 49
    I'm terry.

    Default passive pre-amp

    I have been following with interest the discussions/arguments regarding the merits of passive pre-amps.
    SO decided to give it a go to see/hear for myself.
    I have a pair of Quad 99 monoblocks which were meant to be sold eventually, thes seemed a fair start.
    I did not want to spend lots of cash on the project as the results could potentially be poor.
    I looked at offerings from Tisbury, NVA, but settled for the Baldwin P3S (all around 100/130 price range)
    Following advise about short connection cables I connected my Marantz 6006 and my Ariston RD 11 Turntable through an Angle Audio reference 2 phono stage.
    Was a little worried about my Quad Z2 speakers as they are not the most sensitive units
    First up Cd (Raising Sand, Robert Plant/Allison klauss) well well, no noticeable loss of VOLUME, (quarter turn on control) bass or treble, and easily the equal of my Croft integrated
    Next the same music on LP, control to 12 o clock for same volume, but sound very very good.
    Just one thing of note, he music was fine ,but vocals a little recessed needed to widen speaker position and remove toe in, cured but cannot explain why?
    Maybe I was just lucky with the available equipment to hand, and the Quad amps having ample power, but the set up will remain till I have tried other styles of music.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 15,827
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    You'll only have a problem with volume if the power amps are very insensitive. If not all you are doing with an active pre is adding more gain you don't need then attenuating it again. Depends on what active pre-amp you were using before, but unless it was a very good one there should be a notable step up in quality of sound, particularly with digital.

    Problems I have encountered with some passives are a lack of impact on what should be hard transients, like snares, making them sound too soft; and a perceived lack of bass. The passive may be more sensitive to the interconnects used than an active, too. Keep us posted on how you get on.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200 with Sumiko h/s & Nagaoka MP50 * Firebottle valve MM phono stage * Parasound CDPi1000 * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." - Hunter S Thompson

  3. #3
    Join Date: Feb 2016

    Location: yorkshire

    Posts: 49
    I'm terry.

    Default

    Thanks for that, I too have a Firebottle MM , I will give it a go with that.
    I had previously used the Quad 99 pre, with the Mono's
    Just trying to simplify system get rid of multiple power leads, interconnects etc.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 15,827
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Not having to find somewhere to plug it in is one of the unsung advantages of a passive pre

    I did a search for the Baldwin passive but the only thing it threw up was this thread.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200 with Sumiko h/s & Nagaoka MP50 * Firebottle valve MM phono stage * Parasound CDPi1000 * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." - Hunter S Thompson

  5. #5
    Join Date: Feb 2016

    Location: yorkshire

    Posts: 49
    I'm terry.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    Not having to find somewhere to plug it in is one of the unsung advantages of a passive pre

    I did a search for the Baldwin passive but the only thing it threw up was this thread.

    http://www.reelaudio.co.uk/PreAmpSetup.shtml

    eBay item number:332152789278
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by shire; 18-03-2017 at 13:48. Reason: more info

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Belfast/Northern Ireland/UK

    Posts: 15,346
    I'm Neil.

    Default

    There can also be tonal aberrations, thinness in the mid and some leanness and forwardness as a result of the loss in the mid-range.

    Everything in a passive pre including system must be matched carefully, everything balanced all the compromises and technical aspects complimentary to each other. So speakers easy to drive and or power amp easily able to drive them with excess power and drive available. The power amp and passive must be technically a good match and all the cabling not change those parameters either by being too long or being an odd spec that changes the compatibility.

    Frankly I have yet (please take note of that) to hear a passive pre that didn't cause some issues and as such I prefer currently active pre amps.

    Careful matching is the name of the game.
    Regards Neil

  7. #7
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 15,827
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Whereas I have only encountered one instance of passive incompatibility with a power amp despite trying more than a dozen, of many different topologies, valve and solid state. All passives are not equal, though, which may have some bearing on it. Nevertheless I still maintain that using a high-quality passive pre is the most cost-effective way to increase significantly the sound quality of a system, particularly with digital sources.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200 with Sumiko h/s & Nagaoka MP50 * Firebottle valve MM phono stage * Parasound CDPi1000 * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." - Hunter S Thompson

  8. #8
    Join Date: Apr 2015

    Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

    Posts: 278
    I'm Paul.

    Default

    I'm stunned by my Tisbury.

    I can't imagine ever going back to an active pre- or an integrated ...
    Linn Sondek LP12, Ittok, A&R P77 > Musical Fidelity XLPS v3 Phono Stage
    Sony CDP-XE520 CD Player > SMSL Sanskrit DAC
    Pure DAB tuner
    Tisbury Mk.1 pre-amp > 2 x Meridian 205 monoblock power amps > Rega Jura Mk.2 speakers
    Grado SR80 headphones

    www.paulridgeblog.com

  9. #9
    Join Date: Mar 2011

    Location: Preston

    Posts: 136
    I'm Paul.

    Default

    For me the main thing is short interconnects. Ideally 1m total from source to power amp.

    Then you absolutely need sensitive power amps. Old valve amps seem to be ideally suited needing ~1/2V for full output.

    And don't worry if you have the dial well over half way for normal listening,

  10. #10
    Join Date: Oct 2016

    Location: Bolton, England

    Posts: 387
    I'm Andrew.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pgarrish View Post
    For me the main thing is short interconnects. Ideally 1m total from source to power amp.

    Then you absolutely need sensitive power amps. Old valve amps seem to be ideally suited needing ~1/2V for full output.

    And don't worry if you have the dial well over half way for normal listening,
    I think people tend to be over-cautious where interconnect length is concerned. Of course, it depends on the impedance of the passive pre, but you can usually get away with more than 1m of interconnects if you need to.
    Yes, you're absolutely correct that people shouldn't worry about having the dial over half way for normal listening. Some people get unduly nervous about seeing the volume control set so high, but it's not really a problem at all.

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