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a short diary of some part of my life.

Posts tagged PreAmp

I wondered when Schiit would be making a preamp for speakers, it should have a remote. They went further. My favorite preamps are Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE and Audio-gd P-2. I love passive preamps. All they do is controlling the volume. I could have lived with the STP-SE but as I wrote previously, I don’t need balanced outputs and I prefer something with a small footprint. The P-2 should fill my needs but it’s *ugly. I end up with a Swiss-army knife integrated amp, a W4S mINT.

  • Room
    Thick concrete floor finished with wood parquet. There are med-hard foam under the parquet.
    The ceiling is calcium silicate boards with rubber sheets cut in small pieces covering the suspension mounts, mainly to dampen excessive vibrations from tiny movements of the roof; these are not purposely built for audio, but to extend the life of the ceiling.
    Under the roof, there are hard foams here and there, acting as sound deadening.
    The roofing material is glazed ceramic.
    Walls are bricks covered with dense plaster.
    There are acoustic panels placed here and there.
    The window frames are YKK aluminum, rubber sealed (multiple). Just like suspensions for the ceiling, all window mountings use rubber O rings to dampen potential vibration.
    Basically, everything is built to last and to dampen vibration.
  • Power
    PS Audio Quintet connected to a wall outlet for audio that is individually grounded and isolated. The Quintet has different zones for DAC, preamp and power amp.
  • Source + DAC: Mac Mini + Schiit Eitr + Schiit Modi Multibit
    The Mac Mini is powered thru an APC UPS. Most of the time, I use iTunes + BitPerfect. I find no noticeable difference compared to Audirvana Plus. iTunes is huge win for convenience.
    The Schiit Eitr and Modi Multibit are plugged onto PS Audio Quintet on the same zone. The DAC zone.
  • Cables
    I use mainly Blue Jeans Cable RCA when out of sight. By out of sight, I mean if the cables are exposed, I prefer to use better looking cables that I made myself. The materials are mainly silver-plated copper, silver soldered and terminated with silver plated RCA plugs. Basically the stuff ALO Audio is using, sourced direct from the manufacturer in Taiwan.
    For digital cables, I use exclusively Blue Jeans Cable 1505F coax cable and Sys Concept high transmissivity optical cable.
    The power cables are Zu’s, I can’t remember the model name.
    Keep in mind that I’m not a cable believer, I believe, the shorter the cable, the better. I use boutique cables for their looks. And I’m just too lazy to sell them off.
  • Speakers
    Selah Audio Tempesta. A transparent pair of speakers. Enjoyable too.

Performance

The Saga features relay-stepped attenuator. I am a huge fan of relay-stepped attenuator, also found in the STP-SE. Once you use this kind of attenuator, you won’t go back to ancient pots. For those who like low-level listening, this is it. Say good bye to channel imbalance.

Tube buffer? I love tubes, who does not? Vs. passive mode, tube buffer offers a little bloom. I feel passive mode bass extension is more precise, you can immediately notice the difference. Depending on the music I am listening to, vocals sound best with tube.

Saga is dead quiet on both modes, as expected. I have various NOS tubes, it’s fun to see how each one performs. And I guess this is the main selling point. I don’t believe there is anything like Saga in the market.

I don’t like to talk about price but in this case, I want to. Most of the time, you don’t get what you pay for in audio world. So comparing how an audio gear performs based on price is completely irrelevant. Yes, there are expensive high performing gears out there, but there are also cheap high performing gears that perform just as good if not better than expensive high performing gears. If I read one reviewer who says, “oh yeah, this USD 350 is off course performing just like how it’s priced, this USD 3000 gear is off course a better product.” I’d just close the page.

Even if the USD 3000 gear is well engineered, you need to calculate how much this expensive product maker wants to make in the first place. Things are moving at a much slower pace, they don’t have the numbers. Add to that the incredible efficiency that Schiit practice. Then there is the dealer cut.

I’ve gone thru this path, very rarely that I found an expensive gear that performs cut and above superior to the cheaper counterparts. Regardless of price, the Saga is a high performance preamp.

How does the Saga pair with Modi Multibit and Vidar?
Honestly, I feel like the Vidar is a bit of a letdown. It’s a great power amp, no doubt. Wyred 4 Sound mINT as a power amp is my preferred pairing. I will eventually write a Vidar review. Stay tuned.

Paired with the mINT, I can literally point out which DAC used at the time. It’s completely transparent.

Paired with ModWright KWA 100, the Saga is also very transparent. A transparent preamp will expose flaws in the chain. Modi Multibit is a warm DAC.

Build Quality

The first thing I notice is the aluminum top. It is nicely grained with the right amount of thickness. The corners are chamfered and finished without any noticeable gouge. It’s a looker.

Saga looks very handsome from a distance but when you look at it closely, The chassis has misalignments here and there. Not as bad as their smaller chassis but they can do better at no cost. It’s a non-issue for most.

I hope I won’t see these poor soldering job if I ever open it.

https://www.head-case.org/forums/topic/12921-schiit-jotunheim/
https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hardware-teardown-of-schiit-fulla-v2-dac-and-headphone-amplifier.3154/
https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hardware-teardown-of-schiit-modi-2-usb-dac.2082/

Let’s be fair, not everyone build their product as neat as Justin Wilson of Headamp. But bad soldering job is just sloppy and it looks like you want to make a cost cutting measure somewhere. I view buying an audio gear as a long term investment, an investment that hopefully last for decades. I don’t leave my gears active all the time like many do. So I expect what I purchase will last for a while.

I know many people like to frequently change gears but I don’t do that. Once I’m settled, I won’t care what comes out this year or the next. If I want to add another set-up, then I may set out seeking new gears. Besides, unplugging, plugging and moving heavy audio gears are not fun at all. After all, the goal is to enjoy the music, not comparing equipments.

This superb tube preamp gets my highest recommendation, whether you want solid state or tube, this will fit your needs. Passive preamp lovers? Checked! For the solid state guys, you may like the Saga as the tube buffer sounds like a superb solid state preamp. Sure, the tube buffer adds a bit of colors, you may end up liking it as much as I do.

 

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I’m officially addicted to Audio-gd! They make superb products. I don’t really care about the price, they have small form factor, small enough to be placed on my cabinet and they perform better than other similar products. I have always reluctant to buy a product from a well known brand. I prefer to surf around internet forums to find decent products which can be easily found simply by using Google. There are various forums to choose from, they are various reviews to read, ultimately I had to bet on my own based on the reviews and researches that I have read and done. My decision turned out to be good, Audio-gd products do not disappoint me, neither is Kingwa, the owner and designer of Audio-gd products. Kudos to you, Kingwa!

First, I bought the DAC-19Mk3, it has dual PCM1704UK DAC chip, PMD100 or DF1704 as the digital filter and accepts various digital input including USB. I initially preferred the PMD100 as it is more musical than DF1704 which sounds a bit more digital than analog – after many hours of listening sessions, I came to a conclusion that I like both filters, there is nothing wrong with both of them, I no longer find DF1704 to have any digital traces. I may purchase another DAC-19Mk3, I’m very impressed with it. If you want to read my impressions of the DAC-19Mk3, here is a link to it: https://ravenda.wordpress.com/audiogddac19/

A month later, I bought an Audio-gd pre-amp, the P-2. The P-2 is also an excellent product, it has virtually zero noise, digital volume control with IR remote, and interchangeable voltage gain modules (you can change the modules to find the sound signature that you like – these won’t color the source’s sound signature too much, I consider them as tweaks). The construction of the P-2 is rugged, simple and elegant. This is exactly what I want, it’s not eye catching and it just works just like my Mac.

About the sound quality of the P-2, this pre-amp is completely silent, even when I’m pairing it with my Woo Audio 6 (modded) and using my Sennheiser IE8 (IEM), it’s dead silent. It doesn’t have its’ own sound signature as far as I am aware of. Whatever DAC that I am pairing it with, it will pass the sound of the DAC. The P-2 uses relays to control the volume, relay is the best sounding switch that has the least resistance and can maintain at all frequencies. While much more expensive, slower and noisier (clicking) when switching, they are far more sonically superior to any switcher chip on the market today. There are only two flaws that I can think of, one is the rotary encoder which is quite glitchy and the other one is the very cheap looking RCA jacks that can wear out quickly after several uses. I don’t think I will ever need another pre-amp anytime soon. This could be the last single ended pre-amp that I would ever need. I don’t have any plan to go “balanced”, balanced rigs are big and possibly run hotter than my current rigs.

I highly recommend the P-2 pre-amp for those who are looking for an excellent pre-amp. You can also ask Kingwa for more information about the pre-amp or whatever you needs are; he is very helpful, no BS, and willing to satisfy his customers.