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Preamps do make a difference..

djb

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I've been slowly assembling my primary system for about a year. Phasing out my older Denon/Paradigm system for Linton's and new electronics. Started adding an Emotiva A2 amp using my older Denon receiver as a pre-amp and didn't hear much difference at moderate volume; it probably is more dynamic.

Well I just got the PT1 and hooked it up last night. I really am surprised at the difference. The Dennon had HP filter but when I got the pT1 running the increase in clarity was really noticable. I'm not going to use audiophile buzz words but the Linton's really got in injection of crispness and clarity I didn't even know was missing with the Dennon.

I'm really surprised how the preamp had a much greater effect on sound than the amp in this case. Well, i'm close to my personal audio Nirvana. Emotiva doesn't get a lot of love here, but a separate loaded preamp and true 160 watt a/b amp combo for under $1k is impressive. I may try a Gishelli dac to replace my Schiit Modi 3+ but am in no hurry.
 

Ze Frog

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I've been slowly assembling my primary system for about a year. Phasing out my older Denon/Paradigm system for Linton's and new electronics. Started adding an Emotiva A2 amp using my older Denon receiver as a pre-amp and didn't hear much difference at moderate volume; it probably is more dynamic.

Well I just got the PT1 and hooked it up last night. I really am surprised at the difference. The Dennon had HP filter but when I got the pT1 running the increase in clarity was really noticable. I'm not going to use audiophile buzz words but the Linton's really got in injection of crispness and clarity I didn't even know was missing with the Dennon.

I'm really surprised how the preamp had a much greater effect on sound than the amp in this case. Well, i'm close to my personal audio Nirvana. Emotiva doesn't get a lot of love here, but a separate loaded preamp and true 160 watt a/b amp combo for under $1k is impressive. I may try a Gishelli dac to replace my Schiit Modi 3+ but am in no hurry.
I've always found Denon stuff to be warmer myself and not quite as crisp or detailed. I really like their PMA 110 looks and engineering wise, but don't really appreciate their house sound.
 

ahofer

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I've been slowly assembling my primary system for about a year. Phasing out my older Denon/Paradigm system for Linton's and new electronics. Started adding an Emotiva A2 amp using my older Denon receiver as a pre-amp and didn't hear much difference at moderate volume; it probably is more dynamic.

Well I just got the PT1 and hooked it up last night. I really am surprised at the difference. The Dennon had HP filter but when I got the pT1 running the increase in clarity was really noticable. I'm not going to use audiophile buzz words but the Linton's really got in injection of crispness and clarity I didn't even know was missing with the Dennon.

I'm really surprised how the preamp had a much greater effect on sound than the amp in this case. Well, i'm close to my personal audio Nirvana. Emotiva doesn't get a lot of love here, but a separate loaded preamp and true 160 watt a/b amp combo for under $1k is impressive. I may try a Gishelli dac to replace my Schiit Modi 3+ but am in no hurry.
This inevitably invites questions about level-matched comparisons.
 

FrantzM

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I've always found Denon stuff to be warmer myself and not quite as crisp or detailed. I really like their PMA 110 looks and engineering wise, but don't really appreciate their house sound.
I would also surmise that you would be able to recognize their "signature sound" .. in blind tests, with level matched?

Peace.
 

MRC01

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... Well I just got the PT1 and hooked it up last night. I really am surprised at the difference. The Dennon had HP filter but when I got the pT1 running the increase in clarity was really noticable. I'm not going to use audiophile buzz words but the Linton's really got in injection of crispness and clarity I didn't even know was missing with the Dennon. ...
I had a similar observation about 24 years ago when I replaced my preamp with a passive attenuator (10 kOhm ladder that I designed & built). The preamp it replaced was a Rotel RC 990 BX, which was no slouch.
 

Ze Frog

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I would also surmise that you would be able to recognize their "signature sound" .. in blind tests, with level matched?

Peace.
No idea, just my subjective opinion. I wouldn't advise anyone else to use such as a marker. Only mentioned because OP feels that way also, interesting to hear from someone with same subjective opinion. Subjectivity is a strange beast though, far too many variables, could well be nothing to do with the equipment, but it's quite fascinating.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those where a certain brand or cost bracket means better, I'm relatively in control of subjective thoughts regarding Hi-fi as a whole. Wonder if in future a new metric will be found to determine some of these things, seems like an actually useful purpose for A.I at some point.
 
OP
D

djb

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I just wanted to share my experience. I think a lot of subjective reviews are "full of it" but the difference was very clear. The Dennon was a 2.1 100 watt stereo receiver of good reputation years ago which is probably why adding the new A2 amp didn't make a big difference with 160w. Swapping the pre amp to PT1 sure did. I guess a 'muddy' Dennon and 'warmer' Linton's we not a good pairing.
 

DVDdoug

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What is a blind ABX test?

The Dennon had HP filter
A high pass filter? Of course a high-pass filter (in the audible range) or other EQ or tone controls WILL change the sound (frequency response).

I'm not going to use audiophile buzz words
Good, most are not really defined.

When it comes to electronics, there are only 3 characteristics of "sound quality" - Noise, distortion, and frequency response. Sometimes there is audible noise (hum, hiss, or whine in the background). Frequency response & distortion are almost always better than human hearing unless something is over-driven into clipping/distortion.

Speakers and room acoustics are a bit different.

See Audiophoolery.

it probably is more dynamic.
Amplifiers don't affect program dynamics (the difference between the loud & quiet parts). Except when you over-drive an amplifier into clipping... That's a "bad kind" of dynamic compression. But we hear the distortion first.
 

ThatM1key

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I do think preamps can make a difference. I remember I used a Topping L30 as a preamp for my Sansui 2000A. Sounded less warm but more clear. That Topping L30 had channel balance problems at low volumes although not as bad as my Topping E30s preamp mode pops at full volume randomly (Even when its set to mute), nearly lost my hearing. The Sansui 2000As built in preamp still worked but something crossed and all sources channels were mixed together.

In the car audio, the stereos are built worse then the amps themselves. Easy to find a clear sounding amp but finding a clean sounding stereo with preouts is just hard.
 

Blumlein 88

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I have a Focusrite audio interface. I had the impression it was a bit soft (both in treble and bass impact) and less clear sounding. Then I read other people had the same impression. Since then I have done very carefully controlled recordings of it vs other DACs and interfaces. When I do that and listen without knowing which is which it all sounds the same. Long term relaxed listening, short term intense with headphones, short with ABX software. I still have the feeling it has a particular character even after all that. I have "feelings" about the character of the Focusrite, an RME BabyFace and an Antelope Audio interface. It is interesting, or humbling depending on how you look at it.
 

ahofer

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Preamps *might* alter the frequency response (directly or through impedance mismatching), distortion level, and amplitude of the signal. Within audible thresholds, most preamps only do the latter. If they do any of the former, it is for the worse (presuming accuracy as the lodestar).
 

Joe Smith

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A while back, when I was building 3116 chip amps, I invested in a good handmade passive pre with an Alps blue pot, which I still use from time to time. In general for my nearfield setup, I like having source go direct to amp, but most of the little amps I use now have volume control, so I don't need the pre. But I still use a number of sources (vinyl/tape/CD), so I need pre capability and currently satisfy that by using a restored integrated amp or receiver close by and swappable when I need it.

I would like to get a Hypex based amp in the future and have a good modern pre to pair with it. So far, the Emotiva is the only thing out there under a grand that I've seen. It does pack a lot of functionality in for $400.

I know Emotiva is not highly regarded (here, in general), but their current lineup does occupy a very nice price point and decent value that's very attractive...they cover that "complete, good sounding system for under $1500 pretty well.
 
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KSTR

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Preamps *might* alter the frequency response (directly or through impedance mismatching), distortion level, and amplitude of the signal. Within audible thresholds, most preamps only do the latter. If they do any of the former, it is for the worse (presuming accuracy as the lodestar).
When it comes to electronics, there are only 3 characteristics of "sound quality" - Noise, distortion, and frequency response.
Frequency response of magnitude and phase, of course. Which means that a polarity flip is a significant change and this is well established to be audible. Not all preamps / sources / power amps are designed to maintain correct (non-inverting) polarity. IME this is one the biggest overlooked reasons why otherwise "blameless" and transparently measuring preamps etc can sound different to each other.
 

dday84

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I've been slowly assembling my primary system for about a year. Phasing out my older Denon/Paradigm system for Linton's and new electronics. Started adding an Emotiva A2 amp using my older Denon receiver as a pre-amp and didn't hear much difference at moderate volume; it probably is more dynamic.

Well I just got the PT1 and hooked it up last night. I really am surprised at the difference. The Dennon had HP filter but when I got the pT1 running the increase in clarity was really noticable. I'm not going to use audiophile buzz words but the Linton's really got in injection of crispness and clarity I didn't even know was missing with the Dennon.

I'm really surprised how the preamp had a much greater effect on sound than the amp in this case. Well, i'm close to my personal audio Nirvana. Emotiva doesn't get a lot of love here, but a separate loaded preamp and true 160 watt a/b amp combo for under $1k is impressive. I may try a Gishelli dac to replace my Schiit Modi 3+ but am in no hurry.

Congrats on the new PT1 and your enjoyment of it so far. Several years ago I did the same thing and added a separate Emotiva stereo preamp to go along with my HT receiver (a Yamaha model).

I have the Emotiva XSP-1, which is now discontinued, but it was their largest, most full-featured stereo preamp they offered that has all the features I need and wanted. It has both XLR balanced and RCA inputs and outputs, a MM and MC phono stage, both high and low pass adjustable analog crossovers, a processor loop for adding outbaord EQ or you can send the line level signal out to a separate headphone amp, HT bypass so I could route the main L+R and sub output from my Yamaha receiver through it to my amp, and an analog resistor ladder network volume control which allows precise 0.5 DB increments.

Subjectively, for stereo listening it does sound noticeably better to me than my HT receiver when the receiver has all the processing enabled within it. However, and this was not something I tried until a few years later after having the preamp, I did a test one day where I ran the RCA output of my separate DAC into an analog in on the receiver, and then put my Yamaha receiver in what they call "pure direct" mode which turns off all the video circuits and other digital processing within the receiver. It basically just adds some "preamp gain" and routes the input stereo signal through the volume control from my understanding. When I did this, I was hard pressed to tell much difference from my spearate Emotiva stereo preamp for just two channel listening (no subs). They sounded so close.
 

sergeauckland

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Frequency response of magnitude and phase, of course. Which means that a polarity flip is a significant change and this is well established to be audible. Not all preamps / sources / power amps are designed to maintain correct (non-inverting) polarity. IME this is one the biggest overlooked reasons why otherwise "blameless" and transparently measuring preamps etc can sound different to each other.
Really? Do you have any references for this, as I've never heard that polarity is audible on normal programme material. Indeed my own blind tests haven't shown any such audibility.

S.
 

DSJR

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I remain to be convinced on home theatre receivers whether used to full multi-channel potential or just set to 'stereo.' It's donkeys years since I had anything to do with Denon's AV stuff and then mainly the lower receiver models and I found them warm and 'nice' toned, which may have been a good thing bearing in mind some of the 'AV' speaker systems around back then. I have to admit no real idea now so forgive the vibes above from yesteryear.

Emotiva used to be spoken of highly but it's not hugely represented in the UK I think.

Got to say at the level of say, a Schiit Saga S or Kara, or the Quad Artera preamp I spend some enjoyable time with this afternoon, I'd say the 'sound' is broadly the same and choice is more visual, facilities and tactile-feel based really.
 

DSJR

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Really? Do you have any references for this, as I've never heard that polarity is audible on normal programme material. Indeed my own blind tests haven't shown any such audibility.

S.
When the polarity is reversed on BOTH speakers, I sometimes felt/imagined I could perceive a difference, but there's a few variables added here. My Bryston preamp had an absolute phase switch on it and when I had it twenty odd years back, I was damned if I could tell any sonic difference at all! Don't really care now I have to say although not sure I listen like an audiophile now.
 

KSTR

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Really? Do you have any references for this, as I've never heard that polarity is audible on normal programme material. Indeed my own blind tests haven't shown any such audibility.

S.
Please use the forum search, this really is a settled topic. BTW, I'm pretty sure that you can notice the difference once you know what to listen for exactly and once you've had a positive test result... which should be easy with the example(s) I've posted on this forum.
 
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