Author Topic: Five Preamplifiers!!!  (Read 7518 times)

miklorsmith

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Five Preamplifiers!!!
« on: November 03, 2008, 08:10:01 AM »
I had a g2g this past weekend.  We had five really nice preamps that all played a stint.  I can't give this the time it deserves at the moment, so stuff will have to trickle in.  I should be able to get a picture of all five in my rack tonight - yeah they all fit!

In order from cleanest to pfat-est they were:  Dodd Battery Preamp, Modwright 36.5 DM, Red Wine Isabella, Lamm LL2 Deluxe, and Wyetech's recently revised Jade.  Different folks had different preferences and I have to say I wouldn't fault anyone for preferring any of them.

The rest of the system was my Rega/Lessloss digital rig, Red Wine 70.2 and Behringer amps to my Zu Definition 2 speaks.

This was a gas.  Questions?  Fire away!

Offline richidoo

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2008, 08:30:08 AM »
What kinda tubes does each preamp use? Any correlation to the phatness factor?


miklorsmith

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2008, 08:42:10 AM »
To some degree yes, the Wyetech is the only one with 6sn7 bottles.  The Dodd, Isabella, and Lamm all use 6922 et al output glass - so I'll say that one is highly voice-able by the designer since these really sounded nothing like each other.  Well, they all had strong bass I guess. 

The Modwright uses the 6H30s, I had the supposed king DR tubes.  With a reputation (I guess) of linearity, low distortion, almost SS-like attributes I'd say it fit that bill.  But, it was more dimensional and tuneful than the Dodd I thought.

Bigfish8

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2008, 01:14:59 PM »
I had a g2g this past weekend.  We had five really nice preamps that all played a stint.  I can't give this the time it deserves at the moment, so stuff will have to trickle in.  I should be able to get a picture of all five in my rack tonight - yeah they all fit!

In order from cleanest to pfat-est they were:  Dodd Battery Preamp, Modwright 36.5 DM, Red Wine Isabella, Lamm LL2 Deluxe, and Wyetech's recently revised Jade.  Different folks had different preferences and I have to say I wouldn't fault anyone for preferring any of them.

The rest of the system was my Rega/Lessloss digital rig, Red Wine 70.2 and Behringer amps to my Zu Definition 2 speaks.

This was a gas.  Questions?  Fire away!

Mike:

I certainly look forward to any further comments you will make as I am specifically very interested in two of the preamps, the Dodd and the Lamm.


Thanks,

Ken

miklorsmith

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2008, 01:55:18 PM »
Two of the guys liked the Dodd and Modwright best.  They're both planar guys and had never heard my system before.  The Dodd is as clean and clear a window as I can imagine a tubed preamp being.  Think "good solid state", with a little 3D enhancement.  I didn't find it edgy or offensive but it didn't contribute that extra tubular luv that I look for either.

The Lamm is in my all-time hall of fame no matter what comes after.  It's incredibly musical, doesn't tip into mush, and retains good resolution though I definitely thought the Isabella and Modwright were better there.  I'm not sure about the Dodd though it seems like it should have been more resolving.  I find the balance between these qualities to be very pleasing and think it's a great value at the new price.  At used prices it's one of the best deals in audio.

The Wyetech is a significant step further into Big Tube sound.  It's more toward the old school, big big tone, diminished leading edges and spatial effects.  It has persuasive, elegant treble and bass slammage is terrific.  The voicing borrows what was good about vintage tube sound but adds jump factor, frequency extension, and a modern spin.  It makes big, gutsy sound and is an absolute kick to hear.

The Modwright is an insane resolution machine.  It runs to the lean side in my system but if you're not looking for triode contributions from the preamplifier it's sublime.  I said right off the bat and it remains true, I've never heard such stage depth as it provides.  It paints the back corners with clear pictures of what's happening with even minor players. 

The same guys that brought the Dodd also brought Genesis G60 tube monos.  I flirted with using them for the shootout but felt they were more colored than the RWAs and would have inserted more of their own character into the mix.  Also there was a level matching concern with the subs.  Had we used these amps or the 45 SET amp I really want the Modwright could easily have come out #1 for me in the comparison.

The Isabella is near neutral and noticeably quiet.  It sounds like there's less between the notes, like a removal of noise.  All the preamps were dead quiet at the listening seat, the noise removal isn't of static grunge but a kind of stripping away just a little of every sound.  It's very compelling and strange in a way, it's definitely more matter-of-fact than I usually like since the rest of my rig is solid state and "down the middle".  It has a gain switch - 0 or 12 db, I have been using it in 0 db mode where it acts as a current buffer.  It is very extended at both ends and very dynamic in my system.  Jeff at Tone found it somewhat dynamically flat in his big rig but not in mine - it plays huge.

In fairness the big paper drivers are fairly forgiving and not prone to be wart hunters.  They don't "make" tone but they do expose it nicely where it's present.

Ken, the Dodd and Lamm are both tubed preamps using the 6922 output tube and that's about all they share.  If your system tends toward loss of detail and you have all the tone you need, the Dodd might fill the bill.  If your system tends toward lean, I would take the Lamm ten times out of ten.

I'm a total shill for that pre though so you knew where that recommendation was going, huh?

One thing that I should have noted before - I heard the Dodd for a total of 40 minutes with mostly music I don't know.  I currently own the Modwright and feel strong about the assessments there.  I've had the Wyetech on review loan for about three weeks and have a decent handle on it.  The Isabella showed up last week and is still showing subtle signs of burn-in.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 03:31:11 PM by miklorsmith »

Offline richidoo

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2008, 03:18:34 PM »
Nice job Mike! I would love to have the chance to hear all those in my house.
Rich

miklorsmith

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2008, 03:36:28 PM »
Thanks.  I would love to have all you guys over for a party too.  My inter-dimensional listening space will fit all of you and all of your friends and hell, their friends too.   :D

It was really fun.  I have everything dialed in well enough now that the differences between the preamps really are night-and-day.  There aren't any weird frequency anomalies, reverberant modes, digital nasties, or anything else that obscures.  I guess the system is pretty neutral that way so that any one piece can tip it in either direction.  Most of the guys were already familiar with the system and didn't have to acclimate. 

The two planar guys hadn't heard the setup before and were kind of speechless.  I couldn't figure out if they were blown away or disgusted that my setup didn't use planar transducers. 
« Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 03:39:12 PM by miklorsmith »

Offline bpape

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 04:08:54 PM »
LOL - yeah, planar guys can be that way (though a planar system set up to that degree can be awfully impressive).  I'd love to hear those 5 pieces in my planar and non-planar systems.  I've heard the Dodd and the Modwright in enough situations to get a feel for them (and be very satisfied to live with either)

Bryan
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miklorsmith

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2008, 07:34:05 AM »
I had a question about whether the "stripping away" note I had on the Isabella description is a good thing.  Revisiting the comment I can see how it would have come across as negative.  It is assuredly not - what is removed is a seeming electronic haze that isn't noticeable until it's removed.  Going back to the other preamplifiers doesn't make them seem to have it either but the Isabella definitely does not.  I did not perceive any part of the primary instrumentation nor harmonics had been lost in the process.

I forgot to dump the picture of the rack with all these babies in it, I'll try to get to that tonight.

Offline richidoo

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2008, 07:48:14 AM »
What is Zout on the Dodd?

miklorsmith

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Re: Five Preamplifiers!!!
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2008, 08:23:30 AM »
200 ohms