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Focus on PREAMPS

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Customer email newsletter dated: July 15, 2017.

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Focus on PREAMPS

In our June 15 Email Newsletter we wrote about the Sutherland Engineering N1 preamplifier ($8000), a full featured, solid state preamplifier complete with a world-class phono stage. It is an exceptional product and one that can serve as the foundation for reference systems with zero compromise regardless of the source, but of special interest for those of us using a turntable as our primary source component.

In this edition of our Newsletter we focus on two other outstanding and high value preamps, one line level-only for reference level digital systems, the other focused on the headphone enthusiast.

New Backert Labs Rhumba 1.2 and Rhumba Extreme

The preamplifier is the "heart" of the system and is an essential part of a great-sounding system. While some may extoll the theory of a source-to-amplifier direct approach, in our long (more than a century combined, gulp) experience we have found that a good preamplifier in the same system will significantly elevate the performance every time.

Recently we were visited by the good people from Backert Labs for one of our evaluation sessions. We have known Bob Backert for many years and have great respect for his abilities as a circuit designer and engineer.

Bob brought with him two new, next generation line stage preamplifiers of his own design: the Rhumba 1.2 ($3395), and the Rhumba Extreme ($5500). First we listened to our system with the wonderful Rogers EHF 200 MK 2 ($15900), a tube integrated amplifier with a bypass-able preamp section. We then hooked up the Rhumba 1.2 directly into the amplifier section of the Rogers and played the same source to get a feel for what the Rhumba 1.2 brought to the table. The results were unanimous; the sound was more open, with more space, more air and increased resolution.

Next up, the new Rhumba Extreme was put into the same system using the same music tracks. The Rhumba Extreme is a hot-rodded version of Backert's top design, the Rhythm 1.1 ($7500) in a simpler chassis. Inserting the Rhumba Extreme was jaw-dropping - this was the best the reference system has ever sounded - clarity, speed, coherence, and space were all improved.

Both of the new Rhumba models have Backert's "Green Force" direct-to-the-wall power supplies, XLR and RCA inputs and outputs, feature easily accessible 12AU7 tubes and premium Jensen transformers. In addition the Rhumba Extreme features auto-bias (in a preamp!), premium capacitors, premium feet from Edensound, as well as circuit-matched Psvane tubes.

We highly recommend BOTH of the new Backert Labs Rhumba line stage preamplifier models for those seeking higher performance from their systems and that truly magical “liveliness" which only tubes deliver. Backert Labs preamps offer extended tube life, eliminate the need for costly NOS tubes (for the auto-biasing Extreme version), require zero maintenance, and offer all of the connectivity options any system could need. All outputs are active all the time, which makes it easy to add a sub or room correction device. We are very impressed with the performance of these new preamps and we think you will be, too. If it’s time to upgrade your preamp, these gems might just be the ticket.

The Rogue Audio RH-5: THE preamp for Headphone Enthusiasts:

Preamplifiers with headphone jacks are pretty common. Unfortunately the headphone output of these preamps is typically an afterthought offering mediocre performance. This is also true of the headphone jacks on CD Players, DACs, tape decks and receivers.

The generally accepted wisdom has been that if you want high performance headphone amplification, you must go with a dedicated headphone amplifier. Enter the new Rogue Audio RH-5 headphone amplifier/preamplifier. The RH-5 offers exceptional performance as a straight up headphone amp for its $2495 asking price. One of the best we’ve heard, and for difficult-to-drive headphones, there is nothing better anywhere near the price.

The RH-5 is also an excellent value as a 2 channel preamplifier. The RH5 offers 4 analog inputs (3x RCA and 1x XLR) with RCA and XLR outputs. A hybrid Tube/MOSFET preamp with remote control, an optional Phono Preamp board (MC/MM for $495), and a true reference level balanced headphone amplifier all in one box- very impressive!

For headphone enthusiasts the RH-5 offers a full complement of outputs: 2x 1/4” Stereo, 1x 4 pin XLR Balanced, and 2x 3 pin XLR balanced. With 3 selectable gain settings and the ability to drive over 3500 mW into a 32 Ohm load the RH-5 drives everything from IEM's to inefficient difficult-to-drive reference headphones. This is a true no-compromise headphone amp which drives the Abyss AB-1266 headphones as well as other amps we have tried that sell for three times the price.

Is the RH-5 a great full featured preamplifier with a reference headphone amplifier? Or is it a reference headphone amplifier with a great full featured preamplifier built in? We have come to the conclusion that it is both.

For more information check out this excellent review on CNET.

New Shunyata Research Power and Signal Cables Finally in the Library!

After some production delays we finally have received Cable Library samples of the new Shunyata Research power cords, interconnects, speaker cables and digital cables.

The new lineup is simplified with a four-tiers beginning with the well-known, high value Venom series, then the step up Delta line, which offers a taste of Shunyata’s Reference cables at a fraction of the price, the Alpha line, which adds Shunyata's Ztron technology, and the top of the line Sigma series incorporating all Shunyata technologies.

These new cables feature a host of new technologies and materials and are hand-built in Shunyata’s 18,000 square foot facility in Poulsbo, Washington. For the first time, Shunyata is also offering 50Ohm Clock Cables (Alpha and Sigma Series) designed specifically to connect a stand-alone word clock to a DAC.

Our initial listening results here show great promise and we encourage in-home evaluations for all series - all price ranges.

In addition to the new special offers in this Newsletter, visit our Specials Page
for ongoing special offers including:
Powerline filters and other powerline products from Audience, Furutech, and Synergistic Research.
Headphone and Component specials from Chord, DSPeaker, Rogers High Fidelity, System
Audio, and PS Audio.

Isolation platforms and footers from Fo.Q, Voodoo Cable, and Symposium Acoustics.
Cable specials from Shunyata Research, JPS Labs, MIT, Audience, DH Labs, Voodoo Cables, and Synergistic Research.

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To view these offers and more, take a look at the complete list of special offers on our SPECIALS PAGE.

You can view this newsletter on our website.
For additional information on these offers and frequent updates speak with your Cable Company consultant, or visit our websites with the links below.

Or call us Mon. - Fri. 10 - 6; Sat. 11 - 5 Eastern time on 800-328-9973 (or 215-862-4870).
Fax: 215-862-4871
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