Sometimes I approach new product prototypes with the highest of expectations; other times with a bit of trepidation. And then there are moments when I cross my fingers and hope nothing in the system blows up from the Frankenstein collection of wires, clips, particle board contraptions, and unsightly sprawl of parts that make music. Yesterday was different. For nearly a year, chief engineer Bob Stadtherr and our analog guru, Bascom H. King (BHK), have been conspiring on a new preamplifier of Bascom's design. It has been no small project for either of them. More complicated than the BHK amplifier, its multiple systems include a vacuum tube gain stage, MOSFET output stage, MOSFET headphone amplifier, a completely new hybrid stepped attenuator, optically coupled servo systems, haptic feedback stepper motor, many balanced and unbalanced inputs, and more power supply regulators than there seems room to fit. Make no mistake, this is a massive undertaking. Our goals and expectations are no less grandiose than its design. We intend a cost-no-object redefinition of what is possible in the art of preamplification; a fitting match to what many are calling the best power amplifier in the world. For the past several months Arnie Nudell and BHK have been rolling more tubes than Tootsie, in search of a magical pair. Through these many months I have stayed out of the listening room, involving myself only with the occasional design or aesthetic advice, waiting in eager anticipation of hearing a product close to its completion. And though the world at large will not be able to own a BHK preamp before the middle of next year, those who attend October's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest will be treated to a rather extraordinary experience. I reluctantly turned off the lights and left the new BHK preamplifier and Music Room One late last night for fear I would be sleeping on the couch. I am sure you have had similar experiences. Your expectations are high and you know what you are listening to hasn't yet broken in; it's too new to sound any good, but what the hell, let's see what its flavor is - and then you cannot leave - track after track after track, and then you should go home, but you cannot break that magical moment. Just one more, and like a drug, it's never enough. Ooh, ooh, as I recall a track I hadn't heard in months. And I get up to leave but then remember yet another, and I am transfixed again. Damn! I had forgotten how low the IRSV can go. I've heard this track a hundred times, but never like this. Wait! What about the Perlman violin piece? It's as if a transparent sheet that muffled and constricted the music had been pulled off. Perhaps just one more… I have to prepare my former reference for sale.
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
- Opens in a new window.