I know, I know. Why am I writing about a product not available for another six months? It's like asking myself why I am excited about a vacation next year. It's just on my mind and I am struggling to figure out what is so different about the prototype BHK preamplifier.
This bewitching box is so revealing, rich and full of life that anything else I have tried sounds wrong. Arnie and Bascom had warned me, but I thought perhaps they were exaggerating. When I play a track like Le Temps Passe, by Jonasz Michel, the sound just explodes onto the IRSV, the thunderous pluck of bass, the live audience is really, really live. And when I return to the reference preamp, it's good - as good and expressive as it's ever been - but it seems not on the same planet. But why? What specifically are the differences and how do I express them?
Last night I discovered something extraordinary that helps me get closer to the answer. On any given week I am asked to listen to new production to make sure we're still building equipment that lives up to our standards. I had been given a NuWave DSD, fresh off the production floor. My comparison is to Directstream. Of course we don't expect our entry level DAC to sound as good, but in the past the two are at least in respectable company; the differences obvious, but not embarrassingly so. Yesterday this was no longer true. I panicked. The chasm between the NuWave DSD and Directstream was suddenly the size of the Grand Canyon. This had never happened and I ran for the reference - in case production would have to be recalled - for surely there was something wrong. The reference sounded no different.
I don't fully understand this preamplifier, but I am getting closer. It's as if I once listened through oatmeal, and now the haze has lifted, and I can see the distant horizon. Life shall never be the same.