As a vegetarian for most of my adult life I don’t eat meat, fish or crow. Because I promised all of you I would eat crow if I was wrong about putting a preamp in the system, let me back off and simply use another metaphor I can live with: swallowing my pride. That’s friendly to my values and slides down a bit easier than roasted crow.
Consider it swallowed.
Before I offer you the inevitable caveats to being wrong let me reveal to you just what it is I am listening to. I think this product deserves a great deal of credit and recognition.
The preamp I now have in the main system in Music Room One is a tube based product: the Aesthetix Calypso. Aesthetix is a California based company with products designed by Jim White, clearly an artisan. I don’t know Jim, have never spoken with him and we’ve communicated only via email. I think he deserves a round of applause. The company is much like we strive to be: artisans building authentic products that serve the music: the real deal.
There is much work to be done on our part. I suspect the Calypso is but one of a few preamplifiers that would make me reconsider my stance on being between the DAC and the amp. I also suspect this is not restricted to just tubes. But I don’t know. And I don’t know why. What I do know is it’s amazing what it has done for the system.
One of my all time favorite discs is one that HP recommended how many years ago? Harry Belafonte live at Carnegie hall. Harry waxed effusively about hearing the hall, the size of it – of being there with the audience. The last track being the best to demonstrate this. I have listened to this disc many times on both the older Magneplanar based system and now the Infinity IRS set. It’s always been great with lots of depth. But I have never felt I heard what HP described so long ago. With the Calypso between the PWD and the PWA I am there. I am actually in the hall. The size of the hall and the palpability of the elements within that hall are now real. Rounded. Three dimensional. Right. Human. Authentic.
It makes no sense whatsoever. But I intend to get to the bottom of this.
Does this mean all preamps are better than no preamp in a system of this resolving power? No. Not even close. Most I have tried, including our own, remove the magic of the DAC feeding the amp alone. What I can say is that this preamp, in this system, brings a magic to the music I have been searching for. Can it be duplicated by other means? How else might we get there? I haven’t any clue.
For now I am just listening, learning and enjoying. And doing a lot of swallowing.