Blue Circle Audio BC103 Preamplifiers

5/5 (3 Reviews) MSRP : $3495.00


Product Description

  • Line-stage preamplifier
  • Dual mono Shallco
  • 3 line level inputs
  • 1 processor loop


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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tuner a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 11, 2006

Bottom Line:   
I noticed a recently flurry of reviews around the BC103 below that compare it to the BC3 Galatea and thought I would share my judgment of the two preamps as I have made the same comparison. I have over the years carefully selected equipment that I thought was the best at its price point and overall offered great musical enjoyment. My speakers are very good- Merlin VSM-SEs. They replaced equally good but different Quad EL 63s. I recently sold my Rowland integrated to focus on separates and now use Atma-Sphere M-60 OTL monoblocks together with the Merlins they create audio magic in a way that the Rowland and the Merlins together never quite did. My CD player is an Audio Aero Capital player that replaced the older Meridian 508.20 (I was going to upgrade to the 508.24 but the Audio Aero was so much better!) All wired together with Cardas and Harmonic Technology cables I feel I have a system that has the potential for a transcendent musical experience. However, I’ve been challenged in the past to find a really good preamp. With both speakers and amps in particular, there are so many good examples around that it is not hard to find exceptional fine caliber components and there are numerous choices in each area from which to choose. I have not had the same luck with preamps as they seem to be the link in the chain of stereo components where they are most prone to making the end product, the music, sound artificial. After all the amp and speakers and only reproduce what is fed to them in the first place. I tried going with a passive preamp for a while but I found that there was something missing in terms of musical expression and I also needed the gain for my monoblocks to sound there best. Finally I had a chance to listen to a Blue Circle preamp- the BC.3 Galatea. I loved it and it sounded like music and when I put it into my system, it all came together and the musical whole was greater than the sum of its stereo component parts. I thought that the BC3 Galatea would be my last preamp but I then upgraded to the fully balanced, solid state BC103 with fantastic results. The comparison to me sounds a lot like the difference between using an amp with output transformers and using one without. The BC3 sounded soft and mushy and a bit restricted in comparison although very expressive and warm. The BC103 lacks some of the warmth of the BC3 (which is likely artificial warmth anyway) and but has clarity and detail and finesse that makes the BC3 sound clucky. The first think that I noticed about the change with the rhythm was dramatically better. The BC103 reached down to the lowest octaves to reproduce detailed bass that I did not think was there. The mids were more open the soundstage opened up and you can hear with more clarity the voices and strings that make the music more complete. The treble had the same sparkle that the BC3 had but again with more detail and presence. There was also greater differences in the subtle tones within the treble that was not delineated previously. I definitely recommend the BC103 as an improvement over the BC3 Galatea and over almost any other preamp that I have heard in my system. While Atma-Sphere and Rowland specialize in amps and Merlin specializes in speakers, both building products that are among the best available for the money and their class, I think that Blue Circle has to be a manufacturer that specializes in preamps. They don’t make a bad one; each successive one that I hear sounds better and better. In doing so they are one of the very few companies- Emotive Audio and Hovland are perhaps the others – that get it right.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2005



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Sans Distortion a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: January 16, 2006

Bottom Line:   
Transparent, vivid, detailed, but not harsh or bright: just real. It's hard to put into words, but this preamp simply sounds natural and 'right'. Cliché or not, its addition to my system made the sound of my stereo disappear and left me with pure music.

I have (had) a complete YBA system with Spendor speakers and a Linn LP12 turntable. By changing the YBA preamp to the Blue Circle BC103, the sound completely opened up and came alive. I can hear what seems like twice as much detail in my recordings, yet the musical experience seems more real. I love listening to my stereo right after a live performance (mostly jazz and small ensemble classical) to compare how close it is to the live music. With the Blue Circle preamp, my stereo is finally at a place where the comparison comes very close.

It is not inexpensive (I’m fortunate in that I can write my stereo off as an expense), but the sound of this preamp really is transformative. Compared with the YBA 2 preamp that I had, there is no contest. Even compared with a much more expensive CJ CT-5 preamp - which sounded like fine audio - the Blue Circle let much more music come though.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2005

Purchased At:   Private



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Audioholic Anonymous a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: January 16, 2006

Bottom Line:   
I consider myself somewhat fortunate to have heard a wide range of audio components: a friend of mine works for a local high-end audio store and he often brings demo equipment home for the weekend to try out (some of these pieces have found there way into my system for a day or two). I was then quite surprised when my friend started purchasing Blue Circle equipment even though his store does not carry it and he has to buy it retail. His current preamp is a BC 3000 MKII and after hearing it (with BC -8 monoblocks) I thought that audio simply just does not get any better than this.

Recently, he brought home a less expensive BC103 preamp to compare against the BC 3000. To my surprise, in most areas of the audible range and when used in balanced configuration with the BC8 amps and my Simaudio Moon W-5, the BC103 bettered the highly acclaimed BC3000.

I recently purchased the same preamp for myself and the following is a more detailed review of its performance:

The sound of the BC103 in my system brought out layers of detail that were hinted at by other preamps but previously I could not fully hear them. Inner detail in particular was enhanced, and increasingly I could hear more clearly little inflections in a singer’s voice or when they would stop to take a breath. Bass improved substantially –especially over my Copland CTA 305- where the BC103 articulated details from the very bottom of the musical spectrum and increased the overall authority of the sound- particularly though the rhythm. Musical textures were also enhanced so a clarinet had a distinctive “woody” sound and a trombone had a “brassy” texture. If you love piano, this preamp does an amazing job at rendering the percussive and rhythmic aspects of piano recordings leaving others to sound muddy by comparison.

Compared to the BC3000 the sound field was more forward, however the width of the sound stage presented in more complete continuum of sounds in a line that went from speaker to speaker

Overall, the BC103 completely transformed my system. It takes a bit more patience to use it with its separate volume and selector controls and its style tends to be controversial but the sound is at one of highest levels of musicality and resolution that I have heard. Blue Circle equipment, in general, is extraordinary. This preamp is exceptional!

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2005

Price Paid:    $2900.00

Purchased At:   Private




Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

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