Golden Tube SEP-1SE Preamplifiers

2.86/5 (7 Reviews) MSRP : $980.00


Product Description



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Reviews 1 - 5 (7 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by histo1 a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 8, 2005

Bottom Line:   
So the GTA SEP-1 is not an ARC LS2B and the parent company went belly up some time ago, but I think this unit has been unfairly trashed by past reviews. I bought this NOS on E-Bay and so far I've been really happy with it. I've found none of the problems encountered by other users.

I replaced the installed 6922 with a
goldpin Tesla and after attaching a PS Audio X-Stream XLR cable to the balanced
inputs on my AE-25 amp, the sound is wonderful: great soundstage, pinpoint focus of instruments with neutral and natural uncolored sound. When I switch the inputs to the Parasound monoblocks, the SEP-1 takes some of the harsh edges off the solid state sound.
(Because my tubed amp generates enough
heat to warm a room all by itself, I run
my ss amps during the summer.)

Anyway I wanted to set the record straight for those thinking of purchasing
a used SEP-1 that it's a great way to get a quality tubed preamp and not pay an outrageous price.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Price Paid:    $480.00

Purchased At:   E-Bay



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Paul Dunn a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: October 2, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I owned this product for two days, the dealer allowed me to take it home for a try. It was the first tube preamp I ever listened to, so at the time I was comparing it to the solid state preamps I owned and heard in the past. I was immediately taking by it's good looks and couldn't wait to play it. The sound I heard didn't exactly impress me but I didn't find the sound to be awful, it wasn't what I was looking for. I returned it to the dealer whom I purchased it from and he wasn't very happy either. Since then I have listened to other tube like ARC, Precision Fidelity, Conrad Johnson, and if you want my advice stay with companies like the above mentioned who have a proven track record.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $395.00



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tom a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: August 3, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I don't really understand the other reviews but I believe this preamp was designed to be a very neutral preamp achieved via a single stage design using a 6DJ8 and a pair of high quality coupling transformers. This design is very unusual. Based on direct comparison to several preamps, I believe this one is the most neutral, least colored. The Conrad Johnson in comparsion, had a fatter, bigger sound which made for great listening. The Golden tube had very good low level clarity, and a lack of coloration. Clearly, dynamics were less impressive than the Conrad.

My thoughts are this is a great choice for a purist thinking about a passive preamp. You get clarity and some gain. Go with something else if you want slam, or a big fat sound. (P.S. used a new old stock Amperex bugle boy)

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998



Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Tony Green a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: June 12, 2000

Bottom Line:   
This is a follow-up to my initial evaluation of this product, after several month's use.

Unfortunately, the SEP-1 preamp has not continued to please me, but has increasingly emerged as the weak-link in my audio chain. The build quality and parts list is fine, but after that the performance takes a nose-dive.

On mine there is an obvious channel inbalance on the CD input (only) which has become more and more apparent over time. The almost imperceptable balance control does nothing to correct this (the balance control is selectable to be in or out of circuit via a jumper on the PCB, and yes I do have it connected). I know of other owners who have reported channel balance problems with the volume pot.

There is also audible input crosstalk. If listening to a CD at normal listening levels the tuner and video must both be off, otherwise they can be heard faintly in the background.

Finally, the general quality of amplification sucks. It is non-linear and distorted. I also own a GTA SE-40 power amp which I bought at the same time as the preamp. One of the frequent criticisms of this amp is that it has rolled-off highs and soft or mushy bass. I believe that whilst this is true to a certain degree, the sound is made considerably worse by the presence of a SEP-1 preamp, which has exactly the same problems, but to a much worse degree.

I recently tried connecting my CD player directly into the SE-40 power amp via a passive line attenuator, which was there purely to act as a volume control. The improvement in sound from my system achieved by banishing the SEP-1 preamp was nothing short of astounding. Suddenly the bass which I have not heard since I replaced my old solid state gear was back, but with much greater resolution and punch than ever before. The highs were also more detailed (but not over bright) and the midrange "blossomed". Overall, the sound was suddenly "right".

In summary, the SE-40 poweramp is a better deal than many people realise, but it is often unfortunately partnered with this lemon of a preamp, which I am unfortunately forced to give at least 1 star, although it deserves 0. The fact that it costs over US$1,000 and is easily swept away by a home made line attenuator worth $25 speaks for itself.

Avoid this preamp - it is blown out of the water by almost anything else available.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998



Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Alan a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: May 19, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I bought this SEP-1 (upgraded to SE status after purchase)as a demo unit from a dealer and consider it a learning experience. In a nutshell, if you want a truly good preamplifier - keep looking! Sonic quality is poor... veiled and bland. Build quality is iffy. Product support is very poor. I sold this unit at a terrible loss - and let my SE-40 go as well as I wish to have nothing to do with Solo Electronics ever again. Even at a discounted used market price, this preamp is no bargain... and the low value of SE-40 amplifiers is an indication I might not be alone in my opinion.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1996




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