Reference Line Preeminence Two Preamplifiers

5/5 (5 Reviews) MSRP : $1995.00


Product Description

Passive preamplifier


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Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

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

Date Reviewed: May 9, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Another point of view...

Did you ever wonder why anyone would pay hundreds or thousands more for an active preamp when there are outstanding choices in audiophile-grade stepped attenuators available for $500 and less?

The answer is that *in many systems* an active preamp "opens up" the sound in ways that passive devices simply cannot. The differences can be as startling, musical and engaging as going from a relatively low-quality active pre to a high-quality passive device such as this, particularly with regards to lower-level dynamics.

I recently purchased a used Audio Research LS-7, a common and modestly priced tubed preamp, that had been upgraded with Wonder caps ("Infinicaps"). It completely blew away the EVS 24-step stepped attenuators AND the Melos SHA-3 tube hybrid preamp that I had previously used in our main system.

With the active ARC pre, everything opened up, and I heard a liveliness and vitality to the music that hadn't been there before. I expected only modest improvement at best, but I was stunned by how much better the active preamp sounded.

In "theory," no active preamp can beat a high-quality stepped attenuator for clarity, purity and transparency. However, in my experience, these qualities can ONLY to be revealed at the highest listening levels (half-way to full). As increasing resistor values are placed in line, the music becomes less dynamic, more constricted and frankly rather disappointing.

I'm certainly not saying anything against the Preeminence. I'm looking to buy one in the near future to add to my playback options. However, I seriously doubt that it will bump my ARC LS-7 anytime soon. In fact, I would like to move the LS-7 into my second system and get a more versatile (and more expensive, of course) ARC tube preamp for our main system, preferably one with bal/se input/output options and a useful remote control.

Just listen and trust your ears. Don't make up your mind based solely on the apparent logic of passive attenuators. Both active and passive preamps have strengths and weaknesses, and both can be wonderful with certain recordings, depending on the rest of your system.

Certainly the Reference Line is a bargain at current used prices.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Purchased At:   used



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

Date Reviewed: December 4, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Everything stated in earlier reviews is correct. Sound is excellent. Soundstaging, instrument placement, and clarity are very good.

I have paired mine with the Reference Line One Silver Signature amp and it is a very good match. The pair surpass anything I have heard to date.

Service provided by current owner of this company is top notch. Standard this unit comes with only one set of preamp outs. Company added second set of preamp outs for a good price and in a timely fashion.

This was a very well reviewed preamp in Stereophile Mag (June 1997?) and also rated as a Class A preamp. Great value at current used price ... if you can find one. Considering this was originally a $1995 preamp at $400 it is excellent value.

The Reference Line preamp and amp are keepers in my system and will not be replaced.

Note for a cheaper close sounding alternative with only one line in and one pre out get a hold of a Luminous Audio Axiom attenuator. I have to listen really closely to tell much of a difference in my system. The Axiom goes for about $120 new.

Enjoy!!

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $400.00

Purchased At:   audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by K.V.S. a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I've always felt that if your running primarily CD source (and LP's with a high output stage),that this HAS to be the cleanest way to go overall.

It just seems logical that the less wiring, tubes, transistors, capacitors, etc. between you and the source, the better, IMO.

I've compared my share of pre-amps (in addition to those listed) but NONE has matched the shear transparency and "see through" quality of this amazing passive pre amp.

Of course you have to have a source with enough gain, but usually anything that qualifies as "high end" will have a beefy power supply w/tons of gain. Again, unless you can afford the very best (ie. most expensive) pre amp out there, this is the best (AND cheapest)way to get to sonic nirvana.

Remember--the best ANY pre amp can do is leave the signal unfettered, and just pass it through. Unfortunately, when you start boosting the signal, and making the circuit path more complex,it HAS to damage the sound in some way, yes?

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999



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

Date Reviewed: November 15, 1999

Bottom Line:   
I just bought the unit used after chating with Keith Louie. What's more to say? It's one of the best sound pre amp that I ever own that included brand names like Audio Reserch, Threshold & Mark Levinson. I did several comparision tests with my ARC pre amp. I could not believe what I had been missing. It is the most transparent, detail and clarity pre amp that I've ever heard. There is no tube to change, never have to warm up, no need for special power cord or power line conditioner, and there is almost nothing to break down. If you can find one used for $300-$400, buy it, and you will not regret. If you have Electrostatic or Planar speakers, you have not heard the best sound from your speakers yet. It's not a perfect pre amp, but there is no perfect one out there.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997



Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Keith Louie a an Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 23, 1999

Bottom Line:   
This is an absolutely superb unit, provided that all your other components are compatible with a passive device. I have compared it to the Stereophile "Class A" conrad johnson PF-R, Threshold T3, Aragon Aurum, and Pass Aleph L. None can even come close to the sheer transparency, sound stage, detail, and realism of this unit. Totally uncolored and revealing. With its "Direct" input, I can't imagine anything else rivaling the "see-through" nature of this component. Some active devices might add some "slam", but none of the ones I've auditioned can deliver the Reference Line's transparency or overall realism.
Ergonomically limited, though. No remote, and if you're using the "Direct" mode, you can't play other sources unless the direct source can be shut off completely. Requires a source with high enough output to work.

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Duration Product Used:   an Audio Enthusiast




Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

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