Spectral DMC 20 Series 2 Preamplifiers

5/5 (5 Reviews) MSRP : $7195.00


Product Description



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Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mike Pulizzi a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 10, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I put this review for the DMC30 as here as there is no other place to put it.

I ordered this unit used from Goodwins (great guys to work with!). As it had been on their consignment rack for a few months, it took a few days for the thing to break back in. During the (re)break-in it went from sounding great to sounding awful every half hour or so. On the fourth day it (literaly!) snapped into focus and stayed there.

The sound stage is very wide with instruments clearly delineated beyond the lateral bounderies of the speakers. The image cast is from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. The depth seems less than the Levinson 380s but I think it is because the ear is distracted by the enourmous image width!

Compared to the Levinson 380s(as they sound very similar, all comments apply to the Bryston BP25 too) the DMC30's dynamic contrasts are much more interesting, with explosive macro-dynamics and very delicate micro-dynamics.

As regards tonal color, the Levinson/Bryston had a slightly warmer, but recessed, mid-range. Voices through the Spectral are even with the plane of the speakers rather than two feet behind them. The upper-mids to highs on the Levinson had a slightly dark flavor but the Spectrals flavor is best described as "outdoors in fresh air". Versus the Rogue pre, the Spectral was much quieter and more neutral. For my taste, the Rogue was quickly eliminated on the basis of its coloration and relative noise. Your milage may vary.

The Spectral really shows its stuff when the music gets complex and loud; it resolves everything with total ease and aplomb. The drums were explosive on Dave Brubecks live "Take Five" with the tonality of the various drums and cymbols clearly expressed. The sounds of the skin and drum materials were clearly heard. In fact, every instrument had a distinct personality and its own position in the accustic. This is the sort of thing that one normally goes to tubes to get.

I do believe that this is one of the very best solid state preamps available. And at the used price it is unbeatable. Is it the best preamp ever? No, the Boulder for one is superior ($16000 to $20000 dollars), and the very best tube preamps can beat its dynamics, tonality and image quality(if not its quietness and freedom from distortion)( perhaps the CAT or the Lamm, or the Atmo-sphere for instance). But only the best need apply; the average tube pre doesn't even come close.

The best sound was achieved balanced with Empirical Audio cables; the JPS cables ran a very close second. Nordost was not well-balanced with this system.

Test system:
Pre: Spectral, Bryston, Levinson, Rogue
Power: Spectron Musician II, Bryston 4BSST
Speaker: Newform Research 645
Source: Levinson 390s cd player
Cable: MIT,JPS,Empirical Audio, Goertz, Nordost
Power conditioning: Exact Power

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $3400.00

Purchased At:   Goodwins Hi-Fi



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by knut-weber a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 17, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I write about the first model, and there is nothing much to write about. I use a Wadia 860x cd-player, which recommends using the internal fully digital pre-amplifier to drive the power amps directly. And most of the tests you can read say the same. But as I have my Stax Omega II headphone on the tape-out and the amps on the line out (so I don´t have to switch or plug them off for listening with the headphone) I use this pre-amp. And there is no sonic difference at all. My brother has a high end repair service station and measured th unit. All the values were beyond the limits of commercial measuring units, like oscilloscopes, distortion meters, ...
It is nice to know that the high performance of this unit is not due to some kind of voodoo, but outstanding physical and engineering knowledge using the best parts for every goal.
I have no phono stage, but the balanced in and outputs. As the phono section is said to be as outstanding good as the rest of the amp - there should be no doubt about it.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   Pre 1995

Price Paid:    $3000.00

Purchased At:   second hand



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

Date Reviewed: October 19, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I am a little taken a shock when I switched back to a solid state preamp, afterall, my previous 3 preamps were all tube. I like the texture of the tube preamp. With most solid state, the music is lifeless, grainy, and cold.

The Spectral is one of the more tube-like preamp. I thought the music sounded a bit white-washed, but it is quite flavor-less, and I thought it lacked a bit of 'musicality' compared to VK5. However, after messing with the control, I found that there was a switch 'DC Protection', that improved the sound if I left the protection circuit off. Of course, this was not the right way, but my power amp could block DC, so I kept this mode.

Once the DC Protection had been removed, the sound became more alive, more real, more flesh-out. I am now totally happy with the unit.

One thing, though, even the build-in phono stage is of a reasonable quality, I find it is not comparable to the Tom Evans Groove. Before Tom Evans, I had the Vendetta, and comparing it from my memory, I would said the Spectral is equal or better than the Vendetta.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $7200.00



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

Date Reviewed: June 12, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I have been using the DMC-20 Series 2 since its release which I believe was in 1995. This unit has performed flawlessly and reliably for the five years I have been using it. As with other Spectral products, the DMC-20 imparts no "sound" of its own. It is best described as neutral. I use this preamplifier within the context of an all Spectral, MIT and Avalon system. This system is capable of playing at extreme levels with little sign of strain. I believe the DMC-20 Series 2 plays a major role in that kind of performance for this unit seems to be accurate in its reproduction and, coupled with the other components, produces a very low noise floor. For vinyl enthusiasts, the DMC-20 sports a phono module (optional) that may be the finest of its kind. The DMC-20 has 5 inputs on RCA jacks, one balanced input (optional), tape input and output, two main outputs on RCA jacks and one balanced output. The neat feature about the two unbalanced outputs is that you can run two amplifiers at the same time, as I am doing to power my subwoofer (for home theater use of course). Regardless, there are enough inputs and outputs to satisfy most listeners. Comparisons with the other Spectral preamplifiers indicates that Spectral has been advancing their preamplifier designs. However, I do caution potential buyers to carefully audition the DMC-12 for the performance of that unit may come within striking distance of the DMC-20 Series 2. In other words, given the right system, there may be little to distinguish the "sound" of the two preamplifiers. The 12 sells for half the price of the 20 (around $3,200) which makes it an undeniable bargain. Bottom line is that you can't go wrong with either preamplifier. Both are strong and reliable performers. I haven't had the opportunity to really listen to the DMC-30 preamplifier. However, the DMC-30 lacks the features I like about the 20 which are the outputs to drive two amplifiers, state-of-the-art phono stage, and possible superior specs given the 20s separate chassis for the power supply. However, the 30 does offer a remote control which may appeal to some listeners. The DMC-20 Series 2 preamplifier is a reliable, well-built, state-of-the-art preamplifier design which is highly musical that helps to draw you into the music and the movies. I have no desire to trade my DMC-20 for any other preamplifier.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1995



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tasos Kotsikonas a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: November 12, 1999

Bottom Line:   
At the time of this writing there were no other reviews
of this preamp on this web site. I know why: there is
nothing to say about a component that does not distort
the input in any audible way.

I would simply characterize it as the Crown Jewel of
preamps. Flawless.

In my system it's paired with the DMA-150 and Martin
Logan SL-3 speakers.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998




Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

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