ACOUSTAT RP-2 “reference” pre-amp Preamplifiers

ACOUSTAT RP-2 “reference” pre-amp Preamplifiers 


A collaborative design effort by Jim Strickland with the phono section designed by Frank Van Alstine.

The RP-2 pre-amp offers true dual mono configuration complete with dual isolated power supplies for each channel.

Three “hi-level” inputs. Two tape inputs including monitor. Three turntable inputs including an M/C head unit input with chassis ground at rear. Dual pre-amp outputs to support bi-amplification. Electronic -17 db “feathr touch” muting with LED indicator.


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[May 06, 2008]
Audio Enthusiast


Incredible tube like sound quality with bombproof solid state reliability all in a very well constructed; rack mountable component.

Lot’s of flexibility with the inputs and outputs and a very solid power supply.

Excellent with CD’s and Phono; a real performer all the way around.

An excellent unit.


Aesthetics are somewhat challenged. No power off switch. For some the lack of tone controls is perceived as a negative although that is what I most like about it. Just pure direct sound.

Very rare and hard to find.

The Acoustat RP-2 Reference pre-amplifier is easily one of the best kept secrets in Vintage Audio. While designer Jim Strickland was best known for his legendary Acoustat ESL Speaker line; his work with other solid state components of the era was equally as impressive in spite of being lesser known.

In designing the RP-2 Reference pre-amplifier; Strickland intentionally set out to develop a solid state pre-amplifier that was sonically every bit as good as the reference standard tube components of the day. To do this Strickland was aware that the biggest advantage of tube pre-amps was the fact that tubes; as a high voltage device; in turn require a high voltage power supply. Strickland noted that the energy stability of high voltage power supplies is very good and allows the tubes to exhibit good dynamic range and a transparent and audible naturalness that was typically not noted in most lower voltage IC regulated solid state pre-amplifiers of the day. With lower voltage came less energy stability.

Understanding the importance of a high voltage power supply Strickland engineered 96,000 mfd into the RP-2; that is virtually 10% of a full farad of energy storage! Combined with eight separate stages of shunt regulation there are separate high energy, low impedance, ultra low noise, isolated and decoupled DC supplies for each section of each channel. This creates a situation where each section is essentially a true independent mono pre-amplifier with its own isolated power supply.

Aside from a massive power supply; Strickland also employed the use of 1% tolerance metal film resistors, and used only five active devices per channel to minimize distortion. The MC Phono section used composite transistors and the entire pre-amp is completely DC centerline stable to deal with inconsistent power line fluctuations. In fact even with the power cord disconnected the pre-amp has enough energy storage to run for an additional 10 seconds to avoid signal breakage.

In summary the RP-2 is an incredibly well engineered component and boasts a power supply even to this day that is seldom equaled. The sound quality is equally as impressive; and as Strickland intended; it is very tube sounding with none of the mechanical sounding by-product common to conventional solid state components. Aside form the excellent mc phono section; the RP-2 is exceptionally smooth on CD’s and nicely rolls off the top end in a way that usually can only be done with a $1K + hi-end CD Players. With three “hi-level” inputs; tape and phono sections not to mention dual pre-amp outputs the RP-2 is a very versatile and flexible pre-amp. Given it’s original $ 1500 prohibitive cost; although rare today they can be an audiophile bargain.

As one Audigon member said it best “the Acoustat RP-2 is just about as good as they get. PreAmp designed by James Strickland and the Phono sections designed by Frank Van Alstine. Rugged build quality and the sonics are fabulous.. these excell at CD playback,taking the grainy edge off the CD sound. Have owned more PreAmps than I care to remember.The Acoustat represent a true bargain in high end pre amps. You can spend a great deal more,but doubt that you will find a better preamp under a grand.”

A vintage audiophile best buy; if you can find one.

Customer Service

The company is long since out of operations.

Similar Products Used:

Too many to mention over the years; it is hard to keep track !

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