Anthem Pre 1L Preamplifiers

Pre 1L

User Reviews (16)

Showing 1-10 of 16  
danobivins   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 16, 2014]

Folks, a little heads up.
Note the reviewer named 300ZX_twinturbo, who is giving a stunningly negative review of the Anthem pre1L. Then look at the next incomprehensibly negative review, made by an ostensibly different reviewer...on the exact same date.
Obviously, this is the same reviewer, using two different names. Disregard this nonsense.
It's probably someone who made an unreasonable demand of Anthem for replacement or repair, was turned down, and took internet-revenge.
I own the Anthem pre-1l, I'm an audio enthusiast of 35 yrs., and this pre-amp sounds wonderful. My electronic engineering background affords me the knowledge of circuit design to determine that the design of the preamp is top notch.
My only suggestion would be to replace the original coupling caps with newer, more expensive types. But if you don't care to, no worry, the amp sounds great anyway. In my opinion, there's no need to roll tubes, if the originals are in good shape, use them. They also sound great.
If you find this preamp for under $500, buy it. You won't be disappointed.
Associated equipment: Peterson-Klaus mosfet 120 power amp, Fulton musical Industries floorstanding loudspeakers, anthem CD player.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
300ZX_twinturbo   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 12, 2011]

I owned this unit for less than one month as I just could not stand to look at it any longer, and took a loss punting it out of my house.

Considering it was made by former SF people I am surprised what a POS this thing was. The build quality looked good, and it does have a pretty face, but beneath that silky exterior resides a brittle and misguided mutant.

The sound stage is just plain weird, not realistic and simply just so very wrong. The sound is grating and sibilant not unlike someone driving a newly sharpened pencil into the ear cavity. I tried a half-dozen tube brands an none sounded right. I even connected it to 2 different amps to no avail.

The best day I had in a long time was when I took it to the post office and sent it down the road.

...AVOID AT ALL COST!

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
M. Fri   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 12, 2011]

This is a very nice looking pre and built quite well for the price, which is puzzling as it's nearly....correction.. it IS the worst sounding unit in it's price range that I have ever owned.

I tried several brands of tube in it, and none made it acceptable. Poor soundstage, grainy, and shrill. Not unlike someone shooting razor blades into your ear canal. The soundstage as well seemed very odd indeed, sort of misplaced and unrealistic.

Considering it's from the people that made Sonic Frontiers, it's baffling why this one is such a P.O.S.

I had it for a month and couldn't stand it in my house any longer so I sold it at a loss. What a shame, such a pretty face but a disastrous sonic character.

I could not recommend this to anyone.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
Henry Strong   AudioPhile [Dec 31, 2003]
Strength:

Neutral for a valve preamp. Not too coloured. Good, realistic soundstage. I have heard worse for MUCH, MUCH more money. Looks good in the rack. High WAF.

Weakness:

Stock vavles are not that good in the bass department I recommend Mullard NOS replacements if you can source 'em.

I bought my PRE1L a while ago second-hand for NZ$500 (about US$350). It has NOS Mullard tubes in now and it sounds amazing! Previous equipment in my system has mostly been NAD and Rotel integrated stuff. I'm running the Anthem into a homemade (300wpc)Mosfet amp loaded with a pair of Image 414 (VERY GOOD NZ made 2 & 1/2way towers). My current CDP is NAD C541i and this in combination with the PRE1L is an excellent match. The Anthem PRE1L is a true giant killer and well worth a listen if you don't want to spend stoopid money on a valve preamp and don't need a phono input.

Similar Products Used: NAD 306, C350 Rotel RA01 Fountain GEMSTAR 8-8 (old 1960s NZ made tube integrated) Current system: NAD C541i Anthem PRE1L Custom Made Mosfet POwer Amplifier (300wpc) Image 414 Speakers Custom made interconnects: triple shielded OFC/silver solder/WBT & Neutrik plugs.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
  an Audiophile [Apr 08, 1999]

Actually I have the Anthem Pre2L. The break-in period is about 100hrs as supposed to 70hrs as stated in the manual. When I first hooked it up, it sounded really good and was a real step up from the Adcom it replaced. I left it on for about 5 hours and turned it off over night, the next day when I turned it back on the bass had all but gone and it sounded very open in the top end but with a shrill or high octave harshness to it, I could not stand the sound for very long and was starting to wonder. I even changed power cords and interconnects to try to tweak it, but the truth is, is that it just was not broken in yet. The bass slowly returned, but seem to roll off on some CD's and was not really deep or powerful. The mids and highs remained top notch all the time and the harshness went away after about the 70hr mark. I decided to put the original power cord back on and not change anything else until it was really burned in so I left it on playing for 48 more hrs non stop, I even blew a fuse in my CD player! But now the sound is glorious the mids are perfect with a slight bit of warmth, (it sounds real) the highs are detailed but not in your face cymbals take on a rhythm of their own that has never happened before and the bass is deep and full with and musical transiant sounds on deep organs or bass stands out like they with authority. One more thing that makes this a great Pre-amp is how dynamic it is, with my last Pre-amp when I turned the volume up everything was evenly loud soft passages and all. Now just like the real event every instrument has its own volume and place in front of you. Well worth the money. Note: it was compared to the AR LS8 and the CJ PV10 and I like the Anthem with the AR a close second but the Anthem wins because it is so HT friendly, it has a through-put for AV gear!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Mike   an Audio Enthusiast [Jan 30, 1998]

Associated Equipment:Rotel RB980BX(power amp)
Audio Alchemy DDSIII(transport)
Audio Alchemy UltraDac w/ PS3
Illuminati D-60(digital cable)
Bozak Premier Model III(loudspeakers)
Kimber Kable PBJ(interconnects)
Straightwire Flex4(bi-wired)
Standesign Modular Rack(five shelves)
AudioPrism CD Blacklight

Other preamps auditioned: BAT VK-5, Counterpoint SA-2000, Rotel RC970BXII, Sonic Frontiers Anthem Pre-1(quite different from the Pre-1L. The Pre-1 has a phono stage, outboard power supply, no headphone jack, six tubes instead of four and parts quality is somewhat inferior.)

Back in September my amplification consisted of the Rotel RB980BX and the RC970BXII as my pre. While this is a respectable budget combo, I noticed several problems creeping through during my listening sessions. The upper highs were harsh and grainy, especially on MoFi's Dark Side of the Moon during Gilmour's "system wrecking" guitar solo on "Time." Midrange was a little thin, as heard in Dire Strait's "Telegraph Road;" Knopfler's voice sounded like he had plugs up his nose. Noise floor was bright with hiss, limiting dynamics and soundstage on Steely Dan's "Black Friday." Low level detail was also lacking, only hearing smidgeons of detail on Floyd's Final Cut and instruments in "Doctor Wu" seemed mashed together in mud soup. At this point, however, I had not a full understanding of how a preamp could dramatically improve sound so I attributed most of these problems to my amp.

With the high end upgrade bug in full geer, I decided to check out some new preamps. Wanting to hear the best, I went to The Audible Difference in Simsbury, CT. to hear a true reference system and Ted did not disappoint. After hearing an incredible, cost-no-object Lamm/Thor system, Ted took us back down to earth with a Pass/BAT combo. Everything reviewers say about these components is true: detailed, dark, musical, neutral and exciting just begin to describe their sound. Unfortunately, at $3995 the BAT VK-5 is way out of my price range(do I really need my car? I asked myself).

After some more in store listening at other high end retailers, it came down to a showdown between the hybrid Counterpoint SA-2000 and the Anthem Pre-1 at home. I will not waste much time describing the Counterpoint: noise floor was bright and loud, dynamics were constricted, tone was colored (not in a tube way, more like the Rotel), bass was loose and unfocused. While David Glimour shredded on his guitar, the Counterpoint shredded my ears. "Turn it down," my friend cried. I will admit that in the store the Counterpoint had sounded pretty good hooked up to a Linn cd player, a Counterpoint tube amp and a pair of huge Energy's. Perhaps this was a major mismatch with the solid state Rotel amp, I cannot be sure.

With the Anthem Pre-1 ($1500), my system underwent a major transformation, giving me a glimpse of audiophile heaven I had heard over at Ted's. This preamp man-handled the solo on "Time," smoothing out the highs ("Turn it up!") without any of that tube roll-off. The soundstage on "Doctor Wu" seemed to expand beyond the confines of my room, bringing out amazing instrument placement and tons of subtle detail I had never heard before (this is not always good to recordings. In "Doctor Wu" you can hear some weird anomoly at the beginning of the track that sounds like a tape coming up to speed. The Anthem let me hear that but also realize that this anomoly continues throughout the rest of the song!) Knopfler's voice in "Telegraph Road" rang true and the piano at the end blazed like the lightning it is amist the thunderous dynamics of the storm. My speakers vanished during "Shady Grove" and when I closed my eyes I felt as if Garcia and Grisman had just pulled up a couple of stools in my room.

I ended up with the Pre-1L ($995) since I have no need of a phono stage and would much rather have a headphone jack instead(this headphone jack was no afterthought:a quiet and neutral hybrid design). I also noticed a slightly improved tonal accuracy, greater soundstage depth and a lower noise floor over the Pre-1.

Some features of the Pre-1L:
adjustable gain selector (8,12,24db)
4 line level inputs, tape loop
two main output jacks
headphone stage
mute button
mono button
two Sovtek 6922's per channel
Kimber wiring, MIT Multicap capacitors

Notes: After having my Pre-1L for four months now, I have two problems to report. First, and they do tell you this in an insert in the packaging, you cannot use unsheilded cables between an amp and the Anthem. When the preamp is turned off and the amp left on, the Kimber PBJ's become an RF antenna, sending a buzz to my speakers. This buzz is not there when the preamp is turned on. I guess this has something to do with the way the grounded the Pre-1L. I am on the lookout for some good sheilded interconnects, but as long as I turn on and off my equipment in the proper order I never hear it. The second item is a bit more serious and involved my preamp being sent back to Sonic Frontiers for warranty repair(5yr. warranty) and not having it for almost a month. I have been told by the tech. reps at Sonic Frontiers that the problem was minor, my preamp needed a 3/4A fuse but had a 1/2A fuse.

While the Anthem Pre-1L can't go toe to toe with the BAT VK-5, it does give you a hell of alot more of that sound than you have any right to expect at that price point. Given the Anthem's value, ease of use(for a novice tubesman like myself), and stunning sound quality I give the Pre-1L five stars in my system, four stars in the real world.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Michael Di Panfilo   an Audio Enthusiast [Mar 23, 1998]

This preamp is downright excellent. I heard no faults with it whem paird with the Aragon 8002. this preamp is fast, clear, open, and most of all very neutral. It offers an open window to the source, no real bad colourations and that is one of the best things to be said about a preamp. At $1200 Canadian it is a steal, 5 stars +!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Steve Ranta   an Audio Enthusiast [May 25, 1998]

I listened to a lot of integrated amps, and had a very difficult time getting a combination of warmth, detail, and bass response. My favourites, the Nait 3, Anthem Integrated, and Copland CS 14 each had one of the factors missing.
I finally found the combination of the Anthem Pre 1 and Amp 1. It has quite a bit of detail, while filling the room with marvellous sound. Things like Lester Young's saxophone tone and the reverbration on anything from small classical voice ensembles to surf instrumentals are outstanding. There is also plenty of bass.

It doesn't quite get the slightly raspy string sound I sometimes like to hear on symphonic works, but I think that's probably something you have to learn to live with if you want the benefits of tube amps.

This combination definitely makes you want to listen to music.







OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Harry Tan   an Audio Enthusiast [Nov 20, 1998]

Just got the Anthem Pre 1L for about 2 months. The one thing that struck me about it was its detailed sound (akin to solid state ?), plus the warm tube midrange and airy highs that I sought and expected from a good tubed preamp.
I had it paired up with a Bryston 3B-ST and the combo did not seem to hurt it at all. As mentioned above, the sound is just what I want, detailed and warm. Playing around with tubes (from 6DJ8 to 6922 to 7308), I found out that 7308 tubes yielded the best sonics from it (thanks to Kevin Deal from Upscale Audio). The bass department was not lacking at all, probably due to the Bryston's contribution. All in all, the overall musical presentation is very enjoyable and, yes, I do love the sound.

For what its worth, Sonic Frontier really did a very good job with the Pre 1L (allows headphone usage, hall of fame parts used throughout - the volume pot is really nice, being able to adjust it without having to fear that the next step would be too loud etc). Even the box which came with the unit was stocked full of goodies, like gloves (for handling tubes), screw-driver (for opening the cover), a book on tubes etc.

I give it 5 stars for value and performance and would really recommend anyone looking to go into tube preamp (from solid state) to give it a shot.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Fred   an Audiophile [Jun 17, 1999]

Great detail and all of the good benefits of tubes less any of the bad ones. Great bass, mids and highs and an ability to effortlessly play fast paced music.The Pre1L will do a very impressive job ,especially if there are no weak links in a system. With a Bryston 3bST , an Alpha 24/96 dac and a Delta transport all connected with serious MIT cable ,plus good isolation ,dedicated lines ,and a serious plc ,my long term and painstaking efforts have finally paid off .Here's to a great preamp ,and here's to great sound!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 16  

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