Audible Illusions Modulus 3a Preamplifiers

Modulus 3a

High-end Single ended tube Preamplifier with Phono Stage.

User Reviews (41)

Showing 1-10 of 41  
mannypr55   AudioPhile [Nov 05, 2012]

I am taking the time to write this review in order to inform all those out there who are in the process of building a High End audio system at a moderate price level . First my credentials are from someone who has been in audio for about 30 years and believe me when I say I have heard it mostly all . I have had in electronics from dynacos mark VI amplifiers to brystons , belles, counterpoint , quicksilver and a host of other equipments .
After having gone threw bad times in which I had to sell of my system , after some years I was in the position to start all over again building a new system . Even though I have learn that everything in the audio chain is important , the closer it is to the source the more important , the source being the most critical . After looking around I got my hands on a almost perfect condition Audible Illusions Preamp Modulus 3A with the gold phono board for 1,100 dollars . Without having to use hyperbole , the Audible Illusions , lets just say is one of the best and musical preamps I have ever heard. It uses top quality parts , some of which are design and specifically made for AI . It is a straight Class A preamp that uses two tubes for the line stage and two extra tubes for the phono stage with the gold board given you a moving coil high gain stage with gold traces for the signal for high quality conductance of the signal. For phono , with the gold phono board it is capable of giving you 92 Dbs of gain . The increible thing is that all that gain and the preamp is totally silent , no his or noise of any kind with just a very slight tube electron rush that is only audible if you put your ear inches from the driver.
What does it sound like ? One word ? Accurate and musical . If it does have a deviation from neutrality it is just slightly warm sounding in the all important lower midrange . It is extended at the top and the upper midrange and lower treble has a lot of energy if it is on the recording . It doesn't smooth out the highs in order to give you a smooth sound as some do , but rather it mirrors the source faithfully . The soundstage if your other equipment permit is wide , deep , tall and with layering and focus .You can hear and sense space between instruments if it's on the recording . It's bass is extremely powerful . So much so as to surprise my friends when they come over to hear music . So what we have hear is a preamp that sounds world class for a modest outlay of money . Just one word of warning . If you are looking for a tube sound look elsewhere as this preamp does not sound tubish , it is extremely neutral and revealing . At 2,800 dollars that the preamp goes for with the gold phono board for moving coil cartridges it is a great bargain , at the price you can find it on the used market , it is the proverbial steal .

Opera audio turndot Cd player
Audible illusions Modulus 3A preamp
Mccormack DNA 125 amp and counterpoint NPS 100 amplfier
Spica TC-50 speakers with modified crossover and Magnepan 1.6
Project turntable with ortofon moving coil cartridge
All interconnects are JPS LABS with JPS speaker cable and all electronics use JPS power cords

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
alexs   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 12, 2009]

I was looking for a preamp with a built in phono stage. I am starting to believe that the simpler the system the better the sound. I decided that my EAR 834P and my Cary 98L can be replaced with a full function preamp with far better results, eliminating complexity, potential electrical anomalies and a set of cables. As we all know there are not too many full function preamps available today. I ran across a factory reconditioned M3A for a good price and I decided to go for it singt/sound unseen based on the many positive reviews.

When it finally arrived, I removed the EAR and the Cary from the system and plugged in the AI. I let it warm up for 15 minutes and played some Diana Krall Live in Paris. I can only say that I was shocked at the improvement of the AI over the Cary. Every aspect of audio performance was vastly improved. Detail, soundstage, dynamics (macro and micro), smothness, lack of irritants etc. is orders of magnitude better. How can this be? After all the Cary is also a Stereophile Class A recommended component. Hmmm...

Over the coming days I listened to many different CD's and yes, everything sounded much, much better. My reservation came when I played vinyl for the first time that first evening. Overall the phono stage sounded flat, boring and lacking in any sort of life. I ended up keeping my outboard shono stage just in case. However over the next two weeks of suffering through boring, lifeless vinly, things started to change. Slowly but surely things started to improve. After about 30-40 hours, I can honestly say that the phono stage of the AI is now sounding much better than the EAR and is every bit as good as the line stage. I have since sold the EAR and the AI phono stage is continuing to improve.

The AI is very suceptible to vibrations. I have mine on Vibracones along with tube dampers on all the tubes. These two tweaks make a signifcant difference as does a good power cord.

At the current price point, I really believe that this is a revolutionalry product. I have owned Krell, BAT, Threshold, CJ preamps and I will say that the AI is by far the best I have personally owned. I do not believe that the AI can be significantly bettered by anything under $20K. Highly recommended!

My system consists of

Reference 3A MM DeCapo i speakers
Cary 2A3 SE mono power amps
Esoteric SA60 digital player
Transrotor Atlante turntable
SME IV tonearm with Furutech cable
Benz Ebony H cartridge
JPS labs Superconductor 3 interconnects
JPS Labs Superconductor 2 speaker cables
JPS labs power cords on everything


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mc240   AudioPhile [Feb 19, 2009]

The Audible Illusions Modulus 3a is an excellent musical performer, with a sound that is transparent and neutral from top to bottom. The phono stage is excellent, possessing a more open, detailed, yet sweet sound than the Rogue Metis that it replaced. Dollars spent for musical enjoyment would place the Modulus 3a at the very top of the value curve. Also the construction quality is first rate, with an all aluminum chassis. But that said, this preamp is not for everyone, for various reasons, including tubes, no remote, a phono stage, an external power supply, and dual volume controls.

The Audible Illusions Modulus 3a can be purchased for $900 up to $1600 on the used market!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Manuel Perez   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 12, 2007]
Strength:

Grainless presentation , huge soundstage , excelent balance between tone and harmonics , dynamics are excelent .

Weakness:

Extremly transparent . Will let you know problems in your equipment elsewhere . Apart from this at the price, none .

I ve had this preamp for 3 years and everytime I hear it , it just sounds right.Its beautifully built , works as should and other then noisy pots which I fix with some contact cleaner , I ve never had a problem with it. Its sound is essentially neutral with a dash of warmth . It does not sound like a traditional tube preamp nor does it sound like a solid state unit. It has the frequency extension of a great ss unit with the lack of grain and great soundstage of a tube unit . Its dynamics are a eye opener . Its balance of tone with its harmonics is outstanding at the price . At the price its sold used its and outstanding bargain . My equipement consist of Opera Audio turandot CDP , Mccormack DNA 125 amplifier , Magnepan 1.6 qr speakers everything connected with Jps superconductor cables .Turntable is a Proyect with a grado cartridge .

Customer Service

Never had a problem with the unit I could not fix myself

Similar Products Used: To Many over the years to mention
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
jonathan silva   AudioPhile [Aug 23, 2006]
Weakness:

must add small o-ring to scews in power supply housing to reduce hum.

This is a great pre-amp.Simplicity along with a very well built circuit lends itself to a very open nutral quality.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Andres   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 29, 2005]
Strength:

Transparent, transparent, transparent, deep and wide soundstage, as an used item is a real bergain,

Weakness:

I am not sure if this happend frequently, but in my case the power supply is noisy.

Quite good for the price (new or used). I have owned some preamps, line stages and pasives like the Classe Six, Pass Aleph P, Pass X2.5, Placette pasive preamp. In this moment I am using the Modulus 3 with my old but almost new Aleph 3 amp, my upgraded Esoteric DV-50, and my Audiophysic Virgo III loudspeakers. when I try the Modulus the first time I have noted a weak and soft bass but when I turn off the capacitor switches inside the M3 the bass performance go from weak and soft to tight and powerfull, this preamp is as transparent as my Pass X2.5, but may be the Pass have a little better bass, but the modulus 3 is more warm and less analitacal than the X2.5. Both amps are very very good. By definition this preamp is very transparent, the sound is not all tubey, I think have the best of both worlds, solid state and tube. Systems: Esoteric DV-50 upgraded (audio section) Audible Illusiones Mudulus 3A preamp Pass Labs Aleph 3 amp Audio Physic Virgo III loudspeakers Interconnects Alpha Core TQ-2 and Kimber KAGC Loudspeakers cables AQ Dragons System 2 Rotel CD as transport Wavelenght Cosine tube DAC Pass Labs X2.5 preamp VAC Auricle stereo amp Totem M-1 loudspeakers Same interconnects Speaker cables AQ Argent Table Clearaudio Solution Two Rega RB-600 arms Krell KPE phono preamp Red Rose Rosette (well is made in china but is quite good) phono preamp. Clearaudio Victory H cartridge Benz Micro L2 cartridge.

Similar Products Used: Classe Six Pass aleph P Pass X2.5 Placette pasive linestage
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
imin2u   AudioPhile [Oct 29, 2003]
Strength:

Smooth AND detailed. Also very sensitive to what tubes are installed allowing for personalized tuning. Dual mono design, clean interior design, and built like a tank.

Weakness:

Not as good as Hovland but at a third the cost, I ave No compliants at all.

I heard the 2A at a freinds house. I new I had finally found "it". Bought a model 3 the next week. I can't believe it's not a 5/5. Somebody had a head cold.

Similar Products Used: Audio Research, BAT, Sonic Frontiers
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
TUBEROCITY   AudioPhile [Apr 18, 2003]
Strength:

At this price point or any other, you would be hard pressed to find a better preamp. Perfect in every way!

Weakness:

No remote Volume, but this could interfere with the quality of sound so I will do without it.

Although this unit is well represented here, I felt the need to throw more praise to this worlds best preamp contender. Coponents I use consist of the M3A of course, McIntosh 2205, Rega Planar 25, and a 10 year old JVC cd player. I play my music through PSB Gold I's which would also be contenders for worlds best. I am an audiophile on a budget as my components reveal. The most expensive piece being the M3A. This is the cornerstone of my system. Audiophiles have one thing in common, to have thier system sound as if the music were being played live in front of them. If I were more flush with cash I would certainly seek out a unit that had a remote for the volume. I have no illusions there exists any better preamp at any price, however a remote volume would be nice. Pun Intended :) My unit has not been upgraded, but I am intrigued. The M3A is so transparent it is esentialy invisable, adding nothing to the signal. I can't imagine what the upgrade would add to this, hopefully nothing in the signal path as I think it is perfect as is. If you are on a budget or not, you will not be able to find another preamp at any price that will merit $1000's more of your hard earned cash. If you purchase this preamp you will be in a league where investment of $50.000 in a preamp will give you a deminishing return on sound quality. The only complaint you may find with the M3A is that it has no features other than perfect sound, and great looks. For most audiophiles however, minimalist is usualy better, and this is about as minimalist as you can get. OH, I musn't forget the M3A also has one of the best Phono preamps included in the deal. In this range, phono preamps are often-times a seperate, expensive component. The unit also has a seperate power supply which is another expense for the manufacturer, and is another reason for the unparalleled sound. Considering all the rave reviews, and my personel listening experiances, I wouldn't hesitate to recomend the Audible Illusions Modulus 3A. If you have no dealer in your area, and are unable to hear the unit in person, I would buy the M3A site unseen, ears unheard, you will not regret the purchase.

Similar Products Used: McIntosh C28, A great looking unit with the glass front, but it's age doesn't keep up in the sound arena as the McIntosh amps do. Audio Research, can't remember which one, but it was solid state from
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John Davis   Casual Listener [Mar 13, 2003]
Strength:

very quiet,transparent,looks and works very good.

Weakness:

I hear no weaknesses,

Very nice preamp,sound great for the price.

Similar Products Used: Audio research sp5,Sonic frontiers sfl-1
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
vintagedude   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 19, 2003]
Strength:

excellent sound,build quality.

Weakness:

None

Before M3A,I try more then dozen mostly tube preamps including some vintage stuff,I was tired to change tubes from Mullard to Telefunken or wires,speakers,capasitors ETC,allways something was missing ,When I got Modulus 3A I did try this preamp with more then few pair speakers from 60`s red Tannoys,mid 7o`s JBL L55 ,90`s Kef,ETC Sound was great with all of them and no need to go creazy with wires and tubes with this preamp everything was perfect M3A has super detail from below 30 dbl to over 20.000 Hz. I think This preamp one of the best in the world.

Similar Products Used: Mcintosh ,Marantz , Audio design, CJ,AR,ETC.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 41  

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