Blue Circle Audio BC21 Preamplifiers

BC21

Preamplifier with 3 Line level imputs, 1 Tape input, 1 Preamp output, 1 Tape output Maximum output: 20 Vrms Tube complement: 2-6SN7

User Reviews (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8  
D Barrabee   AudioPhile [Mar 15, 2002]
Strength:

One thing about the BC21 is the Music. It makes you moveyour feet and listen more. There is no fatigue in my system - I can listen all day. But my turntable had something to do with that as well.

Weakness:

Volume gain

Very solid product(s). I have the complete setup from BlueCircle. The BC21, BC22, and the BC23. I have no (i mean no) complaints. Hook this up to a respectable turntable and your set for life. One thing I might add is the BC21 sounds great with other manufacture''s amps, but it has excellent synergy with the BC22. I''m sure there is better equipment out there but not at this price(s). Buy used on Audiogom.com and get great deals on Blue Circle products. No regrets on BC. Also, technical support is excellent..

Similar Products Used: Bottle head foreplay, Sonic Frontiers S1
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Kevin   AudioPhile [Mar 10, 2002]
Strength:

Clarity, detail, soundstage and tight bass

Weakness:

Volume control may be touchy as there''s a lot of gain

When I first heard the BC 21 in an auditioning room I was very skeptical as it sounded unbelievably nice. I figured that the sound could be attributed to high-end upstream components and very detail-orientated speakers. To determine whether this was in fact the case, I got my hands on a demo BC 21 and brought it home to audition on my own system (which cost substantially less than the that of the audio store''s!). Although I hate to be wrong, as I had several discussions with the audio salesman about how everything else was responsible for the detail etc., I have to admit I was. On my own system, the BC 21 added all the attributes I heard in the auditioning room. In fact, I didn''t realise my system could sound this good. There were tremedous gains in detail and clarity and the soundstage was drastically improved. I did my best to find music that my current preamp did better than the BC 21; be it rock/pop, blues, jazz or classical, the BC 21 came out far superior to my Bryston BP-25. The only thing the Bryston did better was produce deep bass. However, it lacked tightness and definition that the BC 21 possessed. I also had the good fortune to demo the BC 3 preamplifier. This unit retails for twice the cost of BC 21 and possesses independent left and right channels (i.e. two volume controls!). This unit is better than the BC 21. However, I found the differnces less profound than the BP-25 to BC 21 comparison. The BC 3 has a little more detail, punch and a bigger soundstage than the BC 21. Unfortuntely I didn''t have enough money to go for this. With that said, I still felt very good about buying the BC 21 - I think that says a lot. Lastly, Blue Circle Audio is a very approachable company. The owner Gilber Yeung makes himself available via electronic correspondance or by phone at any time of the day. He will bend over backwards to ensure his customers are happy and has answered any queries I''ve had.

Similar Products Used: Bryston BP-20/25; tube gear of the same quality will be more expensive
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Peter   Audiophile [Nov 13, 2000]
Strength:

Good imaging, smooth midrange

Weakness:

Slightly soft bass

I just bought this pre-amp, but so far so good. It has a very clear smooth sound, just a little light on the bass, but nothing serious. I think it is a fine unit, particularly for the price. It also looks cool. The phono amp has helped my Benz-Micro Gold sound much better. This has to be a contender for the best valued tube pre-amp on the market.

Similar Products Used: Copland 301 pre, Classe 15 amp, Classe CD transport, Assemblage DAC, Linn Sondek, Blue Circle BC23 phono amp, B & W CDM SE speakers
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Kris Kosiba   Audiophile [Aug 26, 2000]
Strength:

ultimate musicality, resolution of detail-both macro and micro. Smooth, with a midrange to die for. Oh, did I mention MUSICAL! Performance untouched at this price.

Weakness:

None

First, let me start out by saying that this is by far one of the most wonderfully musical pieces I have heard- at any price. With that said, I'll get down to the brass tacks. This preamp is in every sense of the word a toned down exotic. We're talkin point to point wiring, done by hand using cardas wire. It's tube complement is two 6SN7's, which are considered by many tube fanatics as one of the best all around tubes particularly in the midrange. This preamp, in regards to the midrange is supple and very fleshed out, but never mushy or lacking detail. Its top end is ultra detailed yet never sibilant or harsh, and shows no signs of grain.....very smooth. At the meager price of $1500( in regards to price vs. performance) the bottom end is outstanding. It may lack ultimate low level resolution for those of you that demand the ultimate in bass, but otherwise the bass is full, rich, detailed and has all the "slam" one could ask for. The overall tonal quality is outstanding providing a very rich, full bodied presentation, while at the same time being extremely detailed and smooth. One aspect that I would like to give particular attention to is the presentation of vocals. This preamp gives a life like quality to vocal music that is truly palpable. Its wonderful! Lets not forget soundstage and imaging. The soundstage is spacious and deep, as well as having outstanding top to bottom resolution. The imaging is 3D and allows one to really see inside the music. I can truly say that this preamp is with out equal in this price range, and is a piece that I am in no hurry to change. Gilbert Yeung is a true master and I would recommend this piece to anyone on shear musicality alone. By the way if you do purchase one of these you may have to wait a week for them to BUILD you your piece.

Associated Equipment:
Simaudio Celeste 4150se
Marantz CD17MkII
Blue Circle BC 21
Interconnects:
Fadel Art Aero's
Kimber Select 1010
Speaker Cable:
Blue Circle BC 92
Speakers:
custom two-way moniters utilizing Vifa and Seas drivers

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Paul Chung   Audiophile [Apr 04, 2001]
Strength:

simple control function; easy to operate; only one pair of 6SN7 tubes.

Weakness:

Gain a bit too high; no remote volume control.

A beautiful pre-amp with only one pair of 6SN7 tubes and large solid wooden knobs; a very liquid mid-range ; would mate very well with any tube power amps; great value for the money.

Associated equipments:-
Power amp - VAC PA45C1
Pre amp - VAC CPA1 MKII
CD player - Classe CDP .3
Speakers - Rogers LS3/5a
Stands - Foundation Designer II
Cables - Audio Note

Similar Products Used: Audible Illusions M3A; Sonic Frontiers Line 1; VAC CPA1 MKII.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bob Neill   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 13, 2001]
Strength:

Amount of sheer sonic quality at its price point

Weakness:

Inability to sound like my $3300 BC 3!

This is actually a review of the 21 and 22 as a pair, but since I reviewed the 22 on its own a while back, I thought I'd enter it here.

I'm going to make this an extended "note" because I don't want to submit myself to the rigors of a formal review. I have the good fortune of being on the way between
Stereophile (where this pair have just been - review due out any day now) and Innerkip, Ontario, and so I have them in my house for a week or so. I asked Gilbert Yeung to let me borrow them to satisfy my curiosity and he is an indulgent man. (If you want some insight into him, check the photo of him on Soundstage in their CES Review section - the one with his "new" hat.)

As I say, I have heard and reviewed the BC 22 before. In my fairly expensive system it held its own and did so again this time around, displaying the characteristic Blue Circle virtues: natural clarity, spaciousness, a pleasing immediacy. I remember it as being not as good at these things as my $9800 BC 2.1's and being mightily relieved at that. It still isn't as good. It is warmer and less magic overall. But it is recognizably BC gear. I generally have trouble going backwards, downstairs: I do not tend to appreciate B students. But I find the BC 22 less of a challenge in that respect. I could easily see that coming to it from lesser gear - the $1000-2500 integrated crowd, say - it would be a revelation.(Going up and down between components that have real quality differences is a weird experience. Unlike wine, I find going up is more noticeable than coming down - if the compromises made have been made ingeniously!)

Okay, I heard and am hearing the BC 22 with "better" gear than it is designed to accompany. And I hate reviewers who audition this way - or who compare gear with much more expensive stuff and then pat it on the head gently. Happens a lot, doesn't it! So, out comes the BC 3, off come the $2K Electraglide power cords. I'm leaving in the SPM interconnects because they're my reference and I don't want any more variables. And I'm leaving in the Aurios - I don't listen to ANYTHING without them anymore. (I put 'em under my speakers this a.m. and the music literally leapt into my lap, but that's another story.)

So we have a $1500 tube preamp (2 tubes), a $2150 all-solid state, 125 watt power amp, Blue Circle BC 63 power cords, my Naim CDX/XPS, and my B&W Matrix 805's. First impressions - which I take seriously: not that different, a little
shocking. (Wait for the trip back upstairs later.) Clear, full, natural, immediate, honest. Not quite as warm as the BC 3/BC 22 combination, and I'm finding I like this. It's
giving away a little on full orchestral resolution but not something you'd notice unless you were accustomed to the lots more that costs lots more. Maybe a little coarser than
the BC 3-BC 22 combo. But again, I'm not sure this is wrong. The longer it plays, the more convincing it is. If it's "wrong," it is convincing in its own right. Ah, Gilbert, you do know how to make a compromise go down easy. In a full review, I'd throw a lot more at it - this has been Vengerov doing Brahms - But I'm already late to work.

Back to the BC 3 for a quick honesty check. Okay, beauty up a notch, smoother too, and more air around the violin. Delicious. Well, that's good news - for me. I do like it better. But I didn't exactly miss it with the 21/22. Like I said, weird experience.

I am pleased that this $3650 combination isn't a let down, confirming my belief that Gilbert Yeung can compromise his vision without losing the engaging and musical qualities of the top of his line. The competition (that I know of) would seem to be the Bryston 3B ST and preamp, maybe the Plinius 8200, and the new Bel Canto EVo 2002/Pre 1, which will pass through here in a few weeks. My guess is that the differences among these components will boil down to a matter of taste. You can't get it all in this price range...which is why I have, for better or worse, taken the High End elevator to a higher floor -- and the quick return to the BC 3 reminded me why. I want it better and better and will likely follow Gilbert Yeung as far as I can afford. But you certainly need not - not with gear like this around.




Similar Products Used: Krell KRC 3, Blue Circle BC 3. Real competition should
be Bryston B 20 and EVo Pre 1, I would guess
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris   Audiophile [Aug 23, 2000]
Strength:

Build quality, musicality, quietness, natural presentation, extreme detail, incredible imaging and soundstage depth.

Weakness:

None.

I have had many different preamps in my system over the past couple of years, and I can tell you none have delivered the music like the BC21. Before I discuss the incredible hand-crafted build quality, I will share my thoughts on the musical presentation. Open, detailed, natural, sense of ease, amazing layering and depth are some of the obvious charcteristics. Build quality - (point-to-point wiring (Cardas), 6SN7 tubes(2), beutiful solid cherry knobs and feet, and cardas binding posts. I replaced my Classe' 47.5 ($2200.00) for the Blue Circle after listening to a friends. The comparions lasted a couple of weeks until his BC21 was fully broken in. After break in this preamp opens up dramaticaly. After the BC crushed my Classe' in ever aspect. I immediatly ordered one (which was built that week!) and had it shipped out. The Classe' was then sold on the open market. The Blue Circle shattered my expectations about this almost unknown hi-end company and their rankings among the bigger and more reputable companies. Listen to some Blue Circle products if you get the chance. Musicality is what they strive for, not hype.

Associated equipment:

Amp - Blue Circle BC22
Preamp - Blue Circle BC21
CD player - Classe' .3
Speakers - Magnepan 1.6QR's
Subwoofer - Sunfire MK11
Interconnects - Fadel Art Aero, Audioquest Python's RCA, Wireworld solstice.
Speaker Cable - Wireworld Equinox III
Other equipment - Monster HTS 2500 line conditioner, various room treatment.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
CF   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 01, 2000]
Strength:

Absolute musicality, transparent, build quality, great customer service at the factory.

Weakness:

None, some may find only 3 inputs inconvenient

I was able to pick mine up from CJ Audio in Texas for $1275. I called the factory in Canada to get dealer locations in California and received great service. For those unable to demo close by they have a 30 day listening period and will ship one to you. The build quality is first rate, the dynamics are musicality are right on. This is a GREAT pre-amp for the price. I have been looking for a while and have demoed models costing nearly twice as much. For the price, this is a great piece of equipment and is definitely a step into high end.

Similar Products Used: Listened to VTL 2.5 and Conrad Johnson 10
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-8 of 8  

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