Creek Audio OBH-18 Preamplifiers

Creek Audio OBH-18 Preamplifiers 


  • Signal to Noise Ratio: - 83 dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.03%
  • R1AA deviation: ± 0.5%
  • Output: 250 mV
  • Output Impedance: 100 Ohm
  • Overload margin: 25 dB


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[Nov 25, 2009]
Casual Listener

I guess the OBH-18 was my first foray into the world of “higher end” stereo bits. A laughable claim to some of you who spend a lot more on your gear, I’m sure, since it is one of Creek’s least expensive products. Its purchase came about when my trusty “phono input enabled” Technics receiver bit the dust. When I went to replace it, seems as though few of the modern 2-channel and multi-channel receivers had a phone input. With the assistance of several audiophile pals (“for god’s sake, Mark, do your precious vinyl some justice!”), the folks at Needle Doctor (USA), and research of my own, I excitedly decided on the Creek OBH-18.
Nonetheless, it was a BIG step for me to throw down $100 MORE for a mere pre-amp than I did for the nice HK receiver I had found on Craigslist. Plus, in a further effort to “dress up the pig” (my system), I ended up with a very capable Ortofon cartridge, then some nicely used B&W 602S2’s…you know, you audiophiles are just sick people…and I’m becoming one of you! But I digress.
Anyway, I’m glad I purchased the Creek. It’s a nice unit that adds some class to rather typical system. Class with respect to its nice appearance; with its name that carries the connotations of a designer that produces solid, reputable non Asian, non mass produced electronics; and its pleasing, honest sound. The money I spent has been long forgotten, especially each time I drop a needel on to a piece of vinyl.
I’m glad I talked to the folks at Needle Doctor, who VERY importantly helped me pair a good cartridge (OMP 10) to get the sound I imagined I wanted to hear: totally natural and un-effed with. Within a reasonable budget. Mission accomplished!!
Now for the stuff I didn’t like:
The Chinese power supply, which was little better than a reworked cel phone charger, and was NOT the “Creek OHB-1 high grade power supply…” which was supposed to come with the unit. This is my big beef with the OBH-18. It is absolutly unworthy of the quality, UK-made unit I purchased. My questions and finally complaints to Music Hall (US distributor) and Creek were barely even afforded the dignity of a response. I would blame Music Hall for this switch, who is yet another manufacturer passing off their Chinese products as high end. A sad trend, really. So, I say that the price is forgotten when I listen to my records, but each time I think about that cheap power supply (thankfully hidden in my stereo cabinet), I wonder what in the hell these people were thinking by making such an unapologetic change.
The other item is tiny in comparison, and that is the OBH-18's power switch. It is sequestered amongst inputs on the back of the unit. Creek says the unit can be left on, but I still fear unnatural surges from switching my receiver on, as well as from the outside (despite the claims of the surge suppressor). So I turn it off and on each time I decide to lay my vinyl. But, in reality, when you get used to its location, it’s not so bad. A positive spin might be that it can be your secret way to keep the uninitiated from working your system without permission.
Bottom line: The OBH-18 is a great way to get clean, honest sound from your vinyl without jumping into the tube-realm price point of things. If you're thinking about a classy, capable pre-amp that will still impress your snobby pals, this is certainly the one.

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