I found out Dared the company one day surfing the internet. They seemed to build high quality gear for a reasonable price. More research led me to owners comments with more excellent feedback along with a few professional reviews. One came up for sale at a decent price and I decided to snag it. At the time my most recent tube pre-amp experience was with a Dodd ELP which have a low volume cult following built and designed by Gary Dodd. He makes very solid, simple, higher end gear with premium parts such as Sonicaps. The Dodd ELP was a very sweet sounding minimalist pre-amp with 2 input and two outputs and used (2) 12AX7 based tubes.
I wanted something similar to the ELP since ELP’s hardly ever come up for sale. Enter the Dared Sl2000A. This unit has the Auricap upgrades and well as the Allen Brady resistors. I was simply blown away at how good this thing sounds. Not having a lot of listening experience with tube rectified gear I soon learned the rectifier tube is just as important as the signal tubes. The stock Chinese tubes were not acceptable. The key to the outstanding performance of this unit is rolling some NOS tubes in both the signal position and rectifier position. WOW is all I can say.
The sound stage is huge, wide and deep. Excellent separation and dynamics, not rolled off or bloated unless the tubes you choose have that sonic characteristic. The Dared responds to tube rolling very well and with each type of tube you can notice the subtle characteristics. The remote is only good for volume up and down and it travels to fast so it really is fairly useless but one can learn to modulate it for acceptable use. My unit has two inputs and 2 outputs. It has performed flawlessly in the past year and I bought it used so the reliability should be excellent.
I incorporate the Dared in my system by using the home theater/processor bypass circuit in my Adcom GFP-750 pre-amp. I don’t always want to listen to tubes if I’m doing stuff around the house or watching a movie or just have 30-40 minutes to listen to music. It saves wear and tear on the tubes and the Dared. When using the HT bypass on the Adcom the Dared becomes a full functioning pre-amp with no degradation of the audio signal. This allows me the flexibility of a solid state pre-amp which has the ability to run active or completely passive as well as running tubes. It works out extremely well. It also allow me to set the levels on each pre-amp and via the Adcom’s remote I can A/B the pre-amps while sitting in the listening position. The Dared gives up very little compared to the Adcom GFP-750 and that was a perennial class A recommended piece by Stereophile for many years. The tubes add soul!!! and lushness and realism even the best solid state can create.
The rest of my system includes MIT cables, MIT Z II power cables, a highly modded Adcom GDA 600 digital to analog converter, Pass Aleph 30 amplifier and a Logitech Squeeze Box II feeding uncompressed FLAC files as a source. Modded Polk Audio SDA 1C’s
I’ve used just about every tube variant available for the 12AT7 (ECC81) signal tubes including; Mullard (Mitchum), Amperex Bugle Boy made in all 3 plants (Heerlen, Blackburn) as well as the Amperex/Philips made in France. Valvo made in Hamburg including the rare 6201 Gold pins, Raytheon 7062′s, Amperex 6414 “PQ”, Telefunken ECC801S, RCA 12AT7 black plates and 6201 black plates. GE 5 Star black plate, 3 mica, Sylvania 3 mica black plates and others that slip my mind. I’ve tried several rectifiers, Sylvania 5V4G in-lione black plates, CBS 5V4G in-line black plates, Valvo (Mullard) GZ32, GE 5V4GT, RCA 5V4GT, National 5Y3GT, CBS 5Y3WGT, Sovtek 5Y3 and finally the best by far is a 1940′s Brimar STC CV1863 (5Z4G).
3 favorite signal tubes
1) Telefunken ECC801S
2) Valvo (made in Hamburg w/copper grid posts usually late 50′s)
2) Valvo 6201 gold pins (made in Hamburg) tied
3) GE 5 Star 3 mica, black plate, square getter from the mid 50′s
Brimar STC CV1863 (5Z4G) rectifier is by far my favorite.
This an excellent pre for the money and I really feel like I’d have to move way up the line in order to do significantly better. Buying some nice NOS tubes is the key to the outstanding performance and sine this used 12AT7/ECC81′s they are cheaper than the more popular 12AU and 12AX series and variants.
Top Ranked Products from Dared.
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