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Thursday, 01 May 2003 ,  Written by Ed Masterson
Conrad Johnson Premier 18LS AV Preamplifier
Introduction Over the last 25 years, Conrad-Johnson has earned a reputation for its mastery of the art of tube-based amplifier design. Many of their amplifiers and preamplifiers have received considerable praise from music lovers and AV industry professionals alike. As a statement piece, Conrad-Johnson’s ultra-expensive ART preamplifier has earned its way into some of the world’s absolute finest music playback systems. Until now, if you wanted a reference quality preamplifier from CJ, you had no choice but to deal with the maintenance and cost associated with tubes. Conrad-Johnson has released a new solid-state preamplifier, the Premier 18LS, in an attempt to satisfy those in love with CJ’s sound who simply are not willing and/or able to deal with the unavoidable hassles associated with owning a high-performance tube component. At $3,495, the Premier 18LS is the least expensive preamplifier in the Premier series. Even so, CJ spared no expense. As with all of the Premier preamplifiers, CJ ...
Tuesday, 01 April 2003 ,  Written by Ed Masterson
Classé SSP 30 MKII AV Preamplifier/Processor
Introduction Classé Audio has been producing high-performance audio/video electronics for more than 20 years. From their factory in Quebec, Canada, they have produced gear that has arguably performed among the absolute best of its kind, oftentimes at a much-reduced price when compared directly to its competition. For many years, I used the Classe’ CA-150 amplifier in my reference system and have long respected Classé for both value, performance and their simple yet tasteful aesthetics and exceptional build quality. The SSP 30 MKII A/V preamp represents the entry level in preamplification and theater processing from Classé. The original SSP 30 had all of the latest features in theater processing at the time of its release. Since then, several new formats have been developed, so the SSP 30 needed a major update to stay competitive in this quickly evolving market. The SSP 30 MKII is currently available at a price of $3,000. With the MKII, in addition to ...
Wednesday, 01 January 2003 ,  Written by Ed Masterson
Aragon Stage One AV Preamplifier
Introduction Aragon has a long and well-respected reputation for producing high-value, high-end two-channel music preamplifiers and, more specifically, power amplifiers. Today, under the ownership of Klipsch, they are expanding into the highly competitive market of multi-channel music reproduction and home theater. Aragon is not attempting to compete with the inexpensive mass-market products but instead going head-to-head with the best in the mid- to high-performance class, such as Sunfire and Anthem. The Stage One is a full-featured theater/multi-channel music processor, AM/FM tuner, two-channel analog preamplifier and video switcher, built into a single chassis. The Stage One measures 17 inches wide, five-and-one-half inches tall and 15 inches deep and retails for $4,000. It has seven inputs for A/V sources, all of which accommodate composite video, s-video, analog audio, and digital audio. Component video inputs are available on three of the inputs. Three toslink digital inputs are available, as well as a toslink output for high-quality digital recording. The analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog ...
Friday, 01 November 2002 ,  Written by Thomas Garcia
Sunfire Theater Grand Processor III
Introduction In the ever-changing home entertainment industry, it has become increasingly difficult for entry-level consumers and high-level enthusiasts alike to keep pace with the rapid development of new technologies and the changes that are ushered in by these advances. Nowhere is this more evident than with the audio/video preamp/processor. With continually changing formats and encoding schemes, it is all too easy to find that your new piece of equipment is outdated a relatively short time after you purchase it. There will always be innovative new speaker systems being released and impressive power amps appearing on a regular basis. But in the grand scheme of things, you can get by for quite a while if you choose wisely and invest in quality loudspeakers and amplifiers in the beginning. However, if your processor can’t decode the newest formats or take advantage of the latest algorithms and surround processing techniques, you may spend more time regretting your purchase than ...
Saturday, 01 June 2002 ,  Written by Brian Kahn
Krell Home Theater Standard 7.1 AV Preamplifier
Introduction Just as I finished reviewing the Krell TAS 5 channel power amplifier, Krell released their newest home theater product, the Home Theater Standard 7.1 AV preamp. The $8,000 Home Theater Standard 7.1 is the big brother to the Home Theater Standard 2 AV preamp, which I used in my review of the Theater Amplifier Standard. Owners of the Home Theater Standard 2 who bought one new from an authorized dealer can upgrade their units to the Home Theater Standard 7.1 at the Krell factory for $1,500. People who bought and HTS2 secondhand will need to pay $2,500 for upgrades. The new Home Theater Standard 7.1 is Krell’s third-generation AV preamp, designed with the hopes of being both "future proof" and true to Krell’s high standards for audio and video performance. While unpacking the Krell Home Theater Standard 7.1, I noted that, from the front, the new Krell looks almost identical to its predecessor, ...
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