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Categories in section: Home Theater Preamplifiers
AV Preamps (48) Stereo Preamps (38)

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Saturday, 01 May 1999 ,  Written by Kim Wilson
Audio Design Associates Cinema Reference AV Preamplifier/Processor
Introduction A home theater’s central nervous system is the digital processor, serving as preamp, digital surround decoder, D-to-A converter (DAC) and switcher. Audio Design Associates (ADA), a company that specializes in custom installation, manufactures a line of high performance components and the Cinema Reference is their most comprehensive and versatile processor to date, incorporating both Dolby Digital and DTS decoders along with THX enhancements. As manufacturers firmly entrench themselves in the DVD revolution, Laserdiscs are already virtually a footnote in A/V history. While the majority of processors require the purchase of additional outboard gear to play Dolby-encoded Laserdiscs, the Cinema Reference actually houses the often-elusive RF Demodulator. Functioning as a sophisticated preamp/switcher, this processor is loaded with a wide assortment of inputs and outputs, insuring future expandability as digital products continue to emerge. High-quality components, superior sonic performance and advanced features tend to drive the price up on processors, and so it is with the Cinema Reference. At ...
Thursday, 01 April 1999 ,  Written by Jerry Del Colliano
Balanced Audio Technology VK5i Stereo Preamplifier
Introduction The BAT VK5i is a $4500 all tube, dual mono, fully balanced preamp from high end up-and-comer Balanced Audio Technology. Since Sonic Frontiers ten years ago, there have been very few new tube manufacturers to come along and capture the precious high end market share until BAT. Founded in 1995, BAT is both a tube and solid state electronics manufacturer who has carved a niche between high value and high performance music playback products. The VK5i is a great example of this balance. The VK5i makes few excuses in its operation. It features a full-function remote that is nicely crafted and fully loaded with functions like mute, fade, and volume. The faceplate features a utilitarian look with seemingly military spec switches for both power and mute. The volume knob, which digitaly controls a Vichey pot, is built solidly, but does not feel as high tech as what you'll find on a Mark Levinson, ...
Monday, 01 February 1999 ,  Written by Kim Wilson
Sunfire Theater Grand Processor/AV Preamplifier
Introduction Along with both Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, the Theater Grand from Sunfire is the only high-end digital processor/preamp I've reviewed with a 40 preset AM/FM Tuner and phono stage. When you consider that the Sunfire offers many more features than many heralded (and ultra-expensive) processors, it may surprise you that its price tag is well below the competition at $2,995. Proof that it doesn't require a second mortgage (just a good credit line) to have a terrific sound system. Interfacing Details When it comes to I/O connections, the Theater Grand is extremely well equipped. There is a total of five digital inputs (5 coax, 2 Toslink) and nine analog audio inputs (including the five grouped with composite and S-video connectors). There are two pairs of component inputs and a single set of component outputs. This is smart. If you have both a DVD and a DSS, you'll need a switcher, since most TVs equipped with component ...
Friday, 01 January 1999 ,  Written by Bryan Southard
Audio Research LS15 Stereo Preamplifier
Introduction The Audio Research LS15 Line Level Preamp has been in existence since the middle of 1996. It’s an all new design which theoretically replaces the former LS2B Mk II in the Audio Research line. I say theoretically because although it took the spot of the former, and much-respected LS2, it is very different in many ways. The LS15 is priced at the midpoint in the Audio Research line at $2995, and comes with a handy remote control, something that was an additional $500 option for the LS2. Its basic makeup is an all-tube gain using four 6922 twin triode tubes. It incorporates a fully differential zero feedback; balanced circuit with electronically regulated high and low-voltage power supplies. The LS15 has a large array of input/output options. These options include balanced inputs, as well as direct balanced inputs, for best signal purity. This path bypasses switching electronics, and allows for the most direct and cleanest ...
Friday, 01 January 1999 ,  Written by Jerry Del Colliano
Sutherland CA 800 Stereo Preamplifier
Introduction It takes more than just great sound to sell a high priced two channel preamp these days. You really have to want it. Perhaps "want" is too weak a term. You really need to lust after it. A new preamp should be so cool that you start to drool at the idea of plugging it into your music system. This is exactly the sensation you get when you audition the Sutherland CA-800. Drooling. Its interface and design are unlike any preamp I have ever encountered. The front plate of the preamp is missing any kind of "volume knob." In its place are two rows of sensors that detect changes in capacitance and or resistance caused, simply, by your finger moving from one end of the sensors to the other. Changing inputs requires you holding your finger near the sensor that corresponds with the desired input. Simple tasks like raising and lowering the volume ...
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