|Rogue Audio Ninety Nine Preamplifier Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Tuesday, 12 February 2013|
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I used the Ninety Nine on two separate power amplifiers. First my usual Audio Research VS55 50 wpc reference, with KT120 tubes, and then with the new Bob Carver Black Magic 20 wpc amp with EL84M tubes. Both worked beautifully with the Rogue, and I had a hard time picking a favorite. Both combinations breathed life into every piece of music I cued up, and the sense of refinement was clear.
The superb SACD version of the classic Moody Blues album, In Search Of The Lost Chord, was ravishing with the Rogue and Carver combo. Justin Hayward’s majestic vocals, and the band’s impressionistic soundscapes sounded absolutely lifelike and the psychedelic vibe of the time was recreated in full measure. The stunning B Side on the second disc, “King And Queen” brought it all home, with a melancholy melody and a sweeping, Mellotron heavy arrangement. If it is at all possible to get “lost” in the music, it happened to this listener here.
The Rogue Audio Ninety Nine is a fabulous preamplifier, with first class sonics and build. It brought to the table that classic, tricky-to-define tube magic to the midrange, while remaining transparent to sources, and it was superb at both frequency extremes. Sonically, the Rogue, in my opinion, performs beyond its $2595 price point by a good margin, even in the standard version. I have no doubt the Super Magnum upgrades would add another notch in performance.
I have always felt that the Rogue Ninety Nine was a bit of an overlooked product in Rogue’s line. All of the Rogue preamps I have heard I have liked, and the Ninety Nine is right up there, and with an optional phono stage for vinyl enthusiasts and the available Super Magnum upgrade, I find absolutely nothing to nitpick. It is a beautiful component to look at, listen to, and to interface with. I tried hard to find where there was compromise at this price point, but came up empty.
Sure, one can get a bit more refinement by going way upscale, as with Rogue’s own Hera preamp, but that comes at a price. Those looking to spend around $3000 need to check out the Rogue Ninety Nine preamp. I believe it is the complete package, sound and feature wise, at this price point. Solidly recommended, without hesitation.
Rogue Ninety Nine Tubed Preamplifier: $2595
- frequency response: 1Hz-200KHz ± 1dB
- THD: <0.1%
- gain: line stage: 23dB
- rated output: 1.5V
- maximum output: 30V PP
- output impedance: 350 Ohms
- dimensions: 17"W x 5½"H x 14"D
- weight: 27 lbs.
CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
SACD Player/DAC: Marantz SA-11S3
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Bob Carver Black Magic
Speaker: Martin Logan Ethos, Thiel CS2.4
Cables: Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audiquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack
CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, Rein Audio X3-DAC
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh MA6600, Electrocompaniet ECI 3
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber Hero HB, DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genesis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, KECES XPS