|Rogue Audio Perseus Magnum Preamplifer Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Thursday, 27 October 2011|
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From the first note, I knew this was a preamplifier that was punching above its proverbial weight class. I also was extremely impressed with its quiet operation. It was an absolutely wonderful match with my Audio Research VS55 50 wpc power amp. I mean a match made in heaven. Many find a tubed preamp and power amp combo too much of a good thing. Not me. I make no bones about my tube preference for the specific reason that tubes are harmonically richer than solid state and whatever drawbacks there may be are offset by musical purity in my humble opinion.
With my Naim CD5 XS and Squeezebox Touch feeding the Bryston BDA-1 DAC as my sources, I found it very difficult to even make mental notes about the performance of the Perseus Magnum due to the simple fact that I was enjoying myself too much listening to music. In any case, as is my usual routine, I spun a wide variety of music to see what the Perseus was made of sonically.
First up was the newly mixed and mastered Winterland box set by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. What I heard was the psychedelic glory of Hendrix and the Experience on stage in San Francisco in 1968. Hendrix’s Stratocaster blazing through Marshall amps, and the unrelenting stomp of Mitch Mitchell’s and Noel Redding’s drums and bass filled my listening room with lifelike power. The band was a force of nature, and my room could barely contain the sense of electricity that must have filled Winterland.
An older favorite of mine, Paul McCartney’s excellent Driving Rain, from 2001, sounded positively amazing through the Perseus. It is a sumptuous analog tape recording, with Sir Paul looking back to his early solo days with no drum machines or trend-following production. Instead he uses plenty of touchstones from his classic days -- superb melodies, great bass lines and an overall vintage feel. McCartney also assembled an actual band for the recording, a smart move. The Perseus did a superb job of presenting band interplay and capturing the craft in McCartney’s best compositions in years.
The high resolution, 48 Khz, 24 bit FLAC download of Peter Gabriel’s Half Blood, a selection of songs from his great new album, New Blood, sounded downright scary in its lifelike texture. Gabriel re-recorded some of his most memorable compositions with an orchestra, reinterpreting complex arrangements in a fresh, new way. The album is a smashing artistic success in my book. The track “Rhythm of the Heat” has tremendous dynamic range, with an ominous string intro and walloping, deep kettle drum crescendo. I was nearly jolted out of my seat.
On Ryan Adams terrific new album, Ashes & Fire, he goes back to his acoustic tendencies, which he previously explored on 2004’s Love is Hell, and 2007’s Easy Tiger. He mines a classic Neil Young Harvest vibe on several cuts with a great band he assembled, which includes Norah Jones on harmony vocal and piano. The album had tons of delicious woody texture through the Perseus that was very satisfying musically.
On a final musical note, Irish chanteuse Lisa Hannigan has just put out an album that I have absolutely become addicted to, Passengers. It is a bit more streamlined than her debut, Sea Saw, and exudes tons of old-timey charm and pop sensibility, but in the most authentic way. No auto tune or samples here. I had a blast playing this album repeatedly, and the Perseus really surprised in how much bass was actually on this disc on a few of the up-tempo tracks.