Rogue Audio Perseus Magnum Preamplifer Review 
Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps
Written by Andre Marc   
Thursday, 27 October 2011

Rogue Audio has enjoyed a loyal following for many years now, and when I reviewed their entry level Atlas power amplifier with Magnum upgrades, I saw what all the fuss was about. It was an amazingly built, made in the U.S.A., ballsy sounding tube amplifier. The Atlas Magnum cast a huge soundstage and was a true heavyweight in the bass area.  It was also priced at an embarrassing to the competition $1995.  As a matter of fact, if I had not already invested in a more expensive tube amp, I would have sprung for the Atlas Magnum.

 

After such a positive experience, I sought out a review sample of a Rogue tubed preamplifier. Mark O’Brien, the man behind Rogue Audio kindly sent me a Perseus preamp with Magnum upgrades.  The standard Perseus sells for $1895, and the Magnum version for $2195. The Perseus has been in production for a number of years, but was tweaked with updated circuitry back in 2009.  

 

Magnum upgrades include:

  • Larger power supply

  • Power supply upgrades

  • Hex Fred high speed diodes

  • Coupling cap upgrades

  • Polypropylene bypass capacitors in filters

  • PRP resistors in critical spots

  • Upgraded 12AU7 tubes

  • Cardas output wiring

These are not just cosmetic or surface improvements. These are significant and somewhat costly parts upgrades. In either version, the Perseus is a full function preamp, with the ALPS volume control that can be commanded via the chunky metal remote.  There is a bypass feature, a mute button, and beautifully machined volume, source, and balance control knobs. There is also a high gain phono section which is user adjustable and compatible with moving coil and moving magnet cartridges.  Unfortunately I won’t be able to report on it as I gave up the vinyl ghost years ago. Around back there are two sets of variable outputs and one fixed output, any of which can be used with a subwoofer.

 

Roge Audio Perseus Magnum Preamp

 

Set Up:

 

Out of the box, the Perseus Magnum is very impressive. The preamp is available is silver or black, and my review sample arrived in a sinister black finish, which made for a rather stunning contrast to the silver knobs. A cage protects the four upgraded 12AU7 tubes that protrude from the top of the chassis in the Magnum version.  I had the Perseus Magnum set up in 5 minutes, as the tubes came pre installed. I put them atop a set of Symposium Rollerblocks for vibration control, and used my reference Acoustic Zen Tsunami II AC cord.


 

 

Listening:

 

 

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.

 

Roge Audio Persues Magnum Preamp rear

 

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.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Rogue Audio rightfully has a loyal following with repeat customers who feel they are getting superb sound that is worth every penny, even at the top of the line. I guess this is what results when you provide a product that is amazingly built, sounds gorgeous, and provide upgrade paths and friendly customer service. As a big plus, the Rogue products have a classic look that is a throwback to the days of American manufacturing ingenuity and muscle.

 

The Rogue Perseus tubed preamplifier with Magnum upgrades is a wonderful component.  I heard no flaws to speak of, from top to bottom, and enjoyed the liquid midrange and holographic imaging that is the hallmark of great tube preamps. Operationally it was flawless as well, running slightly, warm. It was extremely quiet, and allowing the music to bloom with zero electronic artifacts.

 

I love to point out when a terrific component is 100% made in the USA, and here as well I will make note that all Rogue products are made in PA, with pride.  I am hard pressed to think of a sub-$2500 tubed preamp I would rather own costing less than the Perseus.  How Rogue offers the Perseus with its Magnum upgrades for $2195 is beyond me. I am going to give up trying to figure out and just enjoy listening to it. I hope to have a few more Rogue products come through my door, and I personally have my eye on a Rogue preamp purchase in the very near future. Highly recommended.

 

Specifications

 

Rogue Audio Perseus Magnum Preamplifier: $2195

 

- Frequency response 5Hz – 50KHz +/- 1 dB

- THD <0.1%

- Gain line stage: 12 dB

- Gain phono stage: 65 dB

- Rated output: 1.5V RMS

- Output impedance: 450 ohms

- Maxcimum output: 20V RMS

- RIAA accuracy = +/- 0.25 dB

- Dimensions 18 ”W X 4.5 ”H X 14.5” D

- Weight 22 pounds

- Power requirements 115/230V – 50/50Hz

 

Review System 1

CD Player: Naim CD5 XS

Server: Squeezebox Touch with CIA  VDC-SB power supply

DAC: Bryston BDA-1

Preamp: Audio Research SP16

Amplifier: Audio Research VS55

Speaker: Thiel CS2.4

Cables: DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC),  Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC)  Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)

Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands,  Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack

 

Review System 2

CD Player: Marantz 5003

Music Server: Squeezebox 3, Marantz NA7004

DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply

Computer: Dell netbook running Windows XP

Tape Deck: Revox A77

Preamp: Pro-Ject Pre Box SE

Amplifier: Revox A722

Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3

Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio, Pangea Audio (AC), RS Cables, Element Cable

 

 






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