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Tisbury Audio Mini Passive II Preamplifier Review Print E-mail
Monday, 12 October 2015
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Tisbury Audio Mini Passive II Preamplifier Review

During the Mini Passive II review period, I purchased a number of excellent new releases, including Lizz Wright’s Freedom & Surrender (96 kHz 24 bit FLAC download). It is a well recorded musical leap forward for the American songstress. Lizz Wright’s mix of folk, jazz, blues, pop, and Americana sounded sumptuous and fleshed out, and her duet with guest vocalist Gregory Porter on “Right Where You Are” was a tour de force. Her smoky voices blends wonderfully with his deep register, and the Mini Passive II just let it play. Her cover of the legendary Nick Drake’s “River Man” was a another stunner.

Tisbury Audio Mini Passive IIDidn’t He Ramble, Irish songwriter Glen Hansard’s follow up to his excellent Rhythm And Repose, is a well crafted set that builds on that album’s folk atmospherics. The 96 kHz download version is another winner, sonically. Hansard Celtic soul is strongly influenced by Van Morrison, but also sounds as if he has been listening to The Band, with these heartfelt, acoustic/electric soundscapes and tasteful, uncluttered arrangements. The system with the Tisbury in tow made this album sound organic and nicely balanced. I was particularly impressed with how Hansard’s voice seemed to float between the speakers with real body. It was a very convincing illusion.

Speaking of Van Morrison, one of the highlights of my time with the Mini Passive II was hearing the brand new 24/96 remasters of the entire classic Morrison catalog, recently acquired by Sony Legacy Recordings. I was able to easily compare these downloads to the mid 2000’s CD remasters, which do hold up well, but are not quite as good. Albums such as St. Dominic’s Preview and Hard Nose To The Highway were more dynamic and analog sounding than any previous versions. The Mini Passive II was a wonderful fit for this music.

Switching to the analog domain, a vintage 7 ips reel tape of The Genius Of Ray Charles was magical sounding. The Mini Passive II was source neutral, and just allowed my Sony TC-350 reel to reel deck to communicate musically with the power amp and speakers. Rod Stewart’s Never A Dull Moment also amazingly fun to listen to and the Mini Passive II made such classic tracks as “True Blue” really come alive.

Ergonomically, the Mini Passive II was everything I would want in a passive controller -- plenty of volume steps, noiseless operation, and hassle free. The new chassis is definitely an improvement as it broadens cable choice. Being able to mute the second output is also a great idea, and adjustable gain means the Mini Passive II will work with virtually any amplifier and source.

Tisbury Audio Mini Passive II


The benefits of a passive controller or “preamp” are clear to me. One less gain stage, one less power supply, and transparency to sources are all on the list. In audio, sometimes less can actually mean more. There are also some things in life that are terrific and come in small packages. The Tisbury Audio Mini Passive II is one of those rare things.

If you are searching for a passive controller that will not harm the sound, offer plenty of usable volume range, and source-switching in a space saving, attractive case, look no further.  The Mini Passive II is hand built in London town and priced at around $200, depending on currency rates of the day. Wes Young at Tisbury Audio offers a 14 day trial period, so the Mini Passive II is a risk free purchase. Highly recommended for passive preamp enthusiasts.


Tisbury Audio Mini Passive II: 129 British Pounds.

Enclosure: Handmade American black walnut facia and anodised
              aluminium body, laser engraved markings
Attenuator: 1% tolerance thin film SMD resistors, ±0.25 dB
              channel balance at all levels, gold plated contacts
Size D x W x H: 150mm x 105mm x 60mm
Input Impedance: 10 kOhms
Output Impedance (at full volume): 0 Ohms
Fixed Attenuation: 0 dB, -10 dB, -20 dB. Set by switches on base
Number of Inputs: 3
Number of Outputs: 2
Output 1: Variable - level set by volume control
Output 2: Variable or Loop, set by switches on base:

Review System 1

Server: Bryston BDP-2
DAC: Bryston BDA-1, iFI Micro iDSD w/ iUSB 3.0
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Preamp: Coffman Labs G1-A, CIAudio PLC-1 MKII
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4, Bryston Mini T
Cables: Stager Sound, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2

Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS,
DAC: iFi Micro iDSD w/iUSB 3.0
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh MA6600
Power Amplifier: CLONES Audio 25p
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Stager Sound, Transparent,  DH Labs
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Audience aR6

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