Twisted Systems

Climbing to the Audio Summit Part 2: Amps/Preamps

The response to “Climbing to the Audio Summit:  Turntables” was truly amazing.

The comments really were, for the most part, insightful, and some manufactures should read them.

I also have to think that those who read my columns also found the turntable histories of fellow audiophiles equally entertaining.

I did say at the outset that some dates of gear may not be accurate.

The Garrard Zero 100 TT is a perfect example. I was living in an apartment in Manhattan with my girlfriend and her brother on and off from 1969-72.

Lots of audio gear came and went and who bought what and when is somewhat of a blur.

I also realized that there was a Lenco TT somewhere in that pile during that time as well!

Also the Stad TT was indeed French (a Jean Francois Le Tellec model) bought in NYC in 1985 from a dealer on Park Avenue who lasted about 1 year in a town pretty much controlled by Lyric HiFi and Sound By SingerIt looked very exotic with green glass platters and I had it mounted on a Target wall mount.

I did have fun with that list, and now comes the Amps/Pre-amps/Phono stages list. Again, exact years of ownership are based on my memory so I have done my best.

It also seems that, having not been a reviewer, I owned lots and lots more stuff then one should rationally own during the time frames listed. It shows that I was probably motivated by the very insecure feeling that nothing was ever good enough as well as influenced by magazine reviews.

That’s right. I am always, like most of you, totally guilty of chasing the dragon!

Having said that, I will also say that during my years working at Lyric Hifi, I slowed down my hifi upgrades to just about zero for one important reason:  I got to play with all the most expensives toys everyday so I lost some of the neediness. I would just go home and watch TV. I almost stopped listening to music at home!

Several of the salesman also told me that that would happen. I didn’t believe them at first.

They were correct!

Also note that for the most part things remained unchanged (except for speakers- the subject of part 3) from 1987 to 2013.

The reasons for that also includes 2 divorces! (ok, stop laughing…it happens to be too true).

But, here now is more proof of our collective addiction.

My Amp/Preamp/phono preamp history

1968 SONY 6050 Receiver

1970 Dynaco PAT 3/Dyna 70 AMP

1970 Dynaco hand wired PAT3/ Dynaco 120 AMP

1971 Harman/KARDON Citation 11 (Pre-amp) /12 (Amp)

1973 McIntosh C3 Pre-amp/ HK Citation 12

1974 Phase Linear 400 Amp/MAC C3 pre-amp

1976 Phase Linear 400 Amp/SAE pre-amp-equalizer

1976 DBX Dynamic Range Enhancer

1980 Luxman Integrated amp

1985  Yamaha R-8 Receiver

1985 Perreaux Preamp (purchased at their factory outside Auckland, New Zealand)

1986  PS Audio 200 amp/ PS Audio 4.6 pre-amp

1987  PS Audio 200cx amp/ Audio research SP-11 pre amp

1997  Proceed 5 channel amp/Proceed 5 channel AVP pre-amp

2013 Audio Research DS 225 Class D amp/ Classe SSP-800 Surround Sound processor/Parasound A31 3 channel amp

2015 Mark Levinson 532 stereo amp/ Parasound A31 3 channel amp/ Classe SSP-800

2017 Replaced the Classe SSP-800 with an NAD M17 Surround processor

2018 Replaced the Mark Levinson 532 with a Pass 250.8 amp

Sold the Parasound and did not replace it to completely remove any video signals going through the system due to grounding issues in my apartment building and return the system to pure audio.

Replaced the NAD M17 with a PS Audio BHK preamp.

It also occurred to me that for most of the time, my many preamps had mm phono stages built in because I used moving magnet cartridges almost exclusively until about 10 years ago when I switched to moving coils.

Phono stages owned in the last 10 years:

Audio Research PH 3

ASR Basis Exclusive

EAT Glo S Tube Pre-amp

PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter (NPC)