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Herron Audio VTSP-3A Preamplifier

Herron Audio VTSP-3APrice: $6850

Website: www.herronaudio.com

Ryan said: The Herron VTSP-3A line stage did nothing objectionable, and for that I have terrific respect for it. Its sins were more of omission than the more annoying ones of commission. It did its job of controlling source selection, mono/stereo, phase, and volume in the most unobtrusive ways, while providing an uncolored reproduction of the signal with the convenience of a full-function remote. It was a delight to use on a daily basis, and seems engineered to last. Sonically, it gave up little to the best out there (mostly in macrodynamic swings and presence-region voicing), and let me hear what the rest of my components sound like. It would be at home in a system of any cost, but whether you prefer the VTSP-3A or one of its competitors will depend on how much you want to hear your line stage. You won’t be hearing the Herron.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Just really good performance all around.

Audio Research LS27 Preamplifier

ARC LS27Price: $6995

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Howard said: The LS27 will thrill most audiophiles. It raises the bar for what should be expected from a preamp in its price class. Moreover, it may convince all the digital junkies and audio minimalists out there that they really do need a preamp after all. The fact that I’m giving the LS27 a Reviewers’ Choice award may not be entirely surprising, given that it’s made by Audio Research -- a company known for making great preamps.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Another knockout preamp from the company known for knockout preamps.

Purity Audio Design Purity Reference Preamplifier

Purity Audio Design ReferencePrice: $8895

Website: www.purityaudiodesign.com

Michael said: The Reference drew from recordings a great deal of detail and information, but it also made me want to just sit back and be entertained -- it let me connect with the music. If you’re looking for a preamplifier at or anywhere near $9000, Purity Audio Design’s Purity Reference should be on your short list.

Select Component

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A reference tube preamp from a newcomer on the scene.

Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe Preamplifier

Lamm LL2.1 DeluxePrice: $5990

Website: www.lammindustries.com

Doug said: What I thoroughly enjoyed about listening with the LL2.1 Deluxe was that my attention didn’t dart from one performance parameter to the next, as it does with many audiophile components. Instead, the Lamm presented music so cohesively and convincingly, with so exceptionally natural and thoroughly engaging sound, that I easily lost myself in the music, largely ignoring the nitpicky things that so worry audiophiles -- and especially reviewers. Not many components can do this for me.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: There’s just something intrinsically right about Lamm gear.

Simaudio Moon 350P Preamplifier

Simaudio Moon 350PPrice: $2500; add $500 for DAC and phono option

Website: www.simaudio.com

Doug said: Simaudio’s Moon 350P is a high-performance stereo preamplifier for the audiophile masses -- the kind of preamp that many people can aspire to own and can reasonably afford. Its $2500 base price is very fair, and $500 is little to ask for the options of a phono stage and DAC.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Plain-looking, good-sounding preamp.

 

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