Audion Premier Quattro 2 and 4 Box Pre-Amp
What's the best car? The best guitar? The best wine? The best loudspeaker? The best watch? In most categories, there is no "best," just contenders. In high-end audio preamps, however, this is the best, right now in 2006 and probably next year too: The Audion Quattro in 4 box or 2 box configuration. Preamps are troublesome components, having to accept a small magnitude and delicate signal and amplify its voltage so that same signal can inform the muscle needed from the power amp. Along the way, there are sockets, switches, volume and balance controls, and myriad solder connections to degrade that signal and, by extension, your sound. Then there's noise to be dodged, various amplifier input impedances to be mated to, and the circuit has to make as little imprint of its own on the sound as is possible in an imperfect world. At the end of the chain before hand-off to the power amp, the original signal must maintain its fidelity and meaty tone. All this is why many audiophiles are frequently heard declaring, "Preamps suck!" Well, they don't. There are always a few good ones and while nothing outward about an Audion Quattro suggests why it is the best preamp, it nevertheless is. From their first preamp well over a decade ago, Audion has consistently demonstrated special insight about preamp circuits. Using vacuum tubes, their circuits combine speedy transient response with seamless, fluid tone that preserves the emotion and expressiveness in any music you play. If you play vinyl, Audion phono sections have always excelled as well. The new generation Quattro delivers these qualities same as before, but just more so. Even driving other manufacturers' power amplifiers, the full-bodied holistic tonal fidelity of the Quattro preamp informs the performance of everything downstream from it. Not the last word in convenience, the Audion Quattro is a multi-decade purchase with dual-mono construction, so yes you have separate switching and volume controls for each channel in a stereo system, but effort is low and the rotary volume switch makes channel-to-channel matching quick and repeatable. No, there isn't a remote control option either, at least not yet. I've owned or heard every preamp worth mentioning in high-end audio for the past 40 years and owned several during that time. This preamp will place more tonal realism and impactful emotion in your system than any competing preamp you can buy. If you look through my list here on ThisNext, you're probably getting the idea that an Audion + Zu soundchain is something you ought to be playing your music through. Americans can contact Ray of Sound at the link, to find a US retalier. Everyone else can find what they need at Audion's UK web site, below.