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©The Bespoke Audio Company 2019

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FAQs

The unconventional design of our pre-amplifier means there are often technical questions.

 

We've compiled some of the more regular queries below and we'll be adding to this list as more questions come up. If you have an enquiry which isn't covered here, please don't hesitate to contact us.

 

You can also click HERE for detailed background and technical information.

Will it be loud enough?

 

Modern sources have output levels which are more than capable of driving amplifiers to their maximum volume. So, a pre-amplifier is almost always used to reduce (or attenuate) the signal level.

Our design means there's no excess gain, so you might find you need to set the volume control higher than expected, but this just means greater resolution and control.

Volume control set higher than expected

Because of the passive nature of our design, it is quite normal to find the LEVEL control on our pre-amplifier is set higher than you might expect to see on an active pre-amplifier. This is perfectly normal and actually allows finer control over the volume level.

How does the 6dB gain option work?

We can offer 6dB of gain in our pre-amplifier by reconfiguring the primary section of the transformer. The entire winding is still used, but this reconfiguration means that when the level control is at the maximum position the transformer has a 1:2 ratio, or 6dB of gain (rather than the 1:1 ratio of the standard configuration).

 

Of course, nothing comes for free, so we should add that in the +6dB version, it is possible the impedance matching might be compromised at the maximum level settings. We have not yet come across this happening in practice, but it's only right we be frank!

 

Whether this is an issue depends on many factors, but we are happy to look at the specifications of your system and give a definitive answer if you wish.

 
What about dynamics and drive?

Our pre-amplifier's design means it is electrically silent, so the dynamics and drive of the original recording are preserved. There is a common preconception that passive preamplifiers lack drive, or flatten dynamics. There might be a psychological temptation to think of an active pre-amplifier as being able to “push” the signal, but this isn't correct. Often, this preconception comes from previous experience with resistive passive designs and rather than being a lack of drive as such, is actually caused by impedance mismatches which can be an inherent issue with such designs. 

 
Is it really balanced and can it convert between balanced and unbalanced signals?

Because our pre-amplifier is transformer based it offers true transformer balanced operation. Unbalanced sources on the RCA inputs are converted to balanced signals at the XLR outputs and any balanced inputs are unbalanced at the RCA output.

 
Does cable length matter?

There is a common perception that passive pre-amplifiers should be used with short cables for best results. However, this is another area where the benefits of a transformer based design's impedance matching are a huge advantage. We have customers using our pre-amplifier together with ten meter long interconnects without any issue or sonic penalty. Indeed, this means that our pre-amplifier can be used with active loudspeakers.

 
Copper or Silver?

We offer our pre-amplifier with the option of either copper or 99.99% pure silver winding and hook up wire. It is critical to state that we do not regard either copper or silver as better, they are different, sometimes...

 

There is no clear answer to the question of copper vs. silver. We have heard the comparison between copper and silver pre-amplifiers in many systems and sometimes there is a clear difference, although it is certainly not always true that the silver sounds better, in some cases it's copper. Indeed, in some systems it is almost impossible to tell the difference, even though the system is otherwise very revealing. In our experience, one "rule of thumb" seems to be that where silver sounds better, it is usually as part of a system where other components are also silver. Of course, there is no hard and fast rule at all.

 
How does the remote control work?

Our remote control uses a high quality precision stepper motor attached the the rear of the switch, acting like a robot hand. The motor and control board are power by an external, custom designed, transformer based, linear power supply. This design means there are no active components in the signal path whatsoever.

 
Are more elaborate customisations possible, for example a different size chassis?

Yes, absolutely! Each of our products is hand made to order. While our online Configurator offers a wide range of choices and options, in practice the possibilities are limitless. Please feel welcome to contact us to discuss any special requirements.

 
Can you use both sets of outputs at the same time?

Yes, and we have many customers who do exactly this. Because of the transformer based design of our pre-amplifier, impedances are properly matched and it's perfectly possible for the pre-amplifier to drive two loads at once. Each output has its own dedicated Ground Lift Switch to allow separate ground arrangements for each connected power amplifier.
(Please note: because the outputs are wired in parallel, grounding the RCA output will also cause pin 3 of the XLR connection to be grounded, effectively rendering this output unbalanced.)