LDRx Passive Preamp Tour

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tortugaranger

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Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #120 on: 7 Feb 2014, 05:43 pm »
Tubes? We don't need no stinkin' tubes.   :?

Well NOW you've done it....start'n up a another war of tubular aggression.  :lol:

Randy

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #121 on: 7 Feb 2014, 07:21 pm »
What if your system sounds better with tubes in the sauce? Do your ears lie?

Why do you have a
Croft Super Micro Pre (all tube) in your rig?

My Croft pre has been sitting in a closet for pretty much the last 20 years.  Interesting unit, but I came to dislike it's sonic colorations. Maybe I should try to sell it sometime.

Randy

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #122 on: 7 Feb 2014, 07:39 pm »
Well NOW you've done it....start'n up a another war of tubular aggression.  :lol:

Sorry, Morten.

Have you heard this one?

A Swede was in a pub in Norway and a regular customer suggested to him:
 "I'll give you $200, if you let me smash ten beer bottles on your head." The Swede thought for a while and finally agreed, thinking he could use the cash. The Norwegian smashed the first bottle on the Swede's head, then the second and so on, but he stopped after smashing nine bottles.
- "So, when are you going to smash the tenth bottle?," asked the Swede.
- "I am not a total idiot," the Norwegian replied, "then I would have to give you that $200."

WireNut

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #123 on: 9 Feb 2014, 02:51 pm »
Tortuga passive preamp:

Loads of micro detail, excellent channel separation and soundstage depth making instruments and vocalist easily placed in the mix. Good tight bass response. Remote balance and volume controls were a plus for my system.
 
The Tortuga passive preamp is very revealing. It has the ability to bring out the good or bad in a system. My current setup is a bit too bright for the Tortuga and would require some component changes elsewhere in the chain. Treble was highlighted in my SS system with some occasional sizzle while running the Tortuga. I found myself using the remote volume often turning down the system from my usual listening level. I used both sets of unbalanced outputs on the Tortuga to my bi-amp system which is usually running a balanced tube pre with 26db of gain. The balanced version of the Tortuga passive preamp may be better suited for my existing equipment. 

With funds available I can see myself building a new system around the Tortuga preamp possibly with a  tube amp and some high efficiency open baffle loudspeakers or monitors.

Overall a good passive preamp that many folks will enjoy.

Thank you Morten for allowing me to join the Tour.





dvb

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #124 on: 15 Feb 2014, 02:36 am »
I am enjoying following this tour.

I actually have fond memories of the passive pre I had a number of years ago, the FT Audio.   I recall its transparency with fondness, and am sorry I let it go. (Even though it had a pot!)

What puzzles me about the LDR1 is that it has one set of inputs, and two sets of outputs.

Why not have two sets of inputs, and one set of outputs?

I need to input and select between two inputs (Phono and CD) but really only need one output to one amp. 

Given that the basic pre-amp function is to select between sources as well as to adjust volume, I would have thought that would be the starting point.

And,yet, the LDR6 goes nuts with 6 inputs and 1 output. 

Randy

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #125 on: 15 Feb 2014, 03:23 am »
I am enjoying following this tour.

I actually have fond memories of the passive pre I had a number of years ago, the FT Audio.   I recall its transparency with fondness, and am sorry I let it go. (Even though it had a pot!)

What puzzles me about the LDR1 is that it has one set of inputs, and two sets of outputs.

Why not have two sets of inputs, and one set of outputs?

I need to input and select between two inputs (Phono and CD) but really only need one output to one amp. 

Given that the basic pre-amp function is to select between sources as well as to adjust volume, I would have thought that would be the starting point.

And,yet, the LDR6 goes nuts with 6 inputs and 1 output.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the second set of outputs for a subwoofer?

konut

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #126 on: 15 Feb 2014, 03:38 am »
Or a dedicated headphone amp. Its always tough to determine exactly how many ins and outs to include depending on the price point and versatility one requires. One input keeps the cost down and is significantly less costly than two outs, which essentially is just a splitter. There is the LDR3 for those that require more ins, albeit at an added cost.

tortugaranger

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Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #127 on: 16 Feb 2014, 10:13 pm »
I am enjoying following this tour.
I actually have fond memories of the passive pre I had a number of years ago, the FT Audio.   I recall its transparency with fondness, and am sorry I let it go. (Even though it had a pot!)
What puzzles me about the LDR1 is that it has one set of inputs, and two sets of outputs.
Why not have two sets of inputs, and one set of outputs?
I need to input and select between two inputs (Phono and CD) but really only need one output to one amp. 
Given that the basic pre-amp function is to select between sources as well as to adjust volume, I would have thought that would be the starting point.
And,yet, the LDR6 goes nuts with 6 inputs and 1 output.

In hindsight I have to agree with you.  The LDR6 was an exercise in what you could fit into a given amount of real estate and the LDR1 was an attempt to reduce cost/price.  The "Goldilocks" design is probably 3 inputs  and 2 outputs. The next version of our single ended passive preamp will have just that - the LDR3. The LDR3  will be released soon after the LDR3B, it's bigger badder balanced brother.  :thumb:

dvb

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #128 on: 17 Feb 2014, 12:50 am »
Thanks for the response!

Three In, Two Out sounds great to me!

poseidonsvoice

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Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #129 on: 1 Mar 2014, 02:05 am »
Review forthcoming this weekend...

Sorry for the delay...

Anand.

poseidonsvoice

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Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #130 on: 2 Mar 2014, 06:52 pm »
Well here it is. Many of you have been patiently waiting for my review of Morten's LDRx unit especially in light of the fact that I had built my own balanced version of John Chapman's TAP-X called the Lazarus.

My system is detailed here: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?action=systems;system=1184

Let's just cut to the chase. This is a fantastic unit. I plugged it in, and even though it is RCA based and I have a fully balanced system, I had enough unbalanced interconnects (and my source does have an unbalanced output) that configuration was easy. Then I listened. And I didn't stop listening. And I had no motivation to get up or tweak anything.

So how does it compare to my fully balanced and unbalanced TAP-X unit? The biggest difference isn't in tonality, imaging, microdetailing, macrodetailing or PRAT (which the LDRx has PLENTY of). It was in soundstaging. The LDRx puts you more up front and center while the TAP-X is more midhall. I could turn the volume up a little more with the TAP-X and the presentation became more similar, but not the same. With the LDRx, the presentation could be a little more forward, which I did prefer on some recordings. On other recordings...not so much. At times, I thought the LDRx presented a little more detail especially at the trailing edge of an instrument or especially on acoustical recordings, but I soon realized that the TAP-X could do the same, you just had to turn the volume up a few clicks.

I truly believe that the performance of the LDRx is nothing short of remarkable given the competition, i.e. the TAP-X. The differences were far more subtle than I had imagined and in fact, one could choose either one and come out ahead.

So where does this leave us? I thought about this long and hard because for many of you, the Bent Audio products are a bit too expensive. Understand what you are paying for however. Given that the sonic differences between the 2 products are small and that I only had balanced TAP-X on hand (and sorry I didn't do a comparison from the RCA outputs on my TAP-X), I will say that the packaging, remote, phenomenal front panel user interface and friendliness account for the differences in price between the 2 products. First you need to ascertain whether a passive preamp can work in your system from a volume perspective, i.e. do you have enough gain in your system for MOST of your recordings? Next, you need to ask yourself if your amplifier has a low input impedance (i.e. less than 40k ohms) or greater. If it's higher and you want something fully built with remote and need a single ended/RCA based device, call Morten immediately! $1.2k-$1.3K is a mere pittance. If you want something that is compatible with low input impedance amplifiers (i.e. less than 40K ohms), a little more lavish looking with a phenomenal remote handset, or you have interconnects longer than 1-2M, then build yourself a BENT AVC-1 for $1.6K. A little more will get you the fully built version. For balanced, there is only one currently on the market, but I am sure Morten's unit is right around the corner and should be competitive.

For the crafty, one could go with Morten's LDRx kit, or purchase a pair of AVC transformers from John Chapman and build your own enclosure etc...you should be able to do both for a good 30% less than what these fellas are asking for their built units (which is cheap!!!). You'll get all the sonics with less user friendliness. Big deal, yah, your creation might look like ass but at least with lights out you are in sonic bliss. 

Okay. What should you NOT do?  Don't spend $3K-$10K on a preamp thinking that it is going to kick the pants off of Morten's LDRx or the Bent TAP-X cause in all likelihood, it may be better in a few areas while compromising others. And most of the time, in my experience, it has been worse, sometimes considerably worse! That's right, if you are looking for a preamp at less than $10K, check out Morten's LDRx. If you want a preamp that can add 7dB of gain, work with a more variety of amplifiers, even have headphones plugged in, go for the Bent unit. Both of these products should be able to satisfy a good 99% of audiophiles IMHO.

But's that all that is...my honest audiophile douche bag's opinion   :wink:

Thanks again Morten, a job well done, and most highly recommended.  :thumb:

Best,
Anand.

Nick77

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #131 on: 3 Mar 2014, 12:07 pm »
Thanks for the great write up, LDRx is certainly at the top of my diy hit list.  :thumb:

And im sure anyone hearing your system and room wouldn't think your a douche, more like a diy genius.  :lol:

tortugaranger

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Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #132 on: 3 Mar 2014, 12:55 pm »
But's that all that is...my honest audiophile douche bag's opinion   :wink:
Thanks again Morten, a job well done, and most highly recommended.  :thumb:
Best,
Anand.

Hi Anand,
Thank you for the kind words, for participating in the tour and for taking the time to put your thoughts into writing. Best douche bag review ever. No wait.....that didn't come out right.   :?
Cheers,
Morten :thumb:

richidoo

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #133 on: 5 Mar 2014, 05:27 pm »
Nice review Anand! Thanks for doing it and posting your findings.
Congrats to the mfgs for making excellent products at very reasonable prices.

ssglx

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #134 on: 7 Mar 2014, 03:55 am »
Received the unit in good order from Posiedonsvoice. I'll be firing it up this weekend.

My only other experience with passives was a K&K TVC (good) and a simple pot-in-a-box. This should be fun!

Chris

ssglx

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #135 on: 10 Mar 2014, 01:04 am »
I was right, this is great fun. My initial impression is this is quite a device. It functions smoothly and sounds awesome!

Bass, body, imaging, sweetness, and very clean highs are all there. Tonal color is excellent too. I'll try to keep an open (critical) mind as I evaluate it over the next few days with more of my favorite music, but I'm quite impressed so far.

Had another audiophile friend over this afternoon (fixing another noise in my tube preamp!). He is a talented amp designer and I've been listening off and on to the prototype of a low power SS integrated amp that he will be building for me. When I signed up for this demo tour I was thinking of having him incorporate an LDR into his design, substituting for his typical resistor pot. To demo the concept we put the Tortuga passive in from of his prototype and dialed its volume pot to full to basically take it out of the circuit.  The result was excellent, significantly more vibrant at all volume levels than without the Tortuga and still very clean.

I tend to keep the components and cables that I like. I run a couple systems and I enjoy changing components out periodically to vary the experience. I love my tube preamp and I will keep it, but I'm thinking there may be a Tortuga LDR added to my stable of components quite soon.

Chris

ssglx

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #136 on: 22 Mar 2014, 01:20 am »
Been without the LDR1 now for a few days, on its way to the next reviewer, and I miss it.

Guess its time for my review too...I'm no professional writer so recognize that, but I have been around decent audio equipment for about 40 years. On audio boards I also tend to state my observations the way I hear them and sometimes in the face of opposition, but I don't care.

I like my tube preamp. I liked the S&B TVC that I auditioned a few years back. I REALLY like Morten's LDR1.

The rest of the system used for most of the trial is an AppleTV source, Musical Fidelity V-Dac, a pair of Monarchy SM-70 Pro amps and Soliloquy 5.0 speakers.
Cables are a mix of JPS SC-3, Nordost Heimdal IC's, Morrow Audio MA-2's, and well worn Mapleshade Golden Helix speaker cables. All these cables impart their own character, and all are excellent sounding to my ear.

For the first week I ran a single Monarchy amp (24 w/ch) at the modest levels where I do most of my listening. The last couple days I reconfigured the cabling to run both amps in my favorite vertical bi-amp setup. Thank you Morten for the dual RCA outputs!

I do most of my listening to Jazz, Jam, Jamgrass, Bluegrass, R&B and some Classical.

Characteristics I found with the LDR1 can be summarized as follows:
 natural full bass with good transients and heft
 excellent midrange balance
 improvement of a narrow band midrange ring that my speakers suffer from
 clean with good transparency. Possibly a bit less transparency than I have heard before with my system, but I've never experienced so balanced a midrange in my system before which may affect that perception.
 consistently great sense of tonal color, with good saturation. 
 highly listenable, even allowing me to listen into and appreciate music that I often find strident (even with the tubes, Chicago and Otis Redding recordings for instance). Possibly there is some softening of the edges of notes? I don't know, but it certainly was no negative for me.
 a real sense of flow and a lack of sibilance and high frequency hash that brought back some memories of how things sounded with my old Phillips and B&O turntables. I did not expect this but it was great.

The last day, with my wife and kids out of town I was able to crank it up loud with some full throated recordings: Greyboy Allstars, Cowboy Junkies, Lotus. All very listenable with great PRAT. I was able to take the volume right to the point of fear of ripping a woofer surround. No listening fatigue.
One of my favorite Lotus tracks is a live version of Umbilical Moonrise. An emotional piece with a really cool kick-drum that is startling and telling on a system's bass transient ability and quality. With the LDR1 in the system, it sounded the best I have heard it.

Am I going on too much with the positives?...I didn't prefer the LDR1 with everything I put through it. Maybe 90%, though all of this is probably system dependent.

One example would be Frank Zappa's guitar in a couple of my favorite FZ solo's. His recordings tend to be thinner and more bracing and my tube preamp (distortion and all) gives it the right amount of bloom, crunch and drive to make it fun. Not quite as much fun with the LDR1.

Also my memory (been a few years) of the TVC was an utter sense of cleanness and transparency, though this was quite possibly accentuated by its thinner balance. I don't feel like anything is missing listening to the LDR1, but the TVC seemed amazing in that regard.

In summary, the LDR1 is highly recommended.

Chris

tortugaranger

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Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #137 on: 22 Mar 2014, 12:58 pm »
In summary, the LDR1 is highly recommended.

I think he liked it.  :wink:

Thanks for participating and for taking the time for write up your review Chris.

Cheers,
Morten

briang

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #138 on: 8 Apr 2014, 07:45 pm »
I have just received the LDR this afternoon - it was well packaged and in good shape.  I hope to do some listening tonight and should be able to post my thoughts this weekend.

Thanks,

Briang

briang

Re: LDRx Passive Preamp Tour
« Reply #139 on: 11 Apr 2014, 06:29 pm »
I would like to thank Morten for making the LDRx available for demo on the tour.

I’ll cut to the chase – I really like this unit.

My system consists of an Olive 4HD server to a PS Audio PW Dac2 to a Luminous Audio Axiom (LAA) passive pre to a Dsonic M3 1200 amp and then the Vapor Audio Cirrus Black speakers. Speaker cables and interconnects are Grover Huffman.  I use the Dac for fine grain volume changes via the remote and the LAA passive for large volume changes.  The LAA is a simple, one input and one output, Caddock resistor based passive that I have had for years and I feel is the best $125 I have spent in this hobby.

Directly comparing one passive to another seemed to be on the order of a tweak to me but it actually turned out to be a proper component upgrade.  The first thing I noticed is that the LDRx had better base which also yielded a deeper soundstage.  The LDRx was also more detailed and colorful.  I think the biggest surprise is that the LDRx had better flow as though there was less artificial tension in the music.  My listening sessions lasted longer and I just let my mood dictate my music selections rather than purposefully select audiophile recordings.  In the end, I just enjoyed my system more with the LDRx in the chain.

I expect to have the unit packed and shipped to the next tour destination this weekend.

Thanks again and let me know if anyone has any questions.

Briang