I bought the TX102's with the purpose of replacing the DACT1 volume control in my Transcendent Sound DIY grounded grid preamp. It improved the sound, imparting more body to the images and more transparency. This was like 10 months ago. Well, two weeks ago I decided to try them solo. I kept them in the preamp. and bypased the electronics. At first it was not very promising, not too much bass and not too dynamic. Considering that I had them in use for a while in an active preamp, i thought that they had broken in already. I left some music for 24 hours in case more break in was necessary and then when the volume was raised I was very impressed. There was more than enough gain (my amplifier has 20 db of gain) and the soundstage, clarity and transparency was noticeable better than with the active preamp. As time went on it improved even further. I emaied John about the break in anomaly, but we concurred that apparently the TX102 's in an active stage do not get the same workout or break in as stand alone use.
The units continued to improve so much that i decided to build a case, bought some Cardas RCA's, Jena wire and constructed a preamp with 2 inputs. I cannot believe how much the sound presentation has improved since then. The effortlessness, clarity, transparency and dynamics are breathtaking. All the harmonic decays are presented very naturally, something i did not notice before and Inner detail retrieval is now something to be reckon with.
For a while, I had a passive preamp in use in my system, the Reference Line Preeminence II, which was very transparent but not too dynamic and inner detal was lost in some instances. I guess it was affected by my amp's lowish gain. It suffered from the typical passive preamp syndrome. Sold it and constructed the grounded grid which worked better.
The proverbial- I dont't know how to improve on this preamp- is called for.