Very Basic Question: What is the difference between cheap passive and Tortuga

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sumoking

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I just moved to Class D from a SET.  I have high efficiency speaker- Spatial M3 Turbo S's.  I had a high end tube preamp.
When I went to Class D amps, they had xlr connectors and my preamp was single ended, so I needed to use adaptors. Since I gained so much clarity with my new digital amp, I thought I could get a passive with XLRs and see how that would sound. To just get the ball rolling, I just bought a $50 passive preamp from China that had some good connectors.  I hooked up my new amps and passive and was blown away.

I already listened to the Class D amp with my tube preamp and so it was clear the difference the passive preamp made.

My past experience with passive preamps was with Reference Line Audio - Preeminence back in the day. I was a dealer and used to carry this passive and it was world class.

Fast forward over 20 years and I have been researching passives again which led me to Tortuga which seems to be the leader in this space today.

There are so many options in the line. What is the best fit for my system? XLR connectivity is a must for my system. I know you get what you pay for, but why is it so much better that the simple design in my current cheap and cheerful passive.

Grateful for the groups feedback!
 

glynnw

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  • I have tin ears.
I was using a well known TVC when I got my first Tortuga - bought it as a kit because it was offered at such a good price.  I built it for fun, knowing that I already had perhaps the best type volume control in my TVC.  I'll never forget - fired up the Tortuga and within 5 seconds knew I liked it better.  Cymbals were clearer than I had ever heard thru my audio system.  Sold the TVC and have never looked back.  Add to sound quality the remote balance, changeable input resistances (I think that's what they are) and a few other features.  It has become so indispensable that now I use it even though I also have a preamp in the system.  My preamp has no remote, so the Tortuga, placed before the preamp,  adds nothing I can hear to the sound and gives me great control.

tortugaranger

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  • Handcrafted high performance audio gear
    • Tortuga Audio
I just moved to Class D from a SET.  I have high efficiency speaker- Spatial M3 Turbo S's.  I had a high end tube preamp.
When I went to Class D amps, they had xlr connectors and my preamp was single ended, so I needed to use adaptors. Since I gained so much clarity with my new digital amp, I thought I could get a passive with XLRs and see how that would sound. To just get the ball rolling, I just bought a $50 passive preamp from China that had some good connectors.  I hooked up my new amps and passive and was blown away.

I already listened to the Class D amp with my tube preamp and so it was clear the difference the passive preamp made.

My past experience with passive preamps was with Reference Line Audio - Preeminence back in the day. I was a dealer and used to carry this passive and it was world class.

Fast forward over 20 years and I have been researching passives again which led me to Tortuga which seems to be the leader in this space today.

There are so many options in the line. What is the best fit for my system? XLR connectivity is a must for my system. I know you get what you pay for, but why is it so much better that the simple design in my current cheap and cheerful passive.

Grateful for the groups feedback!

It's never easy answering a question like this with anything approaching a satisfactory reply.

My wholesale costs for the set of Cardas RCA jacks alone used in our preamp exceeds $50. My wholesale costs for the extruded aluminum case used in our preamp exceeds $50. Then there's the V25 LDR preamp controller board with 7 years of development behind it which costs well in excess of $50 to build. The list goes on.

You bought a minimalist Chinese pot-in-a-box for $50 and apparently it improved the sound of your system. Doesn't surprise me.

I once bought a highly used poop-brown Toyota from a friend for $600, drove it for a few years until it was truly trashed and ratty, and then sold it again for $600 when I moved out of state. It was a total piece of crap but it worked flawlessly and never let me down. Best deal for a car I ever got. Today I drive a late model Ford F150 pickup truck which costs about a gillion times more than that Toyota. I like the Ford F150 a whole lot more than that old Toyota but that's me.  :thumb:

Randy

I used a TVC passive for a few years then went to the Tortuga balanced (finished unit). Let's just say the sound of the Tortuga is vastly superior to that of the TVC (which was also balanced and I am sure it was excellent. Just not as good as the Tortuga.) 

Randy



I once bought a highly used poop-brown Toyota from a friend for $600, drove it for a few years until it was truly trashed and ratty, and then sold it again for $600 when I moved out of state. It was a total piece of crap but it worked flawlessly and never let me down. Best deal for a car I ever got. Today I drive a late model Ford F150 pickup truck which costs about a gillion times more than that Toyota. I like the Ford F150 a whole lot more than that old Toyota but that's me.  :thumb:

Morten, your old-Toyota/new-Ford analogy is hilarious.

Early B.

OP -- there's a big lesson I learned a while back -- some people make and/or sell audio gear. A well regarded audio designer, however, has usually spent many years and thousands of hours studying and experimenting to perfect their craft.

With that being said, I don't know the Tortuga guy (and I don't own one), but he's an engineer and audio designer. Obviously, the audio designer's stuff will cost more, but would you rather buy from a guy who actually knows what he's doing, or from a guy in China who sells cheap stuff on ebay? The answer depends on the level of sound quality you're seeking. If you buy cheap stuff, that's what you can expect your system to sound like.


goofytwoshoes

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I just bought a $50 passive preamp from China that had some good connectors.  I hooked up my new amps and passive and was blown away.

I already listened to the Class D amp with my tube preamp and so it was clear the difference the passive preamp made.

My past experience with passive preamps was with Reference Line Audio - Preeminence back in the day. I was a dealer and used to carry this passive and it was world class.

Fast forward over 20 years and I have been researching passives again which led me to Tortuga which seems to be the leader in this space today.

There are so many options in the line. What is the best fit for my system? XLR connectivity is a must for my system. I know you get what you pay for, but why is it so much better that the simple design in my current cheap and cheerful passive.

I, too, first dabbled in passive preamps by buying an inexpensive one - $80 for a used one made in Hong Kong, and single-ended not balanced.  It did sound pretty nice, but not as good as my Meitner PA6i active preamp (which sold for $2300 in 1988).  My main concern was finding out if my system would satisfy me without the gain of an active preamp, and it was obvious that it would. The Meitner has no conventional volume pot or stepped volume control, and I didn't want to go back to one, so an LDR passive was a logical choice and Tortuga seemed to be the best of the bunch.  I got  the LDR3.V25 kit, which is proving to be a definite step up from the Meitner (see my comments in another post here).  And the Tortuga's remote control system is a big plus - it controls all function and features, and never misses a beat.  After three months with it, I don't see myself ever wanting to change out the Tortuga. 

rollo

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  If one desires a passive it only makes sense to purchase one from a well qualified designer. That is what we have here a very well qualified designer.
 If your system can implement a passive try Mortens and be very happy. Cheap is as cheap does. For my SET amp with very low input sensitivity a winner.
Oh the difference is better sound.  :duh:


charles