l have been the owner of a Cab now for about 6 months and enjoyed it immensly in that time. At the time of purchase it was the Cab or a NOH and went for the Cab just because of the doubts about whether passive really would do it for me. l decided a few weeks agoto go looking for a used NOH because l wanted to know once and for all what was possible with a good passive. l am glad l did : )
l have had the NOH 3 days now in my system and find it stunning. l have never gained so much enjoyment from listening to music, so much so that l tingle with excitement everytime l get to the opportunity for a listen. Everytime l find switching back to my Supratek lowers the fun factor, the naturalness disappears to a significant degree. Its like the Supratek is adding a level of coloration and unnatural drive, l don't know how else to explain it. On some tracks l find the lower octaves softer and more natural through the NOH and on others l find them to be deeper and more extended. l have no way of explaining that other than to say that whatever the Supratek is adding to the sound manifests itself differently on different recordings and frequencies. In all other areas the NOH is simply way superior.
l have only owned the Supratek for 6 months and remember the huge step-up in performance over my ARC SP-9. l think l have gained almost the same level of improvement again. For anyone who has experienced the entrancing vocal reproduction capabilities of a pair of Lowther horns, well l have moved a step closer to that IMO holy grail except l also have the bass, dynamics and visceral impact that Lowther's cant manage. l am a convert!
CAVEAT; There are many who claim the Supratek Cabernet is up there with the best pre's available and that may very well be the case. Passive only works in the right system. You need a high gain source and good impedance matching between source and power amp if you are to have any chance of success. l am sure in 90% or more of listeners systems they would much prefer the Supratek for these reasons. The fact that l am feeding such a high gain signal to my Supratek and needing to use its built in attenuator to lower this signal is far from ideal and no doubt in my system the Supratek is not giving its best. Mick from Supratek recommends having this attenuator at either position 1 or 2 for best performance, l have to have it at 6 (maximum cut) or else my system distorts. That gives you an idea of just how many volts are coming out of my modified AudioNote DAC. The only way to fix this is get a different DAC, not an option as l love the AudioNote and now having experienced the NOH, l doubt l could even get close going that route. The bottom line is, do you research before spending the money to have a go at passive as its not for every system.
The Cab is on the market if anyone is looking for a bargain.