ZTPRE  Preamp Review

 

 


Reviewed by: bbaker6212, AudioPhile from Los Gatos, CA, USA

Price Paid: $995 at decware.com

Product Model Year:
1999

Summary:
I have auditioned various Decware products. The Zen SE84B, SV83M, and Radial RL-2 speakers. While these products can be amazing on their own when used appropriate to their limitations, ie properly mated components, room size, etc. I have found the ZTPRE preamp to be without *any* limitations - at least sonically. The only fault I think you could possibly have with this product is if you need more inputs or outputs. Sonically the ZTPRE does exactly what you want in a preamp - it gets completely out of the way - sounding extremely clean, quiet and not imparting any sonic signature of it's own. The better the components I hook up to it, the better my system is sounds. To say that I love this preamp is an understatement. I don't think I will ever need to purchase another preamp. I ordered the ZTPRE with stepped attenuators, so I cannot comment on the sound of the unit with standard volume controls. I have it integrated with my Outlaw Audio home theater receiver by running the front channels into the second set of inputs of the ZTPRE. I setup the volume One flip of the input toggle switch on the back of the ZTPRE, and it's ready to go. This setup allows for a low cost one system setup for movies while retaining a no-compromise system for audio. And audio is definitely my priority.

The other feature I really like about it are the switches on the back which allow you to adjust how the preamp mates with other components. I'll let you read more about that on the Decware.com site, but suffice it to say that it allows you to "tweak" the sound without cracking open the thing and messing with capacitors, etc. Somehow this allows changing the sonic "signature" without ever sounding colored or distorted. It just seems to change the speed and weight.

The ZTPRE does not sound warm, slow, or lacking in bass as some people might think tubed preamps can be. Quite the opposite. Try it and you will agree - Decware gives a 30 day money-back guarantee if not satisfied for any reason.

my mated components were:

Souce: Parsound CDP 2000 Ultra - belt driven top loading CD player.

Amplifier: Kennedy Tube Audio push-pull 300B Amp with JJ/Tesla 300B's and Auricap coupling caps.

HT Reciever: Outlaw Audio 1050 (great value!)

Speakers: HammerDynamics.com Super 12
HornShoppe.com Horns

Strengths:
speed, transparency, ability to tweak how well it integrates with other components.

Weaknesses:
Some may find the switches on the back to be awkward to operate - but this is a minimalist design decision to reduce the length of the signal path and keep costs resonable (as is usually the case with Decware products).

Similar Products Used:
First Sound Reference II Passive preamp it replaced!

Various solid state equipment Adcom, Hafler, NAD, B&K, and much more expensive stuff (Classe, VTL, etc.) audioned at "hi-fi" shops.

 

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