Reviewed by: bbaker6212, AudioPhile from Los
Gatos, CA, USA
Price Paid: $995 at decware.com
Product Model Year:
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.
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.
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.
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
speed, transparency, ability to tweak how well it
integrates with other components.
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
Similar Products Used:
First Sound Reference II Passive preamp it
Various solid state equipment Adcom, Hafler, NAD, B&K, and
much more expensive stuff (Classe, VTL, etc.) audioned at "hi-fi" shops.