Avid Reference Pre Amplifier... 'The result of an unrelenting obsession'
Little did we imagine the arduous path the development of this product would take us upon. Without our perseverance to create a product without equal, any commercially minded organization would have relented. A tale for another time perhaps, but rest assured this is not a product for the sake of it, but establishes new meaning to the word "Reference".
We originally envisaged the Avid Reference PreAmplifier as an expansion of our Pulsare phonostage, simplistically adding line level inputs and a volume control. Totally underestimating our journey of development, research and component evaluation, our appetite for improvement never dwindled. Our goal was simply to create the World's best sounding Pre-Amplifier, sound quality overriding all other design parameters.
Essentially a Pre-Amplifier is made up of three building blocks; Power Supply, internal electronics and some form of volume control. Most designs glorify their internal electronics, but economize by starving them with an inadequate power supply and throttling the output employing a cheap volume control. These two building blocks can typically give an excellent measured performance but fail to deliver sonically.
Power supplies are hardly new territory for AVID, using them to great effect within our turntables and phonostages. So whilst the Pre-Amplifier draws very little current we have used a colossal 1Kva mains transformer, because the improvement was considerable. Adding over 350,000uF capacitor power reservoir, half in the power supply, half in the Pre-Amplifier itself, also witnessed immense dividends.
Our obsession for perfection extends to all three building blocks, with a limitless desire that not one should fall short on performance. The internal electronics commands the same attention to detail. The amplifier topology is a fully balanced design, in common with the Pulsare, with exceptionally low noise and distortion across the audio spectrum, however the Reference Pre-Amplifier uses an active RIAA stage rather than the Pulsare's passive design, pushing performance to new levels of excellence.
As with the Pulsare, at no point is signal integrity compromised, using relays for every adjustment. Every input and output is optionally XLR or RCA for complete flexibility and the phonostage allows up to four cartridges to be connected simultaneously for real vinyl aficionados. Mono can also be selected, catering for the growing interest in this playback style. Added to this are three line stages and a fixed level tape output. Four main outputs allow up to four mono-amplifiers to be powered in either balanced or single-ended configuration.
We developed our own wound film capacitors with polypropylene dielectric, employing no less than thirty within the circuitry. Being physically large capacitors they hang vertically below the main circuit board in close proximity to each other. This can cause reduced cross-talk performance in this situation, but again we didn’t fall short of our agenda. So we machined a 55mm solid aluminum block with individual pockets, then electroless nickel plated it to screen each capacitor. Extreme? Yes! But our crusade for perfection would not stop at any hurdle on our track to the finish.
Such an unrelenting obsession for nirvana bought us to the crowning glory and the "King" of volume controls. We've explored and listened to more volume controlling devices over three years than you can begin to imagine. Digital resistor ladders, Burr-Brown chips, Bourns, Penney & Giles, studio-grade sliders and even bespoke rotary stepped attenuators with matched resistors from a man in a cave. All were overshadowed by the performance the ALPS RK50 bestows and truly deserves the accolade "King" of volume controls.
Handmade from signal conductive plastic and manufactured to absurd limits, this key component is indicative of our absolute purist approach. Gone is the conventional ‘performance-limiting’ remote control motor with its field effects and rewarded with a breathtaking perception of realism.
Why do others not use this magnificent jewel? The answer is simple...Cost. Perfection comes at a price and it’s purely our self-indulgent and obsessive drive for perfection that makes AVID devoid of such thoughts. Prejudice may stop you hearing, cost may prevent its purchase but to listen is to believe and believe us, this is "close to perfection."
2x XLR Phono - 3x XLR Line
2x RCA Phono - 3x RCA Line
Dimensions: 500 x 410 x 190mm (WxDxH)
Net weight: Control unit - 29Kg (64lb) PSU - 28Kg (62lb)
Packaging (each): 660 x 560 x 270mm (WxDxH)
Shipping weight: 66.0Kg (146lb)