Pros: Good value, well built, provide tangible results
Cons: The units are a little long and may cause some issues in some installations.
A common issue with connecting modern sources is the output level they expect all components to accept. Since the age of the CD player, most modern sources output around 2 volts, while both power and integrated amplifiers typically have a much lower input sensitivity of between 100-500mV. The result being you have limited range of control on the volume pot and you are operating in the lower portion of a volume controls range, which is typically where channel imbalances occur.
I found myself in this exact situation when using my Audio-GD Compass 2 as a DAC/Pre-amplifier to feed a Cyrus Power Amplifier in order to power my HE500. The Compass 2 has a variable output of up to 5 Volts and the Cyrus Power Amplifier has an input sensitivity of 380mV to achieve 50W@Ohms. The volume control on the Compass 2 runs from 7 o’clock to 5 o’clock, when using it with the Cyrus Power I was only able to use 7-8 o’clock before it reached uncomfortable volume.
After a little searching I came across GoldenJacks attenuators which seemed to fit the bill as they would attenuate the level being fed into the power amplifier, giving me greater control of the volume. I spoke to the owner of GoldenJacks who was extremely helpful in helping me to pick the correct level of attenuation and within 4 days they had been received.
Once fitting my audio chain is:
PC/Foobar>USB>Compass 2>RCA>GoldenJack>Power Amplifier>HE500.
So how do they perform?
Before I installed them I struggled to find the sweet spot on my preamplifier, there was a slight channel imbalance and the sound was a little anaemic, lacking in weight and authority. After installing I’m able to use a wider range on the volume control (around 9-10 o’clock) and the sound is full and weighty, seems to have a higher dynamic range with no loss of resolution or detail.
I could ramble on like the introduction to this review but to sum it up I could not live without the Golden Jacks they have improved my system to no end.