Audio-gd Master 1 preamp any good?

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by lieberung, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. lieberung
    Hi, Im considering upgrading source and premap for my ATC SCM50 ASLT (active monitors) from Audiolab CDQ cdp/dac/pre combo to seperate solution with Audio-gd Master 1 (preamp) and Audio-gd Master 7 (dac). Ive read lots of great things about the Master 7 but cant find that many reviews on the Master 1. Anyone here heard the Master 1 and would like to give their thoughts on the unit (or other audio-gd preamps?)
  2. punit
    Yes, It is quite good. I own one for more than 2 years now.
  3. lieberung
    Double post
  4. lieberung
    Thanks for the reply. Have you experience with other dedicated preamps you may compare it to? Do you use it together with other audio-gd equipment? If so do you neeed several remotes, one controlling each unit or may one audio-gd remite control several units?
  5. punit
    I have experience only with couple of other integrated amps (NAD & Cayin) and Weiss INT , which is a digital preamp (with remote), in all three cases the Master 1 sounder better in terms of increased sound stage & fuller bass , also sound was more smooth. the NAD & Cayin have pre in, which allows one to bypass their pre amp section & use them as a power amp with an external pre amp. I connected the Weiss INT directly to the Master 2 & then compared it through the Master 1.
    All my other Audio GD components don't have remote (Master 2 & NFB 7).
  6. punit
    please see the comments in the first paragraph with regards to Master 1:

    lieberung likes this.
  7. lieberung
  8. lieberung
    Now that I have had the Master 1 on home loan for a couple of weeks Im really see the difference a great preamp can do. Im not that into the many hifi superlatives like dynamics, holograhic, microdynamics, but it really gave new life to my active ATC compared to the audiolab cdq. A couple of things that might have been a showstopper though was the clicking sound it makes when changing volume and that it has too much high gain for my speakers, but after putting in a couple of Rothwell attenuators this was fixed, actually maybe even better. Now that I have accustomed to it I really really like it ang Im going to keep it and the Master 7 as well. Great stuff at a reasonable price.
  9. punit
    The click is too mild to bother me & are you using the 70 step or the 99 step volume ?
  10. lieberung
    Im currently using 99 steps, but I havent tried the 70 steps after I plugged in the attenuators so I might see if thats better. What do you prefer, and why?
  11. punit
    I prefer 99 as it allows greater control.  You have great  speakers BTW. Is your Audiolab CD set at fixed volume mode or are you using it at variable full volume (as it is also a preamp) ?
  12. lieberung
    Yes, Im very pleased with the ATC speakers. Had Tannoy DC10T previously (with several integrated from brands like naim, chapter and accuphase), those were great as well, played different but very well with all amplifiers, more engaging and fun then the ATC perhaps but less accurate and refined, and too big for my room (bass heavy) The ATC fixed the issues I had with the Tannoys, but I might have kept the Tannoys if I had a larger living room.

    To answer your question, ATM I have set the audiolab at fixed gain (max +3db). I tested the audiolabs dac capabilities against the master 7 both connected to the master 1 preamp. Audiolab playing a cd, optical from audiolab to the master 7 and acss to master 1, and also xlr from audiolab to master 1. Playing a couple of cds swithching back and forth on the preamp while the cd was spinning I really couldnt hear that much differences even though the master 7 is a multibit dac (pcm 1704) and the audiolab is a delta/ sigma (sabre). The audiolab was perhaps a bit dryer, so Im in favor of the M7. I have an order on a Hiface evo with supply to test the i2s interface on the Master 7 which is the big thing according to many on this forum and others. so looking fw to that.
    Anyways, this test also showed me that the audiolab cdq sounded better connected to master 1, than when connected directly to my active speakers, and showed me what a decent amplifier like the Master 1 can give some spark to the ATC. Though the audiolab functions well as a one box solution, is convenient and user friendly the unit as a preamp cant match the master 1 sound wise.
  13. aljordan
    I have owned a Master-1 for a year now. I have tried a fair number of good preamps in my system. The Master-1 is both the most transparent (compared to a bypass test) and smoothest of all that I've tried, except for the Pass XP-30 which is uncomfortably expensive. After a month with the Master-1, I sold my Pass Labs XP-10, which I had lived with for a few years up to that point.

    My system set-up necessitates the use of long interconnect cables into amps with a rather low input impedance, a combination that requires the use of a good preamp to preserve dynamics and good response at the frequency extremes. I have been very happy with the performance of the Master-1 under these conditions. I've had no temptations to try another preamp since I've had the Master-1 in the system. Periodically though, my buddies will bring over other preamps to play with. Most of the expensive tube preamps could not drive the low impedance amps properly. A couple of the tube preamps could drive the amps, and sounded quite beautiful (the BAT REX and Cary SLP-05 as I recall), but their beauty came from coloring the sound, which tended to homogenize the sound of different recordings and became annoying after a while. Regarding solid state preamps that I've tried, many of them add some glare to the upper mids or dry out the bass or add noise from too much gain. It was quite difficult to find a preamp that I was happy with, even in the five to ten thousand U.S. dollar price range. In this regards, I think the Master-1 is an amazing piece of gear.
    lieberung likes this.
  14. Fujak
    I own my Master 1 in connection to Master 7 DAC since 7 months and I am fully satisfied with this preamp, and I never would listen to music witout this. Although Master 7 DAC has an excellent output stage, the Master 1 adds a lot more details and dynamic to my active speakers. Master 1 +7 are really a dreamteam.

    I wrote a review in the Germans most important forum for Active Speaker (link: Since it's in german language I hope Google translator will do a good job. Best regards - Fujak.
  15. lieberung
    Great, thanks!

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