Best Passive Preamp?
Jun 1, 2015 at 6:29 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

zachchen1996

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Posts
2,277
Likes
157
Need a passive preamp for volume control on my studio monitors (and maybe some passive bookshelf speakers in the near future).
Any opinions on what the best passive preamp is?
 
Stereophile recommends the Promitheus Audio Reference TVC
Scot Hull from The Part-Time Audiophile recommends the Emia Passive AVP
 
Jul 7, 2018 at 6:59 AM Post #5 of 12

Reggy

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 5, 2018
Posts
44
Likes
3
Location
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Need a passive preamp for volume control on my studio monitors (and maybe some passive bookshelf speakers in the near future).
Any opinions on what the best passive preamp is?

Stereophile recommends the Promitheus Audio Reference TVC
Scot Hull from The Part-Time Audiophile recommends the Emia Passive AVP
I know an old thread, but what passive preamp did you end up going for? I am in the hunt for a high quality one with my studio monitors.
Thanks.
 
Jul 7, 2018 at 11:38 AM Post #6 of 12

mourip

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 4, 2002
Posts
1,296
Likes
235
Location
Washington, DC
I know an old thread, but what passive preamp did you end up going for? I am in the hunt for a high quality one with my studio monitors.
Thanks.

The best one that I know of is made by Tortuga Audio. It uses light dependent resistors(LDR) to give you an exceedingly transparent volume control. I have tried all kinds of volume pots and also a transformer volume control preamp but this is the best.

It has 3 inputs, two outputs, and remote control with balance, volume and impedance adjustment.
 
Jul 7, 2018 at 2:13 PM Post #7 of 12

Reggy

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 5, 2018
Posts
44
Likes
3
Location
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
The best one that I know of is made by Tortuga Audio. It uses light dependent resistors(LDR) to give you an exceedingly transparent volume control. I have tried all kinds of volume pots and also a transformer volume control preamp but this is the best.

It has 3 inputs, two outputs, and remote control with balance, volume and impedance adjustment.
Thanks, yes I read their argument on their website and the theory seems to make sense so I wouldn't be surprise that you can't beat them in terms of unaltering the signal without any colorization, ultimately that is what the majority of the people strive for.

Not that I think they are a replacement, but since you managed to try a lot of volume pots, did you ever manage to audition either the Axiom II by Luminous Audio, the mini Passive by Hattor or the TVC by Promitheus Audio? I'm just curious since those are in my budget for now, else down the road when I feel like upgrading I will wait to hit budget with the Tortuga.
 
Jul 7, 2018 at 7:03 PM Post #8 of 12

mourip

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 4, 2002
Posts
1,296
Likes
235
Location
Washington, DC
I have not tried the others that you mentioned. The TVC that I used was based upon Sowter transformers that were a DIY by me. The Tortuga is especially great if you have a speaker based system and want remote control.

Good luck with your search!
 
Jul 7, 2018 at 7:09 PM Post #9 of 12

theveterans

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Posts
2,359
Likes
1,027
Location
Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines
Perfectly happy with Saga as my monitor speaker preamp though I prefer it in active tube buffer mode than passive
 
Jan 10, 2019 at 4:25 PM Post #10 of 12

exdmd

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 27, 2017
Posts
525
Likes
457
Location
USA
The best one that I know of is made by Tortuga Audio. It uses light dependent resistors(LDR) to give you an exceedingly transparent volume control. I have tried all kinds of volume pots and also a transformer volume control preamp but this is the best.

It has 3 inputs, two outputs, and remote control with balance, volume and impedance adjustment.

I auditioned the latest version of the Tortuga passive preamp, the $1195 LDR3.V25 and had a Schiit Saga to compare with at the same time. The Schiit Saga was more transparent than the Tortuga, which sounded coloured to me and after extended listening even somewhat fatiguing.

Tortuga Audio does not list distortion figures for their preamps on their website but the distortion of the Tortuda LDR3 has been measured: at normal listening levels THD is about 1.0% and IMD is also high at 4%. These are unacceptable distortion levels for a modern preamplifier. In comparison the $349 Schiit Saga THD and IMD both measure less than 0.002%. Recommend you try the Saga first, it even has remote control.
 
Last edited:
Jan 10, 2019 at 5:23 PM Post #11 of 12

mourip

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 4, 2002
Posts
1,296
Likes
235
Location
Washington, DC
I used the Tortuga for a while because my 201a tube preamp had no remote control. It worked great for what I needed it for. I have since moved on to the new Linear Tube Preamp and it smokes everything I have used before.

Having used a Sowter transformer preamp previously and also tried some simple pot based units it is now my opinion that the best passive preamp is a well made active one. I could never get the same dynamics and soundstage with the passive ones.

YMMV...
 
Jan 12, 2019 at 3:51 PM Post #12 of 12

Reggy

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 5, 2018
Posts
44
Likes
3
Location
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
I auditioned the latest version of the Tortuga passive preamp, the $1195 LDR3.V25 and had a Schiit Saga to compare with at the same time. The Schiit Saga was more transparent than the Tortuga, which sounded coloured to me and after extended listening even somewhat fatiguing.

Tortuga Audio does not list distortion figures for their preamps on their website but the distortion of the Tortuda LDR3 has been measured: at normal listening levels THD is about 1.0% and IMD is also high at 4%. These are unacceptable distortion levels for a modern preamplifier. In comparison the $349 Schiit Saga THD and IMD both measure less than 0.002%. Recommend you try the Saga first, it even has remote control.

Wow was going to consider going for the Tortuga in the next month or so, still considering many other choices though. I currently use https://www.ebay.com/p/Jemmy-Audio-...mplifier-Preamp-Volume-Controller/27005767250 with my studio monitors (Genelec 8040bs) and Ares DAC I have no way to compare if I could improve my passive situation. Would you say regardless if I keep my DAC in the future or upgrade to a better one, a Schiit Saga or Freya would result in more transparency and detail with my setup compared to a simple pot I have now?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top