Portal Audio Panache
Jan 6, 2009 at 3:32 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


New Head-Fier
Dec 30, 2008
Another headfi-er asked me about my Portal Panache, so I thought I'd share my response:

hello, i was wondering how you're liking your portal?...

what equipment are you using with it as far as source/speakers/headphones/cables/other?...

what do you think is a good price for a used panache?...

thanks so much...cheers...

I like my panache a lot - it is a very good sounding and powerful integrated, and that character extends to it's built-in headphone jack. I slightly preferred the sound of my old LFD Mistral integrated, but that one blew up when my cleaning lady shorted the speaker wires and is out of production. I have had a couple of issues integrating the Panache into my system, though:

- hum through the speakers (much more bothersome through the headphones). I solved this by isolating it completely from my TV. I do have the analog outputs from my DVD player hooked up still. There was a slight residual hum that I was then able to resolve by moving the gear around on my rack (I have an isolation transformer that can not be right below the amp). Now it is as quiet as any amp/pre I've owned. However, it took a fair amount of work to realize it's potential in this regard.

- My SACD player (a Sony SCD-C333ES) has a very high output level, and seems to overload the inputs with certain discs. I resolved this by putting Rockwell attenuating resistors in line with the interconnects, padding the level down to about the same as my phone preamp. I've tried a few other cd players in my system and none of them have shared this issue, so I lay the blame for this one on Sony, not Portal. However, if you do have a source that outputs a high level signal this could be a problem (it was a problem with the Mistral, also, but not with my old MF Nuvista preamp).

I really like the amp, and paid $1,200 for it as a demo, but with the full warranty, from Portal. Used, I would expect to sell it for $800 to $850 - but it's not for sale!


PS - for reference, here's the gear I've used it with or compared it to:

- sources: Sony SCD-C333ES SACD player, CEC TL-5100Z cd player, Nakamichi BX-300 cassette deck, Monolithic PS-1 phone pre (Wilson Benesch Circle/Dyna DV17II Karat cartridge), some borrowed CD players
- Speakers: Epos ES22, Von Schweikert VR1
- Headphones: Senn HD-580, Beyer DT880
- Other amps/preamps: LFD Mistral LE (very nice piece, wish it was still in production); Musical Fidelity NuVista pre/Threshold T-100 combo; Superphon Revelation + pre (another very nice piece)/Threshold T100 combo; Superphon Revelation + pre/B&K EX442 amp combo (a late '80's amp that was really good); Musical Fidelity X-Cans headphone amp

Edit: for me the midrange is where the Mistral shined, and the Panache comes close, really close. The Panache seems a bit more solid in the bass. The Mistral did not have a headphone output, which is where the X-Cans came in. The Panache wiped the floor with the X-Cans (original version, unmodified) using the HD580's. The bass is solid, much better with the Panache and the highs are not fatiguing at all. If you need a do-everything integrated amp, you can do much worse than the Panache.

FWIW LFD is still making a version of the Mistral (now called the Zero), but it's price is up to over $3k.

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