Aug 31, 2019 at 4:07 PM
If you’re thinking of this mostly for for the 2-channel market, you need a motorized pot. I vote for a completely passive, with motorized pot, but make it a really good pot.A few problems with this: in a Freya S chassis, a passive-only preamp is still going to be $499 or so. And Freya S already has passive relay attenuation at $599 (plus gain). That chassis is not cheap to make. And I don’t see the point of removing the gain stage if it only saves about $100. The fact that the gain stage is there isn’t affecting the passive performance.
Here are your real options for a cheap balanced preamp, based on educated guesses about costs:
1. Saga sized, maybe $399 with a feature set similar to Saga, but balanced.
2. Smaller than Saga in a cheaper chassis (that does not exist), with a motorized pot rather than relays, maybe $249. No way no how at $199. Maybe totally passive at $199 with no gain, but that’s still a pot. A motorized pot isn’t cheap, and relays + a motorized pot is super not cheap.
3. Smaller than Saga in a cheaper chassis with just a pot and a switch for 2 inputs and no remote, $99.
None of this is on the books, so we can keep talking about it, but those are the constraints if you want a preamp with good parts, made in the USA.
The goal should be to give folks a way to add the most transparent and simple volume control to your balanced DACs. Want input switching and gain, get a Freya S. But it needs a remote for sure. My two cents (for what it’s worth).