Surprised! I got the prototype PCBs today from the factory. Wasn't expecting them yet, but early is good.
The factory didn't mill out the cut-outs for the output transformers (since it's a prototype order). So I just drilled them out and jigsaw the outline down in my garage.
Can't wait to hear it so I quickly assembled one unit tonight. - No front panel yet though, so I just used one of my existing X12 front panels. Yes... the X-12, X72 and this new preamp share the same front panel layout... so they'll all look nice side-by-side together in your lunchbox rack!
BTW, for this new preamp (it's a lunchbox, 500 series), I'm using custom output transformers.
So anyways... I plug into my lunchbox an X-12mk500, and my X-72mk500.... and the new preamp. (Don't want to give it's name out yet until I have the final front panels made for it.)
Listened and compared intently all 3 preamps. This is hard to do because I don't want to just spout out audio-babble. I want to really hear and describe the difference I'm hearing, not just imagining.
I can tell you, the difference between the above (3) preamps are obvious. Switching between them, you can definitely hear differences. (I didn't put an SC-1 in the comparison lineup above, because I know that SC-1 sounds different from all the rest.) Think the SC-1 as like Grace.
Anyways, here's my *subjective* and *personal* opinions about these preamps.
** listening to some Diana Krall music... Live in Paris
X-12mk500 - listening to this preamp, my previous characterizations still hold true... mid-forward, aggressive sounding, forward sounding, big sound with a nice HF response. But the big bottom sound is masked somewhat by the more mid-forward aggressive sound. The highs are definitely more clearer and distinct on the X-12mk500.
X-72mk500 - again, my previous characterization of this preamp is still valid. Big, huge, punchy sound, with lots of low end. I would say it's a little bit warm-sounding because its HF response is not aggressive like the X-12mk500. Somewhere in between... not too dull/dark, and not too aggressive. Low end? Oh yeah, it's there. Customers say this X72 has huge, big punchy sound and yeah, they're correct.
The NEW PREAMP.... At first, I was having difficulty trying to describe in words the sound. I know there is a big difference in sound, it's audible! You can hear it. But I just can't quite know how to say it. It's like the words are on the tip of your tongue, but you can't blurt it out... I want to be sure what I'm going to say so I spent alot of time comparing and listening this with the other 3 preamps.
It's not that I can't hear any difference, it's very obvious the difference listening to it... but just can't pipoint my finger why.
I'm just going to round-robin compare and listen between the NEW PREAMP, the X12 and X72's sound.
So there we go... listen alternately, listen consecutively, listen randomly among the 3 pres. Minnie-minnie mynnie moe.
Then it hit me why I find it so hard to describe this NEW PREAMP sound. Here's why...
The NEW PREAMP sound is big, punchy, huge sounding... definitely lots of low end... (like the X-72) and at the SAME TIME, the mids are somewhat more forward aggressive sounding (like the X-12). So it's got an in your face big, bold sound - Punchy and aggressive at the same time!
The HF I can't quite describe fully yet. I would say the HF is right in-between the X12 and X72 response.... maybe middle-ground but just leaning slightly closer to the X72 HF response. But definitely, it's mids are smooth aggressive forward sounding and yet at the same time, the low end is big, huge and punchy.
So there... now you can see why I had some difficulty describing the sound of this new preamp. It's got characteristics of both X-12 and X-72s personality.
I'll post a pic once I have the new panel ready.
As I said a few days ago, this new pre sounds very good. I quote:
Don't want to spill the beans yet, but it's going to sound awesome.
The premise here is come up with a big sound, huge sound, with nice clarity...
it really sounds very good and I'm stoked about it.
Those were my words several weeks ago. And now, with my (hopefully) more detailed description above, you can see why I described the sound of this new preamp the way I did.
Stay tuned... very excited about this new pre. Coming soon quickly.