Preamplifiers in the Digital Age - are they needed?View attachment 98534
Members of WBF have discussed the importance of a system preamplifier when owning a DAC with volume control onboard. MSB. Lampizator, CH Precision, and Lumin (the ladder using Leedh signal processing ) are excellent examples of the breed. While both uses are valid, like many choices, it is also a matter of taste which sounds better.
The Quest preamplifier is an active, fully balanced dual-mono design housed in an elegant, rigid aluminum chassis. The noise floor is very low due to the extensive use of Carbon fiber inside the chassis and the use of ten separate power supplies. In designing the Quest, the goal was to create a product that would act as a flexible control center and, at the same time, make a meaningful improvement in the sound quality of your system. The Quest is also available in a two-chassis dual mono configuration for ultimate performance.
In-home demos of the Quest are available for qualified individuals.
New item: The Quest Preamplifier Precision Phono Module "PPM"
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Amplifying the tiny analog signals of a cartridge without distortion is a monumental task. So with this as our challenge, we set out to create a vinyl replay module for the Quest preamplifier compatible with the finest phono cartridges and delivering our hallmark sound signature - texture, transparency, detail, and dynamics. Two versions of the PPM are available with either balanced or single-ended inputs.
Here are the specifics.Ultra-low current noise levels
Maintaining musical information in phono amplification requires a power source. Westminster's Precision Phono Module module uses specially designed power supplies inside the Quest as the primary power source. The signal then passes through a secondary filter resulting in very low measurable voltage deviation and current-related noise.
Precision RIAA Equalization
The RIAA Equalization circuit consists of only four passive components, a number far less than most phono stages on the market. However, not willing to forgo accuracy for our "less is more" circuit topology; we have also achieved within 0.5db of the RIAA reference. The result is accuracy and the ability to deliver information retrieved by the stylus as untouched as possible.
Flexible Impedance and Capacitance matching
The appropriate impedance settings are crucial to extracting the best possible performance from your cartridge. To meet these demands, we provide eighteen different impedance selections ranging from 60Ohm to 47kohm and five for input capacitance from 22p to 322pF. There are also three gain settings from 50db to 72db.
Three-stage precision amplification
Signals picked up from the cartridge are extremely small and require large multiples of amplification. Therefore, our PPM module uses an unconventional three-stage amplification process. Each stage is optimized to prevent overload and keep distortion as low as possible while acting in concert to apply accurate RIAA EQ equalization.
Bespoke Coupling Capacitors
AC signals produced by the cartridge are microscopic. Passive components used in most phono stages do not perform well in this environment. To solve this problem, the PPM uses custom capacitors to ensure distortion and coloration are at the lowest possible level, revealing newfound ease, flow, and previously obscured information.
True to the Original
Many phono preamplifiers use filters to reduce background noise and mitigate distortion. While this can result in a perceived sound quality improvement, we believe these filters rob music of critical information and add coloration. As a purist design, the PPM phono module reveals all the information found in the record groove so you can experience vinyl as it is!
The Quest preamplifier with or without phono stage is available for in-home auditions. Please get in touch with Gary Leeds via PM or email to inquire.
The Rei "Quadrablock" Amplifiers (4-chassis power solution)
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The four-Rei Class A monoblocks are available where the Rei Quadrablocks leave off. From day one, the Rei used in Quadrablock configuration was designed for maximum performance and a simple upgrade path for existing monoblock amplifiers' owners. Vertical bi-amplification with a passive and active loudspeaker is also a perfect application for four amplifiers in regular unbridged mode.
Quadrablock power output
400 watts into 8 ohms
800 watts into 4 ohms
Not merely a strapped amplifier circuit, The Rei Quarablock was designed from day one to achieve maximum performance from our novel amplifier circuit topology, preserving and adding to the dynamics, detail, transparency, texture, and tonal density, and detail Reis' are becoming known.
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Thanks, Ken. Angus and I appreciate the time and the positive comments very much!Early in this thread I expressed interest in the Rei’s based on my proclivity for Class A operation as well as their paradoxically compact form factor. After some back and forth, Gary Leeds graciously sent a pair of Rei’s over which I listened to for a few weeks. On re-read of the thread, it seems to be full of effusive praise for the amps by interested parties/new owners countered by occasional callouts from skeptics. What is one to believe? I have no dog in this fight so here is my take:
Regardless of circuit topology or operational bias, these amps sound fantastic. Compared to my 60 wpc class A Luxman stereo amp, they are more open and transparent. An heightened sense of air, space and venue ambiance is readily apparent upon listening to favoured music such as “Besame Mucho” by guitarist Ulf Wakenius (or virtually anything else on the German ACT label). Bloom and decay are remarkable - check out Youn Sun Nah’s “Mercy Mercy Me” as a nice example if you ever land these amps for audition. They also edge out the Luxman on dynamics, detail, and speed. I had Joe Satriani’s “Not of This Earth” fired up to ear splitting levels while the WML’s remained unfazed.. Electronica fans?…the Rei’s are super “quick” and a wonderful match with my Tidal speakers when it comes to producing dizzying transients. Summary: colour me effused!
My Luxman amp puts out a darker, denser sound. It does fuller “tube-like” bass. This is not to say that the Rei’s have a thinnish sound with a short-lived, false sense of excitement. Nope - they are perfectly balanced top to bottom from a tonal point of view. Am I buying them? I might - but as I age, I have decided to put in as much time and effort into buying a major audio component as I do when buying a mattress. I suspect I would need/want the matching preamp at some point and the cost is well up there especially with the current strength of the USD vis a vis the Canuck buck. I have several good quality integrated amps on an audition queue and then there is also the un-liftable Luxman M-10X to consider …
Thanks to Gary for the opportunity to experience these amps…I’m seriously confident that a listen to these amps will turn any skeptic into a believer.
Fred,I've spent the last week getting to know this equipment. I've had the amps and preamp on every different types of speakers we have to see how it handles Scintilla like loads on the one hand, and 107 db sensitive horns on the other. Still haven't put in their cables. I hope to do that this evening.
The real take away for me is that this is a different kind of amplification...I know it's class A, but it has its own gestalt which required a re-wiring of the way I hear and audition. Often times my favorite gear asks this of me. You have to go into this realm understanding that this is a new ballgame. The images are dense...players pop out of thin air. Granted, I've only been playing around with these pieces for about a week, but they're something special. The fact that you can very simply daisy chain the amps to go to 200@8, 400@4 and 800@2 (and I think even beyond that if one wanted to daisy chain 3 amps per side) makes them even more compelling for all kinds of applications. For instance, one system I favor is comprised of large OB's in a large room. 3 amps per side would be the ticket. They were designed for this expansion without any deterioration to the signal.
There's also an industrial art to these pieces. Carbon Fiber used to isolate within the amps and preamp...every trick known and a few unknown to limit vibration and shorten signal paths. There was something about custom extra thick PCBs as well. All to say, very thoughtful engineering and construction. My Better Half thought they looked great compared to some of the massive amps I've had in house. These guys are small but without compromise so far as I can hear. A must audition...even if they're not to your liking, you want this sound in the aural rolodex of your brain...I have a feeling this tech is going to be around for a good long while. I'd be shocked if other companies didn't borrow from them.
im fascinated that pure class A can come in such a little box but I’ve also heard about some even smaller amps Angus has built which are also pure Class A.
Did I read correctly in the post from which this is taken that it has variable capacitance at the input?The appropriate impedance settings are crucial to extracting the best possible performance from your cartridge.
I hadn't read the thread in a while. You are correct. So I would take a look at your text there- I'm not the only one aware of the cartridge loading issues I mentioned!I may have stated something technically as the marketing man in this case. Angus will respond in due course and put to bed any technical inaccuracy contained therein.
Surprising, Ralph, for the tone and timing of your post, especially immediately following the positive energy of Fred’s announcement that Westminster Lab will be making their first US show appearance at the Capital Audio Fest on 11/11. Knowing you by reputation, I am sure that was unintentional, so no harm, no foul.
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