Nathanu, for the Calypso, you can take a look at Jadem6's recent review on Audiogon.
Sounds like the calypso is unreliable with the stk tubes. This is a common issue with all Aesthetix products. I had the same trouble a few years ago with an IO that I promptly returned to the dealer. Don't get me wrong they sound very good, but is it worth the trouble. Products at this price range should work reliably
The herron is totally reliable and sounds good with the stk tubes.
I suggest you have a listen to both to see what you like
I have owned a Calypso for approximately one year with no problems at all. It is also very quiet. It is an outstanding piece. I have compared running my Berning ZH270 direct from my Audio Aero Prima CD player to the same with Calypso in the middle. The Calypso adds body and texture. Very nice. Not as "tubey" as some pre-amps. Depends on the sound you seek.
I own the Herron VTSP-1/VTPH combination and I have heard the IO/Callisto combo in a friends system. While the Aesthetix units are fine performers, I never came home after hearing them with preamp envy. The Herrons's are easy to live with: They don't require NOS tubes to sound their best, don't run their tube hard, don't blow fuses on start up, don't double as space heaters, rarely if ever get noisey and take up limited shelf space.
I have not heard the Aesthetix Calypso but I have been living with the VTSP-2 for a month now. Without going too much into the details of describing its sound, if there is a word for the VTSP-2, it is "neutrality". It has bettered my 8+ years Audio Synthesis Passion (Passive Pre) in the frequencies extremes and it is certainly no slouch in the mids as well in comparison.
I used to think some "audiophile" & commercial CDs sounded a bit too clean for my liking with the Passion but not with the Herron. The listenable factor with the Herron has move up a few notches in my system and I could sit through a whole CD without skipping certain tracks that I used to think was not well recorded.
all the hype about the Aesthetics blowing fuses and tubes is all long gone , as far as fuses what , these other guys are talking about is the Callisto, that has been addresses over 2 years ago now, as is the tube issue with the Calypso.PLease remember , Aesthetics does not use a buffer stage therefore it is much more sensitive to noisy tubes.
Just have them matched and that is that 2500 hours is about average. and with one less stage you get the one amplified section then out to the amp, that is why they sound so magical, and Please remmber if you are considering make sure the unit has at least 450 hours
to give a fair assessment of this excellent preamp.
Nothing under 10k will better this preamp in overall natural musicality, IMO, and I have had 4 of the best out there, CJ17, JOule 200, Cat sig, BAt vk5i,and yes the Herron vtsp 2 was a 2 week visitor only.
I introduced the Calypso into my system last August and I have been enjoying music like never before. I have no itch to upgrade anytime soon. And I don't know what I could move onto from here anyway without spending at minimum double the money. I DID have a tube noise issue though (one 12ax7), and the unit was built just prior to my purchasing new. I was quite upset as one could imagine. The dealer sent me Tesla warranty replacements which also had one noisy tube. But I was able to make a quiet pair between the four. I spoke to Jim White at Aesthetix and he was also a bit surprised by this info. He offered to send me out another set of Tesla's, but I told him that wouldn't be necessary. The dealer had also sent me three different sets of 12ax7's to experiment with when I purchased the unit. Out of the three, I settled on GE Lonplates, which I then A/B'd against the stock (and quiet) Tesla's. I preferred the GE's and that is what I currently run. This unit also has a fairly lengthy break-in period as Aaudiophile has pointed out, but boy is it worth it. Everytime I see one of these for sale here I think either there is an impedance mismatch between pre and amps, or the user has not fully broken it in. 'Cause I just can't imagine anyone parting with this gem.
I don't claim to be an audio guru, but I gotta believe this is a world class piece of gear at this price point. Hope this wasn't a case of TMI...