anyone heard a Rogue Athena?

Has anyone listened to the Rogue Audio Athena preamp? I've heard the 99 at a dealer while auditioning some amps (powering Rogue M150 monoblocks and then the VTL ST150, into Focal 1027be's) and that setup sounded very nice.

I'm starting to think about a new pre, and doing some prelim research, but I can't find much of anything on the Athena.
There is a dearth of reviews/information on the top-level Rogue products, unfortunately. Last few months I was running a 99 Magnum and Atlas (with plenty of NOS tube-rolling done at each position) into Tannoy Kensington SE speakers. 99.9% of my listening is vinyl.

Then a Rogue Hera (not the mk II) was listed here for a nice deal, and the upgrade bug struck me quickly and acutely - otherwise I would have eventually gone for an Athena. I imagine they should be VERY similar. If I were doing it over again and buying new, I might consider the Athena for the savings and the reduced burden for tube replacements (4 vs 8).

The 99 Magnum had been very nice sounding - responded well to tuberolling and projected a more 3D image than I'd previously experienced. The Hera was a revelation. It did more than I expected from a preamp upgrade. The depth of the soundstage increased drastically. It significantly improved microdynamics, and speed. Tonally the Hera is perfectly natural and neutral - with the 99 if always felt a little like hitting around a target through the various NOS tubes, without ever getting exactly there. Still, macrodynamics didn't see a similar improvement and after auditioning my friend's Magnum Stereo 90, it was clear that the Atlas (nice as it is) was now a BIG system bottleneck.

I sold the 99 (along with a ton of other gear) and went all-out for some Apollo monoblocks. Even with as much cash as was was laid down, I'd never dreamed amp/preamp components could make this much difference. The Hera/Apollo combo is a HUGE revelation. It's like hearing my speakers AND music again for the first time. I'm sure that the difference between the Hera/Athena and 99 Magnum would be even more significant now, that when I first heard it. This is all with the stock EH tubes, btw.

From the Rogue gear I've heard, I get the impression that they start out as great bang-for-buck components, and then diminishing returns never really kicks in through the whole lineup - you just keep getting more in significant doses.

One item to note - for the Hera II, Rogue has moved from the motorized stepped attenuator to a motorized TKD pot, in response to customer demand for fine-level volume control. As nice as that pot may be, it's been my experience (with other gear) that a good stepped attenuator is a necessity for gear at this level of transparency. With the 5 gain settings, I've NEVER felt the need for a finer level of control with the Hera. I wouldn't give up the stepper. Not sure if they're doing the same for the Athena, but I'd recommend requesting the stepper.

If you like the 99 Magnum, you'll love the Athena/Hera :)
Thanks for that awesome response! Totally agree re: dearth of reviews of certain Rogue components.

I have heard quite a bit about how well some Rogue stuff responds to tube rolling. At some point I'll check that out for my M180s.

I went to listen to the Athena over the weekend, and compared it with a VTL TL 5.5 (both connected to the same equipment in the same room - Rogue monoblocks into Spendor speakers - A5s I think - with a PS Audio CDP as source). In this setup, I found the Athena presented a clearer, more precise sound - a bit more sparkle if you will, while the VTL sounded relatively dark and softer (actually a bit mushy to my ears).

Note I'm not badmouthing the VTL, just describing what I heard on a relative basis, for those who may be doing similar research.
Hi guys, I know this is a month-old thread...but I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in.

I've been using a Rogue Perseus as my pre through a few amp transitions.
I had M-150s and loved them on my Maggi 1.6's, then I got a pair of 3.6's and they sounded fine as well. Then I tried Bi-amping with a 1000 watt class D on the bottom side...WOW those panels Can make some bass when you feed them power.
So to shorten this story ...I sold the M-150's and just bought a Zeus...that thing is BIG...That big boy puts out some sweet sound.

So now I'm looking into an Athena (I'd Like a Hera, but $$$?) Looking used but very hard to find either one.
Are you both Southern Cal? wondering where you heard the Athena?

Hi Keith - I auditioned the Athena in NY. I've been living with it for about a month now, and it's excellent. No complaints at all.
Jerico, glad you're liking the Athena.

Keith - I'm in Atlanta. I only had the lower-lines of Rogue gear available for audition down here. Just took a leap of faith when the Hera showed up in the classifieds this winter (during the most particularly nasty snowstorm). I knew it wouldn't suck since I liked the 99 Magnum/Atlas pairing, and the price was too nice to refuse. I was just starting to budget for a new Athena when that Hera popped up :)

My former local dealer is going in a different direction and will have an option to audition some of the nicer Rogue gear on appointment, soon. Otherwise this stuff has been pretty hard to find, yeah.
I have compared the Rogue Athena to the AR 26 the CJ at over $4k and a Joule electra 150mk -2 and the Rogue was much cleaner sounding with better Bass ,also having a seperate power supply makes for way less noise downstream.One thing I did do though and with this it sounds IMO a little Better than thier Hera at $3k less with this Cap upgrade. I replaced the 4 Mundorf supreme capacitors ,with Mundorfs Silveroils and it was a Big improvement as far as involvement and dimentiality around the instruments and several freinds that heard the 2 versions agreed. This is the only thing that was needed, the build quality is Outstanding as well as it's functionality for $5400 with the Mundorf Silver oil caps you loose nothing and gain a tremendous3 dimentional
sounding Preamplifier!

"So to shorten this story ...I sold the M-150's and just bought a Zeus...that thing is BIG...That big boy puts out some sweet sound."

Enjoy it, Keith944t. I just sold mine a few weeks back. You're in for a treat with that amp. It served me well. Do you have KT90s? That made an amazing difference, as did upgraded NOS signal tubes and HiFi Tuning fuses. Good luck.
What did you replace your Zeus with, John?
For Athena users: Are you using tube dampers? The pic on Rogue website shows them and I've seen other preamps with 6H30 tubes using dampers as well. I have Magnum 99 and am considering the Athena.
Jerico, I did a major downsize and went with the Atlas. I had them build a magnum version wired in triode.
John - Cool, how does your Atlas sound like that? Pretty good, I'm betting.

Ehaller - I haven't looked inside my Athena, so I don't know if it has dampers on the tubes.
Hey gang - resurrecting this old thread, as a quick update.

I replaced the stock EH 6H30P tubes in my Athena with 6H30P-DRs (purchased from an on-line dealer). When I opened up the preamp, there were no dampers on the tubes as the unit came from Rogue.

The DR's are interesting - the most obvious difference in my system is tighter and more present bass, and they're a little brighter (not what I was expecting actually) - overall very clear and discerning. I haven't listened to any analog through them yet, but with digital sources they sound nice - more pinpointed than the EH's.

For now, I'll say they sound great - but they're certainly not cheap. Hopefully they'll last a good long time.