I don’t know what just happened. My system suddenly started to sound much, much better. Particularly on the last three Qobuz hi-Rez downloads. What happened? The last change in my system was two months ago—added the new Bel Canto PRE5 preamp. It sounded great right from the start, and I probably have 120-150 hours on it. Can it have “snapped in” all of a sudden? Is my power suddenly cleaner? Or did I stumble on three exceptionally well-recorded albums. I’ll listen to my old standard references, but in the meantime, I’d like you opinion of these three:
Marie Stockman Becker: JS Bach Sonatas for Viola (on this album I can distinguish between filters on my Cambridge 851N, for the first time).
Veronica Swift: This Better Earth (opening song—she’s right there in the room)
Rattle and the LSO: Rachmaninoff 2nd (best sound staging I’ve heard on this system).
How many hours do you have now on BC Preamp? Typically preamp has 200-300 hours break-in period.
As far recording goes, Veronica Swift’s ‘This Better Earth’ is one of my favorite song.....so I concur she is right there in the room and how about the piano, beautifully rendered just like her haunting voice.
Qobuz has exceptional SQ, downloads or streaming. Enjoy!
In my experience there is zero question that the most important thing determining sound quality - more than nearly any component, is the recording/mastering. They need not be new - some of the best "digital" are well mastered CDs from 1960s jazz recordings and orchestral by Verve, Blue Note, Mercury Living Presence (mighty Fine recordings). Could your preamp be warming up? Maybe. Is it the big difference? Unlikely. I have no heard the 3 you refer to, but may go listen to them.
Your new preamplifier is probably starting to bloom when this occurs all your music will sound better all the time most of us have a hard time waiting for that change to happen but when it does it can turn a crappy sounding piece of gear into a great piece of gear.
My betting money is on the preamp hitting its break-in point. My first experience with equipment break-in was when I recapped my tube preamp. For quite some time after the recap job I wrote it off as another lesson learned to not tamper with working equipment, as it sounded worse after the recap job than before (weak sound stage, etc.). Several weeks later, however, the sounds stage and dynamics opened up in a way that was (to me) remarkable. So my guess is your new preamp has gotten through its break-in period...