Audible Ilusions Preamp


I am "still" looking at different Preamps for my system.. a McCormack DNA 1 Rev A and Maggie 1.6 speakers.

The AI 3A or L-1 is on my short list.

Just how BAD is the volume control. How many steps or DB change is there per step? Do the newer models (expecially the Line stage with remote) solve this problem?

I understand this is a higher gain preamp and I may not have a good range on the volue control.

I sold an Audible 3A for the very problem you are concerned with...volume steps were too big at the low level positions. I too am interested in this question and an additional inquiry...does the Audible have problems with the stepped attenuators? Several sources have indicated that the volume controls began to "snap" with each change of position after a period of time...anybody have experience with this situation? It would be nice if AI has improved these areas...I thought that it was a great sounding preamp and the MC Gold phono board was outstanding.
I had a AI preamp and had to have the volume controls replaced with the new Swiss Elma volume controls (supposed to be much better), but they are still a stepped control. It is true that this is a high gain preamp and as such you may be limited as to how much play you have on the volume controls. If your CD player has an output higher than the standard 2v you may run into trouble. There would be no problem with this if the control was not stepped. My CD player had a standard 2v output and I could only go up to about 9 o'clock on the volume which is not very much range when you are dealing with stepped controls. That was the only drawback to the preamp. It is a very good sounding preamp for the money, especially if you are into vinyl.
I was not able to use the AI preamp in my home due to the large steps. I sold it to a friend who just loves it. It is very system and room dependent. I did own one of the original AI M3a's with continuous volume control for many years and was very happy with it. It is just a hair less transparent than the model with the steps but otherwise same character of sound.
I believe I saw an ad for a 3A which said it was just before the current version and it had a non-stepped volume.I may be wrong about this confusing it with another piece but it is possible there are some out there with a continuous control.Think it may be worth a call to AI and ask.
One of the more musical systems that I have put together consisted of an AI 3A and L1, a McCormack DNA-1 dlx, CAL Icon Mk II, and ACI Sapphire III / Sub 1. The A3 had non-stepped volume controls, and as I recall 10 - 11 o'clock was the upper limit. The L1 has a master volume for both channels, and a volume control for each channel that allows gain to be adjusted. However, I found the 3A to be the better sounding preamp. Better transparency, and a more holograhic soundstage.
Have you thought of replacing the stepped attenuator with one with smaller steps? Does the preamp have a balance control? If so, you could take it and the present volume control out and put in dual mono ladder stepped attenuators with steps any size you want them--just less range if the steps are small. I could tell you how to calculate the resistor values for steps of 1 db, say--or whatever size you want. Maybe Arn Roatcap of Goldpoint ( would make you a pair of Elma ladder attenuators for this purpose. It might be more sensible than selling the preamp.