Audio Mirror 61-t tube preamp
Stereo Systems evolve and seperate components get switched around. An audiophile is in search of a sound presentation that when heard literally is "music to their ears." Weather it be acapella, strings, clarity, soundstaging,deep base notes when S/he finds it S/he knows, this is the sound I like and this is the piece of equipment for my system. For many years I have insisted on having planar speakers. Quad ESL 57, Apogee Stage then Caliper Sigs. The precision of the note reproduction oh so impresses me. Now I have switched to the Ohm 2000. A totally different type of speaker and sound presentation. This review is not about the speaker. Nor about my amp from Digital Amp Company, the Cherry Amp ( http://digitalamp.com/about-us.html http://www.stereotimes.com/amp093010a.shtml). This is the amp for me. But I needed to find a pre amp that would match with my system.
Pre amps will add noise and color the amps true output of the sound. This can be a problem or a blessing. I used a Creek OBH-22 passive, The Bel Canto Pre-3 and the Granite Audio 770 pre. I liked all of these for different reasons but the sound match was just not there. When evaluating a pre amp I listen for noise, base notes, plucking of strings, soundstaging, seperation, ear fatigue and more. The Cherry amp is so clean and precise that any degradation by the pre amp is noticable.
I liked what I read about the Audio Mirror 61-t. All tube, triode, low distortion, great linearity, sonicaps and silver wiring. The specs and build were impressive. I had already decided on a tube pre so it fit the bill. I purchased a used unit off Audiogon . When the 61-t arrived I contacted Audio Mirror through their web site http://www.audiomirror.com/preamps.html. I recieved an email from Vladimir Bazelkov the owner, designer and builder. He was very attentive, understanding and helpfull. I sent it out and Vlad upgraded the caps, replaced the tubes and brought it up to spec. It has had at least 100 hours of playing time since then.
The Audio Mirror is very attractive and well built. There is no need to bias the tubes (very nice). It has 4 line inputs and 2 outputs and cone feet. Very easy hook up and operation through a remote. It is of minimalist build which I like. So is my amp. The Adio Mirror 61-t is a very pleasant piece out of the box to hook up.
Tonight Judy and I started with a fire, red wine and Ottmar Liebert & Luna Vegra. The disc ,Viva was recorded during the "2 hours between day and night" tour in 1994. I have listened to this disc on many a system. In Tracks 2 Buddhas Flower ,3 Morning arrival in Goa and 4 Snakecharmer, the music is blended with insect and other natural sounds. It is very complicated. The 61-t was very pleasing to the ears. It reproduced with exceptional depth and clarity. Ottmars flamingo guitar sounds clear, It is well placed and the sound is smooth and easy. Very warm reproduction with no harshness. The stereo imaging of both guitars is excellent.The percussionist is well placed back in the stage and clear.The 61-t demonstrates clarity and smoothness. First impressions here is great music and very well done for the first test of the 61-t.
Bali Bali is a group that plays Afro Cuban jazz with inspirations from R&B and funk. There disc "Who do you call king" is a fine clear recording. The instruments consist but are not limited to acoustic and electric bass, Saxaphone (tenor,alto, and soprano), drums,guitar, tres,piano and congas. The first track "our man in Havanna" has all these instuments. The sepaeration and soundstage are excellent. The Saxaphone is well placed, clear and smooth. The differentiation of each instrument on the stage and its clarity is impressive. What impresses me here is all of the above but also the mellow way each note is delivered with ease and and in a pleasing manor.
Now the tough stuff, Time Warp Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Phenominal reproduction of Don Dorsey Ascent, Strauss Intro to Also Sprach Zarathustra with each track melding together through Star Trek, Superman, Star Wars, Battlestar Gallactica and more. I am not a professional reviewer. I must say you have to hear it to believe it. At ample volume even the best speakers will muddle under the low notes if not given a clean signal. The multitude of instuments in these recordings will tend to merge under inferior equipment. I need to stress again the amp has ample power and definition to deliver this recording at incredible volume. I want a pre amp that is of high enough quality to not degrade the signal in this system. The violins, horns, kettle drums are all delivered with force. There is immediate power from this amp. The 61-t in every way compliments and separates each instrument. What I understand now is that the two components are matched very well. I know how the Cherry works with different preamps. I notice with the Audio Mirror 61-t that the sound is still pure amp. But it is also soft,smooth and still with the powerful delivery of 600 watts per channel . Boom , in you face sound that unfolds around you.
Throughout the evening we listened to Sade: Lovers Rock, Beth Orton and The Belfast Harp Orchestra and of course Pink Floyd. The music was flawless. The sound sweet. The amp and pre amp are made by owners, engineers, lovers of music. The history of Vlad and Tommy are similar. They started a small company with love of music and the faith that they could build a piece of equipment better. They both have their own patents. They both use the best materials.The Cherry has more warmth than any Digital or solid state amp I have heard. I searched through many preamps to find one that would be up to the perfection I have found in the Digital Amp Corp. Cherry. Pairing it with the Audio Mirror 61-t solidifies the sound. The Audio Mirror does everything an active pre needs to do and what it does is very pleasing to the ear with no fatigue. I have found my match. A great pair. I highly recommend you try the Audio Mirror 61-t tube pre amp. Feel free to email me with any questions firstname.lastname@example.org