Opinions on Audio Matiere
previously owned a Audio Matiere Paraphase pre it was better than a
C.A.T. preamp or Jadis JPL preamp. Had a extremely layered and airy
soundstage and presence doesn't get any better. Build quality is very
good and unique.
I bought my Eklipse after comparing it with the CJ PV12, Art Audio, Kora Eclipse, Kora Equinoxe, Belles, and Plinius CDLad (I have the Plinius SA100/3 amp). Ultimately, it came down to a battle of the Ek/clipses. The Kora added a bit of sweetness throughout it's entire musical range that while it never called extra attention to itself (as compared with the CJ, Art Audio, Belles and Equinoxe), was very obviously "flavoring" the music. To explain -- the other preamps called more attention to their colorations by not having them appear throughout their entire frequency range. so you could hear the "humps" in each, to the degree that they had them. The Eclipse had no such "humps" and was smooth through its range, but it was nonetheless obviously sweetened (of course, IMHO).
The Kora was beautiful and seductive, and I almost went for it (I really went back and forth between the two), but ultimately, I went with the AudioValve. The Eklipse was just so clear and tonally correct to my ears, and had the best top to bottom extension of the group. I also really preferred it's look to the Kora :-)
You don't mention your amp or speakers, but that will also impact which would work best for you. If your system leans toward analytical, you might be better with the Kora. If you are leaning towards the romantic, then the AudioValve may help keep you from going over the edge. If you are looking for "neutrality" then I would definitely suggest the AudioValve over the Kora.
Thanks. Very informative responses. Instead of switching gear around, I own several speakers. I'll swap them out when I want a certain sound characteristic. To name a few that I own; Eggleston Fontaines & Isabels, ProAc Tab 50 Sigs, B&W CDM1, Meadowlark MP1 (very rare), Acoustic Energy AE-1, and Totem 1 Sigs. A new pre-amp has entered my choices and that is the BAT 5-vki and maybe the Sonic Frontiers Line 3. The Audio Valve is one beautiful piece but just doesn't have the name recognition in terms of re-sale value. I know it should not matter, but half the fun of the hobby is trying as many pieces as possible. I'm sure you know what I mean. Let me know if you have new opinions on the other pre amps suggested.
Glad to have been of any help. I sort of envy you your ability to swap out different speakers depending upon the music you play, but I think I'd go mad juggling all those different sounds. What amp/amps are you using? I understand what you said about resale value -- though part of the allure of the Eklipse for me was that it was a bit esoteric in the US market. Personally, I plan to hold onto mine for a long while.
I don't know either the BAT or the SF, though both are frequently mentioned here and at the audioasylum. Remember that the BATs are all balanced outputs, so you need to have balanced inputs on your amp or you'll need to use their converter, which I somehow doubt will give you the real benefit of the preamp.
best of luck in your quest. Please post or email me your impressions of the preamps to which you listen. Always interesting to hear someone else's take on the gear.