I use the Calypso with a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq's and Vandersteen 3a Signatures. The Aesthetix is driving an Ayre V5x. This is by far and away the best sound I have ever had out of my system. The Calypso is a preamp that can be honestly compared to the best out there and you will not feel cheated! It truly is a great buy, well built and offers unbelievable sound. After listening to a lot of other "Expensive" preamps, I just can't recommend it high enough!
I was going to invest in a Calypso, but after reading the online documentation that warned against using it with low-impedance amplifiers, I went a different direction.
The MusicalSurroundings.com site quotes the following:
Recommended load is >50K ohms"
Both of my amps at the time, a Pass X-250 and Sim Audio Titan, operate at 20-22Kohms, less then HALF of the reccomendation. So they will work great with SOME amps - not great with others.
Check your amp specs before making any assumptions about compatibility.
BTW - I looked up the input impedance of the Ayre V5x that Bigtee uses and your Plinius SA250. The Ayre's 100k load is 'SAFE' for use with this pre, and your Plinius is 47k.
Though fairly close to the recommended 50k, you MAY experience some minor softening of dynamics and extension when used with the Calypso.
I suggest you contact Musical Surroundings to discuss your particular situation before any purchase.
I was checking in the owners manual and there is actually no statement to the minimum impedance that can be used with this preamp. Bhouser brings up a good point with this. I think, however, that the 50k is refering to a balanced impedance into the amp since the Aesthetix pre is designed to be used for balanced ins and outs. It actually converts a single ended input to a true balanced circuit in the preamp. This would place a single ended impedance at 25k for the amp. (The single ended outs are converted from balanced also) I use the Ayre in balanced configuration which shows a 200k input impedance to the Calypso(100k on each leg.)
I would give Aesthetix a call and ask them.
I used an Audible Illusions L-2 that was rated for no less than a 20k input but Art ferris told me 10k was ok and it did not use a buffer circuit like the Calypso which should make it immune somewhat to impedance mismatches.
I've been waiting two months and may cancel my order. Why start a business if you can't keep up?
Not to beat the point the death, but-
I totally agree that buyers should qualify with and hold Aesthetix responsible for their statement about 'Recommended load is >50K ohms' on their website. They need to understand that I completely avoided the Calypso BECAUSE of this statement. If one should REALLY cut a specific published impedance value in half, multiply by 2, take the square root or whatever, then manufacturers are only confusing potential customers with such broad-and-simple compatibility statements. Unfortunately, I have read posts on AudioAsylum and AudiogoN from people who have experienced softened or even severely-limited dynamics when using the Calypso with certain amps, so careful system matching MUST be taken very seriously with this pre.
If an output buffer circuit is supposed to make the Calypso 'immune to impedance mismatches', then why would they even feel the need to quote an acceptable impedance load at all? And they mention nothing about the target amp's gain characteristics, which also affects compatibility.
The gain and impedance curves of your Ayre amp are apparently well-matched with this pre, so your experience would obviously be quite positive if the Calypso's other sonic attributes suit your listening preferences.
I decided to go with a tube preamp that has a transformer-coupled output rated to tolerate impedances of as little as 300 OHMS - that's 0.3K Ohms! This characteristic shows up dramatically through BETTER dynamics and impact from this tubed unit then any of the previous Solid-State pre's that I have owned - which is really saying something. Now THAT's true immunity to impedance mismatches to me...
But as usual, YMMV....
Well, Bhouser, my point is, I have not seen anything "Official" from Asthetix on this subject. As I stated, you would think mention of this would be in the owners manual if it was a problem. I plan on calling them tomorow and asking about this at which time I will post the information.
There are a lot of others factors that can cause reduced dynamics, etc. besides impedance mismatches between components such as input sensitivity of the amp versus output of the pre associated with input sources outputs. Normally, an impedance mismatch will cause a roll off in the highs and not so much affect dynamics. This roll off wouldn't be too bad but would exist. Most tube preamps like to see at least 20k.
I'm not trying to dismiss your concerns but the Calypso is a WELL designed preamp in every technical sense. I just can't believe a company manufacturing tube preamps would require a 50k impedance which seems awfully high.
On another note, I can't believe an output coupling transformer would increase dynamics. How exactly is it doing this because it is not all about impedance you know. I would think this would limit bandwidth and create other problems.
Very good points. Please report back with us when you talk to Aesthetix.
I forgot to mention an amp's input sensitivity above - which is yet another important factor in the BLACK ART of system matching. Things like this never get any air-time when people openly recommend preamps they own.
But, as I said above, minor frequency/extension rolloff COULD be a potential problem with an impedance mismatch, so again, I agree with you.
As to the Calypso specifically, I researched it heavily and really liked what I saw, but then I read those few comments about poor dynamics or rolloff. Finally, the 50k manufacturer recommendation really pooched the deal and I went no further.
From the research that I have done, transformer-coupled tube output designs are a unique breed of preamp circuit, that has proven to generally combine the dynamics of solid-state pre's without sacrificing the mid-range magic and delicacy of tubes (when they are executed well). The VAC Renaissance series and some of the current Supratek and First Sound models (among others) use this basic design to help eliminate system/ground noise, to drive long interconnect runs and to match the impedance curves of virtually any power amp.
As to HOW it is specifically designed to improve these things and why it doesn't seem to cause other problems - I couldn't tell you. But I am sure that Kevin Hayes at VAC or Emmanuel Go of 1st Sound would be happy to.
I DID compare my VAC Ren to 4 well-regarded preamps - a tube hybrid and 3 solid-state pre's, all connected to my 'low impedance' 20kohm Pass X-250 amp. The VAC was clearly more dynamic and punchy then all 4, while it provided the 3-dimensional midrange that the SS pre's could only dream about.
All I can tell you is, I have NO problems with dynamics, extension or impedance-matching in my system... so it MUST work!
Sounds like it does and has made you happy in the process which is all you can ask for. I am not that familiar with the First Sound (with only a short listen) nor the VAC for that matter. I do have a friend who used the First Sound for a little while. I have stayed more with main stream products that I can readily listen to and/or borrow(which is getting pretty dang slim.)
I always try to make sure everything is compatible that I purchase and it does require homework to succeed. The Ayre is an incredible match with the Calypso(in fact, the guys at Ayre even recommended it.)I'm sure they are friends with Jim White of Aesthetix since they (along with Charles Hansen) have joined forces at Theta for a few products in the past. All of these guys believe in using zero feedback designs. So, all of this falls in line with my belief of time aligned, phase coherent speakers and components that are zero feedback that offer good time domain performance.
I have listened to the ARC Reference Mk.II, the BAT 51se and a few others in my system. The Calypso easily held its own for less money(WAY LESS!) So, That pretty much sold me own it.
Has anyone used a VK 75se with a Calypso?
As a quick note. I have been trying the Calypso pre amp for a few months now. First off it has surpassed my Placette Active line stage in all ways. I have it hooked up to Plinius SA-102 amps at 47ohm input and have had no issues. I have found the stock Sovtek tubes to lack in dynamics, bass and extension. The Mullard anf Telefunken (sp) are great!!!!!!!
Jadem6....any possibilities of getting your hands on a Rhea Phono stage to check out that combo?
Mine is *Supposed* to be here Monday...i won't hold my breath.
I used the Calypso with Pass X-600 mono's to drive the Talon Khorus MK II for about 5 months before I sent it back to the dealer. Traded up for a new Ayre K1-X and WOW--what a difference. In my system the Calypso was uninvolving and noisy. I found that I had better results plugging my Accuphase DP-77 CDP directly into the amps. There was a further improvement still when the Ayre arrived. I won't knock Aesthetix because I am sure if paired with the right electronics they are very attractive in their price class--they just didn't work for me.
Rwd, no I have no access to one. Write me if you want to discuss trying some tubes.
Msaines, My opinion with standard Sovtek tubes fits yours. Very noisy and uninvolving. With good tubes this pre-amp simply is silent, great depth and excellent detail in all frequencies. My Placette is as quite as any pre-amp and transparent and dynamic like no other. The Aesthetix matched it in this area but with better soundstage, more realistic definition of insturments. The Placette always was extremely natural to me, untill I found the Aesthetix with the Telefunken or Mullard tube, now it sounds electronic.
Jim White has said that he didn't know where the 50k figure came from but the preamp would easily drive much, much lower impedance than that listed. He siad not to worry with most any impedance.