I had a Placette Passive and it was VERY GOOD. I would not bet that any other passive is going to be any better. One of my best friends also has the Placette Passive in his system, which is a very highly resolving system. It sounds awesome!
If it were me (and its not), I would only buy a different passive that had a return policy, or was purchased used for a "can't lose" price so the unit could be re-sold if it did not out-perform the Placette.
I've since moved on from the Placette, but only because I wanted to consolidate to an integrated amp and simplify my setup.
Honestly, I don't think you will do better than the Placette for a standard passive. It appears to use disrete Vishay S-102 resistors, so it is going to perform pretty much like every other stepped attenuator. I would say that you could look at passives with a transformer if you wanted something a little different and "colored":
By the way, it appears that The Truth preamp is an active device, so it is not really a true "passive".
Seems like the Placette with its Vishays can still holds its own today.
I leaning towards giving the Tortuga a try
Its uses what they call Light Dependent photoResistors ( LDRs) which seems to seperate it from the others.
It also has 3 inputs and 2 outputs as compared to one of each on my Placette.
$1k with 30 day return policy
For $700 bucks you could try a Schiit Freya or Saga for $349. Schiit does allow returns albeit with a restocking fee. The Freya provides pure passive, JFET unity gain, or tube (13 db gain) modes and is a balanced design though it will also accept SE inputs and has both SE and balanced output. Very flexible. Very quiet...even in tube mode with volume all the way up and nothing playing - dead silent with ear at the speaker. Just be sure to get some 6SN7s that have been tested for noise; not all 6SN7s are created equal. Good luck in your decision.
You've done your homework. LDR's are the next step in the passive evolution. Caution, the placette is so good, there will only be an incremental improvement. But it will still be an improvement.
Having owned a Placette, we know there's no going back. It wasn't until I heard the Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp that I made a switch. In hindsight, it's the phono preamp in the MP-1 that's the king. If Atma-Sphere built a stand alone phono preamp, I might still have the Placette.
I recently replaced my preamp with a new Schiit Freya that has 3 options: Passive, FET, and tube. The passive and FET sound alike (with short cables anyway), the tube stage has so much more gain it's a hard comparison, but the tubes seem to have more detail or at least more interesting tone for my tastes. Note that although the passive and FET modes have to be cranked up for my little SE amp to work, they do sound very good.
That's a very interesting discussion for me, as I now also in this ""passive" dilemma, which made worse by necessety of HT bypass. I am not an Electrical Engineer, but conversation with some passive Pre makers reveals that they may have difficulties of implementing such very simple on the surface feature.
If Freya had a I bypass it already will be in my rack )), I love an ability to switch options and play.
I use to have the Placette active linestage (it had a unity gain buffer that made it active). I heard it against the passive and I liked the active version more because it sounded more dynamic.
I've also heard a light dependent resistor-based passive that was operated by remote control. It was pretty good sounding, although, it was bettered by a tube-based active in a mini shootout conducted by a friend.
The one that has me curious is the remotely controlled autoformer passive made by Dave Slagle. I like transformer-based passives, but, most have too few volume steps and are not remote controllable. Slagle's unit has many small steps, remote control and a balance control. I believe he sells his unit through a company called MyEmia. I've heard systems he put together for shows that sounded quite good, but, I haven't actually tried one in my system.
I have no experience with passives but don't forget Goldpoint Level Controls. They've been around for a long, long time and they won't break the bank either. They use a stepped attenuator which can be noisy so proceed with caution. 🤔
All the best,
BTW, I asked Schiit if they have plans to introduce HT bypass in a future.
This is an answer " All of our preamps offer true home theater bypass. Just plug in your processor's front channels to any input, select Passive mode, and turn the volume all the way up. Presto! 1:1 home theater bypass, with only a relay in the signal path."
I believe this is extremely rude reply, and they consider their customers as complete idiots. Paints their company in a very bad light.
So my Tortuga arrived this past Saturday. Hoorah! But it crapped out last night. Boo!
Hey. These things happen and I’m sure Tortuga will make things right.
The Placette sold quickly. So another week or so sans music. Boo!
Sonically between the two, Tortuga had a slight edge and with its ability for impedance matching on the fly made it a clear winner.
I’m thinking of ordering the Schitt Saga as some have mentioned here.
The ability to go passive or active via a 6SN7 seems pretty cool. Nice to have that option. Just cant get my head around the $349 price tag.
Then there’s the Freya if I insist on spending more money. I have on email out to Schitt asking if in passive mode if there is any difference sonicwise.
Having owned a Placette, we know there's no going back. It wasn't until I heard the Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp that I made a switch. In hindsight, it's the phono preamp in the MP-1 that's the king. If Atma-Sphere built a stand alone phono preamp, I might still have the Placette.The phono section of the MP-1 is designed to work with a line section. If you have a high output cartridge it could drive a power amp to clipping, but no with LOMCs. The thing is, the interconnect cable is a huge variable with passives, and the line section of the MP-1 can tame interconnect cables quite well.
IOW, the MP-1 is intended as a stand-alone phono reproducer, although it does have auxiliary inputs.