New preamps making new claims.

I embrace innovation and don't doubt that new product lines are better than yesteryears'.
Brands with big fan clubs are claiming their new releases are much better than previous models. For instance Pass, Ayre, Simaudio, BAT, Classe, Cary, Mcintosh and Audio Research have introduced new models recently that are supposed to be much better.
Please share with us your experience in this area.
General Motors says the same things about there new cars........Look what its getting them............
Have faith Thorman,
there must be room for improvement,
otherwise I can't justify future purchases.
"New" and "Improved" have been staple marketing adjectives for more than a century. How else would new products get sold if consumers didn't believe the latest version would make them happier, healthier or sexier?

Take all marketing claims with a sizable grain of salt. They are intended to seduce you into opening your wallet.
Some are, some aren't. Its case by case. I would rather wait until the latest model has been out for some time and see what the reaction is. Also the first run often has problems that are ironed out later in production. The best buy is often the model that has just been replaced. There will be a mad scramble to dump them by those who must have the latest thing. The best policy is to drop back a generation or so. There is unlikely to be a large difference and you will save 50% of the price, often more.
Totally agree, but I keep reading here in forums about how Audio Research out-performs their older models.
Some of it may be true, hence the thread.
I have a new Cary SLP98p f-1 version and I love it. But since it's all hand wired, point to point, with NOS tubes, I guess the only new thing really is the power supply, the rest could be from 1955, so............

BTW, GM and Ford cars are much better, as are all cars to be honest. It's not that GM and Ford are not making good cars, it's that the Japanese and the Germans have done a great job of making their product more desirable and more of a social status simble. It's a cycle, GM and Ford can come back.

Oh yeah, I forgot that with a few noteable exceptions, a lot of the American cars, especially GM have looked horrible. The Pontiac Vibe??? YUCK!!

I will almost forgive them that with the beautiful and woderfully built Cadillac CTS and Chevy Malibu.
Pay attention to Tvad's advice its solid;what pre amp,or pre amps have you visa card moving around?
They are not necessarily better. But they may tuned differently which you may or may not like better. Plus heavy efforts into design rework, which may cost more than the changes in the electronics.
Hello Pedrillo.

There is no doubt IMO they are getting better and not just different. But to measure the sounds improvement is an awfully difficult thing to quantify. It's an opinion and something that will differ from person to person and their particular (different) systems.

I also think that when many of the manufactures make these claims they are coming from the design perspective.


There are a few vintage, classic ARC units that blow away anything currently available. Aside from ARC used units being great values, service and support in the good old USA makes them technically superior to all the new stuff. Your will not be disappointed purchasing ARC stuff.

As for cars, just take a test drive in the new Honda Fit. At $15K, It will blow you away and quickly tell you why the Big Three have lost their way, never to find it again. No multi billion dollar bail out will save them, let them go, quietly into the dust bin of history, the quicker the better.
The process of advancement in audio reproduction is more of a random walk than a straight line jog from better to best. If you examine the product history of companies that have been in the business for a significant amount of time you will see numerous changes is design philosophy and many "dead end" product lines.

You should also give some consideration to exactly why a company comes out with a new product. Frequently it's due to supplier issues. If a certain tube is no longer being produced, then an amp manufacturer will have to change the design of their amp. The new amp could in some ways be better than the old amp, but that raises questions about why they picked a different tube to design around in the beginning.

Despite what I say, eventually someone will release a Signature Reference Statement Mk3 product and some audiophile will immediately feel the need to upgrade from their beloved Mk2 version.
Looks towards the power supply. This is where improvements in sound can be massive. My TRL Dude preamp has a newly designed power supply that is amazing and brings so much more music to the sound party.

The power supply is where innovation brings real improvement.

I am now moving up to TRL mono amps based 100% on his newly designed power supply that will go into his amps.

If you examine the product history of companies that have been in the business for a significant amount of time you will see numerous changes is design philosophy and many "dead end" product lines.

This is exactly what NOT to look for in a company - what are the chances that this years model happens to be a keeper? Successful products with substantial advantages often have a much longer life span - some lasting 20+ years. If you can find a product that is still being produced (substantially unchanged) and is desirable 5 to 10 years after its initial launch then go for it.

Today's latest and greatest mostly ends up on the "dead end" junk pile.
Agree, let the three automakers disappear.
They are too arrogant to even consider the customer comes first. If Japan can make such good cars there is no excuse.

As for preamps, I still remember that MBL demo at the show and it is obvious that every component played a significant role to create that life-like sound.
If I had the money I would own that system. But since I don't, I am hoping to achieve that sound for less.
Buconero117, yes the local honda dealer has told me that folks will purchase the Fit over the phone when he has them in stock.

With regard to the preamp question, I was so disappointed with recent preamps (and problems with some older ones) that I'm driving my amp directly from my Dac1. Unless you really want a tube preamp (thought I did) some Dacs like the Dac1 are designed to do this.
I have had the chance to compare newer against older preamps from two companies.
ARC ref.3 vs. ref 2 MKII
Ayre K-1XE vs. kxr
In both cases the newer models were more transparent, detailed, better extention both top and bottom, all without loosing the musical sound that keeps you in your chair. So from the ones I have heard the newer preamps are getting better.
I have heard the new BAT VK-32SE also and owned the VK-31SE and feel the BAT is better too. But I have not heard the BATs side by side.
Also all three were quieter, mainly the ARC.
One thing some people fail to realize is that some ( not all )companies just change to for the sake of change to incourage people to think its better becuase its newer ..Companies change a resistor or change locations of connectors and call it "B" Version and many have to have it..( Ive been there )..Certainly there are exceptions to the rule but how many peices made today will still be playing 30 years from now like Sansui and Marantz etc...............?
pedrillo...don't mean to get all 'economics-ish' on you, but literally over 'one thousand' more companies would be severly crippled or gone, if the big 3 where to go away tomorrow....for better or worse, the old saying may still be somewhat true, 'whats good for general motors is good for america'(i wouldn't wish job loss on anyone) for newer is better..maybe for many, but i love old stuff(even though i buy new stuff too), houses, audio, music and yeah, my wife(who i sometimes wish i could trade in).
Macdadtexas: the vibe is not a GM car. It is a toyota marketed by pontiac. Which just goes to show you that the american brands have created a tough reputation for themselves-stylewise. As for quality the GM cars and especially the buicks are as good if not better then the competition.

As for preamps, ill take a fisher, pilot or older Joule any day. Incidentally, most of the good preamps are made in the usa...
If you have the cash the new stuff is better, if you dont than the new stuff isnt that much better than what you have to worry about buying...right?
Or is it just me?
Actually the economics work like this: When a manufacturer introduces a new version of the same product, then all the retailers/distributors have to get rid of their display model and show the new version, and they are frequently under contract to do so. So they goose up their profits, at the cost of the dealers.

The dealers then thumb through their rolodex for their top group of customers, who can be counted on to trade in their "recent" stuff for "new, improved" stuff, and the dealer makes back some of the profit they lost having to sell off the display model for cheap.

Used/discount buyers then buy up the display model and the customer's trade-in . . . but these people usually like to change out their gear a lot, and the value of this particular model has plummetted since the new one came out, so they all, in turn, lose money on it until it ends up in a landfill.

And after awhile, since people don't want to spend much money on something they're going to be getting rid of . . . the manufacturer has to sell their stuff cheaper, in order to keep their sales. So they start the cycle again . . .

. . . and we all start leveraging our credit with each other to keep it going, but nobody knows how much debt each other has . . .

. . . well, you get the picture.
New stuff, the right new stuff, will run circles around the old stuff. I love old tube gear and have owned and still own some good old stuff. Fisher, Bogen etc.....

For example a new ART SLA 2 amp can be had for $260 on Ebay new. It sounds so wonderful and is far more refined sounding then many older pieces. $260!!

Also, low priced Chinese amps are all over the place for little cash new. They use similiar design and circuits as many of the older tube amps, but use better sounding, new parts and offer great cosmetics.

As a longtime user of vintage gear which has provided excellent performance and musicality, I can say that in the last few years, new components show big improvements in signal-to-noise ratio, linearity of op-amps, and the emergence of variable gain stages. A lot of the budget high end gear today has the transparency, bandwidth, s/n ratio, current delivery, frequency extension, speed, AND musicality previously associated only with the really expensive gear.

For examples:
The new Benchmark DAC Pre is highly regarded in all circles. Its line stage is considered to be excellent. Yet the only type that could fit in such a small chassis is an op amp. A few years ago op amps were widely reviled; now they're becoming main stream high end.

My 2004 Outlaw 950 multichannel pre/pro has an analog line stage that's every bit as good as my mid-'80s VSP Straightwire II, and that's saying something.

The $169 Cambridge Audio 640P phono stage is way better than the phono stage in my mid-'80s Amber Model 17 preamp, and that Amber was designed for vinyl enthusiasts--it has capacitance DIP switches for the MM phono input. The Cambridge is also *at least* the equal of the phono stage in the Straightwire, which was a $1500 unit in 1985.

PS Audio has the Gain Cell, allowing for variable gain rather than a preamp gain stage and an amp gain stage, with resistance-based attenuation in between. The variable gain stage lowers the noise floor and improves linearity. The Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp also has a variable gain stage, and also benefits from excellent linearity, speed, and transparency. It can also deliver up to 80 amps of instantaneous current, making for a very responsive, quiet, and resolving amplifier.

When I bought my first stereo in 1972, $400 would buy you a respectable 45 wpc receiver from Altec-Lansing, Pioneer, or Marantz. That's about $2200 in today's money. My $474 Onkyo A-9555 would have cost only $96.63 in 1972 dollars, but you couldn't have bought this Onkyo's performance then at *any* price.
I don't think that circuit design in itself has changed that much over the past 25 years & a good but older design is often viable for years to come but what is better now is the parts. When you send an older unit in for an upgrade, it is the parts in the audio path that are always targeted & replaced with newer better sounding replacements. In some cases the power supply is also targeted for upgrade, usually the caps.

So it is my opinion that companies that exagerate claims that the new model is so much better than last years (considering that one unit is only one year older than the other) is definately trying to make a sales pitch. This also leaves me wondering why their best effort was saved for last, maybe it's just prettier! It takes alot of discipline for an audiophile to recognize this and turn from the hype.