I too own a Reference Line passive unit, the preemminance 2 to be exact. There ARE substantial differences between passive units. Before the Reference Line unit, I owned a McCormack TLC and was quite happy with it. Then on a whim, I picked up a Reference Line Preemminace 1, Series 2 with a direct input. I thought that passive pre amp comparisons would be an excersie in sublte differences. What a difference! Rich open soundstage and stunning dynamics and bass impact. It made the TLC sound thin in comparison. No dynamic compression here. In fact, my wife kept telling me to turn it down. That was over 3 years ago and since then I have tried about a dozen highly regarded active pre amps in the $2000-$5000 USED price range. Some were tubes and some were solid state. Some were quite nice to listen too. But after a week or so, I could pick at the sound and the results were always the same...loss of transparency and loss of dynamics...EVERY time. Put the Reference Line unit back in and the music was thrilling once again. Just goes to show that there are some myths out there that are just that, MYTHS. A well designed passive pre amp will INCREASE the dynamics of your system. The Reference Line units are the best pre amps I've tried and that includes other passives. They are absolute steals on the net and are drop dead beautiful. The only thing you need to be aware of is that the source components need to have an output impedance of less than 200 ohms. Not too much of a challenge for most solid state stuff but can be difficult for a lot of tube gear.