Not based on the Placette Design, I have the Active Placette and it is outstanding. The remote powersupply turns off after it makes any adjustments you request so it doesn't interfer with anything else. The Placette Design only puts 2 resistors in the signal path and It took this preamp to really hear my other components.. My system gained detail/depth/soundstage in spades!
I love the remote!
I've had my Placette Passive for about 18 months now. It allows you to hear your components and the source material as they are. It has no added coloration, no distortion and no mercy. Everything comes through with total transparency.
It definately worth a try. I believe that Guy is still offering a money back option if you don't like it. He is also selling some very transparent interconnects that take the sound to a higher level.
The Placette Active Linestage is a beautiful preamp. In it's egonomics, aesthetics, and sweet sweet highs, along with a decay that go on forever. A real silkiness is also added to the presentation.
However, it was not quite what I prefer. Simply because to me it's attention to the highs seemed to improperly weight the presentation toward the highs and left the bottom end rather lifeless in comparison.
I know not many would agree with me on this conclusion.
But I enjoy using the XLR connections from source to amp. These 2 additional volts simply bring my DNA-2 Rev amp to life like I've never heard before. Therefore, I settled for second best in this price range and went with a Pass Labs unit that has XLR and single-ended connections.
One day, I'd like Guy Hammel to build a fully balanced Placette Active Linestage that processes the additional 2 volts from my source's XLR outputs without interference. And preferably without the sorbathane feet.
As far as I know, the remote was a non-issue for any degrading of the sonics.
I compared the First Sound passive to a Reference Line Preeminence I passive. The Reference Line was more musical, had greater soundstage depth and more dynamic realism. The reference Line uses Vishey's and was a reference pre-amp for many reviewers a few years back. You may want to add this to your list of possibilities.
If you are looking for a super transparent, purely passive transformer-based stage, give John Chapman at Bent Audio a jingle. He can set you up with any number of input/output combos RCA or XLR. You can get them kit or pre-built and they are EXCELLENT. No vested interest, here. I just owned one and thought it was great.http://www.bentaudio.com
Tough call, these are great pieces. I've had extensive experience with Passive Placette, Active Placette, and First Sound Deluxe (the $4k model).
When I wear my audiophile hat the Placette wins - for detail and linearity, without being harsh, it is unmatched in transparency IMO, but, the First Sound is absolutely supernatural in it's black background, dynamices, nuance, and overall sonic beauty. When I play the First Sound my jaw hits the floor on the first note and stays there. Every single note is like an individual gift to your ears. I have never heard anything like it.
Ultimately - and this is critical - it's a matter of system matching of course and your choice might simply need to depend on the rest of the gear...
I've heard there can be impedence problems matching certain amps to First Sound so see if you can try before buy.
4Yanx- I had the Bent unit you are describing in my system and another buddy's (Israel Blume- Owner/Designer Coincident Speaker Technology) for testing- although fairly smooth in presentation and not the least bit aggressive, we found it did soften the frequency extremes too much for our liking, and therefore didn't make the grade. That being said, John at Bent Audio is a super nice guy to deal with.
Israel and I both use Audion preamps from the UK, which we have found to be the best, however as far as transparency/neutrality go, I also found the Wyetech Opal quite outstanding, but this may be out of your intended budget. Vox- for YOUR situation, I would not hesitate to get the Placette RVC w remote. There is one right now on audiogon @ $650. If I had a single source only, this would be an easy decision...
I've listened to the Placette and Bent units in my system and liked them both, the placette has great detail but is lacking in bass responce compared to the bent unit, or I guess you could say that the Bent passive is laid back with better bass and the placette is more forward with more detail and less bass. I could live with both but bought the Bent in the end because I wanted balanced connection.
I have only had my Placette Passive Linestage for about 2 weeks and I have only good things to say about it. As mentioned transparency is second to none (my inexperienced ear hasn't heard better). The highs are crystal clear in a natural and non-fatiguing way (your ears aren't hurt by distortion) and IMO because of it allows you to listen at higher volumes allowing bass to come through. Is the Placette bass heavy? No. But it is not lacking in bass response. I have to use the word natural/realistic here. When you're listening to good live jazz recordings you won't get room shaking bass if the venue is a big concert hall. However if the venue is small and has wooden floors you'll most likely get much more satisfying bass. Just the nature of it.
$4000 for a passive? I usually don't complain about prices of components, but really, what is used in a passive pre that warrents a $4000 price tag? Loaded stepped attenuators?
The $4000 Placette is active. The $4000 First Sound referred to above is active. Once upon a time, First Sound made passive preamps, but no more.
The cost of the Placette units is directly related to the cost of the many Vishay S-102 resistors in them.
Okay. That's the active pre that Tube Research designed for Presence, though it uses 9 pin tubes, right?
I don't think so. Emmanuel Go is the man at First Sound (Presence is the model), and I'm sure he's done all the design work himself.
Emmanual did not design the circuit. Paul Weitzel of Tube Research Labs did back in the mid 1990's.
Okay, I stand corrected. And a little disappointed.
I understand your dissapointment in a way. BUT Paul W., from what I have heard makes some very, very special amps and pre-amps. Besides, its the quality and workmship along with support and r&d that makes a product worth owning in my opinion. Emmanuel has a serious upgrade path for those that what the max possible from First Sound. Call him and ask about his newest 6 chasis preamp that includes two outboard power supplies. Give yourself time to talk because he can be chatty. :)
I recently purchased the Placette active line stage. The sonic characteristics are as has been fully described in prior threads. Almost unbelievable transparency without any edginess. The bass response is fully present but is not accentuated. I was considering the first sound deluxe model at about the same price. I really could not evaluate either unit prior to purchase and decided on the Placette based on conversation with Guy Hammel and reviews, both published and on audiogon and audio asylum. There are several items of potential interest. The first sound products are available with Vishay resistors at a substantially increased price. The Placette represents a better value on a cost of component parts basis with the direct sales approach. I believe that most would think the First Sound products are better looking, I agree, but I do like the ability to use a remote to change sources and volume. If you want a balance control it can be installed in the Placette for a nominal cost. Several other custom options including theater loop, upgraded RCA jacks and apparently additional inputs may be available.
The main advantage of the Placette active linestage over the passive pre-amp and volume control appears to be the low output impedance created by the amplification. If I understand this correctly the active circuitry in the Placette line stage basically lowers the output impedance to just a few ohms. This allows for driving virtually any amplifier and apparently the use of long interconnects without degradation of high frequency response.
With the high degree of transparency, the Placette may sound either spectacular or to revealing depending on the quality of the source (both media and artist). This resulted in some of my heretofore favorite CDs or SACDs now being difficult to listen to. I believe that part of the problem is that I have Martin Logan Ascents which are also very revealing. In my original conversation with Guy he suggested that I could place the Placette between my amp and preamp and verify that the Placette added nothing to the sound. ie my system would sound just like it did before. I then decided that a good solution would be to take my old preamp, Conrad Johnson PV-14L, which fortunately I did not sell and install it through the tape loop of the Placette. Now I have the choice of which sound I would like. In communication with Guy about this he noted that other owners of the Placette products have used this approach. I think in this way I have the potential to have each selection of my music collection sound the best it can. I believe that the best media sounds significantly better with the Placette active line stage. Hopefully there will be increasing availability of well recorded source material performed by talented artists so I can fully enjoy the benefits of the Placette linestage.
In making your choice my guess is that the First Sound would sound better on many sources the Placette on others. The Placette would likely have the ultimately most absolutely accurate reproduction of the source material but this may NOT always sound the best. Your other components will also likely have a significant effect on which preamp sounds better with a specific recording.
Note: As of a month ago Guy Hammel does still offer a 30 day trial period. The warranty is a minimum of 10 years. He has been readily available by phone and promptly and completely answered all my questions.
I used to own both the Placette and the First Sound. In the end, I kept the First Sound, but it was almost a coin toss. They sound very different from one another, but are equally worthwhile and appealing.
Returning to the discussion of the heritage of the First Sound preamp, I did a little digging. It seems that Mr. Go of First Sound commissioned P.Wietzel for a schematic of a tube preamp circuit. It was a very basic, class A triode with a tube regulator on the B+.
Mr. Go, with the collaboration of several other engineers (P. Weitzel not among them), designed the First Sound preamp in 1991. The first unit was sold in the fall of 1991. Since then, there has been a lot of work done to raise the performance of the First Sound preamps to their current level. This includes parts selection, chassis design and construction, circuit implementation, wiring choices, and the way all of these elements come together and are voiced to create the final product. In my book, Emmanuel Go gets full credit (and responsibility) for this preamp.