Promitheus TVC preamp

Category: Preamps

The Promitheus is a transformer volume control, aka, TVC. Initially when first using such a unit to change volume up and down, one is struck by the sameness of character as the volume changes. With all resister type controls, which is probably 99+% out there, raising the volume also seems to increase a sense of fullness and frequency extension.

During the past couple of years, I've listen with some nice tube preamps with a Mapletree, an Audible Illusions, a Van Alstine and a couple of passive preamps. Positively speaking, the passives always seemed to let though the subtle details, allowed for a sense of speed, and let through the deepest bass notes; the actives made for warmth, smoothness, body, dynamic contrast. Negatively speaking, the passives seemed thin and dry; the actives seemed to veil some detailed nuances buried in thickly textured music, had their own distinct character, sometimes closed-in the sound stage and called for constant tube rolling. The Promitheus, oddly seems right between these two types of preamps, having mostly the virtues of each.

The greatest virtue of the Promitheus, for me, is the body added to midrange and midbass voice and instrument. By "body", I think others called "image density", "fleshed out", "rounded" "wet". This is like a tube preamp, but retaining the see-throughedness of a passive. When a voice or solo instrument is playing, there is a sense of being able to reach out and touch it. And the body has strength, meaning increased dynamic punch.

Another virtue is a new sense of quietness. Sometimes a tube preamp seems to filter some high frequency electronic atmosphere, even though it might hiss or hum a bit. Neither the few good solid state preamps nor the passives I've heard do this quieting. This TVC does this. There is not the slightest hiss though, but hum can be induced if other components are not carefully situated, as I found out when a power amp was placed directly beneath the Promitheus.

Speaking of amps. These characteristics were true when going into a Decware SE84CS, a gainclone, and a battery powered T-amp.

Weaknesses in comparison to either the passives or active tube preamps: a bit of horizontal spacial restriction, but not vertical; depth may even be increased (but this may be an illusion created by the increased roundness and placement specificity of an image). A slight truncation of the deepest bass, with an increased weight of the upper bass; this was not noticed with the tube power amp.

The manufacturer was very considerate to send a replacement after the first one had some minor problems, so although this must be purchased from Malaysia, such a purchase can be trusted. Shipping was air mail and quick also.

Having been an audiophile for going on thirty years, this unit, a TVC, along with the discovery of single fullrange speaker drivers have set me on a new path from which I can't turn back. With the Promitheus, I can listen intently for longer periods.
Hopefully, the passives and actives you compaired, included a Placette. If not, you may want to avoid hearing one...
Nice review Skyboy!! We use similar gear. I agree there's no turning bak now. In fact I find that now I have no interest in upgrading any more. Thanks to Nick...I'm finally off the merry go least for the next couple of years! ;-)

I notice no loss of deep bass..I use a gainclone exclusively. My single drivers are capable of mid 20Hz response. If the recording has it,
talking about weight.. I can hear it and feel it coming through the walls in other rooms of the house. The TVC will not add any artificial weight to the get what you put into it.

Welcome to the world of TVCs!!

Good listening
I have a good friend who has had the Placette in his system. Guess what preamp he owns now....The Promitheus!LOL
Yep, there's no comparison between the Placette passive and a TVC. I haven't heard the active version, so can't comment there.

I agree. nick just sent me a tvc ref 3, and it's all you stated.
do you think the bal ver will work in my system?
I think your observation of image density hits the mark. I noticed immediatly that every hole in the soundstage has something in it now. There is no more feeling that something is missing. I have just had the unit for a day, so I imagine it will improve as time goes on.
it takes 100 hours to burn in for each input and output. it put my yba passion 1000 into retirment.
anyone using it balanced? I just ordered the sam special (with XLR i/o) Nick states that it is indeed a full balanced design and is not taking the balanced into single ended. As it should be...transformers were MADE for balanced!! I looked at the spec for my SA11 it is a whopping 5 volts rms out on the XLR and 2.5 rms on the RCA's. I'm pretty sure this will be sufficient to get max volumes for me. I am concerned it will not be quiet enough though for late night listening.

I plan on using it fully balanced...

Any operational tips?
I am using it fully balanced and it sounds great...very quiet and good low volume dynamics
Very interesting review. I wonder how this unit will compare to much more expensive ones like my ARC Ref3. I wish I could demo a unit as I would like nothing more than to spend less than $700 for a preamp. Anyone want to let me know borrow a unit for a few days??? :)
I have an extra one,but it is being auditioned by another audiophile out in Texas. He must like it he has had it for two months
When I put some great tube or solid state preamps in $2,000-3,000 price range in my system, I just think "oh these preamps are great sounding". But when the Promitheus TVC is in my system ---> almost every 5 second my eyes and my mouth will be wide opened. It's just keep making stunning results with every cds or lps I've in my collection.