Review: Audcom AP-120 Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

Well let me start this review off with the company. Sekei is a wonderful company to do business with. Andy has provided me with lots information on my purchase and a delight to deal with. The package came in just 2 days. The package was double boxed and in perfect shape. Shipping only cost $10.

Now to the preamp, the Audcom is built a lot better than I expected for a piece that only costs. $329. Yes, I know only $329! The front face is pretty thick aluminum and the unit is pretty heavy for a preamp. I started off with the stock tubes, which were Chinese 12ax7. They were ok, and a definite improvement over using my Outlaw 950 pre/pro as the preamp. I already ordered some 12au7’s to do some tube rolling and experimenting with the sound. I went with the 12au7 due to the fact that this preamp has a really high gain output. It will put out upwards of 20 volts. Even though the 12au7’s lowered the output some, I still had to utilize the –6 db setting on the preamp. The only tubes I’ve tried so far are the Jan Philips. After about 4 hours of burn in I’m a happy camper. The preamp added the warmth and smoothness my system was missing. I don’t have all the catchy words or phrases to describe everything about this unit but what I will say it that it is very musical. I’m using this with a Krell KAV-250a and modded Magnepan MMG’s. The source unit is a DPA Renaissance cdp and a Pioneer 563a universal player. Prior to the preamp, my system had a harsh and bright edge to it. Now with the preamp in all of that is gone with all the detail and sound staging there. I do not have an extensive experience with tube preamps but from my various auditions in the local hifi shops this unit is on par with the Rogue 99 and the Audio Research SP-16. I’m not saying that the Audcom is better than them; I’m saying that I have no desire to go out and purchase them even if they were discounted by 50%. I like the Audcom that much. This is definitely the missing link in my system. The only downside is the remote. It is a pretty flimsy piece of plastic but other than that the rest of the unit is pretty solid. I’ve only got about 24 hours on this thing right now. I can’t wait to seed what the following months will bring and how the different tubes will sound.

Associated gear
DPA Renaissance CDP
Pioneer DV-563a
Audcom AP-120
Krell KAV-250a
Modded Magnepan MMG's

Similar products
Rogue 99
Audio Research SP16L
Thanks for your review. I ordered one already from Sekei Inc. Now it is with Wayne for upgrading.Probably the additional gain switch on the rare of the pre amp can be removed and the gain can be fixed.I will request if the phono section can be convererted to another line level. Keep posting about your further experiences with this pre amp.It seems to be a bargain.
I read some knocks on this preamp by some Bottlehead Foreplay fans. Any idea how well this performs compared to it? This preamp looks so much more attractive to me because it already has a nice case and two outputs so I can use my subwoofer. Oh, and a remote too!
I will have mine in about three weeks time as it is sent to bolder cables for upgrade.(caps, re wiring etc)
From what i heard from other owners of audcom 120 is
that is well built.
the original tubes that came with it needs to be replaced.It is a bargain at that price. When I get my pre amp back and listened to it for a couple of weeks I will post my review.
Well it’s been over a month now and I promised an update. I still stick by my guns on how good the preamp is regardless of the price. I did do a few tweaks to it, nothing major. I upgraded the tubes to Mullard 12au7, dampened the chassis with dynamat, added some HALO tube dampeners, and changed out the footing to Isonodes. All of these made subtle difference, but the whole was very good, especially for my setup. It gave the setup more focus and the soundstage expanded. The tubes really gave the whole setup the magical midrange that I was looking for. The high gain issue was also resolved by the Mullards. Everything was just more enjoyable. I was going to consider modding out the internals but I ended up changing out my amp to the Innersound ESL 300 and now everything has really come together.

In the end I would have to say this preamp is a no brainer. If anyone is looking for a truly musical preamp that just allows you to enjoy the music, than this is it. I don’t find that the preamp colors the sound like I once was searching for. Once I changed out my amp I found out how neutral and transparent this thing really is. If it is doing much to the sound it is doing it in a very good way. Comparing this to my Outlaw 950 in bypass mode is definitely night and day. Of course I expected that.