Review: Audio Experience Music MK3 Tube preamp
There comes a time when you have to say "Are tubes really the way to go for me?" I am a very eclectic listener and listen to most forms of music. For the purposes of this test, I used Salif Keita's newest album "Moffou" and The Eagles "When Hell Freezes Over".
When I listen to music, I listen for a warm sound that puts me at a performance or in the studio. I like to hear great soundstaging and fatigue-free listening. The thing that is most unpleasant to me is when a system is overly accurate and does not sound natural. Since I work as one of the directors of a fairly large performing arts center in New York, I see live performances every week and try to recreate that experience at home in my audio gear.
I have had the MK3 tube amp for a little over a month. It replaced a solid state Cambridge Audio C500 that was already very neutral and a good buy for the money. I was on one of my late night audiogon prowls when I noticed this little pre-amp that was being sold by a company in Hong Kong. The retail list was $720 but it was being sold for half the price with shipping included. Since I already had a curiosity for tube gear, this seemed like a low risk entry level unit. After verifying that this was a legitimate entity, I ordered a unit.
The package arrived a few weeks later and I was excited about what I was about to hear. I heard nothing. Two of the tubes had arrived damaged via the gentle hands of my local post office. After contacting the seller and explaining the situation, he agreed to send me replacement tubes for the unit. The suspense was mounting and I was anxious to hear my new "tube" preamp.
When I returned from my vaction, the tubes were there smiling at me in my mailbox. I was not prepared for what I was about to experience. I fired up the MK3 and low and behold there was music. There was sweet, warm, and realistic (that's right)sounding music coming out of my speakers. The soundstage just jumped out at me and the separation was good enough for me to picture where all the boys from the Eagle's live performance were standing. From what I can tell,the build quality is very good and I am very happy so far with this unit.
This is a great starter for someone who wants to get that tube sound at a budget price. Of course you can buy a better product, but for the money, it is a great unit.
Audio Refinement Multi 2, Dual CS 5000 turntable, Audio Refinement Complete CD, Margules Audio CD Enhancer, NAD phono preamp, Platinum Audio Solos, Harmonic Technologies interconnects and speaker cable
Jolida, Antique Sound Labs, Philadelphia Audio