Review: Bottlehead Corp ForePlay rev.2 preamp Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

This is a kit. So you need to solder. But if you do, this is a great little preamp, able to make a very clean and musical presentation. Assembly is fairly straightfoward, if you follow the comprehensive instructions. There are many tweaks online, including high-quality stepped attenuator designs, dual mono power supplies, and upgrade chassis'. A very good little preamp, it worked better in my system than the RL-11. I have a very sensitive amp, however, and as such it took some work to get this to be as quiet as I need. Once I had solved my noise issues, this was a superior preamp in every way- but by that point I had installed all kinds of tweaks, including stepped shunt attenuators and dual mono power supplies, outboard power supply, etc, etc....
Most people seem to have no noise issues, but the A100 puts out 100WPC with 1.1V input, so it is a real bear on noisy preamps. All in all, a great product, I learned a lot, and with a buncha work, built something that could compete with many an expensive (kilobucks) pre out there.

Associated gear
B&W DM605 s2 speakers
Acurus A100 Amp

Similar products
Acurus RL-11
Various pieces at shows
The Foreplay is an exceptional bargain. While it is a kit, it is remarkably easy to assemble; as noted in the review, there are also a staggering number of (mostly very inexpensive) improvements / additions that raise the level of performance to something very impressive. I have two systems, and the preamp in my main stereo is a Rowland Coherence. Does the Foreplay compare favorably? To be honest, they're in different leagues -- but considering the extraordinary difference in cost, that's no surprise. Still, the Foreplay demonstrates a little-recognized axiom: the cost of the parts in an exotic audio component represents a very small percentage of its retail price. You provide the labor, there is virtually no advertising budget for the consumer to subsidize, and the Foreplay doesn't come with a 3/8" thick front panel (though you could source one if you wanted). The net of it is that the Foreplay ends up sounding like audiophile components at least half a dozen times more expensive.

And it's damn fun to put together.
I recently bought a modified Bottlehead Foreplay II from a fellow Audiogon member and am floored on how good it is! My more pricey McIntosh MX-110 will be banished to the 2nd system.

The FPII is dead quiet with a black sound floor. Amazing clarity with a three dimensional soundstage absent of any colorization.