Review: Creek OBH-12 Preamplifier

Category: Preamps

When I was searching for a preamp for my system I asked myself what features am I looking for in a preamplifier? Volume control (a remote if possible, listening from my couch) and switching from my TT pre-preamp to my CD...anything else? nope. I just described the Creek OBH-12 preamplifier. What else do you get with the preamp? supreme transparancy for one. Is this preamplifier for everyone? No...if you need to drive long ICs, use tone controls, have complicated switching needs or need to truley preamplify the output from any of your sources than this is not for you. Other features that help add to its attractiveness are that it takes the volume pot out of the signal path when your are not changing volume, allowing for a cleaner direct path in and out...transparancy baby! It is simply a volume control and source switcher (for up to two sources) with a tape loop. If you want a high quality, remote control, source switcher and volume control, this baby is for you. I had envisioned my ideal preamplifier as one that did not color the signal from CD to amplifier, but that allowed me to control volume, the Creek OBH-12 does this better than any other component I have auditioned. Some people say simple, I say focussed and elegant Try it you'll like it!

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I've been using the OBH-12 for a year now. It is definitely the most transparent preamp I've ever had in my system. Sometimes the remote will not move the volume control. If I manually turn it all the way down, the remote take control again. Minor pain.
I am actually driving 3 meters of cable to my power amp with no problem. They're Harmonic Technology Precision Links and claim to have spec's that allow for long runs without any signal loss (impedence, inductance, resistance, one of those). Now if some pay thousands of dollars for preamps, there must be something that we're missing, but I don't know what it is.
Re: the remote..try fingering the opposite direction for a second if it seems to get stuck, if you are trying to raise the volume, stop and press the down volume button for a sec, if trying to lower the volume stop, blah, blah, blah..mine got stuck too but a quick move in the opposite direction (via remote) always got it going again. The Creek will obvioulsy not drive long cables, you will lose some highs, but kept short (or matched with loss loss cables) they are a dream transparancy-wise. I did eventually drop them for a full featured preamp (I wanted tone controls and more siwtching options) but nothing I have heard is more transparent then these creeks. regards, tony
yup, you got it. I needed some more control flexibility and, god help me, tone controls so I moved on. but that little Creek still amazes with its simple purity of design and implementation and transparency of sound. regards, tony
Ditto all the above. Love it. One thing to mention though, some recordings, and more recently SACD's are mastered at very low levels. I have probably 15 recordings that I simply can't play loudly enough, not enough voltage, with the OBH-12 wide open. (If I connected the disc player directly to the amp, it'd be the same.) So I need to go looking to bump my disc player's 2V output to maybe 3-5V. But am not looking forward to losing the pristine transparency. Does anyone make a line-stage booster (w/no volume)?
absolutely right, no gain in this baby! if your source's output is too low to hear well or, god forbid, drive your amplifier you need to a real pre-amplifier, not this variable resisitor with switching...good point. best regards, tony
OK Folks. I've read more than once that the impedance of connected components can be an issue here but I've seen no specific advice in that regard. Are we talking about the output impedance of the source in front of this pre amp or the input impedance of the amplifier following it ... or both?Are there better and worse impedance values in both cases and, if so, does anyone know what they are. FYI my "source" is a Musical Fidelity V-Dac connected to my television and my "amp" is a Melos MA 110-B analog tube control pre amp. I'm thinking of buying one of these Creek units and don't want to waste my money or have to make more changes in my system. Any advice or opinion would be appreciated.

Many Thanks,