Review: Forte F-44 Preamplifier

Category: Preamps

Forte was the companion line to Threshold, with that being said much of the Threshold technology found its way to the Forte product line.

The Forte F44 is a Pure Class A, two channel, preamplifier line stage, with 6 inputs, plus tape loop. Has 2 pre outs as well as balanced inputs as well as balanced outputs.J-fet inputs with FET outputs is main topology of this unit.

The Forte F44 has the build quality that became one of the benchmarks of Threshold.

The remote controls Volume and Input Selector as well as Mute. The Volume and Input Selector are motor driven as opposed to electronic switching.

This Forte F44 is driving a pair of Forte Model 7 Mono Blocks at 75 Watts RMS Pure Class A into 8 ohms.

The Forte Model F44 replaces the Forte Model 40p in my Forte/Alon system.

Have had this unit up and running for about 45 days now and I could not be happier with this unit. It does have more depth,clarity,transparency than the Forte Model 40p. Although I do miss the remote power supply that the Forte Model 40p had,as the Forte Model F44 uses an on board power supply. So one has to be careful as to where this preamp is inserted into the system to avoid possible stray hum from other components.

However the sonics of this preamp are very good indeed, it delivers the music with astonishing verve irregardless of the source of CD,Vinyl,Mini Disc,etc. Using an outboard phono preamp with this and the synergy between the two is without fault.

Without question the Forte Model F44 has brought the level of sonic signature up a couple of levels as where the system once was.

The Forte Model F44 has the ability to deliver the music to a very high level indeed and there is little to fault with this preamp. the remote feature is nice, but have not used that as much as I thought I would. But nonetheless it is provided and adds to the overall enjoyment of this unit.

This unit can be modified for additional performance by Jon Soderberg of Vintage Amp Repair. Have not heard the modified units, but understand with the modifications can be brought up to Threshold T3 standards. The unit for this review is in factory stock configuration.

Someone once said if the amplifier is the heart of the system, then the preamp must surely be it's soul. I could not agree more. With all program sources the Forte F44 has added a depth and realism that was not there before. the sound stage has widen considerably and overall dynamics are clearly defined, yet with all its analytical prowess it remains one of the most musical components I have owned.The Forte F44 thrives on good interconnects and power cord. the better your source components the better performance the Forte F44 will give. It will not take a mundane system to new levels and is unforgiving if the rest of the system is not up to the task. But with the given of peoper amplification and source components this is one very stellar preamp worthy of any high end system.

Is there better, sure there is. But at the used price points for the Forte F44 you are going to spend considerably more to exceed the performance of the Forte F44.

Make no mistake one could do seriously worse than the Forte F44.

Listed below are the CDs used for listening tests.

Ben Webster At The Renaissance (Contemporary Records OJCCD-390-2)
The Royal Ballet Gala Performances (Classic Compact Discs CDSCD 6065)
Peter And The Wolf - Boston Symphony Orchestra (Sony SK 64079)
Jurassic Park Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCAD 10859)
We Get Requests - The Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 810047-2)
You Won't Forget Me - Shirley Horn (Verve 847482-2)
Sneakers Motion Picture Soundtrack (Columbia DIDP 078100)
On Every Street - Dire Straits (Warner Brothers 26680-2)
Trio Jeepy - Branford Marsalis (Columbia CK44199)
Paris Jazz Concert - Louis Armstrong (RTE 1001-2)
Braveheart Motion Picture Soundtrack - London Symphony Orchestra (London LC0171)
Patriot Games Motion Picture Soundtrack (RCA 07863 66051-2)
Hook Motion Picture Soundtrack (Epic EK 4888)
Highlights From The Plugged Nickel - Miles Davis (Columbia CK 67377)

Listed below are the LPs used for the listening test.

Bob James - Hands Down (Columbia FC 38067)
Hiroshima - Self Titled - (Arista MFSL1-525)
John Coltrane - Blue Train - (Blue Note BST 81577)
Wes Montgomery - Bumpin' - (Verve V6-8625)
Rickie Lee Jones - Self Titled - (Warner BSK 3296)
Wynton Marsalis - Live Blues Alley - (Columbia PC2-40675)
Eric Gale - Forecast - (KUDU Records KU 11)(CTI Records)
Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington Jr - (Blue Note BT 85106)
Earl Klugh - Finger Painting - (Blue Note MFSL 1-025)
Larry Carlton - Friends - (Warner 23834-1)
Sadao Watanabe - Autumn Blow - (Inner City IC 6064
Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute - (Warner BSK 3193)
Santana - Zebop - (Columbia FC37158)
Pat Metheny Group - American Garage - (ECM 1-1155)
Frederick Fennel - Cleveland Symphonic Winds - (Telarc 5038)
The Crusaders - Chain Reaction - (MOFI - MFSL 1-010

The Forte F44 played all these selections to a new level and with an authority that I had not experienced before. Greater depth and clairty were immediately present,plus the layering in of the instruments became a total delight to hear. Totally grainless and the music just appeared out of a blackness.

I am most impressed and the Forte F44 will have a long time presence in my system.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

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I have Forte F44 Preamplifier
serial No. 053474, but I havn't got remote unit.
I do like these F44 preamplifier, song is different
between any others preamp.
Rich song and vocal is sharp and deep,high mid and low
seperately hear it and clear.
I do request if you can help to sale for remote unit
I do really want to buy as soon as possible.
kind regards
U San
Keep checking eBay or Audiogon from time to time as they do come up for sale.
I do understand this is an older thread and I understand as time goes on people's system's do evolve. However a very good design should be viable for years to come as does the Forte F44. Just recently purchased this pre and I can tell you it is one of the best ss designs I have heard. Not one bit of grain is passed on to the amplifier and the big 3 D soundstage is all there. I haven't heard this level of detail or transparency since the use of tube preamps. Ferrari pretty much summed it up and is dead accurate with this review!