Review: Korneff 45i Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

I had been lusting after one of these since I read Peter Brueningers drop dead rave review in Listener Autumn 99 issue. At the time I had recently bought of Dayton Wright XG8 MK III electrostatics and was awash in clarity & immediacy which required high wattage to perform. I spent many happy hours with them, but something was missing. I added a sub, but the crossover sucked the life out. Back to the Dayton Wrights alone and they sounded great BUT...
At CES 2000 and last years VSAC show I managed to hear some SET's. Three demos that never left me were the Avantgarde's, Moth Audio and the eXemplars. All driven by SET's.
A couple weeks ago one appeared on Audiogon & I could not wait any longer. Next thing I knew the sacred Korneff was in the house and I had no speakers for it. I scrounged around the house and borrowed a pair of el cheapo RCA's from a compact system in my sons room just to see if it would play. The box it came in had been crunched by the fedex manglers.
Tubes inserted and softly glowing I sat down with Diana Krall. Whoa, what is this? Tone, timbre, sustain, decay and assorted other audiophile babble ping ponged around my brain as I tried to identify what I was hearing. I just could not believe it. My relax-the-back chair was levitating and I was hearing a Hawaiian sunset. And out of those shoeboxes that call themselves speakers. There was depth and vivacity and joy of cooking. Wowie Zowie!


The DW's are gone & I am searching for the elusive affordable high efficiency speakers for the sacred Korneff. I am fast becoming an Altecoholic.

Associated gear
Copland CTA 301 preamp used as phono stage, Rega P300 turntable, arm & cartridge, Marantz Laserdisc used as CD player, Musical Fidelity Xcan DAC.
If you want true SET/ High efficiency nirvana, you simply must get a pair of Lowthers. I got the EX3 model and built a simple set of Voigt Pipe enclosures. I am using a Berning 1 watt MicroZOTL to drive them. Let me just say that they are very very good. I have ordered a custom amp from Berning that is a 45 based single-ended ZOTL with choke loading, battery powered, and will be around 2 watts. A 2 watt amp will give you at least 103db with these speakers. 3 watts will give you 104.5db. And they don't have the sharp, cutting effect of horns, nor the colorations, which are there even in the best of them. And they do NOT lack any detail. I built my set for about $1350. The drivers were $900. So about $450 for the beautiful oak cabinets. Try them, you'll like them.
Try Lamhorns!! I have Kornef's best 45 monos