Review: Marsh Sound Design P-2000t Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

Iv've been running the Marsh P2000T tube-hybrid preamp for about six months. Clarity and soundstage are two of my most important criteria for an amp/preamp, and the Marsh certainly delivers. Almost analytical, for a tubed preamp. And that is a good thing! There is still enough of the pleasant "tube" sound running these with tubed amplifiers. I have noticed some reviews complaining of noise, and I'll give my two cents on the issue. Talking strictly in terms of audio, the Marsh is entirely quiet or "black". At very low volumes there is incredible clarity and depth of sound. The noise issue I have experienced is mechanical, with the pre-amp tubes themselves.

5687 tubes are notorious for this. I have rolled quite a few tubes through my unit, and I would say 75% of them either "sing", or are microphonic. Thump the faceplate of the Marsh and you will hear it in the speakers. If you are willing to try some various tubes, and search for the quietest, you will be rewarded with a very nice pre-amp. As far as tubes, I much preferred the sound of vintage TungSol and Raytheon. GE and Sylvania were just lacking a little in detail and sound quality. Unfortunately the TungSol and Raytheon seeem to be the noisiest! Plan on buying a half dozen of these and pick out the quietest pair.

The rotary switches are not the greatest on the Marsh, my balance control gets flaky and quits working once in awhile. The stereo/reverse/mono rotary switch sometimes needs to be jiggled to work correctly.

Overall, I am happy with the Marsh and would buy it again. The little flaws are livable, and sound more than makes up for it. With just a little more effort from Marsh on the switches and tube testing/selection, it is a home-run. I have not contacted Marsh for support, so cannot comment upon that. If you can pick up one of these used for less than $600, and purchase a half dozen ($90) in vintage TungSol 5687 tubes, you will have a very nice pre-amp.

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