Review: Nobsound Mini Fully Balanced / Single Ended Passive Pre-Amplifier

Budget Esoterica Review Magazine
May 2018 Issue

Nobsound Mini Fully Balanced / Single Ended Passive Pre-Amplifier

Have you ever noticed that some stereo gear sounds "refreshing" and other stereo gear can sound muddy and dark? I am wondering where this refreshing sound comes from. Is it simply a matter of superior amplification? Is it coming from the amplifier or pre-amplifier? In my case i think the sound was coming from the Nobsound Mini Passive Pre-amplifier. I used the Nobsound pre-amp with a B & K digital amp, and the sound, to a lesser extent , reminded me of the refreshing sound of my Kenwood KA-9100 integrated amp. Of even greater surprise was the music i was listening to. Do you think i got this sound from a spanking brand new recording? No, i was listening to a 1961 recording by Jackie Mclean, titled "Bluesnik". 

So you might be asking me how much is this exotic pre-amplifier going to cost me? Can you afford $56 ? If so, this jewel could be yours. Where can i get it? At an exotic upscale audio boutique? Nope, try for starters. Okay, so you order one and it comes in the mail approximately two weeks later. You open the box and you say "Wow", what a cool looking well made pre-amp. You excitedly hook it up to  your power amp and rca single ended cables and then try to push the buttons in with your finger. Wait a minute, it doesn't work, the buttons don't stay in. I demand a new pre-amp! This one doesn't work. So then i put my thinking cap on and used a pencil tip to push in the buttons. Voila , it works, i hear music. 

The build quality of this little tyke is amazing. It is rock solid like a little brick. You could easily drive over it with a small vehicle and not get a scratch or dent on it. Fun to use? You bet! The volume knob is just as much fun to turn as a Spanish woman's nipple. I do wish that the pre-amp had a little more gain and dynamics, but used in the right system it will quite literally "shine".

Associated Equipment

B & K AV30.2 power amp
Klotz stereo interconnect
Cardas 300B micro interconnect
Target HS-50 speaker stands
JSC Pro Sound 2210 16 AWG speaker cable
NHT SB-1 speakers
Love it! Which way do you turn the volume knob. Clockwise or Anticlockwise first?
clockwise, like usual, but the volume begins at 1 o' clock and ends at 11 o'clock. 11 o'clock being the maximum volume. Thank you for the question. Be careful or she might slap you in the face. 
It's just that my wife asked....   :)
Ironically.... This Nobsound passive has become the standard by which I evaluate other preamps. I use the balanced connections. Listen with a Yggdrasil DAC, Audience 1+1V2 speakers, and a Nuprime ST-10. The balanced cables are WyWires blue.

The Nobsound fits right in. The better sounding the rest of the equipment? The more NS will allow you to hear what they can do.

I tried several (much more expensive) passive preamps. All I sent back. I just shake my head and accept what I am hearing. My idea of a great audiophile joke would be to have someone hear my system. Then,after let them know what the preamp is. ;)

Just the same. I do have a penchant for tubes. They do color in a special way. So, I now listen with a tube preamp and am able to roll tubes. Its volume control is essentially the same Alps. Therefore, the Nobsound tells me how neutral the design of the tube preamp really is. I plan on keeping the Nobsound for my go-to, back-up preamp. If I could not afford my tube preamp I would not be unhappy with what I hear.

I look at it and realize that "best sound" does not have to always mean more expensive. Actually, its cheap! That price would cause some to stay away from it. I bought it to have a trial run using balanced connections. I kept trying some passives that really disappointing me.