Review: Quicksilver Line Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

My listening tastes run the field. My test CD's include:

Rose Consort of Viols *Purcell's Fantazias*
Hogwood * Beethoven's 3rd Symphony*
Coltrane *Ole*
Hayden et al *Etudes*
Aceton *York Blvd.*
Tom Petty *She's the One*
Jayhawks *Sound of Lies*

Most important things: image depth and breadth, full spectrum of tones with nothing dominating unless it's in the recording, consistency at various volumes, able to reproduce instrumental textures, e.g. reverb, string plucks, etc.

Worst: Boomy bass.

I had the Quicksilver for a year, replacing the Bryston, replaced it with the MF.

Predictably, the Quicksilver brought marvelous mids and silky highs, e.g. the viols were excruciatingly resonant and Coltrane's soprano sax full of feeling. For some reasons, not as nuanced with background vocals, e.g. Jayhaws many parts, as the SF. Image depth was good though not as good as with the Bryston or the MF. Image breadth was fine but again not as good as the Bryston or the MF; Gerri Allen's piano a bit scrunched, maybe, on "Lonely Woman." Handled the lows better than the Sonic Frontiers, e.g. the two basses on "Ole" or the focused bass parts on "York Blvd," and offered richer though not tighter lows than the Bryston, although the MF wins the race here on both scores. It brought the stage forward a bit, bringing dynamism to the system on both the Beethoven and the Petty (compared to the SF, Bryston, and the MF). Overall I preferred it to the SF and the Bryston, but preferred the MF to all three.

My only complaint with the Quicksilver is that it did not handle loud loads well enough for those times when I really want to rock out, i.e. complex passages lost resolution, like in the distinct layers in the Petty recording. Nothing I've owned or heard could touch the mids on it, however.

If money were no object, I would keep on looking, but that's part of the problem, isn't it, even if money is an object?

Associated gear
Magnepan IIIA; Bryston 4bst; Arcam Alpha 9; BEL IC's; R Gray power conditioner; Yamaha CT-7000 tuner; Tara Labs RSC Prime 5000 Sp. wire

Similar products
Bryston BP-20, Sonic Frontiers SFL-1, Musical Fidelity A3cr
Good review.
I purchased a Quicksilver LS preamp around 3 months ago and generally agree with what you say above. It is not the last word in clarity and resolution, but its rendering of musical timbres, especially in the midrange is very good. I wanted it to balance out my system as I have speakers with metal tweeters and the Quicksilver works great in this regard. The Quicksilver seems well made. For its price, especially if you can get a discount or buy used, it seems to be a great buy.
Did you try experimenting with any different brands of tubes? I was curious what the effects would be.
Telefunken smooth plate- very nice inner detail, and smooth, open. The sovtek 12ax7lps are surprisingly good, sounding very much like the esteemed tele's, maybe better, but, one of mine suffered from infant mortality and they wasn't broken in yet. Rca's were giving me really nice results, having a real comlex texture and very detailed, but I didn't want to wear them (they aren't new, you know, I'm a man of humble means).
I have been having good results with 5751's. I'm using ge, and I understand that there are better one's out there. The 5751's tend to give it more of a neutral balance, which seems to let more detail come through, less bloominess, but you have to let them break in a bit, as they sound glary when you first put them in (that is exactly what I would expect from good tubes, though).
I did a thing-you might dig this. I turned mine into a passive. Why not? It's the perfect candidate, high quality rca jacks, switches, and most of all-a good attenuater. And the way I did it was real simple. I borrowed the tape in jacks, followed the wire to the tape switch, onsoldered them, and ran them to the attenuater, and CAREFULLY soldered them to the output of the attenuater, along with the outputs leading to the active circuit. the result is parallel leads to one set of rca's for passive operation, and the active and then out the regular rca output. Only problem is that they are reverse polarity, so every time you switch fram active to passive, you have to switch the polarity.
I highly recommend doing this, as if you are careful, there is no damage done and no sonic degragation to the active stage, and then you have the option of seeing how the passive sounds in the system. Join the debate.
Thanks Basement for your response and advice.
I think I will try the Sovtek's and maybe also some 5751's.