Tube Research Labs Dude vs. Shindo Labs preamps

I am in the market to look for a tube preamp. I have narrow down my choices to Tube Research Labs Dude and a comparable price Shindo Labs.

Can anybody provide me your experience to help me to make a better decision? Better yet, have anybody compared them side by side before?

I have heard many preamps in my time but unfortunately have not heard the "Dude" I own a Shindo Auriges with phone stage and it is simply the best, by far preamp, I have ever heard. If you love the sound of a live musical experience the Shindo brings me closer to that then anything else. I wish I could afford one of there power amps
This should be good.
So all the Dude/Shindo boys will write in and praise their units using the same thoughts used in other threads that they have already posted. I am sure you have read them all.

Why these two preamps? Because you read all the hype?

Buy and try. Start with the Dude because it .....
I don't know if anyone has compared these two preamps so it may be quiet on that subject.

You may have read my review and I can say with confidence the Dude is in a class of very few regardless of price.

You are welcome to listen to my Dude compared to any pre you decide on. Just bring your pre over and you can compare.Sell the pre that pleases you the least. Perhaps you are close enough were I can bring my Dude over. Most likely won't find a used Dude but can find the other pre in question.

I have compared the Dude to many a top end pre and the Dude has always sounded more like music.

Hope you hear from someone that has compared both.
Hi Grannyring, you are exsperienced and know better there is allot more to it than just plopping in a different pre-amp.

Tthean, you have only mentioned these two specific pre-amps so you oobviously have done your home work in what they have to offer along with your needs are and both do such, next would be to get them into your own set-up and live with them for a while to evaluate strengths and weeknesses and what you prefer in your own set-up.

Other pces in your set-up might need to be changed to get your over all preferred sound, that will be the big question.

Best to look at others set-ups whom have the same and see what other associated gear they have paired up and if such compares to what you have currently then see if you can go for a listen.

It's the joys of this hobby, never ending good luck in your journey.

I did say in his set up.
Next best is in the same system - mine. Not perfect but just an offer better than nothing.
Hi Grannyring,

I know you did and wasn't trying sugest anything else, just making it clear that no matter what system it may be that there is allot more going on than just plopping in a pce and coming to a conclusion of this or that.
I think Grannyring and Dev make some good points. Maybe you could tell everyone what amp you are planning to use with either of the preamps. Listing the rest of your system probably would help too. You might get better advice in the end.
System synergy is always important as we know. I have found the Dude plays wonderful music in many different systems and is very flexible if you will.

In the end I find personel preference to be a greater factor. Some like this or that...
Tthean, does resale value, or the ease of resale, in the least bit important consider your next preamp purchase? Is it a factor or is that out of the equation?
Hi all, I really appreciate your responds. My philosophy has always been 'less is more'. Over the years I have tried many preamps and always ended up in disappointment. I still prefer direct from CD player to power amp with volume controls. Maybe most of the preamps I tried are about $1-2K price, so I might have missed the more expensive and better preamps out there.

For the last couple of years, I started to read how the owners of Shindo and TRL praise about their preamp in the Audiogon. It stir up my curiosity, especially when someone even said that Ken Shindo himself believes that the preamp is the heart and soul of the audio system! This completely goes against my belief system of better not having them! I also felt like they not only praise their preamp, they actually adore, admire and worship the unit! Quite frankly, this started to scare me a little (in a good way). The scariest part was this is coming from majority of them, not just a few! Well, if these preamps be able to connect them so emotionally to the music, then I want to be part of them.

Long story short, I think I owe it to myself and not give it a try and see how it will change my belief system. I am also looking at Herron Audio VTSP-3A, but at the end of the day, the hype from the TRL Dude and Shindo owners help me to narrow down my decision. I live in DFW, Texas area and we do not have a lot of good audio dealer in this area, not to mention these 2 brands. Yes, Grannyring, I will take up your offer.

My system consists of Sony XA-5400ES SACD player, 300B SE amp with volume controls, modified K & K Audio ST70 power amp, a 91db speaker system with Dynauio dome mid and tweeter with JBL 12" alnico woofer. The crossover is designed by Dennis Murphay, A great guy with tons of crossover design knowledge, this pair of speakers is very dynamic and transparent with flat frequency respond from 45hz to 18K hz.
The preamp is the heart of the system based on my experience also. Subjective preference means some go active and some so passive. Some go tubes and some go SS.

I am in Southern, MN.

A great tube preamp can be the missing piece of the puzzle that brings it all together based on my experience.

What are you looking to improve in your system? What about the sound would you like to improve?

The Dude is a champ at these things.

- imaging is magic and state of the art
- 3D stage with great depth
- sense of scale and ease no mattter how loud
- music has body, texture and dimension

The above helps the Dude sound like music and less like electronics.

Your system is very nice indeed.

Knowing your likes and dislikes in a sound system will help greatly.
Tthean et al - I am enjoying this thread and hope to see more responses. I have 4 systems, each with a different preamp: Shindo Masseto, Leben RS28-CX, Audio Research Ref 3, and Quicksilver linestage. That is how I rank them musically. I hope someday to upgrade the Leben to a Monbrison and the Ref 3 to an Aurieges, so the comments in this thread are of interest to me.

@Grannyring - The characteristics you associate with the Dude are the same ones that I experience with Shindo preamps and to a lesser extent the Leben. I have not heard the Dude.

Eventually all 4 systems will have a Shindo preamp. The Shindo sound is, for me, that seductive, because it delivers the musical goods like no other preamp I have heard.
One thing to consider is the Dude costs about $4000 now with it's new beefy face and chassis. I think the Dude has put on some weight and may be up to 60-70 lbs. The Shindo Masseto costs almost 3 times more - $11,500!

I have not heard heard any Shindo preamp, but the Dude seems to be priced more real world. Don't let the price fool you as it can take on any $$ contender :-)

I understand your point and already realized from your comments and review that you believe the Dude punches way above its price point. I suspect many of us have that belief about one or more components we have used and enjoyed.

Case in point is the Shindo Aurieges, which costs ~ $3.3K now. When I get the Aurieges, for me, in my experience (I previously owned one for nearly one year before upgrading to the Masseto) and IMHO, it will be a significant upgrade over my ~$10K Ref 3 in terms of sheer musicality. When I had both the Ref 3 and the Aurieges I A/B'd them in 3 different systems and the Aurieges was far better musically. Of course, the Ref 3 offers many more features and conveniences than the Aurieges.

Sounds like a nice piece 4musica44107. Would be great to compare the two directly in the same system.
Beyond sound, take a look at the quality of the internal layout and construction of the Shindo gear - it inspires a lot of confidence.
They do seem to have a different approach. The Dude weights about 4 times more and the transformer alone weights just about as much as the entire Shindo preamp.

Not sure if the Shindo uses circuit boards at all? I know the Dude has none and is 100% point to point hard wired.

The Dude is all about the sound and offering state of the art performance at real world prices.

4music, you may want to call Paul and TRL and he can tell you more about the Dude and send some pictures of recent Dudes.
Grannyring - Shindo uses no circuit boards; they are 100 percent point to point wired. The interior of a Shindo component, like the exterior, is literally a work of art.

I try to keep an open mind about all things audio with one exception - Shindo preamps. For 2-channel audio and if there is no need for a remote, Shindo is THE preamp for me. Case closed! ;->

All The Best,

Remote is not needed and we agree.

Meant to suggest this thread's iniator contact Paul at TRL.
There are two Dude owners in Dallas. One is Gallant_diva:

There is another new Dude owner in Dallas who just replaced his Lamm pre-amp with a Dude.

You could always contact them and swing by for a listen.

I too am a happy Dude owner. When researching pre-amps prior to owning the Dude, two other choices I considered were Allnic and Shindo. I did not hear either but went for the Dude on gut instinct and the rest is history.
I would say whatever you go for make sure you have good power going to it. My system sounded out of balance on shoulder till I added good batteries and power, now I have great soundstage.

I looked at shindo cause it sounds classy and I have a pre in on my amp but i like the basic idea of rolling in with the Dude on my other shoulder.
Rshnicle, very nice system....
Rshnicle, is that thing analog (tape) only or does it do digital? How much software can you get in that man purse?

That's quite the babe magnet you got there, lol.
Goodnesss Rshnicle that is funny stuff. I have one more idea for you. Hot glue some Vibrapod footers to your sneakers and the imaging will improve greatly plus helps fight off foot pain for those long listening sessions.
There were 2 Shindo preamp for sale for the last 5 days or so and they were gone in hours!!!! They are not cheap, one was $6K and the other one was almost $10K, USED. This is crazy...
I'm a Shindo convert. Yep, they are not cheap (Darn Yen-$ conversion rate) but (and I know it sounds like a cliche), Shindo preamps just sound more like music to me than any other preamp I've tried. My Vosne-Romanee is the heart of my music system and it's nice not to have a twinge of upgradeitis (other than maybe for another Shindo).

Yes, it took more than a little bit of planning and saving to afford what I wanted, but I don't at all regret making the purchase. The craftsmanship (both internal and external) of the product is really something special.

Sibelius, I had an opportunity to audition the Vosne-Romanee when I was in the market for a preamp, it is just FABULOUS in every way.

I've learned there are no free lunches in life and you do get what you paid for.
Knghifi, so what did you end up buying?
Silbelius, I share mirror sentiments about the Dude. It injects a fluidity and ease that I believe is a derivative of Paul's proprietary tube regulated power supply and essentially unlimited bandwidth. Most pre-amps I have listened to (in my system and others) compress dynamics. The music seems to collapse and become rather boxy and small sounding. This phenomenon drove me to experiment with removing the pre-amp from the chain. The best, most wide-open and live sounding piece I owned prior to the Dude was the Granite Audio 657 which was a tubed CDP with an output stage. It put most pre-amps I heard to shame in that regards with the exception of the Dude. This ferrari-like behavior does not sacrifice musicality. The Dude is also supremely musical.

If I am not mistaken, Knghifi owns a VAC pre-amp. I am interested to hear why he went with the VAC despite the Shindo "being FABULOUS in every way." I presume it was due to an impedance/system matching issue or long ICs. I know the TOTL VAC has an output transformer to deal with impedance matching. An interesting and arguable approach.

Knghifi, there are certainly no free lunches in life, but in hi end audio, you rarely get what you pay for IMO. Why do you think Audiogon becomes an audio purgatory for many folks with endless disappointment and buying and selling, buying and selling....
Well I suppose purgatory is better than addiction.
I`d also love to read your thoughts on the VAC pre compared to the Shindo pre,as these are two very fine components.
" I presume it was due to an impedance/system matching issue or long ICs."

That would be a poor assumption as the Vosne-Romanee has output transformers and a 600 ohm output impedance.
Vinyljh, thanks for the data. I did not know that the Shindo pre referenced also uses output transformers. Very interesting. Well, that makes the logic behind Knghifi's decision even more interesting.
Why just between Shindo and the Dude? I auditioned the base Shindo and also the Monbrison but ended up being completely blown away by the Tron Seven Ultimate. I believe the base Tron Seven is in the same price range as the Dude and base Shindo.
By all accounts the U.K. made Tron 7 preamp is wonderful. Any one of these three preamps are cetainly good enough to base a system around,you would`nt go wrong with any of them.
Latinsamba1, tell us more why you opted for the Tron. What were the Shindo pre's lacking in your rig?
He didn't have Shindo in his rig. He's talking about hearing things in different stores. Just typical forum behavior.
VInyljh, I presume you are a Shindo dealer....
No, I'm the distributor. Click on Latinsamaba1's system and you'll see he didn't opt for anything mentioned... I've heard thousands of systems at shows, shops and in customer systems but I would be quite cautious making any presumptions about sonics of any of those pieces without living with them for a period of time. Especially picking out what one component in a unknown system is or isn't doing. Pointless post is my point. Grasping at straws proves nothing nor is it productive.
Vinyljh, I agree. I myself have participated in that same presumptuous and fickle behavior. An older audiophile friend of mine said, in regards to speakers, to live with them for at least a year before moving on.

Along those same lines, you had referenced the Shindo philosophy of system matching and how it was advantageous to try and create an all-Shindo system along with high efficiency speakers. I think that approach does have a lot of merit and could save people a lot of pain and missteps.
Vinyljh... suggest you brush up on your customer service skills. Telling a prospective customer (even if they are buying used) that their post is pointless will not do much for endearing the Shindo brand to Audiogoners. Just a suggestion.

I think you misread the post.


Yes, I have found an approach that works for me and many of our clients. Nothing is for everyone and their is no doubt more than one satisfying approach. I started into this hobby trying to get closer to my music and like so many wound up listening to sound and not the music. I think thats why we see so many visual descriptors- people are looking and not really listening to the music. Not to mention guys with hundreds of feedbacks here on agon... how would one have time to listen to music with gear changing so often.

Its the 'drive by' comments or the hidden or sometimes not so well hidden agendas I see repeatedly that frustrate me. Thats where my 'pointless' comments come from which Pdreher misunderstood.
At the risk of being flogged let me be clear. I did not hear the Shindo in my system I heard it at a dealer. I also heard the Tron at a dealer. My system hasn't been updated because I'm still waiting to receive the unit (they are built to order). The Shindos are indeed great preamps it was merely a matter of personal preference in chosing Tron. My point was simply that there are many great preamps out there in his price range.
Latinsamba, there is a lot of good equipment out there, and the Tron pre-amp may be a good piece, but unfortunately, Vinyl caught you with your pants down. You heard two "systems" and liked one better than the other. You cannot surmise much from that experience until you plug different pre-amps into your own rig. Of course, I am guilty of hypocrisy here. I have participated in multiple drive-by shootings on Audiogon.

Speaking of your rig, I was intrigued by your single driver speaker with a driver fabricated out of hemp....that made me chuckle. Dude....

Vinyl, I agree with your observations on sound vs music. Endless ruminations about sound may be one manifestation of an unsatisfying and unmusical system. On the flip side, I have heard systems that were billed as "musical" only to find them unmusical in that they came off as soggy and slow hifi. These systems did not produce an effective auditory illusion.

"The Dude abides...."
Just to mention that the ShindoAuriges line stage is under $3000 new. I have the Auriges with the mm phono stage and it is wonderful at $4500
That's fair I suppose. I would have loved to demo both in my system but unfortunately that's not possible without buying. If someone wants to bring their Monbrison or Masseto over to my place (NYC) we can do a honest A/B comparison :)
C'mon now somebody must want to go to NY this thread is just gettin way too good.
Latin, when are you actually receiving your Tron?