I’ve been beaten by The Bespoke Audio Company from when they’ve brought personal their passive preamplifier almost two and half years back for the initial world first test and review.
Since then I’ve been in constant contemplation regarding its addition to my reference setup. Passive!? I can already hear the thunderous voices of the certain audiophile crowd. Well, there is more then one reason for my reasoning…
THE ULTIMATE PURITY
First and foremost. The possession of the utmost transparent preamplifier should be mandatory for any reviewer. Dissidence!? With THE constant rotation of review products, I’ve seen a strong need of such a via medium in order to set sort of reference level from which the sound orientation can go to either direction.
In the ultimate sense, there is no such thing as perfect purity, but The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier comes as close as possible to the straight wire gain logic, from what I’ve heard so far. As the 21st-century products are stepped on the ultimate resolution quest path, I’ve have had my strong set of attributes objectifying my decision to explore this path.
The original model I’ve reviewed came as 0 db version. This might suit many out there, but for my particular situation, I’ve added the 6 dB option. In principle, something similar, to the Robert Koda Takumi Takumi K-10 preamplifier gain logic. Over the years I’ve found, how to gain acting around 6-8 dB made the best case scenario. Well, at least for me and for quite a few audio designers.
THE BESPOKE EXPERIENCE
The reviewed (and ordered) Bespoke Audio Company Silver Ultimate version came with full silver wound transformers, full silver wiring, silver connectors, +6dB gain option, front panel insert disk, gold plated brass cowls, gold braid for lacing etc. I’ve even gone with the Japanese source naming labels for adding, that special feeling and paying respect to the craftsmanship.
This closely relates to my affection (and respect) for the traditional Japan working principles, where the path is as sacred as the end result. And this is exactly how I fell about The Bespoke Audio Company products and their team!
Moving forward with the decision of ordering this gem, it was not just an investment into my set of reference tools of a trade, but also a personal ecstatic purchase. I’ve been around long enough to witness very different kind of approaches to the manufacturing and dealing with the customers (being one of them nonetheless). Let me say it out loud and bold.
Ordering and going through the process of buying The Bespoke Audio Company preamplifier is nothing I’ve experienced so far and I do believe, how quite a few of happy owners out there will share my thoughts. I have to note, that the very same dedication and attitude were exhibited even with the test/demo preamplifier. You can bet, that such unexpected dealings left an unforgettable impact on me.
The Bespoke Audio company team understood from the very start, that high-end audio is moving (and had already moved) into the luxury industry. Prices these days are neither cheap nor affordable. Some of the highly sought up high-end audio products can quickly reach at the upper plane pricing of Patek Philippe, BMW 5 series, Ferrari or small real-estate. That's the reality, either we like it or not. And this brings us to the title of the next paragraph....
THE REAL LUXURY!?
The era of typical audiophiles is gone. Most of the people that could afford mid-priced systems few years back (sadly) cannot follow the new level of pricing due to the impact of globalization, market changes and world heading to the new era of a working system and consumerism. That's the reality, either we all like it or not.
And this brings us to the present. Make no mistakes. The grand portion of a present potential customer of the high-end and ultra high-end audio are used to the dealings and inner mechanics of luxury industry. From the packaging, customer service, communication, appreciation, following up etc. And as I've been told over the past few years by a lot of people, that know and observe our industry, its a fact, how our industry, in general, lacks professionalism. Period!
There are bright examples of proper dealing with the production presentation, marketing, packaging etc., yet still the mechanics of our beloved and still niche industry are in strong need of being updated and upgraded. In the long run, I do not see a foreseeable future for many manufacturers charging extreme prices without following the very exact business model, that other luxury industries do implement for many decades if not hundreds of years.
In our particular case, along with state of the art sonic experience, anyone is mandatory entitled to the perfection on every step. Especially with the sky-high, hefty price tags, we're all being charged.
The Bespoke Audio Company is an exemplary proof that hard work, dedication and fanatic attention to every detail do matter. And, if you’ve met Harry, Lucy and Andrew you know what I mean, when I say that I wish there were way more of such positive, pinpointed mentality oriented and hard working people striving for excellence on every step. On top of it, they are super friendly earthlings.
Like a luxury high-end mechanical watch, The Bespoke Audio company product represents something more than just conformist approach. Although I do love mechanical feel of the volume turning, that brings similar shivers associated with my fascination for the process of winding of mechanical watches, there’s much more fascination going on, especially where its expected to. In sound!
Many will question such bespoke product, even before coming to the actual aural experience, then again, the market shows, how luxury watches, sports cars, bespoke tailoring and other luxurious products never went away, despite the sudden market shift over the past century.
Point!? There is a market for beautiful looking and sounding works of art.
MORE THEN SUM OF ITS PARTS
442 components, 1,6 km of winding wire, 55 m of hookup wire. The above images tell its own story. Everything is laid down as it is...
Following the reviews section, the reference system is the second most visited page on the Mono and Stereo. This tells a lot and that's one of the reason I've invested (and investing) in the reference gear. Not to exhibit my sole ego trip, but to reach out back to the industry by showing support and try staying at the certain level of solid reference components, that helps me to stay in touch with sonic reality and perhaps even more important, being objective.
Too many reviewers are in constant change of the gear and they prefer showing up their expensive cars, toys, food and liquor consumption, rather then investing into their daily tools of a trade, but to each his own...
For me, its a duty and obligation to show respect to our beloved industry. On top of that, I do want to give the realistic and objective evaluation of whats actually going on and that little is lost in the translation when it comes down to critical evaluation of the products.
Without reference gear and system, the reviews might refer more to a philosophical debate, then critical write-ups...
THE GAIN MIRACLE
Theoretically, removing all the complexity and ascending down to the miracle of the single note reveals the perplexed universe of its own. Similar to the world of physics, with music’s reproduction we’re discovering smaller constitutional parts, that coexist and react in intriguing intimate relationships. They’re unavoidable part of what’s forming the viable and believable illusory experience. Like quarks and other minuscule atomic parts, each and every note is of constitutional value of the grander scheme called music.
These phenomena, perhaps more than any other process of high-end audio reproduction is undeniably connected with the gain. Even lurking at the idea opens up many different, possible paths, that can be too quickly exploited in so many wrong ways. As witnessed in past decade, a lot of product focuses onto particular agendas, rather than on the sum of attributes, that generate the harmonic whole.
Proper dealings of the gain reflect directly into realism and sense of being there. This is what Harry, Lucy, and Andrew had in mind from the very start.The Bespoke Audio Company preamplifier sole raison d'etre is purity. The gain transfer happens in the “analog” way, where the musical flow follows energy transfer similar to the watch escapement (impulse action) transfer of energy to the timekeeping element or the way that car’s gearbox operate.
The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier operate in the very mid earth of the sound orientation. Its neither abound to the saturated warmness of the past or to contemporary artificial transparency. The most important part of The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier's golden heart is the drama and realism, that can be achieved in the proper and potent setup.
The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier 48 steps’ offer an immersive and utmost needed range. I cannot stress enough how important proper gain structure is. Of course, its completely system dependable, but as with the (oversimplified) each album (or song) volume, each system demands the optimum gain level where everything correlates and where music can find its structural behavioral objective spot/place. This is what I call optimum zen zone or gain g-spot. It’s a harmonic blend of music flow energy and attenuation synergy in absence of own preamplifier own imprint.
Of course, everything is bound to the amplifier input impedance and the way it will act, but after prolonged time I've done my homework at tried The Bespoke Audio Company preamp with partners like Lamm M1.2 Reference, Analog Domain M75, new Riviera hybrid power amplifiers, MSB 204, Ubiqu Audio Ubiqu etc. So plentiful of diversity, that led to my conclusions coming up...
THE SILVER CHALLENGE
The Bespoke Audio Company ultimate silver preamplifier translucent nature combined with full silver wiring brings something uniquely different. That was even more vividly evident with a system cabling swap.
The Bespoke Audio Company preamplifier ambiguous reaction to the audio cable change light up the very red alert. While you’ll think (as I did), that a slight warm touch of the cable character (they all do act as EQ to the bigger or lesser degree) will benefit the preamplifier’s nature, the result was on contrary a welcoming surprise. Any introducing of even the slightest vibrancy corresponded more with the cable’s nature than with the preamplifier's own.
Let me try to elaborate a bit more. Even the tiniest, quark like level sonic accent was recognized by the Bespoke preamplifier. This particular attribute becomes a happy discovery that elevates The Bespoke Audio Silver Preamplifier onto the very unique plane. Rather than introducing its own DNA, it acted in chameleon fashion, following the traits of either signal or cable nature rather than bending the sound with its own twisted nature.
On a theoretical level, this might come as the most logical thing. In reality, most, if not 99% of the preamplifiers will lock and glue themselves to the cables sonic signature with much of its own “scent”. In the completely opposite way, The Bespoke Audio preamplifier de-masked itself from the signal with what it felt a nontraceable signature. This is (and it should be) the real DNA of any passive preamplifiers.
The Bespoke Audio Company preamplifier is fully silver braided and as a rule, silver (as conductor material) can introduce from the ground up the major impact at the higher frequencies. Combine this with the translucency of the passive preamplifier and even at the theoretical level, you can easily end up in a brittle shock.
Luckily that was not the story with The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier. Yes, it did have carried some tint within first few listening hours, but that disappears quickly. In general way of breaking in and opening up, I've witnessed a slow daily morphing phase of the sound.
Such particular approach of evaluation demands not only usual one hundred, but one thousand+ hour mark of real music material being served through the silver veins to come to the 100% optimum plane. Despite different claims from manufacturers any modern capacitor or complex cable starts showing its real nature after 800+ hours of music replay. Not pink noise, not white noise. The music! This is one of the reasons of continuous cable (and electronics) swaps, that keeps dealers and distributors, busy and quite happy.
Silver, passive, active, impedance matching etc. All of these audiophile jargon paraphernalia have a little value if the
With the music reference, I've reached back to the same music material , that was used originally for the original version of the preamplifier.
The silver, 6dB version extended on already established attributes and added bigger sense or realizes and real-world drama.
Additionally, always enchanting Vlatko Stefanovski/Miroslav Tadić - Live in Belgrade has shown The Bespoke Audio Company virtues to be discovered and cherished instantly. I’ve written down in my notes: “Wait a minute… This is how a guitar should sound like!” Heck yes!
Over the time many of audiophiles are getting used to a certain sound imprint, that consequently results also in the way the music is experienced. In the utmost sense of highest fidelity, we tend to stand for purism and realism.
The sheer Bespoke’s “character” or better to say the lack of it will be appreciated from the first few notes. The subtle changes will gradually grow on you as they appear in many ways.
One of them the obvious and instantaneous is the much lower listening levels with far more micro/macro details floating around in what might be briefly explained feel like a superabundant foliage, but its actually a natural, effervescent reality.
The Bespoke Audio Company ultimate silver preamplifier is for sure A luxuriant product, that should be taken/observed as a longterm (lifetime) investment.
From longevity side, literary nothing can go wrong under the hood, expect the volume motor might stop working at one point, but that shouldn't be a problem to repair. You can still turn the volume knob manually or claim your lifetime warranty repair, that comes with the package.
The Bespoke Audio preamplifier is for sure not for everyone and for every system. At the end of the day, one needs to find the impedance, gain and current synergy to work at its best. In a way, finding a proper system and component match is no different with an active preamplifier.
This particular full silver 6dB version paired seamlessly with my MSB Technology Select DAC. The combination introduced something very different, that brought my digital chain the new level. Similarly, the turntable-based front-end performance was raised to the higher realms. Somehow the difference between the analog and digital were not as big as they seem before....
With The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier in play during the prolonged evaluation very different energy-momentum was introduced. Especially at late night listing hours, I was repeatedly surprised with a sense of realism. It seems how the density of atmospheric informations was guilty of the charge.
Those of you following my writings might remember an auditory cues analogy. Not only the right amount of them but also needed level of density are mandatory for portraying of the believable acoustical illusory experience, that our psychoacoustic “logical board” can decipher in the fullest scope and accept as believable. The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier had handled both density and cues in its very own way, letting me wonder about many things. One of them was for sure about the purity and possible limitations of the active preamplifiers principles.
“If people can't tell margarine from butter, give them butter”
This is exactly how I’ve felt after my evaluation time was over :). Above quote from the British journalist, Malcom Muggeridge is summing up a spot on the review and my excitement for The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate silver preamplifier. Yes, after some time you’ll only want to take the unaltered butter!
So, can a high-end audio product be a reward, a gift and more than just a great sounding, functionally performing commodity? Oh yes! With The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver Preamplifier, all the criteria were met.
Bespoke Audio Company preamplifier represents a very different preamplifier. Such a product, you could safely pass on to your children (grandchildren) without hesitation. This is the real Rolex of passive preamplifiers! Period!
For what is represent sonically, quality wise and as for how everything accompanied with the product stand out of typical (and expected) norms I'm wholeheartedly rewarding The Bespoke Audio Company ultimate silver preamplifier with the prestigious Mono and Stereo Upper Echelon Award.