Link Spotlights
The Pinnacle of The Electrostatic Sound
 photo Ad FinalESP_zpsrrsd0soy.gif
Audiophile Power Cords/Distributor

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Audiophile Review!
Rogue Audio RP-1
Stereo Tube Preamplifier

“Entry-Level-Priced, Made-In-USA RP-1
Is A Serious, Good Sounding Tube Pre

Brevis
Price: $1,695
Likes: sonic depth, I/O, compact
Dislikes: lacks a  processor loop
Wow Factor: a worthy pre for less cash
More info: Rogue Audio RP-1

by John Gatski
  I am going to tell you right up front that the Rogue Audio RP-1 is one of the best deals out there for an entry-level priced, serious audiophile preamp. Whether you are talking tube or solid state, this compact, full-featured preamp, priced at $1,695, offers impressive sonic performance, It is not just a bang-for-the buck sonic treat, but its overall comparative performance, especially in the line stage, will turn your head. Even a picky, high-browed audiophile will smile after listening to the RP-1.

Features
  The RP-1 tube pre is designed around Rogue’s tried and true 12AU7 twin tube Mu follower circuit, and the user flexibility is enhanced by the RP-X Rogue design that showcases active OLED screen and upgraded control via the remote.
  The RP-1 is equipped with four pairs of line level inputs, a 43/58 dB MM/MC phono preamp with internal cartridge loading adjustment, a 1-watt headphone amp and a set of variable unbalanced line outputs, a set of fixed outputs and a home theater bypass.

 I found the Rogue Audio RP-1 most impressive in how it projected hi-res music from the numerous DACs I had on hand. They all sounded terrific through the Rogue. I had three new ESS Pro chipped equipped DACS on hand including the award winning Benchmark DAC3 HGC; the RP-1 did them all proud.

  The front panel is a modicum of elegant simplicity with the center positioned, sharp-looking OLED display, a power button, balance control and the volume control.
  The back panel sports all the aforementioned connection options and a removable power cord receptacle. The seven button remote allows you to conveniently access volume, balance, selector and mute functions from your listening position.
  Though it offers a tried and true tube design, the RP-1 is a thoroughly modern preamp with large Microchip software controller (RP-X) that enables an increased user convenience through the defeatable OLED display and full function remote.

Tidy design implementation. Nice power supply

  Rogue Audio’s Mark O’Brien said he and his assemblers are proud of the quality that they were able to squeeze into the RP-1. “The RP-1 is our second preamplifier based on the new RP-X hardware and software platform. Like the RP-5 it combines cutting-edge embedded engineering with tube technology to provide a great sounding tube preamp with all of the "modern" features and technology our customers want,” O’Brien explained.
  “With the RP-1, our design goal was to develop a relatively affordable preamp that offered an extremely high level of performance in a sleek package, yet didn't sacrifice any of the features required by serious audiophiles. The audio section is based on two 12AU7 tubes in a mU follower configuration. This topology provides low noise, excellent specs and a very clean, smooth, and airy sound.”

Advertisement



  O'Brien noted that not only does the preamp sound good with the stock J-J tubes, but customers are reporting impressive sonics with vintage tubes as well. Spec wise, the RP-1 measurements are what you expect from a well-designed tube hi-fi product. It has virtually flat frequency response to 20 kHz (-3 at 75 kHz), 7 dB of gain in the line stage, and THD less than .1%. The preamp measures 15.25 inches wide and only 3.25 inches tall, which makes it easy to place in a busy rack. Weight is 20 pounds.

The set up
  I popped the RP-1 into my primary audiophile rack, along with the Rogue RP-5, a Pass XP-10   preamp and Coda solid state preamp that were along for the ride. Sources included the Oppo BDP-105 universal player, a Clearaudio Emotion turntable with Benz L04 MC cartridge, and my Dell tablet with the Android player: USB Audio Player Pro, which can transmit bit perfect hi-res PCM and DSD to any USB-enabled DAC.


Plenty of inputs on the RP-1

  The review system DACs included the Benchmark DAC3, Oppo HA-1 HP amp/DAC,  the Resonessence Veritas, and the Mytek Digital Brooklyn. The DAC3 and the Veritas both use the new ESS Pro 9028 D/A chip. For speaker listening, I deployed my MartinLogan Montis electrostatics, and a Pass Labs X350.8 MOSFET output amplifier, Pass' highest power stereo design. 
  All analog and digital cables, including USB and HDMI (for the LCD in order to operate the universal player) were Wireworld Eclipse; the Essence II power cords and AC outlet strip were from Essential Sound Products

The audition
  I turned on the RP-1 and let it season for three days, putting a CD on repeat while it drove a pair of AKG K702 headphones at a modest level. After the three days, I then sat down over the next three weeks and did some serious listening. First up was the Warren BernhardtSo Real SACD as recorded by Tom Jung for DMP more than 15 years ago. The title cut still has some of the best “air” around a piano and drum cymbals as I have ever heard. As the heart of a hi-fi system, a good preamp transmits the “So Real” cut’s expansive air. A mediocre preamp lessens the amount of space around the brushed drum cymbals and the upper-register notes of the recorded piano.
  With the RP-1, I was quite pleased with its ability to handle the “So Real” track's transient dimension. In fact, the RP-1 is not far off from the Rogue $3,495 RP-5 tube preamp. The RP-5 sounded a bit bigger in its overall imaging, but the timbre was very close. The RP-1 showcased a dynamic, well-placed stereo image with a discernible audible dimension around the cymbal brushes that was about on par with most good preamps that I have played through this system and the ML Montis electrostats. And the preamp is very quiet, which adds to the detail impression. Bass performance is taut, precise and balanced.


Blue OLED on black — Looks good!

  Switching off to The Anthony Wilson TrioOur Gang SACD that was dubbed to 24/192, the RP-1 threaded the needle on the title cut with its plump Hammond B3 bass lines and warm jazz guitar tone. A good preamp delivers just the right amount of bass balanced so you hear the essential plumpness of the B3 playback mechanism, yet not too much midbass that obscures the top-end response.
  The RP-1 nailed the recording, in fact, it has the quickness of a solid state preamp, but maintains that easy-to-listen to character of the better tube pre’s. Compared to the RP-5, the big brother’s only advantage was a slightly wider stance in the jazz guitars imaging. Still,  the RP-1 is about 90 percent plus of the RP-5. This is one great preamp.
  I switched off to a 2L Classical recording: The Ole Bull - Violin Concerto Blu-ray in 24/192. Like the RP-5, the RP-1 paints a vivid violin texture which is not overly thick, but with plenty of string harmonics shining through. And again, my listening notes focus on how quiet this RP-1 is. Rogue Audio really grades their tube well.


A minimalist remote that does the job

  On the 24/192 HDtracks download of the Michael JacksonOff The Wall, I really enjoyed the way the RP-5 opens up the rhythm guitar, bass, and drum focus of this  busy analog recording. And on The CarpentersGreatest Hits SACD, Karen Carpenter’s yearning-for-love voice on Rainy Days And Mondays is so hypnotic via the Rogue: rich and full as the vocal solos and then you hear all those background vocal layers that she did with her brother. What a sweet recording; what a sweet preamp.
  After all my digital fun, I plugged in the ClearAudio TT and played a bunch of records. The RP-1 did not disappoint. Although a tad less smooth than the RP-5 on ultimate vinyl playback, the RP-1’s phono preamp circuit is quite dynamic and detailed. The original Flim and The BB’s album from 1978 (Sound 80) relayed all the percussion and keyboard nuance I am used to hearing with a serious phono pre. And the Benz cartridge’s tight bass gets the handoff without any color.
  I particularly liked the bowed cello bass solo  on the The Isao Suzuki QuartetBlow Up, a recent reissue on 180 gram/45 rpm premium vinyl. The TT and phono pre must be in sync to capture that bowed bass tone with a rich cello hue. Well done Mr. RP-1.

  The Rogue Audio RP-1 is one of the best deals out there for an entry-level priced, serious audiophile preamp. Whether you are talking tube or solid state, this compact, full-featured preamp offers impressive sonic performance. Even a picky, high-browed audiophile will smile after listening to the RP-1.

  With my AKG K702 Anniversary and Shure SRH1840 HPs, I found the RP-1 headphone amp quite listenable with a tight, cleanly separated tone. Not quite as smooth as the RP-5’s all tube HP amp, but it gets the job done. And plenty of oomph to drive the AKGs.
  The RP-1 matched up with all sorts of amps: from Rogue’s ultra-accurate tube/digital hybrid Medusa, the Class-A emphasized Pass X350.8 MOSFET, my trusty Bryston 14B SSTII and the extremely clean Benchmark AHB2, both bipolar amps. There was never a mismatch.
  By the way, the RP-1 pre is not balanced, so if you a prefer long runs of balanced cables to a balanced-connector amp you will have to look elsewhere. However, I ran unbalanced runs of 12 ft. to the demo amps.
  I found the Rogue Audio RP-1 most impressive in how it projected hi-res music from the numerous DACs I had on hand. They all sounded terrific through the Rogue. I had three new ESS Pro chipped equipped DACS on hand including the award winning Benchmark DAC3 HGC; the RP-1 did them all proud.



  Not any major negatives with this budget audiophile, made-in-USA RP-1 preamp. There is no balanced connection capability and no processor loop. The former might be a deal breaker for the long cable run guys, but the vast majority of the RP-1’s customers will not care. After all, in short runs, you can’t hear the difference between balanced and unbalanced cables.

The verdict
  As I said up front, the Rogue RP-1 is a major league sounding, budget priced tube preamp with enough connection options to cover most audiophile systems. Its brilliant line stage sonics are accompanied by a quality phono section, and a capable HP amp. Plus, the RP-1 offers a modern OLED display that looks terrific, a full feature remote and a home theater bypass which adds to the pre’s versatility In my book, the RP-1 is a real winner! It gets not only an EAN Stellar Sound Award, but it also received our Everything Audio Network 2016 Product Of The Year Award.

   John Gatski has been evaluating consumer, audiophile, home cinema and professional audio gear since 1988. In 1995, he created Pro Audio Review, and he has written for Audio, Laserviews, Enjoy The Music, The Audiophile Voice, High Performance Review, Radio World and TV Technology. Everything Audio Network is based in Kensington, Md. Articles on this site are the copyright of the ©Everything Audio Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited. John Gatski can be reached via email: everything.audio@verizon.net

  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

EAN Audiophile Review!
TEAC TN-570/TN-550
Belt Drive Turntables:
Serious TT's For LP Fans!



Brevis
Price: $1,099 (TN-570); $799 (TN-550)
Likes: very good arm/motor, A/D (TN-570)
Dislikes: just one installed cartridge choice
Wow Factor: LP dubbers rejoice!
More Info: TEAC turntables

by Russ Long
  TEAC's flagship TN-570 ($1099) and its sibling the TN-550 ($799) are quality, mid-priced, belt-drive turntables that feature acrylic platters and beautiful, black marble -textured bases. They are fitted with an Audio-Technica cartridge, and the TN-570 incorporates a bypassable phono preamp. The only major difference between the two models is the TN-550’s omission of a built-in analog-to-digital converter, which allows the user to easily archive their vinyl.
  I’ve been fortunate to spend the past two months jumping between the two models and have found them to be fantastic in every way as they do their record playing duties exceptionally well — with a blend of blending elegant design with impressive sonics.

Features
  With the exception of anything pertaining to the ADC, it can be assumed that all of the functionality and features of the TN-550 are identical to those attributed to the TN-570 in this review., including the tone arm, motor, and platter.

  Designed to rival the accuracy of a direct-drive turntable, the perimeter belt-drive TEAC unit incorporates an S-shaped, static-balanced tonearm, as well as speed controlled by TEAC's new PRS3 (Platter Rotation Speed Servo System) computer.

  The TN-570 measures 16.9” x 5.2" x 14.0: (W x H x D) and weighs approximately 19.9 lbs. It incorporates a 16-mm clear acrylic platter, along with a beautiful black pedestal comprised of artificial marble and high-density MDF. These materials were chosen not just for their beauty but also for their capacity to diminish undesirable vibration resonance.
  To help prevent unwanted sympathetic vibrations, the bottom cover of the base incorporates a honeycomb structure. The four, machined aluminum feet have independent height adjustment allowing the turntable to operate perfectly — even on an uneven surface. Rubber fittings between the feet and the platform provide additional cushioning.
  And unlike many turntables, the TEAC Tn Series models all come with removable, real dust covers, the ones with real hinges and enough barrier to keep the evil dust bunnies off the innards.


The TN-570 features a 24-bit A/D for vinyl archivers

  Designed to rival the accuracy of a direct-drive turntable, the perimeter belt-drive TEAC unit incorporates an S-shaped, static-balanced tonearm, as well as speed controlled by TEAC's new PRS3 (Platter Rotation Speed Servo System) computer. The PRS3 detects imperceptible changes in the platter rotation speed via a contactless optical sensor located at the spindle base and feeds data regarding these changes to an on-board microcomputer. The microcomputer precisely controls the motor speed delivering wow and flutter measurements (0.1%), which is comparable to direct drive machines. Speed selection between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM is achieved electronically so it isn’t necessary for the platter to be physically removed and the belt moved in order to change speeds.

Advertisement


  Utilizing a belt-drive platter allows the turntable to avoid the cogging effect (the pulsing that transpires when a direct-drive motor turns) often present with direct-drive turntables. The large torque motor required to effectively turn the platter is floated from the chassis via a rubber cushion — suppressing the transmission of vibrations from the motor to the chassis. 
  The TN-570 utilizes a high-precision spindle with a carbon-coated base. Applying the carbon coating to the spindle bearing increases hardness and helps control is electrification which improves static electricity performance.


TN-550 is same as TN-570, minus the A/D

  The tonearm features a light alloy head shell, making it quick and easy to change cartridges; the height is adjustable making it easy to compensate for different cartridge sizes. TEAC supplies the turntables with an AT100E Moving Magnet cartridge. A built-in MM phono stage, designed with an OPA1602 SoundPlus® Op-amp in the phono EQ amplifier, provides a quite good audio path for the modest MM cartridge.
  Analog output (switchable between phono and line) is via gold-plated RCA connectors. The digital outputs on the TN-570 include optical TOSLink (192 kHz/24-bit) and USB (48 kHz/16-bit) making it easy to transfer music from vinyl to digital on your PC or Mac.
  Spec-wise, the TEAC includes a detachable dust cover, provides an impressive signal-to-noise ratio better than -67dB (A-weighted, 20 kHz LPF). It is powered by an AC Adapter that operates on AC, 100-240V 50/60Hz.

  For $799, the high-performance TN-550 turntable is a bargain. The turntable is so reasonably priced, you can afford to sink more money into a cartridge upgrade, if so desired.

  Analog output is via a pair of gold-plated RCA male jacks that deliver either phono output or alternatively line-level output if the built-in phono equalizing amplifier is utilized. The phono preamplifier allows the turntable to be configured into a system that is not equipped with phono inputs, and I must say, it yields an extremely impressive sound for such a modestly priced TT.
  I anticipate many users will opt to utilize the built-in phono preamplifier rather than one built into their existing tuner. The TN-570’s high-precision A/D converter is manufactured by Cirrus Logic and delivers Hi-Res digital output via optical up to 192kHz/24-bit PCM and essentially CD quality output to a PC (Mac or Windows) via USB at 48kHz/16-bit.
  The TN-670's two digital outputs (especially the optical output) are high-quality in their conversion. They allow the user to archive a vinyl collection digitally to a Mac or PC, to transfer them to CD-R/RW discs for car hi-fi playback, or to capture Hi-Res transfers of vinyl to listen to remotely via a Hi-Res music player.

The setup
  My review period was spent utilizing the TEAC TN-570 and TN-550 turntables in my home theater along with a Parasound Halo Integrated Amplifier and a pair of Episode ES-700-MON-6 speakers (placed on a pair of 18-inch stands roughly eight feet apart with the tweeters focused at the listening position).
  The system also included an Episode ES-SUB-12-300 powered subwoofer. Additional time was spent auditioning the turntables through Audio Technica ATH-R70x headphones and Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered IEMs. A MacBook Pro was utilized to record via the TN-570’s USB digital output. 
The audition
  I began my testing by listening to the Tchaikovsky 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49 with Antal Dorati conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Although it was recorded over 50 years ago, it is still one of my favorite classical recordings. The dynamic range of the album provides a great test to the capacity of a system. My vinyl edition features both the mono and stereo recordings and the TN-570 was spectacular in both instances.
  I continued my listening by listening to vinyl versions of Roxy Music’s Avalon and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and in both instances the turntable reproduced every nuance present in the recordings. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is my favorite on the Pet Sounds album. 

  The TEAC TN-570 and the TN-550, the non-A/D version, are both impressive turntables that are much more high-end looking and sounding than their price would suggest.

  I spent countless additional hours listing to dozens more albums including Frank SinatraIn The Wee Small Hours, RadioheadIn Rainbows, Daft Punk — Random Access Memories, Wilco — Summerteeth, and The Beatles — Abbey Road
  Considering the AT100 cartridge is a budget MM unit, it was testament to the TEAC TTs' integration of tonearm, motor and the cartridge to produce such high-end vinyl sound. And it tracked well all across the various LPs. Platter noise, through the air or through the speakers, was practically nonexistent.
  Considering the quality of the platter, motor and arm, you could easily upgrade the cartridge to whatever price range you wanted. Ortophone makes several nice MM units, as well as MC.

The verdict
  The TEAC TN-570 and the TN-550, the non-A/D version, are both impressive turntables that are much more high-end looking and sounding than their price would suggest.
   Initially, I was a little concerned about a turntable with a built in A/D converter, assuming it was somewhat compromised because of the relative low price of this TT. I have sampled inexpensive TT's and have found the A/D converters in many of them to be inferior to standalone A/D units I normally use to dub LPs to digital.
  However, the converter quality of TN-570 onboard A/D (at a $300 price increase over the TN-550) sounds quite good. In my opinion, the option makes the TN-570 a no-brainer — unless your system already provides the ability for Hi-Res conversion from vinyl to digital.




  For $799, the high-performance TN-550 turntable is a bargain. The turntable is so reasonably priced, you can afford to sink more money in a cartridge upgrade if so desired. If you need A/D for archiving, The TN-570 offers that upgrade, but for an extra $300. Based on my tenure with the TEAC TT’s, I have no hesitation giving them both the EAN Stellar Sound Award and a 2016 EAN Product of The Year — in the Turntable category.

  An avid home theater fan and audiophile listener, Russ Long makes his living as a Nashville-based professional audio engineer. He has recorded hundreds of albums for various artists, including Grammy Award winner Sixpence None The Richer. Articles on this site are the copyright of the ©Everything Audio Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited.