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Ok, I recently started reading about LDR attenuation and after reading everything I could find online (there's some pretty nasty debate regarding it on some forums) I decided to give one a go. I figured that since I have recently upgraded to an end game level DAC and phono stage that the and LDR based pre could potentially get better performance than my Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 3 which is itself a truly excellent active tube pre. I won't go into details of the MZ3 as there's plenty of information out there already. Essentially its a reference level active pre which set me back over $5,800 due to exchange rate, shipping and import fees. I looked at the Stereo Coffee pre initially though couldn't see an easy way to order online and instead came across the DACGEAR LDR Pre Mk2. Feedback on his eBay listings was glowing and some feedback as below: "Both my friend and myself are enjoying the pre very much, you have something very good indeed on your hands. Beautifully built to a VERY HIGH STANDARD, rare to find an even handed and so transparent /neutral preamp, especially at the price you are selling them at. I am waiting as S***** C***** is determined to out do your model having told him about how good your version is. He is sending out a new board with mods. I will make a review of comparison once I have tried that. Thank you for a great product, now all you need is a professional review." Speaking to the seller in Switzerland he was unable to tell me which Stereo Coffee this was compared against though I did find another thread where a user had found an LDR Pre which had beaten the 2019 Stereo Coffee and Chris Daley was in the process of updating the pre to match or better it which has resulted in the 2020 Stereo Coffee Pre. Now which is better I don't know though from everything I'd read it indicated that the DACGEAR is one of the better units out there. After querying the seller I found it uses NSL-32SR2 Light Dependent Resistors, which I believe are the same ones Stereo Coffee uses and better suited to audio use (was reading on DIYAudio). I received it yesterday and not really liking a silver face plate gave it a spray paint, and nicer anodised aluminium volume knob. It's now more to my aesthetic preference. I hooked it up last night and let my system warm up for a half hour (tube sources, tube power amp) before putting anything on. Once I put some music on I was absolutely blown away. The sound is more solid with an incredible sense of pace and rythm I've never noticed in music before. Likewise there's a sense of everything being better integrated, being very natural..... Open sounding as live music tends to be. Imaging is improved and there's far more nuance and detail to everything. Incredibly despite showing poor recordings for what they are, even those sound better. Good recordings on the other hand are simply mind blowing. I don't even have to close my eyes to get the impression of being there. Just spectacular. One thing I nearly got to mention is how much better it sounds at low volume than anything else I've heard. I've always strived for the best possible low volume performance as ordinarily at the volume that things sound great, I get yelled at by my wife to turn things down. Seems with this it now sounds spectacular while being quiet enough. Nice to not get into trouble Thing is, I don't feel I can really review the passive pre..... It's more like it's just letting my source components do their thing, letting music flow through to the power amp in all its glory so it seems more that I'm writing about the sound characteristics of the Abbas Audio gear. Even YouTube video's are improved. Just spectacular. Anyway, just thought I'd post my listening impressions for anyone interested and considering taking the plunge for an LDR pre.
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