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Old 17th January 2012, 04:08 AM   #1
dtaylo3 is offline dtaylo3  United States
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: coloradao usa
Default Preamp for Hypex UCD180

I want to build a preamp for my new -- and spectacular sounding -- Hypex UCS 180 stereo amplifier.

At present I am running an old Sony ES CD player with ajustable analog output (max 2 volts) straight into the Hypex. Sound is spectacular, so it seems I really don't need much gain, if any, in a preamp.

I was thinking of building a balanced Pass B1 line buffer. Was also thinking about an Emotiva or Matrix Mini dac with volume control, but I think the digital volume controls result in lost resolution at lower listening levels, and you only have one source option.

Thoughts or suggestions?

What pre amps are folks using with their Hypex amps?
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Old 17th January 2012, 04:26 AM   #2
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Fairfield, IA
Default Tube stage?

Something that could work exceptionally well for you is the Decware Z-stage, it is essentially a line-level pre-amp tube buffer with an extra 6dB of gain. It pairs spectacularly with class D amps: extremely transparent and musical, with holographic soundstage, and it adds a sense of "body" and texture while maintaining the above qualities.

Many class D amps (including the Hypex) can sound "overly clean" meaning they seem to lose a little of the life of the music. For many, the contribution of the z-stage puts it right back in. Is it absolutely neutral? maybe not. Does it sound better? In most cases yes, yes and yes. When given the choice between "sounds neutral" vs "sounds better, more like the real thing", guess what I tend to choose....

To be sure, the Hypex is a truly great sounding amp. I've got tripath based amps, heavily modded, and after modding, they sound more "musical" than the Hypex. But the z-stage really kicks them into a higher level of performance. It would probably add a nice little dose of magic to the Hypex.

The z-stage only has one input, no extra switches or connectors. Maybe this is part of the magic. Yes, there are many tube buffers out there, but the z is the best I've heard so far. Highly recommended.
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