The world of the preamplifier is more exciting than it seems and the importance of this object in sound quality is decisive to say the least, perhaps even more than that of the power amplifier. Less known than active preamplifiers, so-called passive preamplifiers are particularly popular with audiophiles and often more attractive at an equal price. This is where the Polish manufacturer Lampizator comes in with its Ultimate Passive Pre, an innovative passive model, which borrows some functions from the active amplifiers. An atypical product to say the least.
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Aesthetically, the Ultimate Passive Pre is nothing sexy. It sports a completely standard metal chassis and a brushed aluminum front close to a DIY project. Although not incredibly compact (43 x 33 x 13 cm), this preamp only weighs 6 kg.
Upon closer inspection, several atypical characteristics stand out: the presence of a remote control and an indication screen, a digital input switch (via the remote control) and a controllable mute function. We qualify them as atypical insofar as the characteristic of a passive model is precisely not to integrate functions requiring a power supply. However, all those that we have just mentioned require a mains input and a dedicated transformer.
But the most remarkable point of the Lampizator Ultimate Passive Pre remains its impressive shunt scale network for gain adjustment. Consisting of no less than 64 (2 positions) electrical relays per channel, the preamplifier allows you to play on 64 different volume levels, with a tolerance of around 1%, as well as an accuracy of 1% followed by phase and channel monitoring.
On paper, this shunt scale system – visibly unique in a preamplifier – ensures extremely high precision and linearity of the audio signal. Its advantage compared to the more standard potentiometer in resistance network lies in particular in its principle of constant value of each element, which allows the current to go to the simplest (only one point of contact) and not to add the disturbances.
For purists, note that the Ultimate Passive Pre uses its relays in Quad-Mono topology, taking four contacts for the signal: two per channel, one per phase. This model is therefore completely symmetrical. Thus, in addition to two RCA inputs and one RCA output, the Ultimate Passive Pre includes two XLR inputs and one XLR output.
In addition to audiophile considerations, the Ultimate Passive Pre is advertised as significantly more durable than an active equivalent or a traditional passive model. Indeed, no moving part comes into play here except the adjustment wheel, which is not connected directly to the shunt as is a conventional potentiometer.
Lampizator has not yet specified the price of the Ultimate Passive Pre or its advanced technical characteristics.