I know the BHK pre-amp is Reference
Class unit, but let’s be real at $6000 There has to
Compromises? Since psaudio is developing a new
Reference dac, hinting at an even bigger amp and going all out on speakers why not a new reference
Pre-amp around $10000-12000?
I know the BHK pre-amp is Reference
$10K doesn’t get you much of a pre-amp. $20K+ probably a more realistic number. You’d think a 2 box Obsidian pre-amp would be the next obvious contender to join the flagship product range.
Really, $10K doesn’t get you “much” of a preamp?? There are plenty of very good preamps at that price or below that I can think of that offer “reference” quality, including the “compromised” (lol) BHK Preamp.
When you consider what the analog box of the TSS is going to be, the power supplies and high speed switches and transformers and four different analog output settings (0db, -10, -20, -30), the next best thing to be asking about is which power amplifier is going to best sit directly between it and your speakers.
I guess PSA won’t leave the TSS DAC alone in its price range on the long run. At least then we will know what were the compromises of the actual „ultimate reference“ BHK pre.
A reference is a reference in terms of marketing talk as long as a company doesn’t make an even better version
What I think is, that it will be obvious, that the next upper price range by far won’t reflect the price difference in its sound improvement. This could make the 6000$ category a reference in sound for money.
I can’t see where PS Audio uses the term ultimate reference in their marketing for the BHK preamp. I did read this though from Baskam King “ This is the best sounding preamplifier I have ever designed or heard”
Life and certainly technology is only about compromises even if you would spend $60,000 or $600,000.
Tubes, custom made hard to get components, very few experts able to maintain / repair those units will be a few but critical compromises to mention.
I just looked at some Esoteric equipment as somebody posted it in another thread. That seemed to be rather without compromise. Well, not really, because all those separates need interconnects, and the rabbit hole for cables seems to be even deeper than that of the electronics.
Considering my budget and the fact that many more things in life matter to me, I decided that the Stellar range offers the non compromise system for me and I am very excited about that.
I just hope that Paul and his team continue to put their efforts into Sprout, Stellar and Signature series.
I am a bit worried about the ambition of PS Audio going deeper into the high cost diminishing return rabbit hole, as there might be a point where the soil might collapse on PS Audios entire system.
If you read other threads, there are some quality and logistics issues to be resolved. Keeping those customers happy that invested their savings will certainly provide a better return of investment for PS Audio then trying to find the holy grail (which does not exist) at the end of the rabbit hole.
Not exactly these words, but Paul at the time mentioned words like “the best preamp they know”, “cost no object design”… which I think is all correct within the mindset it was written in at the time. Certainly the budget orientation and some compromises were obvious to all who know about possible other design features. Certainly everything is a compromise.
Brodric has spoken - all you people with sub 20k preamps are losers. I’m going to my HELOC today…
I think what @Brodric meant was in order to get noticeable improvement over the BHK the next step up is more likely to cost US$ 20.000 and beyond. And I believe that to be a very true statement if not even a too low number.
Why: The Stellar Gain Cell DAC, a marvel of audiophile engineering including DSD DAC costs US$ 1700 the BHK Pre US$ 6000 (in Europe EUR 7500 (US$ 8200!!!) taking the DAC out of the equation that is 4 to 5 times the price of the Stellar, and I just can not imagine that the difference between the BHK and the Stellar is as big as the difference between my 12$ transistor radio and the Stellar.
That is called diminishing returns, so in order to get a noticeable upscale pre above the BHK that CHG PRE (Close to Holy Grail) Pre would cost 8 to 10 times the BHK.
And in order actually notice the difference it takes interconnects that cost in total about 25% of that cost, which according to some is very modest.
Have fun,’: No tube set can ever be matched and produced accurate enough to provide consistent sound quality at this level, if the electronics fail (and electronics will fail, it is as certain as humans …) you will need to look hard for somebody with the right expertise to repair it. Who would ever wish to ship a US$ 40k to 60k piece of equipment. I’d hand-carry it to it’s destination and back.
So compromises, compromises … compromises.
Well I see we are off to the races on this one. The ones that believe the BHK pre-amp is the ultimate and anything else is just ridiculous, and then there’s the ones that see outside the box and the possibilities that maybe it can be improved.
I believe it’s a great pre-amp and own one, but also believe it was built at a $6000. Price point for a reason. That’s just my opinion and I’m not always right, but I think they could build it better and they no they can.
Enough already! Just because something has a higher price tag does not insure it is going to sound any better! In my perspective $6000 is not cheap for a line stage only preamp! Must be nice to have money to just throw away! Anything above this cost falls under severely diminishing returns!
@sixpack1 interesting response. Not sure why you feel 6K is the price point where diminishing returns happen. Or that if one spends more they are throwing money away.
If someone wants to spend 10, 20, 50, or 100K for a piece of audio gear so be it. Let’s all just enjoy the fact that there is a market for these crazy priced things. And if someone wants to spend their money on it so be it.
This is no different than a person who spends $20 on a watch vs. someone who spends $1000. To the person who spends $1000 it is worth it to them. To the person who spends $20 I’m sure they think the $1000 watch is a waste of money.
Completely agree with Michael. I recently spent a couple days listening to a friend’s “mega dollar” (by my bank account std) system and I thought after a couple days that it kind of sucked. But he feels happy and that he got good value and that’s all that matters. I didn’t criticize it at all because that would have been rude.
My point is many would say what we have paid for PS Audio Equipment is a waste of money. Bascom King was commissioned by Paul to design statement pieces that would represent the STATE of the ART. The BHK Preamp and the BHK Amplifiers were not built to a price point according to all the documentation provided by PS Audio.
They are aiming for Obsidian series to be “world class”. $10K doesn’t get you a world class pre-amp. $10K doesn’t get you a world class DAC. Not even close. Which is why Obsidian TSS DAC is being mentioned at $20K, and perhaps north of that some more. And that has been built to a budget on the casework. Put it into a CNC machined aluminium billet chassis and double that number again, or more. If they can build a $20K world class pre-amp then that will be cheap compared with its competitors.
Just occurred to me that given these two propositions:
- Adding a pre-amp necessarily sounds better than going DAC to power amp
- There are diminishing returns on dollars per pre-amp
You would be best off buying two or three good value low-cost pre-amps and connecting them in series. That’s how you’d maximise the audio goodness and keep the cost as low as possible.
OR maybe just maybe the best performance and best value for money would be in partnering a DAC that has a good output stage and a completely transparent/lossless digital volume control with a suitable power amplifier and forgoing the pre-amp altogether.
I’m pretty sure that the great man said here-in some time ago, whilst he might be able to put the hardware bits into the Obsidian TSS to turn it into a great DAC/analog pre, there is no point in doing so, for several reasons.
To be clear, I’m imagining a scenario like my own where there are no analog signals other than what comes out of my DAC. And I am not suggesting that an analog pre-amp section be added to the DAC.
What does the perfect pre-amp sound like, assuming money is no object? I’m in the camp that says it should sound like nothing. But if I don’t need volume control, analog source switching or compensation for impedance matching or drive levels… I can get “sounds like nothing” by simply not using a pre-amp at all.
The output stage of the TSS is going to be plenty powerful (IIRC it’s got 8 digital switches per phase, 32 in total, driven by more than enough power supply capacity) and support a range of output levels with those attenuation options I mentioned earlier.
Unless you are desiring some kind of sound to be added by the pre-amp, which is fine if that’s what you want, or you need to switch between multiple analog inputs, the opportunity to both maximise sound quality and minimise cost is to focus on the power amp that will be directly connected to the TSS DAC.
Sixpack1, before I bought BHK300s and then later the BHK preamp I owned Constellation amplifiers, the Virgo preamp and Centaur power amplifiers, top of the tree Constellation amplifiers. Looking at the exterior of the Constellation amplifiers they possess a fit and finish to the casework on par with a Bugatti… But when I looked underneath its beautiful skin, its inside wasn’t anything to write home about.
I have attached a photo taken from a photo so it’s not the clearest. But still you can see a birds nest of wires strewn in all directions. By comparison the inside of the BHK amplifier is immaculate in both layout and construction. The electronic components were much the same components as the BHK300s. ‘Nothing solid gold’! Circuit layout very similar because the power amplifier is designed by Bascom King. I have owned both so I speak from first hand experience. The Constellation amplifiers were wonderfully musical amplifiers, but ultimately, I preferred the performance of the BHK300s and sold the Constellation amplifiers.
The Constellation amplifiers cost multiples of the BHK300s - but apart from the casework designed and machined by Alex Rasmussen - what else justifies the cost of the Constellation amplifiers over the BHK300s. I’ve studied both in detail and I can’t see anything apart from the fancy bling boxes that sets the Constellation way above the BHK amplifiers.The BHK amplifiers are outstanding value for money and definitely not a pretender sitting at the table of the worlds best amplifiers when it comes to musical performance. Unfortunately - I can’t say the same about reliability - but only going by my BHK amplifiers and the problems I’ve encountered…