I usually prefer to read about hifi equipment than write about it. One exception is when I encounter a problem with my hifi equipment and feel the need to let the manufacturer know. Another exception is when something is so amazingly good I had to jump out of my chair and shout about it to everyone. My recently purchased brand new BHK preamp fell into both these categories. You might have read my thread about the stuck input selection button here.
I am no stranger to (relatively) high end hifi equipment. At home I have a Naim NAC 252 two-box preamp and a McIntosh C1100 two-box tube preamp. The BHK preamp is my third preamp. The reason why I bought the BHK preamp is to match it with my PS Audio Directstream DAC (which I’m extremely pleased with) and my McIntosh MC275 tube amp (which does not have a matching preamp). My McIntosh C1100 preamp is matched with my McIntosh MC452 power amp. Speakers are Focal Aria 936. I also have a pair of Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand speakers in my music room for those days when I feel like having a different musical presentation.
My current setup is as follows:
Streamer: Naim NDS/555PS DR (acting as transport)
DAC: PS Audio Directstream (running Huron firmware)
Preamp: BHK preamp
Power amp: McIntosh MC275 (version 6)
Speakers: Focal Aria 936
I’m using single ended interconnects and speaker cables from Van Den Hul.
To start, I think the Stereophile review of the BHK preamp is spot on. I was not impressed with the small plastic input selection button, or the light volume pot that makes various clicking and short chiffing sounds (as described by Stereophile). I absolutely adore the sexy tube window on top, the hefty remote is excellent and the input jacks at the back felt very well made and of high quality.
Now to the sound. Simply put, the BHK preamp sounds phenomenal. I’m not talking about the usual qualities of a high end preamp, I already have those in my two other preamps. Simply having huge soundstages, excellent imaging, depth and dynamics and dark, quiet backgrounds would not be sufficient to make me jump out of my chair. However, the BHK preamp is something else entirely. With the BHK preamp, the music has soul. I am not only hearing music, I’m hearing emotions. It is as if the musician is putting his heart and soul into the performance that I’m hearing in my music room. I am not that old but I’m not young either, and it has been a long time since music has been able to conjure up those same feelings that I had when I was listening to music as a teenager.
This is obviously a very subjective review, and your experience may vary, but PS Audio and BHK have certainly created a very special musical instrument indeed in the BHK preamp. Well done!