BHK preamplifier vocals not clear

I currently purchased a BHK preamplifier, and am curious if anyone on here is experiencing similar behavior.

First think I noticed was a larger soudstage and substantial increase in base, especially in orchestral music. Then I started to notice that both male and female vocals are not very prominent or clear. The tend to be recessed and recessed in the mix. I’ve noticed this on the majority of my cd’s.

Does anyone have any opinion on this?

thanks in advance…

A little more info would help. Against what previous equipment are you making your comparisons?

A-B comparing against a Bryston BP26 preamplifier, both with xlr cables

You might try a new set of tubes. I have two BHK’s and they both are crystal clear but tubes vary the output sound a lot.
I have a love / hate relationship with the whole tube thing.

1 Like

But the unit is brand new, only about 50 hours on it

I would try to reseat the tubes or try a new pair anyway. PSA will sell you a new set of tubes or you can also pick them up online from the various tube mongers. Are you using XLR or RCA connections?

1 Like

XLR connectors

A tube swap is straight forward and simple. If it’s not the tubes at least you have a spare back-up pair (highly recommended regarding tubes in general). As you indicate the unit has 50 hours on it, and I assume both channels convey a sense of recessed vocals. As such my thought is it may need additional break-in, possibly 50 - 200 hours. I’d run it in while awaiting a spare set of tubes. If that doesn’t address your concern a call to PSA may be necessary.


I’d give the unit more time to break in. The pre and the tubes are brand new. I’d suggest at least another 50 hours.


Do you think that will make a difference? How is the best way to break in a tube?

Other issue is that i’m running out of time on my 30 day trial, and not sure at this point if I want to commit to keeping this preamp, which confuses me after hearing all the positive reviews

You should leave it fully powered on for a few days whether playing music or not.
If it is new from PSA they are very lenient with trial periods and really like to help.
You might give them a call later today when that part of the world wakes up. The BHK is really a very good preamp. Especially for the money.
Also 50 hours is way too little break in time as the others have stated.


I do think it will make a difference, however I can’t guarantee it will fix your issue. The BHK Pre is the only component with tubes in my stereo, so I am far from an expert on them. I’ve only swapped tubes twice in my pre and I gave them around 100 hours per set before critically listening.

Like @Baldy suggested, I’d let the unit run for a couple of days straight, or at least most of the day for a few days in a row.

Hope this helps! I love my pre, but I did not have another pre before with which to compare.

1 Like

I would call the place of purchase, letting them know what you’re experiencing. Doing so under warranty starts the process, is fair to your store and or PSAudio. Keeping the unit powered up 24/7 with w/o music playing for a few days is a good start @ burnin .


Burning in the tubes, and the entire preamp, will improve sound quality, but will not fix an issue of vocals not being clear. If anything, vocals should sound immediately better and more open with the BHK.
The BHK may put the soundstage further away from you, which is completely normal, but vocals should sound smoother, cleaner and more lifelike.


Burn in won’t help here. I’d try the tubes. Test the seating first then replace them. Verify your bias and voltage settings


Let’s not forget that this is a major component change. Signal and power cabling may need to be addressed. There’s no rule that every Pre is going to work perfectly with your prior cables.

But, before I did anything else, I’d reseat the tubes, and let it run for 200+ hours. The tubes don’t need a lot of burn in, but the rest of the Pre will.


I have two BHK pre’s and neither had that issue. As suggested, additional burn-in might help. You might also try moving your speakers around a bit. Sounds strange but major component changes can affect things like that.

1 Like

Have you confirmed that all connections are correct, i.e. red to red, black to black?
This sounds to me like you’re out of phase somewhere—possibly.


Good call Ron!

The BHK preamp is nowhere near broken in. I would stop torturing yourself and let it run nonstop for at least 200 hrs, but know that it won’t be completely broken-in until closer to 600 hrs.

1 Like