Received our BHK Preamplifier on Friday from a cold FedEx delivery truck and unpacked it set on a counter to let it warm up…
Tom Petty sang “The waiting is the hardest part”
A few weeks ago was in Houston on a rainy Saturday on assignment and found a high end Audio store spent at least 4 hours there listening to mostly McItosh systems with Sonus Faber and Parasound Speakers. Some of these systems were all tube some had tube preamps and SS Power amps. It was amazing how different the presentation was having SS power amplifier. What I realized was my home system was missing was a “maturity” or refinement in the presentation of the music. This I first realized when visiting Music Room 1. Letting these McIntosh systems warm up playing the same tracks and going between rooms really helped me understand some real differences in amplification mixes and presentation character. Very forward sounding, in your face crystal clear and balanced highs and midrange like a live experience vs a more musical emotional and relaxed soundstage as wide and deep as one might hope for outside of Mucic Room One.
After I left and went to the Dosey Doe to hear David Benoit and Marc Antoine in an awesome acoustic venue I could not get my thoughts away from uprgrading from my Krell Vanguard Integrated Class A which was very neutral but didn’t have that special presentation front to back depth, blending of highs and mids into natural instrument presentation through our SF Olympica II’s.
What I did know was we would be getting a Preamp and feeding the Krell Integrated on an input configured for HT Bypass.
After returning home and reading all the reviews having a DS DAC Sr and a DSMP I pulled the trigger on the BHK Preamp.
While the unit was warming up I had to somewhat deconstruct my media closet enough to temporarily place the BHK Pre.
Well once I got it connected and playing there was that notion that my home system would never sound the same ever again and that putting that preamp in the mix had a stunning effect on the presentation and musical emotion. The unit hadn’t broken in and still there was a drastic change and as the tubes and circuits warmed the veil lifted time and time again. It was evening and knew if I went to bed and let it continue to burn in overnight the next day would be an audio revelation. It was indeed!
After about an hour warming the pre tubes up I put on John Williams Seven Years in Tibet Invasion, and Patricia Barbour - Too Rich For My Blood and would not have anticipated what I was hearing. No longer were the highs mids and lows as discernible but were transformed into clear and distinct instruments in the soundstage, the deep low end was so fast, tight and controlled that what I once thought might require additional acoustic treatments was gone, Patricia Barbour’s vocals fell softly and perfectly behind the instruments in a room we were now in with a slight reverb that was incredibly natural.
I had listened to some very expensive Mc gear and signature Sonus Faber speakers and not heard these tracks come to life like this. Now I know what the other BHK Pre reviewers were saying about what this BHK Preamp can deliver, what the Calipso pre must have done to the music years ago and what Bascom has done with this Preamp.
Also your vinyl will never sound better!!!
Thank you PS Audio
How are you enjoying the BHK after a couple of weeks?
I’ve got about 500 hours on my DS Sr. feeding well broken in Stellar GCD pre and S300 amp. Now that I’ve heard the magic, I might need to try a BHK pre.
After a few weeks of listening, burning in the new BHK Pre and fine tuning my ”ears” to savor the amazing presentation I rolled in a set of BHK’s recommended tubes I bought theTUNGSRAM PCC88 / 7DJ8 from Upscale Audio. At the same time I shifted from some mid range Morrow Audio RCA interconnects to some AudioQuest Red River XLR Balanced between the DirectStream SR DAC and the Krell Class A Via a pass thru bypass. That upgrade I’m confident makes a significant difference as well.
After 3-4 hours the new tubes rally started to settle in and provide their magic. I can’t say enough about this BHK Pre… It delivers an amazing audio quality and is in my view a must upgrade if you already have begun tuning your ears and are on that path of improving a highly resolving system.
To anyone who reads this I will say I am absolutely convinced that if your system has “good bones” and you’ve invested over time and dialed in your system with power regeneration, invested in the best interconnects and speaker cables. Like most of us you’ll listen to it before it’s “settled in” and “warmed up” and it will sound a bit rough but you’ll hear a different sound right away. After a couple of weeks it is a dreamy emotional sound that feels like love… the detail, subtleties, and depth especially of live music recording are incredible. Having listened to systems well over 100k I always knew my system had a few more veils to be removed. This upgrade was the getting past “the Hillary Step” IMO. It’s made all my sources brand new!! The DS Memory Player and my Current Phono Stage and TT - Vinyl are now delivering much more to their potential.
Am I just dreaming. Well because I have DAC outputs to both the Krell Integrated and the BHK Pre I can switch almost instantaneously between the two Via the remote controls. The difference between the two is dramatically different.
You won’t regret an investment in the BHK Pre amp if you are ready for it… and if you truly are ready and have it it will be your new “Audio Crack” as the time you spend listening to music willl greatly increase and multiply. You will hear music you haven’t heard before and it will have a musicality and a sweet emotion you always longed for and never new it was there!!
Get one and enjoy!
Thanks for the update. It is a wonderful component.
I’m ready for it, though I do have to settle for the M700 mono as I simply don’t have the real estate for the BHK amp/amps. I know, 1st world problem
Thanks for the update
You’ll do well with the BHK Pre and really appreciate the quality of the Steller Mono Amps it will “bloom” incredibly.
I’m in similar shoes with my Krell ibias Class A Integrated and I just discovered the amount of music is in it! Incremental investments I find are better appreciated and observed.
I too have my sights on the BHK AMP but likely the 250 is all I need for my room and speakers… the other money could go to a 3d tone arm and a phono cartridge upgrade🤩 That is of course in leu of a BHK Phono Stage…
I have everything in a temperature controlled hall closet. Top half is Audio, AVR/OPPO, Network, NAS, Routers, etc bottom is a jacket rack. The jackets will need to be relocated by the time the AMP upgrade is made.
The tube roll improved the BHK Pre quite a bit well worth the 100.00. I will very likely upgrade my BHK Pre Main Fuse as that really helped my DAC Sr… I haven’t replaced the fuse on the Memory Player yet.
All the best enjoying your journey!!! Clear and discerning ears to ya😃
A first-world problem of one of its wealthy citizens. We are exceedingly fortunate.
An important question: Did you ever try your DSD directly into the Krell bypass like you are doing with your new BHK Pre?
Maybe the preamp section of the Krell is what was holding back your system, and DSD through the bypass would have given you improved performance too.
Just want to talk about two major tweeks to the BHK Pre. The first is the change from the 12AU7 tubes it ships with to Amperex 7308’s, and the second is changing the stock fuse to a Synergistic Orange.
Of course, changing the tubes required the change of the voltage and current jumpers as well. My experience is one of great satisfaction in the change. In fact, prior to the change I was pretty sure that I would revert to using my Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage 2 pre-amp as it just was more musical and the timbre was more correct. I listened to Neil Young Live at Massey Hall (A Man Needs A Maid) and Neil’s voice was bodiless with the BHK, sounding like he existed only from the throat up. The W4S was much truer to a natural voice. But, once I rolled the bottles it was listener’s choice and I came down on the BHK side.
Now, today I got the new Synergistic Orange fuse and although I have no clue as to why, the change was immediate and notable. The bass became stronger and better defined, overall a move towards more excitement no matter the genre of music. I listened to De Old Folks at Home by Taj Mahal, Meddle by Pink Floyd, and Schumann’s Piano Quintet and all of it was singing sweeter than before.
Hope this is helpful.
Ironically, I put a SR Blue in my BHK pre this morning. So far it’s been positive.
I really liked the Amperex 7308 for a couple hundred hours and then they got a bit course for me. Hopefully yours have more life than mine did. I’m back to 12AU7, they’re plentiful and mostly quieter in my system.
I’m still locked in very happily with Amperex 7308’s. I’ve been happy with them for a couple of years now. I’ll have to try out the fuse, if I can have return privileges.
Look for a good price on a used blue. A bunch of people are moving to the orange. If you don’t like it, sell it for what you paid.