I took the plunge and got my new BHK preamp last week. At this point it has around 40 hrs on it.
Love the tube timer, tube standby feature, and having a numerical volume level display. The soundstage is somewhat larger than my old preamp (Odyssey Audio Candela tube preamp), and the bass seems to be a little fuller/deeper. I’m also hearing some more details. Very nice!
Not crazy about all the snapping sounds when I change volume. Seems like there should have been a way to address that.
Anyway, on to my question:
The sound is softer and lacking punch. The attacks of the notes seem rounded off and lacking snap as if the drummer added some padding to the drumsticks. I also need to have the volume knob up to at least 50 to get up to normal volume (I realize if I switched to balanced cables this would improve).
The system is:
Direct Stream DAC > BHK Pre-amp > Odyssey Audio Stratos Monoblocks (180 wpc) > Vortex Acoustics (VonSchweikert) VR-35 speakers.
All cables are Audience Au24 SX (Single ended interconnects) and speaker cables. Power cords are all Audience Power Chord sei. Everything is plugged into a Synergistic Research PowerCell 8 UEF SE with the Level 2 PowerCell power cable.
I have turntable but primarily listen to digital.
Is this the normal sound signature of this preamp?
Will things improve with more break in time?
Could a tube swap improve the sound to my liking?
Would switching to balanced cables address the softness? In the past I didn’t find a huge difference between SE and Balanced and it would be a significant investment to change.
TIA for your suggestions.