There Really is Magic... Somehow

I created a post asking for feedback on the necessity of a preamp, specifically the BHK Signature, to improve SQ over the direct DSD DAC to BHK amp route. I had doubts that adding what is for many a functionally unnecessary component would in some unexplainable way improve SQ. Support for the addition of a preamp was pretty overwhelming.

So I ordered a backordered BHK preamp. I’m not good at waiting. Fortunately, I had in mothballs a passive preamp I got years ago which, at it turns out, has turned out to be a highly rewarding move, and one that makes waiting for a BHK preamp all the more difficult.

The mothballed component is a passive preamp given very high marks over a decade ago by Stereophile. It’s called Sonic Euphoria. It only has wires and switches, very high quality wires by Cardas and Swiss switches. It uses autoformers that can actually provide some passive gain with the volume control.

The Sonic Euphoria is no longer sold. At the time, I cheaped out and did not get one with a remote or balanced outputs. I regret doing that. I had to pull out of mothballs RCA cables by Audioquest and Cardas as well to make it work.

I did not expect much, but given the overwhelming responses in this forum from members who had added a preamp, I was curious to see if a high quality passive preamp would improve SQ at all. After all, what can just a bunch of wires and switches really do to SQ?

It turns out a lot. I’m damned if it didn’t improve SQ. If the BHK preamp, when I get it, sounds even just as good as the Sonic Euphoria, I’ll eagerly join the ranks of the preamp believers and make Paul a richer man. I’m already halfway there.

What makes our hobby so challenging is component interaction. While having the Sonic Euphoria inline improved SQ with both Audioquest and Cardas mid-grade interconnects, the Cardas interconnects clearly added more weight, authority and clarity to the sound. Even changing my speaker cables from AQ to Cardas added to the magic.

There are times when I wish the audio world was simpler. I do so enjoy just listening to music. But the more resolving my rig, the higher my level of enjoyment. I supposed that is why I’m a proud card-carrying audiophile.

More to come when Bascom’s well-beloved creation arrives for a trial… Meantime, I bow my head in respect to all the preamp believers whose feedback convinced me to check out the BHK preamp and dig into my audio museum for what turned out to be, however temporary, a highly satisfying rig addition.


Congrats! The great thing is we have options "To pre. . . or not to pre. . . " We have two answers to that question!

I’m a confirmed preamp user, finding it adds a special sauce that I like on my audio burgers. Welcome to the club!


Very Shakespearean reply, topped by burgers. You made me hungry while I listen to Brahms. Time for lunch…


It’s crazy isn’t it… in theory, no preamp should be better than having a preamp, but somehow, with a good quality pre, that’s not the case.

Defies logic, but heck, I’ll take it.