The Pure Audio Control amplifier
This is a no-compromise preamplifier for the serious music enthusiast. If you have one or more high quality sources - digital or analogue - and have, or are intending to buy a capable power amplifier system, then there will be very few other options that will come close to the performance of the Pure Audio.
The Control is a preamp in the normal sense - it is compatible with most power amplifiers out there and you can plug any line level stereo source component straight in - that includes CD players DACs, any digital media component, turntables via a phono stage and whatever else you may like.
If you can understand the logic involved in having separate pre and power amplifiers, or for that matter a separate dedicated phono stage, then it will be easy to see why the Pure Audio preamplifier doesn’t have an inbuilt DA converter. Cost, obsolescence and the inevitable compromise in terms of design and and overall performance all factor in. When companies such as NuPrime can produce such superb digital products that can be used why would you even start to consider this?
In contrast to the present trend of arrays of retina searing blue LEDs, the single, and rather subtle, frosted white power light on the Pure Audio actually switches off to indicate that the amplifier is on and signal is incoming. (But if you really want to, you can have it on all the time.) The volume control is remarkably tactile, yet is cunningly detached from the actual operation of the amplifier - as you turn it, you'll hear a series of 'clicks' but these originate from the back of the amplifier as a series of relays select individual steps in a ladder of precision resistors located immediately behind the premium Cardas input sockets. Much of the preamplifiers circuitry is in fact devoted to power supply and support, leaving signal paths as short and as simple as possible. The Pure Audio control amplifier is still an active device however and capable of driving any power amplifier. What sets it apart is both the ability to retrieve and amplify signal, but also to protect and isolate from noise. This is why there is no display panel or digital inputs - both are nightmares in terms of inducing noise and interference - other amplifier designers kill themselves trying to reduce this but why would you even introduce it if you didn't have to?
The design is an exercise in minimalism in the service of music. The Pure Audio Control is a complete dual mono design, with entirely separate left and right channel power supplies, signal paths, and ground systems. The interior is kept free of electronic noise, with no microprocessors, or other noise polluting elements. This care and attention contributes significantly to the purity of the music that you hear.
Because listening to your music is what's most important, the user interface has been simplified so that it responds to your needs without calling any attention to itself. The large rotary control allows you to set your initial volume level, and when rotated to zero activates the preamp’s standby mode. A slim wood cased remote handset allows level trimming during listening. Input selection is automated, responding intuitively to your selected source.
What the Pure Audio Control amp does is dig far more deeply into music than you will have thought possible - every aspect of what we enjoy, each individual sound and nuance is made clear and distinct. The performance is given body and scale. The difference this will make in almost any pre/power system will be readily apparent.
No New Zealand made preamplifier has ever worked at this level before. Plinius amplifier owners - many of who are already enjoying Gary's designs - will appreciate that this builds upon a series of ever improving models and can be confident the many improvements made are going to greatly enhance the performance of their systems. Perreaux owners even more so as there hasn't been a serious new Perreaux preamplifier for almost two decades with the the SM6-II itself being a revision of an original Peter Perreaux design.
In all cases, the insertion of the Pure Audio control amplifier will produce a dramatic improvement in every area - you'll actually find that the difference is greater and more enjoyable than that gained by jumping up models in power amplification. And in many cases the end cost will in fact be less for this greater return.
In a notable departure from orthodoxy, there is no provision made for balanced inputs and outputs. Gary is adamant that the effective doubling of the number of components, the inevitable compromise of still having to accommodate single ended RCA inputs and outputs, and the lengthened and more complicated signal paths all have a negative (and costly) effect on a preamplifier and balanced is simply not required in a normal domestic setting. Given the eerie silence that surrounds the preamps operation, we agree with him. If you want validation of this approach, just listen to the Pure Audio connected via the new KLEI analogue interconnects from Australian designer Keith Eichmann - these are effectively components in their own right and in combination you'll have a level of transparency that is simply unrivalled
On the face of it there are benefits in balanced audio circuitry being applied to domestic amplifiers and many products do feature balanced inputs and outputs. The primary reason is to reduce noise and hum. There is a significant cost to this approach as it does require almost twice the parts count over any normal design - and this increased level of complication and cost can actually have a negative effect on sound quality. With Pure Audio, the goal is always to deal with such issues at the simplest possible level - while a comparison of single ended and balance within a single component can often show the latter sounds better, it's also true that just being balanced is no guarantee of absolute sound quality or absence of noise - Pure Audio prove that the simpler approach really is better, with both the greatest detail and lowest noise floor of any amplification product we have ever dealt with.
"I still fondly remember my time with my Plinius gear — and this gear from Pure Audio has clear roots in that history. And then it takes a giant step forward. The Control Preamplifier is one of the best I’ve heard.
In our twenty-year career, we have had the opportunity to listen to many preamplifiers of this calibre, and we were able to easily place this Pure Audio device in this line-up. This is a high quality product. Its fundamental characteristic sound is simply to have no characteristic sound. This is where our “relative positioning” section comes into its own; we get a much better understanding of this type of product by comparing it to its peers. Be aware that the Pure Audio is a preamplifier that includes a wide bandwidth, without attenuation in the extreme bass or in the treble.
We were able to pick this up with the excellent test disc “Bach Recital – Pierre Mea” in Ad Vitam Records. The extension at the bottom of the spectrum is very clear, and it is accompanied by a wealth of detail that makes the listening much more true-to-life. All operating noise of the instrument, the inflections of the lower octaves, the intricacies of the organist’s playing come together easily. At the top, micro-details emerge simply and without simplification. These multiple components come together to recreate a truly three-dimensional image. An understated recording, it offers a fluid vision of a difficult piece. And the Pure Audio preamp allows this to be expressed completely.Read the full review here.
Inputs: Four line inputs, 1 direct and 3 autoselected, 1 processor input, 12V or standby switched.
Outputs: Two pairs of line outputs
Control Terminals: 12V trigger in and out.
Frequency Response: Flat from DC to greater than 100kHz
Input Impedance: 50k Ohms
Output Impedance: 100 Ohms
Distortion: > <0.01% in normal operation
Hum & Noise: Inaudible
Power Consumption: 25 Watts
Dimensions: 410mm deep, 480mm wide, 115mm high
Remote Control: Volume Up / Down
The Pure Audio Control preamplifier NZ$9000
You can visit the Pure Audio site and download a high resolution pdf copy of the product brochure here.
We have the Control in stock and on demonstration with an array of appropriate components - the Pure Audio Vinyl MC Phono stage, matching Pure Audio power amp, the NuPrime high resolution DACs, Wax Engine and Well Tempered turntables, Monitor Audio and Sonus faber speaker systems. And KLEI interconnects and power cables.
Next - the Pure Audio Power Amplifiers.
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