ACCUSTIC ARTS® TUBE PREAMP II- MK2
The TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 is the revised version of our hybrid tube preamplifier which enjoys success all around the world. The revised version includes a number of features requested by customers.
| Clever: The circuitry
The ACCUSTIC ARTS® TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 is a preamplifier with an exceptional and uncompromising design along the lines of the so-called tube-hybrid concept. This concept, also an integral part of our TUBE-DAC II, combines the advantages of transistor technology with the advantages of the tube principle. Tubes are excellent voltage amplifiers, but can only supply a limited amount of current. As a result, in the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 we place the tubes exactly there where these clear advantages can influence the acoustic pattern, i.e. for the voltage amplification. In places where current has to be supplied, e.g. for impedance conversion, we use the proven premium IC OPA627® from Burr Brown / Texas Instruments. This combination allows us to achieve very low-resistance outputs which are also characterised by a high current capability. We use solid state technology and tubes to take advantage of their physical characteristics to realise an exceptional, analogue sound experience with an extremely low harmonic distortion and excellent harmonic distortion spectrum which sets standards.
As opposed to most tube preamplifiers, the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 is in fact fully balanced, i.e. with 4 completely separate amplification stages from the signal input to the signal output.
The 4 amplification stages are divided into one inverting and one non-inverting signal path per channel. Each of these amplification stages contains a high precision tube manufactured according to military specifications. This principle enables perfect channel separation.
The loudness is adjusted via a high-end selective, high precision 4 channel potentiometer. It is natural that the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 functions completely according to the proven Class A principle.
| Elaborate: The power supply
An ideal power supply is a precondition for a high-end preamplifier. The requirements for the power supply with a tube-hybrid preamplifier are much higher than for a purely transistor-based device. This is because the tubes require different low voltages and also a high voltage of approx. 300 V for the anodes. This high voltage has to be precisely controlled and absolutely free of interference so that the music signal can be perfectly amplified in the tubes. For this reason the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 is equipped with a number of separately functioning power supply units and 2 separate high-end transformers, with one transformer exclusively reserved for the voltage required for the tubes. Both the toroidal core transformers used in the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 are of an exceptionally high quality and have the best possible core material from Switzerland in order to prevent any negative interference inside the unit. In order to ensure that the power supply units work perfectly, the filter capacity for all voltage circuits was selected generously (e.g. 20,000 µF alone for the voltage supply to the semiconductors).
| Perfect: The tubes
There is no dispute that the quality of the tubes is decisive for the quality of a unit based on tube technology. Tubes are sensitive components and thus have to be carefully selected and tested. We manually select the tubes and make pairs according to strict testing and measuring criteria to ensure that only perfect tubes are used in the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2. Before the tubes are fitted to a TUBE PREAMP II, they have already passed a two-stage inspection process: one inspection carried out by our supplier and a second inspection made by our own specialists.
Before and after the first continuous test of 100 hours, all functions and parameters of the whole unit are inspected and recorded in a protocol. The values are compared and if the deviations are within a defined low tolerance range the unit is subjected to a further second continuous test of 100 hours. After this test further measurements are made and here the parameters must fit perfectly with the output values. In total, a TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 is measured and tested three times and the tubes are even tested four times. The TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 only leaves the premises of ACCUSTIC ARTS® after the requirements have been 100% met. This high level of scrutiny guarantees an extremely low failure rate of the tubes and ensures many years of uninterrupted musical pleasure.
The type of tube used is a so-called dual triode tube type E83CC and belongs to the tube group 12AX7. The tubes meet the high requirements of the military and come from the current production of a European manufacturer. The sound can be described as: pleasantly warm with a very balanced sound pattern, a sophisticated bass range, clear high frequencies, good dynamics and low harmonic distortion.
We prefer tubes from the current production and do not use NOS tubes, as these are not available in sufficient quantity and not available in consistent quality.
| Quality: The rest of the components
The TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 guarantees absolute perfection through the exclusive use of selected components with low tolerances and highest quality grade. A number of the individual components are re-measured by hand and sorted into matching pairs.
The housing is also uncompromising: solid, carefully crafted aluminium plates combined with chrome-plated rotary parts in brass allow for a high quality look and surface feel and excellent stability. Stability is important to ensure that the tubes can work undisturbed and are not compromised by any vibration present in the housing.
| Simple: Operation
As with all ACCUSTIC ARTS® products, the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 is also easy to operate. This is a welcome change for many music lovers today when most electronic devices are overloaded with partly unnecessary functions.
The basic functions of the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2 are operated by two chrome-plated rotary controls. Both controls are more or less built to last for ever. The rotary controls, for example, are solid and are equipped with gold-plated contacts, which are corrosion-resistant and also enable many thousands of switching cycles.
| Phenomenal: The sound experience
The result of top quality individual components, detailed development work, innumerable sound tests, careful production and involved measurement tests is a sound experience of the highest perfection.
In combination with the other reference series products of ACCUSTIC ARTS®, music is transformed into an incomparable sound experience “Handmade in Germany”.
The general concept of the TUBE PREAMP II – MK2
3 x fully balanced high level inputs (XLR)
2 x unbalanced high level input (RCA)
1 x surround bypass (RCA)
2 x fully balanced line-out (XLR)
2 x unbalanced line-out (RCA)
1 x unbalanced fixed out (RCA)
1 x headphone output (1/4″ stereo female jack)
4-times / 12 dB (balanced to balanced)
8-times / 18 dB (unbalanced to balanced)
Signal difference left/right:
0.2 dB (from 0 dB to –40 dB)
balanced: 2 x 50 kΩ
unbalanced: 50 kΩ
balanced: 2 x 34 Ω
unbalanced: 34 Ω
AC coupled with 2.2 µF
Max. output voltage:
balanced: 19.8 Veff on 10 kΩ
unbalanced: 9.9 Veff on 10 kΩ
-90 dB (A weighted)
0.006 % with 4.0 Veff on 10 kΩ
0.002 % with 4.0 Veff on 10 kΩ (22 Hz – 30 kHz)
Dual triode E83CC / 12 AX 7 – selected and matched
approx. 20 watts (unit totally on)
approx. 3.5 watts (tube section in “standby” mode)
Dimensions (H x W x D):
100 x 482 x 375 mm / 3.9 x 19 x 14.8 inches
12 kg / 26.4 lbs.