When I first laid my sticky hands on my Viganoni and Viganoni Sachem monoblock power amps, I launched into a mild frenzy of preamp hunting in an effort to find a good match. Within a week, I’d tried a Musical Fidelity X-Pre V3 and a Rothwell Indus stepped attenuator passive but found that the preamp outs on my Yamaha A-S2000 integrated were actually doing a better job.
In fact the Yamaha/Sachem combo sounded so good that I stopped looking for an alternative preamp. Oh sure, I fiddled with a few options here and there but I wasn’t really serious about it.
The feeling that the Yamaha might need to move on has been growing ever more insistant though; not because of anything related to the sonics – it’s just that having an unused MM/MC phono section and a headphone stage in the amp is wasteful. Not too mention the fact that the power amp sections are siting idle – all that weight and size just lying there seems silly.
On the other hand, having the Yamaha around has proven a blessing when I wanted to hear something a little different in the course of a review but I’ll work around that if I can find a real sonic improvement.
So I’ve started looking for a preamplifier – without getting carried away of course. Just a slow controlled wander through the ranks of what’s available out there. The Usher 307 on sale on the Audio Reference site caught my eye – $750?? The Class A Usher R1.5 really impressed me recently and I know the company produces some products with a bewildering level of bang-for-bucks. So the 307 is worth a listen for sure, even if it doesn’t have a remote.
The 307 is quite an odd looking beast. It looks as if the amp section and the power supply were designed by competing teams on distant sites, teams that never spoke to each other about their designs. I collect a sample tomorrow morning, will give it a listen and see how it fits in with the rest of the system.