Einstein The PreAmp:
100% As new in the factory box and less than 500 hours.
Make no mistake: This is one of the finest sounding pre amplifiers I've ever heard !!!
Positive Feedback rated it A+++
A serious family illness forced sale creating this opportunity.
available from Weinhart Design, is the Einstein "The PowerAmp" & "The
Turntables Choice Balanced Phono Stage" and lots of other fine pre
owned, new and demo's representing the best of what is available, it is
best to call for details.
as reviewed by Danny Kaey
Having just reviewed Einstein's scandalously
fabulous The Flash and The Thunder cables, it is now time to focus the
attention onto their components. Ah yes, those components. I
think it is a testament to Einstein's creative design force that the two
most talked about components in casa Kaey are the Einstein system and
the darTZeel integrated (the Brinkmann LaGrange is part of that too,
however, it is a given that at any moment it receives kudos anyway, as
vinyl is now suddenly cool, again). I can't really remember a
time in recent memory when visitors appeared so enamored with the
look of a component.
Truly, Einstein's stuff isn't cookie-cutter,
me-too; no, it is quite the opposite: distinctive, nay, luxurious,
with build quality that has to be among the finest available. Of
course, building fancy components is one thing—most anyone with enough
access to cash and manufacturing capabilities can do that—but it is
really work designing classy components that look otherworldly
and sound amazing. Einstein has been doing this for the past 20
years. Not a small feat by any stretch of the imagination.
Those of you who have followed Einstein over
the years may recognize the component of this review, as in many ways it
resembles The Tube preamp from year's past. While the overall look is
indeed very similar, Volker Bohlmeier (principal at Einstein) contends
that really, "it is more of a total and complete redesign with
significantly updated internal components and an all new machined
aluminum chassis, said to be far more effective at vibration and
Indeed, one can spend a fortnight looking
at The Preamp, alas the technical specs of this component are no
less ingenious. First, it is in fact a fully balanced design from input
to output, meaning that when you connect balanced cables, you truly have
a fully balanced electrical system loop. To combat the ever important
issue of hum, The Preamp features a semi floating channel ground, whilst
operating with two amplification stages: 1st stage
differential amplifier, 2nd stage, output buffer. The Preamp
also features two rather unique topologies and technological feature
sets. First, the volume control is shunt operated and outside the signal
path. Second, perhaps even more interesting, the source selector is a
tube filament switching device. Now there's a killer. Get it?
The source selector is also outside of the signal path, meaning
that each input has its own compliment of tubes, as you switch from one
to the next, each input stage is individually turned off and on. This,
to my knowledge, is a completely unique Einstein piece of engineering.
As if it were necessary to mention, The
Preamp is of course a dual mono design, featuring 10 JAN Philips NOS
6922 input tubes and 8 EI NOS PCC 88 output stage tubes.
Tubemeisters, eat your heart out! Now, those tubes aren't merely
chassis bolted, no, in typical Einstein fashion, the tubes are suspended
by an elaborate vibration absorption mechanism designed to further
enhance the sound quality of this component. There are 5 sets of
inputs, 2 for balanced mode, 3 dedicated to single ended inputs as well
as 2 sets of outputs, for both balanced and single ended operation.
Technical specs aside—though I have no doubt that someone far more
technically proficient than me could spend paragraph upon paragraph
dissecting the details further—this is one hell-uv-ah preamp.
Setup was a breeze, then again, what else
would you expect from a preamp? Using a pair of Einstein's balanced The
Flash interconnects, The Preamp quickly made friends with its cousin,
Einstein's The Light In The Dark Mk II hybrid amp. This match, while
perhaps most natural in appearance, was by no means a sign that
The Preamp was only capable of working well within its own stable. No,
quite to the contrary, another terrific quality of this component is the
fact that it plays nicely with most any other amplifier as well, though
more on that later.
So let us move to the nitty-gritty,
otherwise known as what's this thing sound like part of the
review. If you didn't know that this preamp is tube based, you'd never
guess it, guaranteed. On both my ZU Audio Definition MK IV and Marten
Djangos, there is absolutely no hum whatsoever. Zero. Dead quiet.
Seriously, it is quite eerie as normally you would expect at least
some form of background noise to be present, especially so on the
101db efficient ZUs. Alas, there's simply none. In fact, when I first
noticed this feature, I immediately thought to double-check the
connections and state of power, as I simply could not believe my ears.
Fools, I say, fools!
Given the implications of the technical
specifications The Preamp features, it stands to reason that this preamp
will be a) dead quiet, b) very dynamic and c) have vanishingly low
distortions—if audible at all. Having confirmed the first assumption
in situ, it stood to reason that the others weren't all that far
behind. Much like the Einstein cables I mentioned earlier, it is quite
astonishing how dynamically rich and expansive this preamp sounds.
Music—sourced through my reference Playback Design MPS-5 / USB-X
digital front end and Brinkmann LaGrange/A90 analog rig—that I am all
too familiar with, springs to life with such lifeforce that it is
truly remarkable what Volker and team have been able to accomplish.
No matter the cut, notes appeared from dead
silence progressing through attack, sustain and decay with speed and
accuracy normally not associated with tube equipment, especially not a
design that features a total of 18 tubes. Cueing up one of my all time
classical recording references, The Rite Of Spring with Gergiev
and the Kirov orchestra on Philips (2001), the sound of this majestic
piece was at once alive and incredibly vibrant. The orchestra
appeared to light up, with each movement and piece springing forth new
revelations in dynamic realism and force. Now mind you, I have heard
this recording many a time, yet, in many ways, The Preamp opened up a
seemingly new window of discovery in the dynamic subtleness by Gergiev
and the Kirov orchestra.
Electronica, a speed freak genre if
ever there was one, is another highlight for The Preamp. A cut from
Yello's The Eye (2007), "Planet Dada," awoke new and old memories
alike. Blindingly fast cuts, electronic pulses, and pounding bass are
all de rigueur for this track; yet, in so many ways, it was as though I
heard far deeper into the mix, giving me that much more insight into the
minds of Dieter Meier and Boris Blank. As with Kirov's orchestra, Yello
is all about timing and precision. Expertly produced and extremely well
recorded and mastered, their music begs to be played on a system capable
of producing both micro and macro dynamics and nuances with speed and
clarity. Sure, you will get the basic idea of what the recording is all
about on most any system. Play it on something capable of full
frequency extension and dynamic range and you are in for a treat. What
is most fascinating about Einstein's The Preamp, is the fact that you
have a main system component capable of extending and illuminating your
music library all at once, giving you that extra bit of insight –
The other day Mr. Record, aka Robert Pincus,
record maven and part time reissue producer (lately responsible for
IMPEX records, previously Cisco Music's catalog) gave me a decent copy
of Johnny Cash at San Quentin. This resort recording
whilst typical in somewhat of bland, generic live sound (it was recorded
at the world famous San Quentin prison of course), managed to
exalt virtues via The Preamp hereto forth unheard of. On occasion,
Cash's voice sounding somewhat muddled, muffled, and distant, Einstein's
preamp at least managed to evoke some level of liveness and character
from this original Columbia red label pressing. While this recording
would never be deemed "audiophile", The Preamp managed to make the most
of it, by being positively additive to the sound. Toes tapping, pants
flapping and all, this recording has to be a truly a one of a kind
artistic gem, made that much more appreciative through the Einstein
But wait, there's more. If Einstein's magic
circuitry enhances dynamics and background quietness, then a follow-up
result must also be greatly enhanced detail retrieval. Quite simply,
when the preamp gets out of the way, there's more music that comes
through. Turns out that this is de facto the case with The Preamp, for
example, playing several cuts off Fleetwood Mac's Rumours
revealed that much more low level information. Previously obscured
notes and details became that much more present as layers where unpeeled
and revealed. Bass lines were that much more cleanly delineated and
outlined; the effect was overall similar to someone taking a flash to
enhance the lighting of an image. You can see the same image with or
without flash, but the image which has been properly lit and exposed
will reveal that much more detail.
Switching to my pair of anniversary edition
Quad II monos—connected via Einstein's The Flash RCA cables—produced
pretty much the results I had expected. Without question, one
immediately heard the great qualities the Quad's made famous oh so long
ago. The razor sharp imaging and dynamics of before were replaced by
the Quad's sonic signature. Rich, sonically lush with a wonderful
midrange bloom, that is quite the value add for certain recordings.
Thus, The Preamp does exactly what a great preamp should do. Stay out
of the way and let the music flow upstream from your source to your
Fundamentally then, The Preamp is quite the
German Wunderkind. An interview I read sometime ago with
Bohlmeier outlined his vision for Einstein. Paraphrasing, his main
are essentially to recreate the dynamic realism of live music as
as possible in a home environment. I'd say that he has done just
No matter what musical preference you have, The Preamp will certainly
make your music library shine in new light. Proper source and
all—read: the better the source, the more will come through, this
is quite unlike any other tube preamp you will hear.
with umpteen levels of resolution in between, music simply sounds that
much more engaging. While an all Einstein system isn't prescribed nor
necessary, this preamp can bring about a whole new level of realism
used with other Einstein components. I think Volker and company are
to something. Highest recommendation, A+++. Danny Kaey
Weinhart Design has
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One system at at a time,
Weinhart Design, Inc.
President & CEO
The Audio and Video Expert
2337 Roscomare Road, Studio #1
Los Angeles, California 90077