Hovland Company HP-100 MC phono Tube Preamp
Handsome distinctive looks and known for it's great sound.
This review is a love fest filled with shameless superlatives, and love
is blind and can disappear in a heartbeat. But at least in my system,
the Hovland HP-100 proved to be a sonic heavyweight at a relatively
lightweight price. As a $5k line stage or as a $6500 full-featured
preamp, its overall performance provided me with the greatest musical
pleasure I've gotten from a preamp. My system sang as it never has. This
came as a total surprise—I was wary of what a group of "tweakers" might
come up with, sonically and otherwise.
The HP-100 is solidly
built, elegantly simple, a pleasure to use, behaved flawlessly, and put
on a sonic show that made me want it back in my system as soon as
possible. The sound was on the romantic side, but not warm and tubey in
the classic sense, and the slightly extravagant liquidity I've
repeatedly called your attention to was more than offset by the unit's
incredible clarity, focus, textural detail, harmonic fullness, and
In the sonic continuum of preamps I've
reviewed lately—all great products, by the way—I put the Ayre K-1x to
one side and the Audio Research Reference Two on the other. Midway, but
closer to the Audio Research, I put the Herron VTSP-1. The Hovland goes
on the other side, closer to the Ayre. Does that help?
kicked in the groin on the test bench before, and I hope it doesn't
happen this time—if the Hovland measures like it sounds (a reviewer's
reference shouldn't be heavily colored or measure poorly), it's coming
home to stay, maybe for good. While I wait, I'm spending as much time as
I can with my reference Ayre K-1x so I can make a quick, informed
choice when the Hovland returns. Meanwhile, find a dealer within
walking, driving, or, if need be, flying distance, and give the Hovland a
listen. It's special.
Home Audio Equiptment Review says:
Review at a Glance:
accurate; high level of dynamic realism; "does exactly the job asked of it --
retrieve the source information and pass it through with only volume changes."
illuminated Plexiglas panel with on/off switch; separate internal areas for line stage,
phono stage, and power supply; moving-magnet phono stage adds $600 ($850 after initial
purchase); 24k gold knobs, buttons and trim rings add $500.
power cord makes HP-100 a touch more clear and detailed.
The best piece of
audio equipment Todd has heard; the HP-100’s level of physical and musical beauty
usually come at a much higher price.
Has the OPTIONAL Moving coil phono.
The HP100 is a full-function preamp. You get a full
complement of inputs and outputs, including an outstanding MC phono
stage, and full tape loops. The volume control is a discrete-stepped resistor
network, and the preamp includes a mono switch for those early vinyl discs.
Description: Vacuum-tube full-function preamplifier with
built-in MC phono stage.
Line-stage tube complement: two 12AX7s, one 12AT7.
Phono stage tube complement: two 12AX7s, one 12AU7.
Line-stage: Voltage gain: 14dB.
S/N Ratio: 80dB (wideband) ref. 3V out, (with level
control fully clockwise).
THD: ±1% at rated output.
approximately 2500 ohms.
Input impedance: 100k ohms.
Dimensions: 18.25" W by 5.25" H
(including feet) by 17.375" D (including knobs and rear jacks).
Weinhart Design has lots of other items new and used and if you're in Los Angeles or visiting please accept my invitation to experience our Audio Showroom and please visit
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Making Audio Systems better
one system at a time,
Weinhart Design, Inc.
President & CEO
The Audio and Video Expert
2337 Roscomare Road, Studio #1
Los Angeles, California 90077