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Absolute Audio Labs ASL-1Z Preamp


MattyW

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23 minutes ago, Gav said:

I guess he is keen to see if you are liking your purchase. 


Loving it. It’s up there with his SIT-A15 power amp. The only thing will get the best from it though a Supratek pre might sound in the same ball park at a much higher cost. The best sound I’ve experienced yet. 
 

I may try Lenehan Foilflex RCA’s next.

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Wow that name brings back memories when I was first started looking for upgrades on this site somewhere around 2005 was Supratek making valve Pre Amps from my fading memory.  like a Supratek sauvignon rings a bell or I might be dementing haha

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1 minute ago, Gav said:

Wow that name brings back memories when I was first started looking for upgrades on this site somewhere around 2005 was Supratek making valve Pre Amps from my fading memory.  like a Supratek sauvignon rings a bell or I might be dementing haha


Fantastic pre’s, though I don’t want any actual tubes in my sound chain. With Watcharas gear I’m not left lusting after tube sound anymore….. This is better ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, lemarquis said:

Sounds great Matt. Things have changed quite a bit since the open baffle days. Do you still run the Ukrainian gear? 

On the pre - are these still being made and what is/was indicative pricing?


Yea, big changes. The only component I’ve had which I still kind of miss is the darTZeel NHB108 copy I had. It was rather special. That’s ok as I’ve another one (250WPC Black Widow Edition) living at a mates place which he’s also in love with. ;)

 

I’m not running the Abbas gear any longer. It was very special though I much prefer my Rockna Wavedream copy, the Accurate Audio Ultimate D1000. It sounds HUGE. Just really massive. Solid and palpable, like I can reach up and touch it. The little 6” drivers in my current speakers can struggle at higher volume though I plan to move to big speakers based around the Lii Song Platinum-10 which will get around that nicely. :D
 

It’s very hard to believe the sound I’m getting comes from a pair of 6” drivers rather than so “me massive multi driver towers though so much of that comes from the gear in front of them. The only issue I have presently is a little sibilance. I got rid of all silver power cables in my system and it’s lessened a bit. Next will be a Synergistic Research Purple fuse in the pre and if not under control then I’ll get Lenehan Audio FoilFlex RCA leads.

 

Watchara has recommended warm cables with this pre and FoilFlex are meant to fall slightly on the warm side of neutral and I shouldn’t have to give up any detail running them. ;)
 

Only 3 of these preamps could be made due to the required matching Toshiba FETS and spec required. It’s very exacting. Watchara will no doubt have something else in the works though. The pre was only $1600 which is something of a bargain given it’s sonics. :)

Edited by MattyW
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2 hours ago, MattyW said:


Yea, big changes. The only component I’ve had which I still kind of miss is the darTZeel NHB108 copy I had. It was rather special. That’s ok as I’ve another one (250WPC Black Widow Edition) living at a mates place which he’s also in love with. ;)

 

I’m not running the Abbas gear any longer. It was very special though I much prefer my Rockna Wavedream copy, the Accurate Audio Ultimate D1000. It sounds HUGE. Just really massive. Solid and palpable, like I can reach up and touch it. The little 6” drivers in my current speakers can struggle at higher volume though I plan to move to big speakers based around the Lii Song Platinum-10 which will get around that nicely. :D
 

It’s very hard to believe the sound I’m getting comes from a pair of 6” drivers rather than so “me massive multi driver towers though so much of that comes from the gear in front of them. The only issue I have presently is a little sibilance. I got rid of all silver power cables in my system and it’s lessened a bit. Next will be a Synergistic Research Purple fuse in the pre and if not under control then I’ll get Lenehan Audio FoilFlex RCA leads.

 

Watchara has recommended warm cables with this pre and FoilFlex are meant to fall slightly on the warm side of neutral and I shouldn’t have to give up any detail running them. ;)
 

Only 3 of these preamps could be made due to the required matching Toshiba FETS and spec required. It’s very exacting. Watchara will no doubt have something else in the works though. The pre was only $1600 which is something of a bargain given it’s sonics. :)

Try getting in contact with Mark @SonicArtto have a look at his cable offerings. My new phono cable is seriously good and not expensive at all. 

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So is this pre warm then? The way you describe it, as not being one for the detail freak purists ;) it sounds like its leaning towards adding harmonic bloom, maybe more decay and a fuller mid band?

Personally I have always looked upon my cables as neutral, once run in they pretty much get out of the way. I hear comments of them being very smooth yet with a lot of micro detail and very natural rythm, others say they are super detailed and fast and they love that, how can it be? System of course, one uses tubes and the other uses all transistor highly resolving gear, point is the cable is not making A sound like B. I think thats an important aspect in setting up systems.

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Ha, actually I kind of am a detail freak but just as important is tonality, deep accurate bass, solid palpable sound etc. I want it all and compromises are something which just keep me looking at ways to have my cake and eat it to  ;)

 

I've always believed the Aurealis Audio R1 Dragon Litz RCA's to be neutral, also the Litz 202 speaker cables. They don't seem to accentuate any part of the spectrum and just provide a big detailed and open sound stage. Those are what I'm currently running. I have enjoyed the Duelund 50 RCA's in the past though that was highly system depended as to whether I preferred the R1 Dragon or Duelund 50 interconnects.

 

The reason I'm looking as the Lenehan Audio FoiFlex RCA's is some reviewers say they completely neutral, and yet other say neutral leaning to slightly warm yet highly detailed due to the use of copper foil. No skin effect. If the RCA's are in any way contributing to sibilance I fully expect those to solve it. The same thing I guess will probably mean they're a fairly delicate cable. Such is life.

 

The pre doesn't sound warm to me..... None of that wet blanket effect though rather incredible holographic, 3D sound stage..... Insane body and a weightyness to the music such as I've never heard before. Orchestra's for example sound massive. Pipe organs (not that I have much) are massive and take on a physical sense I've not ever heard before with reproduced music. Not even with tubes in the chain. Basically incredible in every way, but slight sibilance/

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I too want the micro detail in the background to create a "liveness" to the stage, holographic positioning that you can feel in front of you, but without hardness in the top, and with a natural rhythm and really solid punchy bass. My experience with flat conductors is a lack of natural timing, as in time with your internal body clock, but who knows until you try eh!

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33 minutes ago, SonicArt said:

I too want the micro detail in the background to create a "liveness" to the stage, holographic positioning that you can feel in front of you, but without hardness in the top, and with a natural rhythm and really solid punchy bass. My experience with flat conductors is a lack of natural timing, as in time with your internal body clock, but who knows until you try eh!


You don’t have demo cables by any chance do you? If need 2 pair to see if it works in my system and if it does I’d buy the demo cables. ;)

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That DAC sounds awesome Matt. If it can beat the Abbas... I will keep an eye on what our friend in Thailand comes up with next. That pre sounds ideal for me.

Always fun to see what you are doing with your system. 


+1 for SonicArt cables. The digital cable I use was far ahead of anything I'd used and they are not super expensive either.

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Interesting, installed an SR Purple fuse in the pre and sibilance is pretty much gone. In no way noticeable unless specifically listening for it. All the usual SR Purple attributes too. Will continue to improve with burn in also.

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  • 4 months later...

Sorry MattyW if this is too far off-topic but you might be interested in the Hungarian masterpiece The Werckmeister Harmonies which is being shown in 4K restoration as part of Melbourne International Film Festival this year and will probably turn up in other festivals and in Cinematheques in other States and Territories.  The title refers to the baroque musical theorist Andreas Werckmeister. György Eszter, a character in the film, propounds a theory that Werckmeister's harmonic principles are responsible for aesthetic and philosophical problems in all music since, and need to be undone by a new theory of tuning and harmony. It's one of my all time favourite films and I am looking forward to seeing it again on the big screen.

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43 minutes ago, stabiloboss said:

Sorry MattyW if this is too far off-topic but you might be interested in the Hungarian masterpiece The Werckmeister Harmonies which is being shown in 4K restoration as part of Melbourne International Film Festival this year and will probably turn up in other festivals and in Cinematheques in other States and Territories.  The title refers to the baroque musical theorist Andreas Werckmeister. György Eszter, a character in the film, propounds a theory that Werckmeister's harmonic principles are responsible for aesthetic and philosophical problems in all music since, and need to be undone by a new theory of tuning and harmony. It's one of my all time favourite films and I am looking forward to seeing it again on the big screen.


I’ll download a copy to watch sometime. Could be interesting :)

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  • 9 months later...

I have an order in for this preamps!  Watchara said it has an updated transformer and active parts!  He said it will take him some time to get the parts.  I think he means to get enough Toshiba transistors to match them!  This will be for my desk system with Omega Compact Alnico monitors 

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1 hour ago, uncola said:

I have an order in for this preamps!  Watchara said it has an updated transformer and active parts!  He said it will take him some time to get the parts.  I think he means to get enough Toshiba transistors to match them!  This will be for my desk system with Omega Compact Alnico monitors 

 

Yes, mines currently packed up as we're renting while we sell our home and build a new house. I plan to use it in my office/computer setup also. In communication with Watchara he had indicated he has found a way to further improve it's already impressive performance. 

 

The nice thing is you can always send things back to be updated to the latest spec. I did that with my SIT-A15 power amp which was converted from a MosFET constant current source to a JFET constant current source. Brought a very nice improvement in terms of naturalness and imaging.  🙂

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My last few systems were dacs with volume control, rockna wavelight, eversolo dmpa6.  It will be nice to have a real analog preamp again.  I had watcharas F7 style amp in the past, it had amazing treble and midrange but I think the bass wasn't a good match to my speakers.  I planned to get back into class A amps but I'm currently waiting for Final Model 5 electrostats so it doesn't make sense.  Probably using class d monoblocks with those.  My desk system has great speakers for class A, the omega compact alnico monitors, but at my desk I sit right next to the amp, so don't want class A over there

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His preamp adds quite a bit of punch and impact though I do find my upgraded icOn 4PRO had more finesse though I really need to run his Balanzer for great results with that. His pre doesn't really need anything added.

 

I've his F8 equivalent and his SIT-A15 which uses Tokin VFET's. It doesn't have an equivalent and is an original design pre-dating the upcoming First Watt SIT-4 Tokin based amps by a year or two and using a totally different topology. I run a MiniDSP DDRC-22D for some room and bass correction..... Sit's between my digital sources and DAC which works for me as I no longer have vinyl though even then it could work ok with digital output phono stages available like the Parks Audio Waxwing. It means the value of a high quality digital chain can still carry across to vinyl.  🙂

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not my picture, but from when watchara posted about the 2024 version of the preamp on his facebook.  you can see he changed from a toroidal to an r-core transformer and there are different caps

 

 

asl1z20245.jpg

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asl1z20242.jpg

asl1z20241.jpg

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Posted (edited)

He’s continued to perfect it. I see Mundorf Myletic caps up front though can’t see what the black film caps are though guessing Mundorf also. Should be a very nice improvement I'm guessing.  🙂

Edited by MattyW
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