Phono Preamplifier with LCR RIAA equalizer
There are few high-end audio companies operating on the level, that really works for me and stand out in my reference book of high-end audio dealings these days. Among these Thrax Audio definitely takes very important place. I’ve had some insights into their business from the past experiences with the brand products, but my recent visit to the factory changed this heck a lot. Seeing the dedication, R & D and most importantly the enthusiasm that goes into their product was an eye opener.
In past few years I’ve had opportunity to test and review their Dionysos preamplifier and Heros monoblocks. I was both intrigued and inspired not only with the topologies, building quality, but most importantly with the sound coming out of this mighty devices. Dionysos received Mono & Stereo prestige upper echelon award and it was rated among the best preamplifiers on the market. Actually its one of the best (tube) preamplifiers on the market. If any other company would produce such preamp the price would be rocket high. Yet, Rumen Artarski choose really competitive and down to earth pricing for it. Dionysos is actually one of the few real bargains in ultra high-end audio when it comes to the price/performance ratio.
In designing their products Rumen take no prisoners. He always wants to create something different, musical and stand out. His research involved the actual acquisitions of wide array of most acclaimed products including legendary Audio Note Kondo, Wavac and other most exotic high-end audio products. He didn’t rest until the sound reached the level, that not only matched, but succeed the highest plane of these renowned machines.
With each new product Rumen Artarski creates a concept, that involves the in depth story. Rumen aka “Cesar” has an impressive character, that I had a chance to observe in action few times. He can draw out what is needed, elaborate and figure out the urgent for formulating the next steps. This is why everything results in such way...
At my factory visit I’ve witnessed many mind blowing things. Call me thrilled! Thrax Audio possess utterly impressive stock of most exotic parts coming from all parts of the world. From esoteric Japanese chockes, output transformers, tubes (Western Electric etc.) and a full warehouse with stunning number of prototypes that led to development of their current final products. Many of the products being developed along their research are still in the loop and waiting for further execution in getting finalized into the end products. I surely hope some of these see the light of the day. I’ve had a chance to listen to a few of them and they all represent the intriguing takes on the ultimate high-end audio reproduction from the different angles. More will be revealed in due time, but I can assure you that these are all special.
One of the biggest advantages of Thrax Audio is the slow, profound and in depth pace of the development. They really do their homework researching deeply into the subject matter. Rumen showed me different schematics, documentation and measuring equipment being used during the explorations and it shows why Thrax creations stand out so much. I’ve been around the world, at many of the big brands facilities and most fails short compared to the completeness and complexity of the Thrax Audio operations. Thrax can produce everything from ground up in house as their premises embraced design labs, research facility, their own CNC machinery, bead blasting premises, anodizing chamber, laser engraving etc. In that way they can project and explore all the smallest nuances of the development phases completely independently. That makes them very unique, firm and bold in their determination. This is a company to watch!
Lurking closer into the way Thrax Audio team work reveals a profound take on the technologies. Rumen mindset is a complex endeavor of constant contemplation, refinement and pushing the boundaries way over the standard norms. I’m always thrilled and highly respectful to the high end audio designers and companies paying the respect to the historical technical findings and the high end industry heritage. Too many high-end companies these days claims unjustified uniqueness and ego maniacally declares their superiority and ground braking solutions. How they can skip decades if not hundreds of years of building up of the industry history as it is today totally bewilders me. For such narrow thinking these relate most closely to Vienna lipizzaner horse blinders enrolling. This kind of thinking goes hand in hand with the analogy of the people who see themselves being materialized into this world without actual father and mother. As they would just come to the existence without any roots and history. Interesting phenomena… This is utter nonsense and a clear indication of bullshit marketing we see more and more. Rumen has no problem paying respect to the legendary audio designers like Kondo and Shisindo San. This demands a healthy attitude and gentleman mentality...
Answering emails, phone calls, private messages falls into my daily routine and more and more people are making their homework dead seriously when it comes to their beloved hobby. Audiophiles and music lover started to seriously research into the companies and their dealings. If they’re reaching for something that cost as much as very good car, small apartment of complete student funding plan, they want to feel safe with their audio investment. To lay it down realistically, its really not all about the funds being spent. People want to known the actual technical solutions and implementations of audio technology at the core of such luxurious, exotic audio products. It is exactly the same thing, which people demand when they’re into the contemplation phase connected to the analog timepieces and exclusive cars.
Along that, many of contemporary buyers are used to the dealings from other luxury markets. Their demands are not easy to be met. Like it or not, high-end audio already became a luxury industry of its own. As such, straightforward business operations and the customers care can never be of a second plan. Each high-end audio company will follow their own distinctive vision and in both short and long terms. Results will follow. What I can assure you, is the sophistication and high expectations of current consumers. I work a lot with Asian market and have many friends and followers there. Market in Asia (as well as anywhere else) changed rapidly past few years and most of the older high-end audio brands didn’t (or don’t want to) see the reality. Many of the buyers felt offended by the dealings of the certain companies they bought their (highly expensive) products from. A lot of them will never in life purchase again the upper class priced products only because of the way the companies treated them and of directions of their behavior took, as well as they’re offering nothing new, but eschewing the eschewed. I won’t lay down the names, but I trust my readers can easily decode from intelligible nature of the text. I trust in human perception of common sense and see the broad present audience as highly intelligent.
Why such prolonged elaboration above? Its needed for high-end audio to reshape into a healthy and prosperous industry of true high-end audio products and services. Thrax Audio represent a new wave and leading mentality in this regards with exemplary venture that inspires. New breeze should inspire competition awakening and defrost the closed loops.
MEET THE ORPHEUS
Leading to the product under my scope… The Thrax Audio Orpheus phono preamplifier. You could say I’m the analog fan and vivid vinyl enthusiast for more then three decades now. My quest for vinyl satisfying experience led me through numerous quests and explorations. This accounts for wide array of the differently designed and priced devices. From entry level, mid prices, upper high-end and exotic ones. I’ve travel my miles in a profound way. As always my findings are layed down directly and honestly. Factual reality translates to very few great sounding and performing high-end audio phono preamplifiers. Getting the audio signal form smallest scale mV output of the cartridge and keeping its original potency is complex art of itself.
For quite many of audio designers and manufactures this electric mechanics seems too easy. Their arrogance is actually bewildering. Designing a great sounding phono preamplifier is no simple task at all. The reality brings out a shockingly sobering state of the affairs. Most phono preamps just don’t cut it. As a rule, phono stages brings the noise down to a remarkable specifications being presented. In one popular strike companies love to kitten themselves with the galore of the technical data and such. Digging it deeper reveals nothing sublime. The real problem lay much more deeper. While reducing the noise they kill the music! Intricate nature of subtle, highly sensitive signal coming from the phono cartridge is uber prone to anything in the signal path. Every element of the execution of the circuit will affect the sound outcome profoundly. Everything and anything is crucial with such miniature scale transfer of the energy.
The true expertise and art reveal itself when all; low noise floor, transparency and musicality goes hand in hand. Here the vast phono preamplifiers offerings fails on grand scale. Stand out phono preamps are narrowed down to a very few real contenders when it comes to state of the art musical reproduction. One of such rare gems is Orpheus.
As with other Thrax Audio products the Orpheus is no happy accident. Its a labour of Rumens love and endless striving for the perfection in conveying music as it is. Rumen is an avid analog fan and it shows in grand way on each turn. Going beyond mediocre and trying to find the solutions that will lay down the path for the unrestrained musical reproduction is his clear sentinel role.
Orpheus explore the analog universe of vinyl in its own complex, unique and highly involving way. This phono preamplifier stand out above the usual fog surrounding products including highly acclaimed offerings coming from across the ocean and the land of the rising sun.
With Orpheus Rumen Artarski pushed things beyond typical technological solutions. Result surpasses the usual “tubey” sound being as a rule connected with the valve based phono high-end audio equipment. When things done right, tubes are only the carriers of the sound and do not act as a colorful or saturating devices. They can be as transparent as solid state counterparts when implemented right. This is of course not easily achievable, but its possible. Thrax Audio showed again clear focus and lay down the path of the future, where technology by itself is not a matter of pinpointing to anything. Thrax Audio quest is quintessential. True refinement of actual/factual high performance outcome via any technology should be subordinate to the reality. Real expertise is shown when the implementation of the solid state and tube technologies become bowed down to the one and only true master. The music! It is about the execution of pure musical flow, spatiality and rendition on the upper plane that recreates something special.
I’m not talking about sweet intoxication of the Van Gogh or Akira Kurosawa artistic palette. I’m referring to the true via medium, that can transparently convey the music close to the source and with the innovative technical solutions, real exploration of the materials, rethinking already know technology and embracing the real know how of today.
Thrax Audio Orpheus phono preamplifier shines with the torch of the the natural light. Nor saturated melahonic light. Nor modern led overly exposed lighting. What happens with the rendition of black vinyl via Thrax Orpheus is a palpable audio showcase of the ear catching sublime reconstructional anchor points. This complexity of focus points drives phono reproduction into the 21st century and evoke large emotional burst, that is most expected with the esoteric high-end audio equipment.
Exploring the rich past of analog releases really starts to matter, when reproduction is on the level of Thrax Orpheus. My listening notes declared surrender :). Finally the absence of usual blinders and thick curtains. Transparent window came to existence.
THE ORPHEUS CHALLENGE
When considering the addition of a phono stage to the Thrax product line Rumen Artarski wanted to do something different, encapsulating his vision and keeping the highest standard for what brand stands for. During the evaluation of the different approaches of phono amplifiers implementing vacuum tubes Thrax Audio team concluded as a strongest fact, that using the feedback bring down performance. This is connected to the oversimplification on many points of the circuit design.
As a result or R & D passive equalization was chosen as only reference.
Passive equalization is a complex universe of its own due to is severe losses in the signal domain. Such approach requires either very high gain from amplifying stages or addition of multiple stages with the moderate gain. 5mV MM cartridge needs a level of 100x amplification to reach 0.5V on the output of a phono stage, but wait! Its only half the story being revealed. The RIAA curve is very specific. At 50Hz the required amplification rises to a 10x more, making the total of 1000x. Dealing with all these loses is troublesome and in the real world you’ll have to work more closely to 2000x amplification factor with the phono stage, that equals 66db for MM.
This can be easily achieved with well design three stage circuit. Still, RIAA curve equalization attenuates the signal 100x at high frequencies and 10x at mid ones. If the first stage has an amplification factor of 20 to 30, following stage will receive a signal in the high frequencies that is 3 to 5 times lower than at the input! This is catastrophic for the noise!
To avoid this, input stage of 100x factor gain sound all fine, yet another problem comes to a focus. Miller capacitance of the input tube becomes significant and pushes the operation of the stage to unusable performance with involvement of the phono cartridges.
With cascode you can remedy this and reach the desired gain with very low input capacitance needed. Again the hidden price tag of adding a cathode follower stage to lower the very high output impedance of the cascode is complexity to design actually something useful and properly sounding. Most companies enroute to exact this path. Cathode follower does’t care much about the irregular impedance of the equalization circuit. All great, right!? Seems like a perfect deal and only high end solution. Just put to practice two of such stages, translating to a minimum of three tube sections per stage.
Taking things into the realms of exotic and technically more highly praised solution, the implementation of a passive RIAA constant impedance filter also known as LCR is brought to focus. What is the real difference then? The equalization network is seen as an ordinary resistor by the preceding amplifying stage and these points to a predictable and stable sonic virtues. All other networks have a different impedance at the different frequencies making the previous stage behavior variable according to the signal level and the frequency.
Thrax Audio R & D laboratory traveled miles and explored varied implementations of this LCR circuit. The reality kicked in. Déjà vu and copy paste all over again. They needed to rethink.
During the research, all the implementations where based on the Tango 600 ohm parts. 600 Ohm is a very high load for any tube under the stress. Best implementations adopted EQ network at the output making the sense for the low impedance. Bringing to a focus 1V at its output at 10kHz this translates to a whooping 100V at its input relate to 15W power in the EQ network!
No phono stage ever delivered this approach as its an dead end guaranteed. The only proper way to reach it was with raising the impedance to the usable level where it could be driven with the average input tube. Consequently the output impedance also raises and the EQ could not be at the output stage, demanding a follower stage.
Thrax Audio pushed this design by implementing a cascode input and a cathode follower feeding an LCR network and another cathode follower for the output minimizing the the usually minimum of six tube stages down to the four.
Elaborating further. LCR network behaving as a resistor could be used as the load resistor for the input tube stage. By using the appropriate tube and LCR impedance the input stage could drive the LCR network directly and provide enough gain to take the signal to a level on par with the input, yet its being equalized. Second gain stage was added to match the level to the required output. This unique topology implements just two tube sections to achieve the same goal and both tubes and the impedance of the equalization network are specific for each design. All these finally resolved via the shortest signal path with each stage being optimized for a particular task. LCR network was isolated from any external influence by locating it between the two amplification stages.
At the point of finalizing the desired signal path also the practicality needed to be resolved. For the creation of truly universal tube phono equalizer built in step up transformer for MC cartridges was mandatory. A step-up transformer is not universal, so for vast variety of cartridges a dedicated transformers are needed and Orpheus is using switchable coils. Different combinations of primary and secondary windings produce different step up ratios and load impedances. In that way user can select the proper setting depending on the cartridge being used. With multiple inputs of different cartridges usually one would need to switch the settings each time the input is changed. Orpheus microprocessor control remembers the settings for the selected input/cartridge combination. Talking about simplified complexity!
I cannot recall any similar variety of the multitude tonearms and cartridges optionality in a phono preamplifier. Orpheus shortest signal path solution impresses on same level. Inspiring!
“Power supply uses toroid with silicon carbide rectifiers. Each channel in the second gain stage has a constant current fed shunt regulator with extra low noise integral circuit reference.
To interface to both MC and MM type cartridges our design uses of a built in Lundahl cobalt amorphous step-up transformer for the MC types. It is switchable for low and high impedance providing for appropriate load and gain to the wide variety of cartridges and is bypassed in MM mode.
Our input gain stage is based on a super low noise D3a German tube used as a triode. It provides the necessary gain and output impedance to feed the custom passive LCR RIAA correction.
The equalization is done with high precision custom made coils wound with special Cardas wire by Sowter in the UK and and silver capacitors. The equalization is passive and is followed by another super low noise tube (a Russian triode similar to WE417) loaded by a Hashimoto transformer to bring the signal up to the necessary level and provide complete isolation of this sensitive circuit from the following components in your system.
The main PCB is damped to minimize the micro-phonic noise that might be picked up by the sensitive vacuum tubes.”
The Orpheus represent an epitome phono stage joining both, the upscale performance with great functionality.
On the front panel you’ll find five buttons; on/off, phase, left and right input selection and mute.
On/off button is placed on the left side of the front panel. Once pressed, red LED will blinks for some 20 seconds indicating, that its being warmed up. Once finished and ready, the red light transforms to green. Analog heaven awaits :).
Orpheus offers practical functionality with dedicated commands. Most audiophiles still didn’t realize the hubris of wrong phase and the same thing prolongs to the high-end audio show setups. Its a disasters thing to tolerate! Luckily some phono preamps implants this and Thrax is no stranger…
Orpheus phase button button inverts the phase with the gentle press and phase setting remains stored for each source. Three source LED buttons will indicate the selected source number. When LED is green, this indicate the normal phase. Red LED light tells you when the phase is being inverted. I really loved the phase feature on the Dionysos and its the same with the Orpheus. This is not only very practical feature. Its a must. Such switch should be mandatory on any preamplifier, be it phono or linear.
Next very useful feature is mute button. Many times dust collects on the cartridge during the playback and it needs an instant attention. With the press of the button you can quickly just mute the signal without having to to turn the volume down. It goes the same for any on the fly tonearm settings and adjustments. If you don’t want them to be audible this is a quick and easy fix.
Now to the back side. There are three switchable inputs. You can connect two RCA and one XLR cables.
Each of the inputs can accept MM or MC sources. This is selected via the switches above each of the connectors. When MC source is in play, you can additionally use switch for low or high signal level.
For the RCA unbalanced output you can toogle the floating ground switch if you need to break the ground loop. You’ll find the same switch at the RCA output. Orpheus offers both balanced and unbalanced outputs, that are selectable via dedicated switch between them.
Low impedance floating outputs allows the longer cable connection without introducing more noise and hum. This comes handy, as many times a lack of space on dedicated audio rack demands the positioning of components farer away.
Orpheus is Rumen Artarski proud design creation. Front plate is an eclectic mix of timeless appeal, contemporary architectural cues and timeless traces of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
The absence of any visible screw resolves in a monument looks and interlocking aircraft grade solid aluminum joins into a one block striking design.
Bead blasted and silky anodized enclosure is completely produced in Thrax own facility and perfected to the maximum.
Orpheus feels solid, superbly designed and with aesthetics, that screams quality.
THE DEEPER STATE OF THE LISTENING
High-end audio is becoming more and more fragmenting in this ever changing world. With everything presented and high praised we actually need a profound directions, know how and extreme set of rules to ensure the viability and an actual critical working mass of truly potent products. As in this era subpoenas are rarely given, its about time for a phoenix like rise above the marketing schemes and we should strive for substantial, critical and objective direction.
Further step and fast forward thinking is needed. This is one of the reasons I’ve turned back to my classical roots starting (and planing) to associate more with musicians, composers and conductors. I do have my arsenal of skills, but if not in the constant association of thinking and doing alike, one too quickly falls into the sub world of quasi audiophile like judging being so popular and so void at present times.
Classical music and all the paraphernalia surrounding it, forms a unique, complex and sensible interactive and sublime sensual world of the music. Constant flow of subtle exchanges can trigger the listeners sublime sensual mechanism only by sending an unaffected signal. Dealing with the perplexed and most fragile sound is actually a mind boggling execution of state of the art tech and something that is not easily achieved. It shouldn’t be impaired at any step.
Its very similar to transmission of the radio signal. There are certain predetermined rules to be followed in order to transcribe the signal and make it palpable and making it understandable at the other end.
Transferring the week signal across the high-end audio system must remain entangled with the original musical message. As mentioned before, such task is highly underrated by many if not most high-end audio manufacturers.
Judging the quality of the results is both simple and of severe complexity. If the interactions with the original musical language is lost, then this translates into breaking the entanglement between the original message and audio signal. The real potency is lost. Without ensuring such reciprocation the real goal is missed and this is where the repeated failures in design do happen.
For me Thrax Audio products and especially the Orpheus phono preamplifier works uniquely in this regard.
Entering the point of pinpoint character materializing and sound determination of any phono stage is a risky business and a quest for an ardent mind.
Orpheus is an interesting juxtaposition of vintage and contemporary. The real difference comparing to the likes of Kondo, Shindo etc. is the absence of typical coloration. This is where the 21st century mindset comes to a practice. These days the utmost cherished skills opt for the technology regardless of being solid state or tube based and in a way, that can embrace the most important audio attributes density leveling at the plane of realistic behavior.
Especially with the classical music this is much easier to test and compare via live, un-amplified, acoustical music.
When stepping into the domain of ostinato and tuttis things become of sole upper echelon versatile nature. This is mandatory for the serious high end audio products; what to talk about the phono stages where at all levels everything is so delicate. Going further, let us take for example the opening ostinato pattern. You can find this as a schoolbook exemplary across the vast classical compositions. When ostinato is being played by the soloist sound reproduction will be of a satisfying level with the majority of so called high-end phono stages. Now… introducing more drama reveals a quick sinking under the weight of the given task. Some phono stages will also uphold and handle the pitch variations to a certain degree. Stepping up with the introduction of the ensemble or larger orchestra the needed juxtaposition will explode by its density and practically force a complete surrender with most of the phono stages. Highly prolific and enlightening nature of the Thrax Orpheus phono preamplifier kicks in here with full speed and it doesn’t stop yet…
Similar phenomena was further revealed within the introduction of a exotic classical compositions that embrace different non typical instruments creating more unorthodox timbres. Here again my prolonged night listenings came to the affectedness and evoke almost lucid dreaming propensities :). Orpheus magnetized and synthesized to a impressive extend the Arabic and Asian instruments, without sounding plain at any point. The blend was auspicious, non fragmented and colorfully volute. I did wonder where did I lost the competition’s pace… Hmmm.
But, why stopping at this point. We’re talking about ultimate high-end playback right!? The absence of rhythmic encompassed nature of music is as a fact presented with most of the high-end phono preamplifiers. Where is the needed ability of transcribing the sensual and empowering rhythmical nuances in service for ignition of our soulful listening to the state of satisfaction, relaxation and fulfillment? Where did all go wrong?
What is the real combination of attributes needed to create a stunning exploration of black vinyl? When the a proper liquidity is at play only then the high performance, high quality reproduction endures an active and potent interactive connection between the musical material and listener. This is where so called magic of the listening kicks in.
Thrax Audio strikes with unique realism in transcription and this is the key word I noted down repeatedly in my listening sessions. No matter the genre it was a shared highlight of a grand scale!
I’m sure anyone making it so far through the review, recognized the real unique position of the Thrax Orpheus. This is by no means your ordinary phono preamplifier. It conjures with the signal coming in from the cartridge with the delightful pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT) that can actually follow the music. We can often read about so called holographic sound stage, spatiality, transparency, there dimensionality, etc. Yet, what is the reality when you put such assumptions to a stress? With listening we deal with two entangled virtual sides. The real, so called bridge crossing will become objectively affective when the state of the other side, namely the listener will be instantaneously affected by the potency of the musical message, no matter how apart these two actually are. To simplify. Signal can travel through many of the components, yet if only one of them is lacking the real sensible ability to transcribe the original message it all stops, become impotent. And I’m not even going into the system synergy. Thrax Orpheus and Thrax components generally are able to create such a closed, objective loop. Yes, with tube based gear!
Its one of the biggest misconceptions to label tube based devices as colored. In a real world this is just a matter of proper design. When everything is designed in the right way sound moves away from typical valve attributes and operate in the domain of natural neutrality!
Like with the rest of the Thrax Audio products, Orpheus embraces two distinctive factors; music flow and stressless sound signature. Looking objectively and comparing it to a few of the upper echelon phono preamps I’ve tested recently, like for example Lamm Audio Lp-1 phono stage and Audio Tekne phono preamplifiers, the result is very perplexing with Orpheus. Lamm’s LP-1 attacks and explore the fast and dynamic minute shifts via three box design and Audio Tekne exemplary implements tube based design, that “ignores” typical sonic imprint, but comes with a matching price point, especially when you want to model up on the ladder.
So where does this leave Thrax Orpheus? Orpheus combines impressive amount of anchor points with intricate dynamic simplicity. I really cannot strap the sole labeling on to it. Its complex setting. There is no juxtaposition with Orpheus. It mates with the music for what it its and reacts in the modus of spot on timbre, color and pace. There is no flyaway to the over natural side which to oquickly resolve in hiss phenomena, as there is no not even a trace of lurking into the false tube pretentious character misuse. Tube leitmotif imprint is one of the most misunderstood facts. Stop and lock! Tubes generally sound neutral when correctly implemented! Its the lack of know how that causes typical non natural warm signature. This is where Orpheus vividly follows Rumen Artarski determination for perfection and implementation of the renowned Thrax Audio DNA. There are no quick shifts in Thrax Audio and it shows from tone to tone and from song to song.
In the world of exorbitant priced high-end gear Thrax comes at the price that encompass functionality, great involving performance, both high-tech and heritage audio DNA as well the most important factor; the emotional musical impact enriched by the power of unaltered message created originally by the musicians. This is what any ultra or high-end audio product should be recognized for. Nor for bling, nor for quasi high tech or useless expensive materials…
For opt for the bigger and crazier priced gear, I’m not really that free spirited in advising. There are quite some highly (crazy) priced phono preamps out there on the market and I haven’t explore them all yet, but I’ve had a luxury of trying and listening to quite some. What they do in most cases, is orienting the focus more into the very specific process of zooming onto the particular point. I’m not even sure how to pin point this down in palpable way, yet its wrong path or turn. It can be a logical result of designer voicing or simply a matter of circuit design choices. Fur sure different high-end audio systems needs a certain addressing in fine tuning and creating the balancing act. Often such ideas locks tightly the creation to the “typical” phono stage suiting to a certain need. Still! Shouldn’t be other way around!? Thrax Audio Orpheus phono preamplifier plays with the different tune. You’ll want to start your balancing system act with Orpheus and consequentially make your moves to the harmonized audio nirvana forming high-end audio setup.
It doesn’t matter how radical this all sounds. I’m advising to do the homework when it comes to the selection of the ultra high-end gear, especially phono preamplifiers. Reproduction of the tiniest signal is utterly fragile, everything matters down the path of the creation and every little, tiniest bit will affect the outcome. There are no late sorries, remedies or cures to fix this. No exotic line preamplifier can rewake damaged, precious and fragile signal coming from the cartridge. Its as simple as it get. If you want to do it right, do it from the scratch.
Yes, I do love Thrax gear. For a bright change, here’s a daring company and charismatic/visionary Rumen Artarski pushing the limits of the ultra high-end audio approach. Luckily, Rumen aka “Cesar” altruistic nature bring Orpheus at the steal price making it a real bargain compared to what you’ll have to pay for the highly pricey deja vu phono stage offerings these days.
If you lusting after a phono preamplifiers with true ultra high-end DNA, crazy amount of R & D, great functionality and with the sensible pricing, Thrax Audio Orpheus is leading the game, again, by far. I’ve drawn my conclusion exactly the same with Thrax Audio Dionysos preamplifier and still stand cemented on it!
Thrax Audio Orpheus phono preamplifier is an exemplary product emphasizing how ultra high-end projects and end products should be materialized in a final product. I don’t want to repeat myself, yet still. I do wish wholeheartedly that more companies would follow this path as it would speed up the high-end audio lost direction and align it to the dedicated orbital route.
As we’re are rapidly moving into the realms of luxury market (or we reached the point already) the level of not only quality, but also proud ownership must meet the highest standards from all perspectives. Orpheus phono stage mesmerized me with the timeless appeal inside out!
Orpheus is an iconic piece of electronic art, with rich and vivid sonic performance and a positive energy, which can instantly excite with the musical reproduction. In the 21st century and especially in upper echelon high end audio its all about ultimate performance and being authentic.
Orpheus radiates with the aura of most exotic Japanese gear but in the absence of sky-high prices and sonic signatures. In the footsteps and with the spirit of the legendary Japanese giants, Thrax Audio stepped into the timeless heritage. They're establishing high-end audio legacies, relating intimately with the passion for the music and committing to the language of musical realism. I’ve been affected with the Japanese tradition of finest craftsmanship from my early age and cherish this across all life's involving acts. For this strong traditions, the creational path is as sacred as the finalized product. They take a lot of pride in this path and its something it strongly reflected with the way that Thrax Audio venture operates.
Ultra high-end audio products should in their core opt for intrinsic musical potency, and not solely for its potential monetary value. Orpheus is of such kind and in absence of sadly established kieselguhr filtering nature of most phono preamplifiers.
For what it represent and what it stands for I should be brain freeze not honoring the Thrax Audio Orpheus Phono preamplifier. Mono & Stereo Editor Choice Award impact!
Text and photos: Matej Isak
Price: 16200 €
Built in step up transformer
Programmable gain and loading
Accepts both balanced and unbalanced input signals on RCA and XLR connectors
Switches ground plane with input selection preventing ground loops
Programmable ground arrangement for large systems
Balanced and unbalanced output
Programmable absolute phase per input
Shunt regulated constant current PSU for lowest noise and best dynamic behavior
Choke input rectifier for lowest switching noise
Custom vacuum encapsulated signal relays for ultimate sound and reliability
Interlocking solid aluminum chassis
High reliability and MIL spec parts
2 x RCA or XLR - MM or MC phone cartridges
RCA or XLR
432W x 400D x 120H mm
2 x D3a amplification
2 x 6C4П amplification
THRAX AUDIO LTD.
251 Okolovrasten pat,
Bulgaria Telephone: +359 2 988 95 55
FAX: +359 2 988 95 56
Mobile +359 888 561 269