Karan Acoustics Announces Master Collection LINEb Preamplifier
When Karan Acoustics looked to expand its Master Collection flagship range, a preamplifier was the first cab off the audio rank.
Succinctly named the LINEb, the new model shows the importance Karan places on the major audio component first in line in the signal chain. That's where, Karan rightly reasoned, the low-level audio signal whether sent in the digital or audio domains is at its most vulnerable.
Measured in terms of lost gain or added noise and distortion, the signal arriving at the preamp is like the first moment of creation, according to one colourful US reviewer. He has a point. If the LINEb lives up to its manufacturer's expectations, and it easily should with reference to Karan's formidable range, the processed signal should emerge at its outputs with the purity it arrived at this preamplifier's input connections.
As for those audio flakes advising that the best preamplifier net to no preamplifier is a passive volume pot, the rejoinder is “Yes, I hear what you say. But unless you have ultra high efficiency speakers you'll go searching for macro and micro dynamics in vain.”
The caveat is very few preamplifiers can be classed as “great”. Many are “good”, and most are well, “ordinary”. Why is a moot question. But delve into audio history, reach back as far as the late 1950s, and without argument, the Quad, Leak, Radford and other amps of the era still have exceptional sound quality, but each one of the preamps sounds very coloured.
Ditto for 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and current decade preamps. Whilst much more transparent and detailed than the older models, the contemporary preamps can't cut it musically speaking.
Enter a well-designed preamplifier the calibre of the LINEb. Built into one chassis and eschewing an external power supply the LINEb is presented in a heavyweight class chassis that has the same design cues as the brand's LINEa flagship model.
Internal housekeeping reveals meticulous layout and a roll call of red carpet parts such as Audyn-Cap Reference grade capacitors. Connectivity is bountiful and what you'd expect from a fully balanced circuit including single-ended inputs. You also get four balanced XLR and a pair of unbalanced RCA inputs along with two balanced XLR outputs, and an earthing on/off switch, which kudos to Karan Acoustics is a neat addition and frankly should be a feature more widely used.
A signal heading into the LINEb will encounter a 30 Kohms resistance. On its outwards journey it measures 90 ohms. As for gain, owners can select +6dB and +9dB. Frequency response resembles the surface of a crystal clear mountain pool on a still day and is dead flat throughout 20Hz to 20kHz +/-0dB.
Menu options abound and so do other useful features such as the brand's CMS Critical Mass Isolation feet and Karan's trademark chunky circular remote control.
The Karan Acoustics Master Collection LINEb preamplifier is available to order now priced at AUD $40,000 RRP.
One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.