The fall/winter weather five
thousand and a half feet high in the Rocky Mountains offers crisp clean air, low
humidity and pristine pale blue skies.
The sound was as I hoped; music filled the room
and seemed to energize the air in a way different from any driver driven source.
Serendipitously this visit coincided with the début of a new Sanders
Preamplifier. Prior to this show Roger Sanders offered two separate components,
a Line Preamplifier and a Phono Amplifier. This new
component is a preamplifier with a phono stage; it has no model number because
it replaces the two older components. It remains now as the only Sanders
Preamplifier in their line.
Note: There was a time when describing how a
thing like an audio preamplifier worked was fairly easy, those days are gone.
Now we can find audio components that have single controls that can perform
The Sanders Preamplifier is available with two different front panels made from 3/8 inch thick aluminum stock.Choose either a black anodized fascia or the version I received that has a brushed satin aluminum face. At the center of the front panel is a horizontal elliptical depression that compliments the design of the Sanders line of power amplifiers. Within this elliptical (scooped out) depression, there is a line of seven source/input select push buttons. They are labeled from left to right, Balanced (input), Phono, CD, Video, Aux, Processor (loop) and a very unusual Mono select function. This function is useful for checking phase and channel balance. A blue LED lights up just above each of the five main push buttons when one of these sources are selected. Continuing to the right side of the front panel is an elliptically shaped blue LED display containing a two digit numeric readout. Scaled in decibels, this two-digit display normally indicates volume (main) for the source you have selected.
Starting at the left side of the front panel there is an
unusual multi function volume control. The shape of this control reminds me of a
dresser draw knob. When the volume control is turned, it feels as though
it has soft detents. Each detent represents a one-dB change in volume with a
maximum range of one hundred Decibels. This control is unique in several ways.
It is actually a three function optically encoding volume control sent to a
microprocessor. Unlike a mechanical control, it does not have stops when rotated
either fully clockwise or counterclockwise. The first function of this control knob is
as a standard two-channel volume adjustment. However, this same control knob
performs two additional and separate functions. These are indicated by the
words, "Main-Left-Right" (channels). When the knob is pushed inward, you can
lower the level/gain of the left channel. A white LED to the left side of the
two-digit decibel (gain) display will indicate when this function has been
selected. A second push of the same knob will allow you to lower and adjust the
right channel volume level as indicated now by a red colored LED. This channel
adjustment can also be used to shift and center the performance between the
speakers by lowering the volume of the louder channel.
Let us say you want to lower the right speaker and by so doing
move the soundstages center a bit to the left. To get to the right channel you
will need to push in the volume control knob two times. When you start out the
display will read the decibel level of the right channel as double zeros. The
red led comes on to indicate you have selected the right channel adjustment. Now
turning the control knob counterclockwise will decrease the right channel gain.
The readout will change from the zero starting point to a minus (-) decibels
number. The thing to remember is by pushing in the control knob once and then a
second time you can access first the left and then the right channels
separately. However, adjusting the level of each source input is done
differently. Specifically, to adjust the level of a source input, you must press
the appropriate source button simultaneously. Following this procedure will
allow you to equalize every separate input source to play at the same
comparative level. Then you will be able to change the level of that input up
(by as much as 18 dB) or down (by as much as 99 dB) to get it to match the
levels of the other inputs.
At The Back
The volume control adjusts the levels of all the output
connections simultaneously with one exception. There is a processor button that
toggles between a video processor and whatever main input is selected.
Therefore, you have one set of unbalanced fixed level outputs available. These
can be used to feed a recording device or digital processor. This processor
input is a special "Pass Through" device at unity gain; the volume control has
no effect on it. Whichever input you select will appear at this processor
output and can be recorded. You can use the level control to adjust the loudness
of the preamplifier system without it affecting the recording level.
Farther to the right are the Input connections. These are pairs of Gold Plated RCA female jacks labeled: Out, In, AUX, Video, CD, PHONO, and one pair of XLR connectors and lastly a chassis grounding lug.
This is a Sumiko Blue Point Special with a solid ruby cantilever and Microridge diamond stylus. Eventually, that is after a few hours and a break to rest my weary eyes. I managed to position a nearly transparent Ruby cantilever and an invisible diamond where they should go.
Thank you Jim Fosgate for your wonderful Fozgometer!
The Diagram of the cartridge loading circuit looks like this.
There are DIP switch adjustments to vary the amount of
resistive and capacitive loading presented to the cartridge. The circuit is
dived into two halves, Right Channel and Left Channel. The first adjustment
would be to select either High Gain or low Gain to match the voltage output your
cartridge. In my case, I chose Hi-Gain to amplify the output of my Sumiko moving
coil cartridge. The next step is subjective, using this circuit will
adjust the sound of any cartridge however, this is done by ear and may vary
according to your personal preferences. And it may not agree with the
specifications provided by the manufacturer. In the diagram above, I added small
arrows to show the ON positions of the DIP switches I chose. By trial and error,
I set both channels of my moving coil cartridge at 1,000 pf. and 1000 Ohms.
Lastly, the manufacturer suggests you leave the preamplifier on to prolong its
To Ear Is
Human To Forgive Fatigue
Let us inject the human factor; my reference has always been
the sound of a human voice, because this I know intimately. Let's listen then to
Eva Cassidy, if you look for human emotion turned into music this is the place
to go. The first track is the Sting song Fields
of Gold, from the Songbird [CD-G210045]. Her words convey a
breathless plaintive pleading and longing for a time that has passed. The detail
is such that I can pick out the sound of the strings from two different guitars.
The sharpest transients are obviously from steel guitar strings. Less obvious is
the signature sound of Nylon strings from a second guitar. The strings transient
attack and the warmer harmonic overtone reveal the resonating wooden guitars. It
is all cutting edge detail and emotion clear for you to hear.
From the first few bars of the opening overture, I could hear
that the Carnegie Hall space on this recording was huge. I realized that my four
way AV Strata Mini speakers could not reproduce the expansive stage width of
this classic recording. Of necessity I swapped out the speakers with a pair of
two way Aurum Cantus. Leisure 2SE Monitors. Sitting on top of these
stand-mounted speakers are a pair of Mark Daniels Omni Harmonizers. These are an
add on tweeter with a 360 degree dispersion pattern and a frequency response out
to 40 kHz. With the added treble extension, the effect will push, back all of
the room boundaries.
The transformation was complete; my room now holds Carnegie
Hall and Judy Garland. All of the micro details of Judy's signature lisping
pronunciation and taunting timing are with me again. The scale of this
performance is wonderful. You hear a tiny figure inhabiting a vast space
controlling it all with an impossibly huge voice. On the track The Man That Got
Away, you can hear Judy's lips quiver with sibilance when she pronounces the
word, away. The audience
anticipates her every word and she plays with them and teases them as she delays
a breathless millisecond between words. She holds the gathered throng in rapt
anticipation at every pause; they hang, lips moving, waiting for the next
phrase. I shake my head once again remembering the incredible performer she was.
Rocket Strata Mini and Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE two way monitors on 24-inch
Cables: Kimber 12 TC
Cables: Monster Reference 4 pairs, two-½
meter, 1 meter and 1-½ meters
Power: Islatrol Industrial 20 Ampere ac line
Inputs: Five unbalanced inputs at line level using RCA connectors. One balanced input using XLR connectors. One unbalanced, RCA phono input with switchable gain, adjustable input loading, and RIAA equalization. One unbalanced video processor input with fixed level at unity gain for "pass-through" use.
Outputs: Two pair of adjustable, unbalanced, outputs at line level using RCA connectors. One pair of adjustable, balanced, outputs using XLR connectors (Pin 2 "hot"). One unbalanced, fixed level output at unity gain for recording using RCA connectors. All outputs may be used simultaneously.
Phono Input Impedance: Adjustable between 47 kOhms and 100 Ohms.