Written by 5:18 am Preamps

Sound or Looks?

Steven Stone looks at the audiophile equivalent of the lady or the tiger…

AR-which1.jpgTime for a summertime, low-stress, easygoing audiophile pop quiz…

You have a choice of two preamps. One looks drop-dead beautiful, ergonomically elegant, and performs on an average level sonically compared to other similarly priced units. The other is very plain with minimal features and a project box finish, but performs sonically on a par with the finest price-no-object designs.

You must pick one, which would you choose?


I’ll go first, as is my prerogative. I’d pick the drop-dead gorgeous preamp for my “public” room-based system, but I’d choose the hair-shirt ugly duckling model for my computer audio nearfield system. Yes, I know this answer wouldn’t be allowed in court (or the original either/or question), but horses for courses, says I. “Best” is such a relative term…and sometimes you’re in the mood to crawl around disconnecting and reconnecting wires to achieve the ultimate levels of sonic refinement. Other times you just want to push a couple of buttons, relax, and listen to beautiful music.

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