Sunday, June 19, 2005

Aesthetix Saturn Calypso pre-amplifier

Source: Stereophile July 2005

Michael Fremer's listening notes in Stereophile were very positive - and informative as he compared Calypso with VTL TL-7.5 and Musical Fidelity kW pre-amps. The speakers were no slouch either. Instead his new reference Wilson Audio's Puppy 7s he used this time Wilson's MAXX2s.

Actually the Calypso was "Fremered" by Mikey. "Not since the VTL TL 7.5 was in my system have I experienced such mesmerizing midband richness unmarred by thickness and congestion." Furthermore, "... midband presentation was everything I expect from an all-tube circuit: rich, colorful, harmonically involving ... without sounding ... overly "golden" or romanticized." He also observed that while Calypso's midrange over-performed his current reference, MF kWP, the kWP bettered Calypso in transient attack. In furher comparison with two other pre-amps, he noted that the Calypso's bottom-end performance had more extension and control than VTL, and kWP "was still somewhat more "punchy"."

Fremer found spatial presentation and dynamics equally convincing. The only matter worth of criticism was "... it might have missed the last bit of expansive air and resolution you can find in some pre-amps costing far more - but not in all of them." Conclusion: "One of the most enjoyable, musically satisfying preamplifiers I have has the pelasure of reviewing."

Viewpoint: I wrote about Calypso in April. Sum-up: Although Robert Harley in The Absolute Sound (TAS 146) praised this pre-amp, some users evidently have experienced tube problems and excessive noise. As for the latter issue, Mikey experienced none of that. In fact he found that the Calypso performed flawlessly during his two months review period, and was quiet: "Tube rush? Never heard any."

Fremer also observed quite interesting point during his review. With MAXX2s, he noted that the Calypso with the same manufacturer's phono pre-amp Saturn Rhea wasn't producing the ultimate magic, nor was Musical Fidelity's kWP pre-amp with MF's own phono pre-amp. Using MF's kW power amps, he found the most musically enjoyable system building occured when the Calypso was combined with MF phono pre-amp, and MF pre-amp with Manley Steelhead phono pre-amp. Personally I suspect any seasoned audiophile has learnt that while a manufacturer's components are voiced to support and complement each other, sometimes synergies between components from different manufacturers enforce more particular virtues a melomane is seeking.

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