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Preamplifiers - RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 review

RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01

 

100% Symetrical Tube Preamplifier


 

Serial number of the units reviewed:
Preamplifier RISTEA AUDIO model PS-V01, version « AT », Serial number : Five-003-AT
Price : from 7.200€ to 9.200€ depending on version and options - Optionnal MM/MC Phono Module : 700€

Associated equipment:

Turntable REGA RP10 with a SUMIKO Blackbird MC cartridge
Phono Preamplifier: CLEARAUDIO Basic Plus with the optional Clearaudio « ACCU+ » battery power supply module

Tonearm: Rega RB2000 with Factory upgrade
Line Preamplifier: Threshold Fet-10 He fully upgraded (with the Level 2 Power Supply upgrade, more sophisticated than the Level 1 of the linked article)
Power amplifiers : Threshold SA/6e class A monoblocs
Loudspeakers: PROAC Response R3.8
Vinyls: Stan GETZ / Joao GILBERTO, « The best of two worlds», 180gr,Audiophile Re-Mastering, Columbia PC33703
             Stan GETZ « Big band Bossa Nova », 180gr, Pure analogue Audiophile Mastering, Verve V6-8494
             Stan GETZ / Laurindo ALMEIDA,
180gr, Pure analogue Audiophile Mastering, Verve V6-8665
            Jeanne MAS, « Les crises de l'âme », EMI 7918171 / PM264
            Jeanne MAS, « Johnny Johnny », Club Mix 2004, 12'' 45rpm, 250Bis Music, BM120
            Shoji YOKOUSHI Trio plus Yuri TASHIRO, « Greensleeves », TBM5011
            Various Jazz Artists (see text for detail), DENON JAZZ in New York, ST-6004

Power Conditionner: Blacknoise
Rack and various accessories: Taget Audio, Euphonia D30 cones, 5 x granite plates > 15kg
Modulation Cable Phono Preamp / Line Preamp: Tempo Electric Argent with oversized Teflon jacket, Gauge 30 with Eichmann Silver Bullet RCA connectors
Modulation Cable Line Preamp / Power Amps: Signal Cable Silver Resolution with Eichmann Silver Bullet RCA connectors
Loudspeaker Cable:Anticables Level 2 Performance Series

Power cables: 5 x JORMA Super Power Cord

 

Threshold Lovers is proud to be the first website across the world to present you this new preamplifier belonging to the family of the very best tube preamplifiers. Its name is RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01.

This brand is probably unknown for you, and that is nprmal because this preamplifier is the first RISTEA AUDIO device released to the market. So why this preamplifier could be a mjor event in our HiFi world for the year 2014 ? for many reasons that we focus on herebelow.

 

We believe to be in a goood position at Threshold Lovers to talk about high end preamplifiers, because we are equipped with a few reference devices such as the JADIS JP80MC Anniversary Edition (upgraded) or the THRESHOLD Fet-10HE fully upgraded. We also regularly review various high end preamps. Consequently it is easy for us to identifiy a product that points out a few exceptional qualities, meaning that it is not just « one more preamp on the market » but a device that really brings something new or belongs to the very best devices available out there.

 

A review of a new preamp is always very interesting for us, because we believe that the preamp is an extremely important device in the chain. But most of the time, the premps that we review are just « on more preamp » with nothing outstanding, and sometimes we even do not publish the review.

 

The RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 that we review to day is a competely different animal : we have followed its genesis since the begining, and its musical qualities are truly outstanding. In its price range, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to find a competitor able to reach its musical qualities...

 

 

1-.THE DESIGN OF THE RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01.

 

The principles that have guided the design and the build of this preamp are far from what we find today on 99.9 % of the HiFi devices. Even on the electonic preamps costing more than 20k€, there are too many shortcomings, too many cost savings on the parts, too much attention paid to the look and not enough of what is inside the box : this is probably the major reason for which the High Fidelity market has declined since the 90 's.

Here, the manufacturer is a small one, and his goal is different than the usual profit based approach : he wants to create the best and most musical preamp in its price range (and over) : he does not target a high R.O.I.. We find this approach only with the emerging manufacturers : when the financial director or the cost controller begins to decide instead of the engineers, the company makes huge profits but the clients face huge disappointment...and change for another supplier...

 

In addition when you know more about its designer background, you will read this article with a lot of attention...

Threshold Lovers knows very well the designer because he undertakes the aftersales service for a lot of the most respected high end brands : JADIS, THRESHOLD, KRELL, MARK LEVINSON, AUDIO RESEARCH, are a few brands amongst those that have been regularly repaired for years by this designer. We are unable to count how many audiophiles we have recommended POWER ELECTRONICS as one of the most qualified engineer to repair or revised their beloved devices.

 

A few of our own electronics have fixed or tuned by POWER ELECTRONICS, so we know the quality of the work that is achieved by this designer...

The build quality of this preamp is just outstanding : it is the equivalent of what we could find on the JADIS, KRELL or THRESHOLD fiveteen years ago ! this is a true compliment because the brands that currently propose this kevel of build quality are so rare that your 2 hands are largely enough to count them.

 

The RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 is available in 3 versions :

  • Version PS-V01 « N » : this entry level version is equippped with a manual high quality ALPS potentiometer
  • Version PS-V01 « AT » : this version is equipped with the best attenuators currently available, the famous GOLDPOINT, the same that we have used for our THRESHOLD Fet-10He competition upgrade.
  • Version PS-V01 « IR » : this version is equipped with a complete remote control, able to pilot both the volume level and source inputs.

 

The list price is shown herebelow :

  • Version « N » : €7,200
  • Version « AT » : €8,500 with the GOLDPOINT attenuators
  • Version « IR » : €9,100

 

A truly excellent Phono MM/MC module is available as a €700 option.

 

Provided its excellent build quality, its 100 % symetric design (very rare nowdays) and the parts quality, we expected the price to be twice this... A price over 15k€ would have been considered as a normal price for this preamp.

 

Here are the manufacturer specifications :

 

Type 100% pure Symetrical Tube Preamplifier
RCA inputs Phono MM/MC (RCA), XLR available as an option
CD (RCA)
Aux 1, 2 & 3 : both RCA and XLR (not an option)
Symetrical XLR inputs Aux 1, 2 & 3 : both XLR and RCA available (not an option)
Output 2 RCA outputs and 2 XLR outputs
Output voltage: 2V to 2.5V peak to peak (for a 250mV input)
Impedance 470 kohm
Dimensions Preamplifier: D=36cm, W=43cm, H=10.5cm / Power Supply: D=28cm, W=17,5cm, H=9cm
Weight 13,2 kg total (Power Supply alone: 4.2kg).
AC main voltage 115V-230V, 50-60Hz, Consumption: 45VA

 

 

 

2-/.THE POWER SUPPLY.

 

The look of the Power Supply module, as the one of the preamplifier cabinet, is superb : the chasis is made of a black brushed aluminium with the text in a stunning gold color. The hand written style of the font matches perfectly with the « tube spirit » of this preamplifier.

PS_front_small.jpg

The Power Supply is located is a separated chassis linked to the preamplifier by an umbelical cord.

PS_front_back.jpg

This Power Supply has been carefully tunned. After its sophisticated design (a part of it is not shown in the P.S. photo because it is located in the preamplifier itself in order to be as cloase as possible from the critical parts of the preamp), the Power Supply has been optimized by lessoning to the musical differences brought by different parts or cables:this is described at the end of this article in the updated section.

PS_internall.jpg

The P.S. supply delivers 360V and 16V to the preamplifier stages.

 

 

3-/.THE PREAMPLIFIER ITSELF.

 

Our version was the black one, and honestly it is superb. The cabinet has the same look than the P.S. one. All the screws are inox, and the front buttons are located slightly into the front plate. The LEDs are nicely small and light with a delicious blue...

preamp_front.jpg

 

The serious things begin with a look at the rear plate, and more precisely to the various connectors. The PS-V01 a 100 % full symetrical preamplifier on every input, so each input has an XLR connector, obviously dubbed with a RCA gold plated connector.

preamp_back.jpg

 

The chassis is closed by a lot of Secur'Torx srews, and when it is opened, you discover an engineering that is not common at all nowdays !

 

preamp_internal01.jpg

 

The above photo shows a lot of interesting things :

-the preamp is splitted in 2 parts : on the right the power supply capacitors filtering the voltages received from the power supply cabinet. These capacitors avec made by NICHICON and certified 105°C. The other part on the left, is dedicated to the amplification stages.

 

-the next (very) interesting thing is found only on the « AT » version : there are the best attenuators available, the GOLDPOINT mini-V, instead of the classical (but still very good) ALPS potentiometers.

preamp_goldpoint.jpg

-but if you look even more in detail, yo u can see that these 2 attenuators are two STEREO models ! this is extremely rare on the market, and it is due to the fact that the RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 is a true and 100 % symetrical preamplifier : therefore you have to amplify both the positive and negative voltages on each channel.

 

This high end design has obviously a cost : you just need to have a look on the GOLDPOINT website to see that these « state of the art » attenuators are really expensive. And compared to the classical ALPS potentiometers, they do not belong to the same category of parts...

If one of our members has a doubt regarding the quality of a given attenuator, he can contact us : there are a few attenuators around that look wonderful but have a poor musical performance...

 

The preamplifier stages are built according to the highest possible standards. With the exception of the JADIS JP80MC that is one of our references and uses « on air » cabling and therefore does not use a printed circuit board, the PS-V01 uses the very best quality available :

  • the printed circuit board is of the highest standard : an incredible thickness of 2,4mm, with large routes : just try to find the equivalent in a modern preamp …
  • the printed circuit routes are gold plated (24K) using a catalyse process and benefit from a 10 years of warranty by the manufacturer.
  • the parts are of the highest standard : 105°C certified capacitors, high quality resistors, etc...
  • MUNDORF Gold/Silver, KIMBER and other best available cabling (we are not authorized to give more names)
  • OCC cryogenized (*) copper cables. (*) meaning that the OCC cables are treated with a very low temperature process.
  • input source selector using different high quality relays 

 

it is difficult to achieve a better design than this !

 

If you look carefully at the printed circuit board, you discover that the designer uses the same techniques than with an optical drive to push away any problems due to the vibration...

 

There are a few pther techniques that we committed to not talk about in our review.

 

The tubes used in this preamplifier are :

  • 2 x ECC82JJ or EH GOLD (input stage)
  • 2 x E88CC or ECC88JJ or EH GOLD (line stage)
  • 2 x ECC82JJ or EH GOLD (output stage)

 

Please note that the precise brand of each tube may change in order to improve the final musical performance. We have no doubt that the future owners will try various 'high end' equivalent tubes...

 

As a conclusion, the build quality and the design are outstanding, and we know no other preamplifier in its price range (7.500€ - 9.500€) that can compete with this PS-V01 regarding these areas. The RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 is far above our expectations.

For its 1st commercial device, RISTEA AUDIO has achieved a true exceptional champion. In French we say a « tour de force »...

 

 

III-.THE LISTENING SESSIONS.

 

Before talking abour the listening sessions, be aware that the finaltuning of the RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 has be done via meticulous listening sessions, in association with state of the art devices such as :

  • GENESIS 2.5, GENESIS 5 and GENESIS 350SE Loudspeakers
  • MARTIN LOGAN CLX Loudspeakers
  • JPS-2 and JPS-2S (symetrical), THRESHOLD Fet-10He (fully upgraded)
  • JADIS JP-200, THRESHOLD and KRELL amplifiers

 

The PS-V01 has been longly tuned until the musical results match what was expected from a so well designed preamplifier, and justify an association with these state of the art devices.

This preamp has clearly been designed to deliver a lot of emotion and musical nuances to its future owner...

 

In order to detect the muscial qualities of this RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01, we have lessoned to the same discs than for the REGA RP-10 review, the top of the REGA line. We have also used our Threshold Fet-10He with the level 2 of the Power Supply upgrade, a more sophisticated upgrade than the « Competition Upgrade level 1 » but it is not yet described on our site.

Our PS-V01 was not equipped with the (truly excellent) phono board, so we have used our CLEARAUDIO Basic + phono preamp with its optional Battery module to feed the line stages of the RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 in order o keep a stable comparison point for this review..

 

We started our listenng sessions with Stan GETZ / Laurindo ALMEIDA, 180gr, Pure analogue Audiophile Mastering, Verve V6-8665, that we know to be slightly coloured but nevertheless far better than most of the vinyls around...

 

We have felt the same muscial feelings, the same satisfaction than with our Reference Preamplifier, the Threshold Fet-10He fully upgraded. The music flows out of the speakers with ease and evidence. There is no one bit (sorry it's vinyl, so there is no one note...) lost by the PS-V01, and we believe that the musicians are in the room... The music is alive.

The punch is another quality of this preamp, and the REGA RP-10/RB2000/SUMIKO Blackbird combo can shine as there is no loss between what they send to the preamp and what the preamp pass through the amplifiers.

 

The bass domain is particularly surprising for a tube preamplifier : the sophisticated Power Supply of the RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 is certainly a contributor to this performance. The bass is both punchy, and alive in the sense that a lot of nuances are delivered to the amps, at a level of quality that cannot be found on the other preamplifiers around 10,000€ (more or less 10,000$).

 

We should also notice that the impedance of the 2 Stereo GOLDPOINT attenuators has been carefully chosen : the user has a large range of tunning available, a particularly important point when attenuators are used instead of potentiometers. Just perfect.

 

In order to appreciate if the other domains, medium and highs, are as good as the bass one, we have waited for the following vinyls : Stan GETZ / Joa GILBERTO, « The best of two worlds », 180gr, Audiophile Re mastering, Columbia PC33703, and Stan GETZ with Guest Artist Laurindo ALMEIDA, 180gr, VERVE V6-866. These vinyls are les coloured than the first one and have a far better mastering.

 

Here we began to take a lot of pleasure and the « foot taping » syndrom is generalized to all the auditors. They look one to each other with a smile that explain more than the words how this preamplifier makes the music alive ! You lesson to the music, NOT to the electronics !

 

The apetizer and the first course are eaten, so it is time for the main course. Shoji YOKOUSHI Trio plus Yuri TASHIRO, « Greensleeves », TBM-5011 : nothing less than one of our favorite vinyl ! For us, this vinyl is as the other vinyls, the same than the Beluga caviar is compared to the lompe eggs...

The question is : will the PS-V01 confirm its outstanding performance, or will it conceed that it is not totally at the same level than our current references (Fet-10 He upgraded and JADIS JP-80Mc Anniversay Edition) ?

 

No suspense. The RISTEA AUDIO PS-V01 does perform as well as our references. And it is totally unbelievable at its commercial price level : 10k$ ! From bass to upper highs, the music is liquid, the emotion is there.

 

Regarding the manufacturing quality, the verdict is the same. The printed circuit board is very thick, one of the highest grade that we have ever seen. The DIYers will find enough space to change some parts, or to tweak it (if necessary ? we doubt...) and a very robust printed board that should be still operational when your daughter will retire...

The separated Power Supply, the two stereo GOLDPOINT attenuators, the cabling, etc..., we know no other commercial preamp that brings so many high quality parts for this price.

 

Finaly, the 100 % symetrical design is extremely rare on the market, regardless of the price : it will be very difficult to find a competitor.

 

This preamplifier is designed and handcrafted by RISTEA AUDIO. It is distributed by POWER ELECTRONICS, 32 rue Chateauneuf, 06000 NICE – France – Tel : +33.6.1771.,6435. Email : ristea.audio@gmail.com

 

The manufacturer informs us that you can get a trial with a caution.

 

TL_5stateart.jpg

 

This review has been performed by Nounours - February 2015.

 

The manufacturer informs us that you can get a trial with a caution.

 

 


 


Creation date : 07/06/2014 @ 20:07
Last update : 05/04/2015 @ 21:56
Category : Preamplifiers
Page read 259 times


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