My CSP2 Review:
This is actually a review of an SE84CSP (the original
preamp before the anniversary edition shown at left.) that Steve
upgraded to a CSP2. Sonnically and part for part the same.
Nice to know owners of the original CSP aren't left in the dark
but offered an affordable upgrade path.
As I mentioned previously, I have never been a big fan of active
preamps. Most of the ones I tried over the years created a "haze" over
the music that I simply could not ignore ..... even some of the more
Steve Deckert suggested a couple of years ago trying one of his preamps
in my system, saying that I might be pleasantly surprised. The Camelot
Uther DAC that I have been using for the past few years was designed to
be used without an additional preamplifier ..... and I had the factory
bump up the output voltage to 4+ volts. Since it has remote volume and
balance control in the analog domain, I felt that I was good to go.
Based on the first few hours of listening, I would have to say that
Steve is telling it straight about the CSP2. The first thing I did was
play a couple of familiar well recorded tracks with cymbals. Good news
..... the shimmer and delicacy was intact ..... and better yet, the
body of the cymbal was much more evident than without the CSP2 .....
fuller and more realistic sounding with better presence.
fact, the presence of all instruments and vocals is greatly improved.
The dynamic contrast is much better as well. I'm thinking that it was
Zygi who said that the CSP2 improved the instruments at the back of the
soundstage ..... improving the clarity. I can vouch for that. It's
now easier to follow all of the instruments and vocals in a recording.
The tonal balance is much more natural. As an example, the body of an
acoustic guitar is now in much better balance with the strings.
The CSP2 works very well with my new Zanden DAC, which only puts out 1
volt. Out of curiosity, I put the Camelot Uther back in the system
..... first with the CSP2 and then without it. Despite the fact the
Uther was made to work by its lonesome, it sounded a little "dead"
after the CSP2 was removed. Since I make no claims as to knowing why
this would be the case, I won't try to explain the reason ..... but I
have no reservation in saying that the CSP2 made the Uther sound better
..... a lot better.
The only "downside" I have found to
this point is the tendency to push the Select a little too hard. With
the nicer tonal balance, the temptation to crank up the volume is very
real. Running the Parker Audio Behemoths and Decware SO Imperials in
parallel, the impedance is somewhere around 2.66 ohms. The Select
loves a low impedance load, but that is a lot of speaker for a power
amp with 2 watts per side. With the potential of 36 volts, you can not
only drive the Select to clipping ..... you can launch it from the
audio rack .....
Since the Select clips so gracefully, it's not too hard to get into dangerous water before you are aware of it .....
This will not be a problem once I am used to the total system. The
volume will be more than adequate for my needs and the CSP2 makes the
overall sound better by far.
Ah, yes ..... the bass ..... I know that everyone wants to know about the bass .....
Well, if you have speakers that are capable of producing it, the CSP2
will make you happy. Using only the Parker Audio Behemoths without the
SO Imperials, the bass is very nice indeed. I am now plainly hearing
instruments in the lower registers that were previously "background
instruments". With the Imperials in the system, the bass has a
wonderful presence that "pressurizes" the room in a very pleasant way.
The CSP2 also adds a nice amount of well controlled bottom end to Ed
Schilling's Horns ..... which were in the system for a good portion of
the listening sessions. In fact, the CSP2 might very well be the icing
on the cake for owners of The Horns and a Decware amplifier. The Horns
sound a lot "mightier" with the CSP2 pushing them.
everything else, I'm sure that the CSP2 will improve with break-in
..... but, based on what I have heard so far, I'm just sorry that I did
not make this move sooner.
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