Hattor Passive Pre and......

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MiniCoupeman
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Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby MiniCoupeman » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:05 am

Not so much a review, more a series of observations as I hope this will help those who may be sitting on a fence.

I have recently upgraded a few components and have been surprised by the result. Not surprised because it sounded 'better'. For what it cost it dam well should, but for how my perceptions/opinions have changed as a result.

Lets take the easy one first. A number of CU'ers use passive Pre Amps. Top choice is usually MFA but I know others are in the mix. I considered MFA but needed multiple input and outputs and ideally a step up for vinyl. The Hattor provided both and is nothing short of excellent. Build quality is up with the best, the remote is the best remote I have seen/used. The look and feel, never mind the sound is up with the very best. Highly recommended. I used a passive with X200's very successfully. Some felt the sound a bit 'grey'. No more, you have no excuse. If you are considering a passive, want it hand built to your specification and want it to improve the sound of your set up. Buy one.

In my 'old' hierarchy, generally, but not always, vinyl sounded best followed by iTunes via Audirvana or Amarra software then CD via the Chord DAC and finally CD via my Marantz (7007) DAC.

I brought and installed a Melco 'Music Library'. A Benz cartridge for my Michell Gyrodec and the new Passive Pre Amp. A CU'er supplied Tellurium XLR's to connect my new Pre(s) to each other and to my Nord amp.

The choice of music between CD via the Chord DAC and CD via the Marantz DAC is now hairbreadth thin and I can only put this down to the Marantz now being connected by XLR rather than phono. (Output to the Chord is via Co-Ax) This was almost an accident, not planned, simply a case of best use of inputs (and the XLR is Van Damm not exotic). Odd but most satisfying. The Marantz DAC is no longer the poor relation.

Music via the Melco and Chord DAC has taken a large step forward. It was much better than when music was stored on an external hard disc before the Hattor Pre went in. After the Hatter was installed it was/is in a different league. Wonderful sound, big improvement. The downside is that music management is not good. Compared to iTunes everything other app/software solution I tried (with one exception) is poor to useless. The exception is Rune which I have on a 15 trial but Rune wont 'see' the DAC output on the back of the Melco. If I understand the manual correctly (and I may not) I would have to route everything through my Mini Mac, thus defeating the major advantage of the Melco.

Finally we come to the cartridge. Try as I may, and I do because it represented a large capital outlay, my vinyl does not sound as good/enjoyable as the Melco/DAC source. It is a step up from my previous cartridge, it presents music well, great detail and soundstage but....lacks bloom, lacks bass definition, it falls short. It may 'run in' but I have now played over 30 sides of LP with no obvious improvement. My dealer puts this down to my arm (Michell Techno) and Phono stage (Leema). Updates to either or both are out of the question at present.

Have a nice day.

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby callen24 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:54 am

the hattor seems a good price, I think the mfa has creep up in price because it can often shame higher priced pre in certain systems
cyrus stream X2, CDi, Oppo HA-1SE, IMFs, Baby classicMk3, Mono X300,  VA Beethoven Baby Grand
ML binarystar digital, DenchXLR, RFCneptune RCA, VanDamme OFC spk cable. AG 500 ac regenerator and Townsend Seismic sink stand.
rega P3-24, psu, elys2, Clearaudio nano

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby crimsondonkey » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:58 am

Taking the pre out the equation for a second, in terms of sources your vinyl rig 'should' sound the best (assuming typical preferences). I think we may be back in the territory of electrical matching again. Often the difference between sound quality between sources is more about the match than it is about inherent component quality.

As I've said many times before, passives are great but need careful attention to the voltage input into them from sources and the the relative input sensitivity of your power amps. That's before we get onto impedance. If you list your items I'll have a look at the specs and see if there's anything obvious.

Also I imagine that the relative differences between sources might be compounded by the voltage input from using different cables - I assume your phono is RCA out which means it's likely carrying half the voltage of an XLR and that's before we get to comparing the actual output of your phono vs DAC.

I don't know the precise details obviously but I find the dealer pointing at your arm questionable to say the least.

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby callen24 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:41 pm

Also I imagine that the relative differences between sources might be compounded by the voltage input from using different cables - I assume your phono is RCA out which means it's likely carrying half the voltage of an XLR and that's before we get to comparing the actual output of your phono vs DAC.
.[/quote]

thanks for this CD
Given this I might try my dac to passive with an RCA, instead of XLR because with the DAC volume is very loud at 9 on the dial, but phono is at 12. Despite the relatively cheap turntable it does sound better, in some aspects.
cyrus stream X2, CDi, Oppo HA-1SE, IMFs, Baby classicMk3, Mono X300,  VA Beethoven Baby Grand
ML binarystar digital, DenchXLR, RFCneptune RCA, VanDamme OFC spk cable. AG 500 ac regenerator and Townsend Seismic sink stand.
rega P3-24, psu, elys2, Clearaudio nano

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby crimsondonkey » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:24 pm

Where possible and assuming input sensitivities and impedance etc are equal, XLR is a better bet for passives but you need the numbers to be honest otherwise you're just guessing. Lack of voltage into an insensitive power amp is the most likely cause of people not liking the sound of passives. Also you need to recognise that impedance varies with attenuation which is why passives sound best at zero attenuation (max volume) but that is neither ideal or the point of a preamp!

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby MiniCoupeman » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:12 pm

Thanks crimsondonkey. My kit is listed in my profile (all up to date) but you are right, my T/T is connected by phono. Michell deliver arms and T/T with a captive cable ( that they say is vg) this feeds my Leema phono stage £500 version) and some questionable but screened RCA's leads take the signal to the Pre. Can you point me in the direction of a fix? Even if I will have to wait for funds. As you may know by now, my electrical knowledge is limited. Thanks again

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby crimsondonkey » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:23 pm

It's not a fix, it's about understanding the inherent match/ mismatch between your phono stage and preamp. If it's operating passively then there might not be enough voltage between your Leema through the pre into your Nords.

However a couple of problems occurred when trying to research this. It's hard to find an official value for Nord's input sensitivity (apart from a forum poster stating it is 0.75v which is plausible but would prefer the manufacturer to state this and verify this is max output). Then looking at your profile it says you have a Hattor pre with an active valve stage. Unfortunately I can't find anything on Hattors website to indicate its input and output specs. Can you confirm whether your phono is connected and used passively or actively, and if there are any input/ output specs in any documentation you received with the amp and stage?

To add to this the Leema Essentials also doesn't indicate it's output voltage properly but does quote 0.25v.

If the two bits of data are representative then at max output the Leema can only drive the Nord by itself to one third of the Nords power - typically this explains a flat, undefined and bland sound through a passive. But I don't know how you have the pre and valve configured and don't know what it's doing to both voltage out into your power amps, or whats happening to impedance.

Any further details you can share could shed more light.

If you borrow a phono stage with stronger output that would be interesting as I suspect that something like a Pro-Ject Phono RS (I use this as I'm familiar with it and it has rca and XLR outputs with higher outputs) would immediately show whether the Leema is not providing sufficient voltage to drive your set up. Note that in contrast the Chord 2qute DAC has 3v output via rca.

If you're close by one of my current clients I'd be happy to bring my spare Phono RS for you to try. PM me with where your based.

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Re: Hattor Passive Pre and......

Postby hifinutt » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:20 pm

Sittingbourne according to profile
modwright 36.5 dual mono
msb s200 power amp
bel canto 3.5vbs/vbs1 FM1 tuner
onkyo sacd /Marantz sacd, sigmas conditioning
proac studio 125, cabling
rfc /chord epic //Townshend /acoustic zen


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