Anyone compare Zesto with Backert preamps?

I am looking for a tube preamp and starting to narrow down my short list for auditioning. I know there are many wonderful preamps out there in the $10k and under category but I am particularly interested in learning about how these two well respected lines in particular compare to one another (doesn't have to be a comparison of their flagship models). Thanks for any thoughts you may have.


No experience with Backert, have heard they are great.     I did own the original Zesto Leto and it was an amazing preamp.     Easily the best sounding preamp i have ever had first hand experience with.   Amazing clarity , really commits no sins.   I would urge you to demo one.   

George and Carolyn Counnas are some of the nicest people you will ever meet in hifi     Service from them is first class.   I had some upgrades done and they were awesome to deal with.   


So, your comments beg the question… why don’t you own it any more? Find something better?

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I had a 300b amp built and I love it so much I am having it's companion DHT preamp built.     It will be similar to this but with a remote , stepped resistor volume

Im kind of roughing it with my back up Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 in the chain but judging the quality of the amp I have no doubt the preamp will be awesome.  

@oddiofyl I remember checking into toolshedamps about a year ago and discovered they are a local company!

Yes, Greenfield Wisconsin .    Matt has been great to work with.     If you click "home"  or refresh the Toolshed home page my amp is the first to pop up in the slide show.   

It was worth the money and the wait .    Build quality is over the top.   Last amp I will own.   

I have high expectations for the Toolshed 205d preamp,  but I would be lying if I said I didn't miss the Leto.    It is a must audition piece , it's been on many best of lists .   

I owned it for about a year and honestly if I could have kept it I would have.  It is that good of a piece.    Selling it paid for a good chunk of my new build,  so I had to let common sense prevail. 

Good to know you had a very positive experience with the Zesto. It is high on my list. Sounds like you have not auditioned the toolshed pre before ordering it.

I think it depends largely on what type of sonics you are seeking.  I've read pro reviewers indicate that the Backert (particularly the Extreme) sounds close to solid state - very quick and handling transient well.  This may be what you're seeking, while the Zesto may appeal to those seeking more of a classic tube sound.

My Toolshed Amp exceeded my expectations.  It is a labor of love ,  execution and attention to detail is beyond reproach   

  The preamp is a collaboration between Matt and Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio.   I have no doubt it will be just aa awesome as the 300b    

The new Zesto Leto has an even lower noise floor.  Like I said, it is a seriously good preamp and you should absolutely try to audition one.  My Leto was the most quiet component I have ever owned plus it had explosive dynamics.    

I'm blessed to know Bob Backert personally.  He is one of the kindest, most.  centered persons I have met.  He has been transforming my Conrad Johnson PV-12L for the last few decades.  I wouldn't give up my rig for any other line stage!  Yes, the classic warm glow of the cj is gone but the holographic wall to wall soundstage, often attributed to a tube stage is still there.  More transparent, open and revealing than stock.  Bob's big emphasis is on the stability and robustness of the power supply.  He used to, and maybe still does refer to it as the "Greenforce Power Supply" for which he has the patent. 

I know nothing of the Zesto product so can make no informed comments about it.  


but the holographic wall to wall soundstage, often attributed to a tube stage is still there

Bingo! Listening to my system and this is exactly what the Backert brings to it. I love the changes the Backert Rhumba brought to my listening experience. I understand that the Rythm does this even better. And suits OP’s budget.

Both the Backert Labs and Zesto preamps are expected to be an improvement over my Ayre K-1xe which is itself an excellent preamp.  I do plan to audition both preamps though it looks like I may need to travel a bit to do it since no dealers nearby.

I have always thought the preamp is the most important system choice you can make.  Even above speakers.  A lot of “good” systems out there could be “great” with the right preamp. 

I don’t think you could lose with either brand but my experience with Zesto  places them in that upper echelon of audio companies