Experience with Raul's Essential 3150

Here are my comments on the listening session I had with Raul and his Essential 3150 Full Function Preamplifier.

Firstly, I would like to thank Raul. He is a very knowledgeable and kind gentleman. He has years and years of experience in music and analog systems. My respect for him is in another league after his visit. Some times his post opinions may seem controversial, but I think he knows what he’s talking about. Remember. Respect your elders…they have more experience.

Raul and Jose’s preamp is a seriously built unit!!! It has a separate power supply and the total weight of the two units is close to 50lbs. Very heavy, well shielded frame. Raul opened up the preamp and pointed out the level and quality of the parts. Vishay resistors, V-Caps, etc. This preamp is completely solid state and made with the finest parts and the inside does not look garage shop at all. It is impressive looking. His design is fully balanced from input to output. It included 2 SE line inputs, 2 balanced line inputs and 2 sets of phono inputs, both SE and balanced. It has a separate left and right volume control as well. The preamp is 12 years in the making and uses some interesting proprietary techniques. According to Raul, the distortion and frequency linearity is orders of magnitude better than just about all the other equipment out there.

We compared the music we were hearing using either his preamp or my CAT Ultimate MkII preamp. Since I had to create space in my rack, I removed my CD player. Therefore, we only listened to my analog system. I wish this were not the case because it would also have been good to compare line stages.

We listened to a few records: Miles Davis-Kind of Blue, Sade-Stronger than Pride, Steve Miller-Fly Like an Eagle, Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon, and various classical selections. The most clear and obvious differences were bass response, transparency/detail and sound staging.

Music with the Essential had INCREDIBLE bass and midbass. Much, much better than listening through the CAT. It is extended, articulate and not attenuated the least bit. This improved the fullness and impact of the presentation greatly. It is quite amazing that my Analog system has bass potential that I was not even getting close to with the CAT. This alone has me seriously considering buying his unit.

As you would expect from fine solid state, the music had fine detail and transparency was at a higher level than you would expect with tubes. In this regard it was better than the CAT. Due to the transparency, the soundstage depth and width was very apparent. Dynamics were also very good.

In the mids to highs, music through the CAT had a richer and more immediate quality. Brass sounded brassier with the CAT than through the Essential. In comparison, music through the Essential had a detailed but lean, soft and relaxed presentation compared to the CAT. It comes down to which is more correct, which has a coloration and what does one prefer. Also, the Essential has some trim pots that allow extension or attenuation of frequencies above 20KHz. Raul believes that this observation would have been ameliorated by extending the frequencies.

Through both preamps, we heard slightly tipped up high frequencies in my system that Raul believes is not a function of either preamp. The most likely culprit is the frequency balance of the speakers or room acoustics. Therefore, I may need to address this problem first. Nonetheless, you can’t go wrong with the Essential 3150. It really is like a tool.

The other thing I will try is replacing the tubes in the preamp. They are about two years old and have been used extensively. Ken Stevens from CAT believes that this will improve the level of the bass, articulation and transparency across the entire frequency range. It will be interesting to rehear some of the tracks we played after this. I also would like the chance to try the Essential for a week instead of the 5-6 hours we took as well as compare the line stage performance.

Overall, the Essential 3150 is a seriously good preamp and is probably better than most commercial solid state and tube units. If you have a chance, give it a try. In my case, I’ll first try addressing the speakers, seeing if the new tubes make a difference and hopefully spending more time with the unit.


"The most clear and obvious differences were bass response, transparency/detail and sound staging."

Add midrange clarity and HF extension and that just about covers it I guess! Anyway, did Raul say what he thought one would eventually cost in the US? And what does the "3150" designate?

did Raul say what he thought one would eventually cost in the US? And what does the "3150" designate?

Raul told me it would sell for 10K when he visited my home with the 3150. The name on the faceplate is J&R Audio Design.

Raul told me the initials represent the two guys involved, the designer and Raul. The unit is designed and constructed in Mexico.

I don't know what the number 3150 stands for.
Andrew, your reactions to Raul and Jose's preamp are pretty much what I expected. I had a similar eye-opening (or should that be ear-opening) experience when I first heard Nick's Alaap gear. Superior to all commercially available units that I've ever heard. Granted my sample size isn't huge by any means. Now I'm sliding down that slope of wanting the music as pure and transparent as I can get. Hence, my up-coming Edgarhorn build.

I look forward to meeting Raul and hearing this unit this weekend.



Thanks for the thorough report. Now I'm going to try to forget it so as not to prejudice my ears!

Why? Because Raul is visiting us - tomorrow. That Essential/Alaap comparison is upon us.

Our Alaap is not so full spec as Dan's - two chassis instead of four, stereo volume pot instead of dual mono - but it will still be very interesting.

I'm thinking we'll start with some CD/SACD/DVD-A sources to get a handle on line stage differences first. Phono stage comparisons with "real" music will follow of course.

Stay tuned...

Anyone in central CT on Sunday afternoon or evening is welcome to join us. Email me offline if interested.


What I love about this site is the wealth and diversity of knowledge which one has the opportunity to learn from. Thank You Andrew and Raul for sharing so much. I am looking forward to hearing more from Dan and Doug Deacon after their listening sessions....

Psychicanimal, I hope your parnormal abilities are more attuned than your math skills > 3150 pesos = about 286 Dollars LOL I'll take Two

Best Regards
Goovey Records

Listening to

Prince and the Revolution-Parade-Paisley Park Records-1-31295
I bought the Essential and recieved it a couple of weeks ago. Raul was here on Wednesday and we spent about 5-6 hours listening to albums and cd's. We had a great time, and meeting Raul was like spending time with an old friend. In fact, I hope in the future he has more time to spend so we can catch some live music together. I was trying to get him to stay and catch Dave Brubeck with me, but he wanted to try and get up to Doug's so we decided to wait for another show in the future.

I'm working on my system page which is currently not listed so for the sake of everyone knowing what I'm listening thru I thought it appropriate to list my gear first:
Galibier Quattro with Teflon/Aluminum platter
Shroeder #2 with VDH Colibri XPP
Hadcock 242 SS with MusicMaker III
Essential 3150
VAC Phi 110/110
Von Schweikert DB-99's

Andrew's comments already cover alot of ground, but I thought I'd add some stuff since I've had a couple of weeks with it now. First, my system had a noise problem before the arrival of the Essential. In fact, I have spent countless hours with my electrician(a friend thankfully) trying everything ever described on these and other forums to get rid of it, but never had any success. It was a low level noise/hiss that couldn't be heard over the music unless it was a very quiet passage, but could be heard from the listening postion between cuts etc. With the Essential there is no noise - I mean almost non-existent. My speakers are 99dB efficient and my ear has to be within an inch or two of the drivers to even begin to hear anything. This is truly remarkable to me, and I was so relieved to finally have the problem solved that I spent most of that first night in a state of total euphoria. So, point #1 is that the unit is extremely quiet.

In my system, with the Essential the mids and highs are presented beautifully. I was using the Whest before this thru a tubed preamp and found the highs to be a bit fatiguing. That has changed dramatically for the better. There is a purity of tone (thru all frequencies) that I have not experienced before and find very appealing. I would agree with Andrew that the mid-Bass and below is excellent and I find it very much to my liking, however, Raul thought it might be improved some with a different amp(SS) so I will probably do some experimenting in the future with different amplifier designs.

Imaging, soundstaging, air etc. have all improved and a much greater perception of the venue and recording technique is therefore present. I want to emphasize what a quantum leap this was for making a convincing reproduction of what was recorded. Many albums that I thought may not have been too well recorded/produced have now become much more intelligible and pleasing to listen to. I'm not saying that it makes a bad recording sound good, but it does seem to make them more like a real event. A good recording, as you might expect, sounds outstanding and reveals nuances that make for a very convincing presentation.

I've only got maybe 30-40 hours on the MC inputs so far, and I expect that the vcaps will benefit from more time, so perhaps things could even get better, but so far I have no complaints. The Essential really transformed my system into something way better than I thought it was capable of and I couldn't be any happier about it.

A couple of other points:

J&R stands for Jose and Raul.

The price is currently $9600, but will only be that way for a few more units and will then go up. According to Raul it is priced near cost at the moment.

If anyone lives near Austin,Tx. and would like to hear the Essential in my system I would be happy to have you over.

And finally, I have had the opportunity to meet a few people in this industry that I really think are good people, Thom Mackris comes to mind, and Raul is definitely one of the good guys:-).

You're welcome guys. I also noticed the quiteness with the 3150. I get tube rush with the CAT and a little RF leakage. This was completely gone with the 3150. As Mab33 wrote, it was dead quite.

Have fun listening this weekend!

I had the oportunity to listen to Raul`s rig on several occasions and it is an outstanding setup, a reference in my listening esperience!
The most important qualities I would point out of the system are Dynamics, transparency and overall balance...
I listened to a couple of the previous versions of the Essential, and a battery powered version also, I dont know how they can get any better!!

Raul also made a stop in Houston during his US travels and as luck would have it, he and I were able to spend an entire day listening to the Essential in my system. Unfortunately, we firts had to overcome two serious problems, loss of the diamond from my Titan due at least in part to the stylus cleaning fluid that I have been using which apparently dissolved the glue (at least it gave me a good excuse to purchase a new Titan i) and problems with my preamp that turned out to be a bad tube. When you have 19 tubes, it is not always easy to immediately identify the problem. Fortunately the Einstein shut itself down noiselessly and without effecting the rest of the system. This essentially meant that we were unable to do real comparisons. Raul was kind enough to install a backup Clearaudio Accurate which was at least five years old and had not been played for a number of years. Not an auspicious beginning. Raul is a true gentleman and probably the most knowledgeable person that I have met with respect to cartridges and phono stages. He also absolutely refuses to gossip about other people's systems and equipment or to make comments about equipment with which he is not intimately familiar.

After playing several records the Accurate came alive and sounded very good, different from the Titan but very good in many of the same areas. The Essential 3150 is built to Swiss standards (think FM Acoustics). Raul has listened extensively to every part employed in the unit, in many instances listening to hundreds of different parts before chosing the ones in the Essential. The case work is very professional. This unit is clearly not something manufactured in a garage.

The sound? Noiseless even with the volume control fully advanced, black background. There is no hum or RFI which allows you to hear very deeply into the soundstage and is particularly revealing of the type of low level ambient details that make reproduced music more closely approximate live music. It also does an excellent job at the frequency extremes. The lows are subterranean, particularly with the Cabasse A21 subs and the high end on plasma tweeters was open and extended without grit or edge. The midrange seemed quite natural. Depth was excellent as was stage width and imaging. The harmonic envelope created by the Essential differs from that created by the Einstein which in turn differs from that created by the CAT. I am hoping to hear the unit again in the spring when my Triolons have arrived and I can compare the Essential directly to the Einstein combo with a broken in Titan. At the current introductory price, the unit is a steal.
Dear friends> Thx to all of you. I'm sorry not to have time right now to post/answer several subjects about on this thread. I will do that in a couple of days when I return to Mexico.

Right now I'm with Doug and Paul ( btw, they are a great people like all of you. ) and tomorrow I will return to Laredo and then to Mexico city.

Regards adn enjoy the music.

Just promise me no more liquid cleaners on your cartridge prior to a visit from Raul. How was to body of the images/ palpability compared to your other phono preamps? I am curious to the musicality and emotional content as opposed to accuracy.
Hi, all.

I wanted to post back about my thoughts on this meeting yesterday. First and foremost, it was a great pleasure to finally meet and talk with Raul. He is a very genuine person and really loves this hobby we all share. For those who have not had the pleasure, don't pass up an opportunity to meet him. He is most interesting to talk with and has a great sense of humor. Very enjoyable time, but way too short. I'm glad this meeting worked out the way it did as the weekend provides much more time to have a good listen and good conversation.

On to the juicy part. Well, perhaps not so juicy. I'm going to limit my impressions because my experience with the Essential is in Doug and Paul's system. I have heard this system on a few occasions but that is different than hearing it every day.

My first impression was how much authority and control this preamp exhibits. As others have posted, the LF response is most impressive. The depth and width of the sound stage are excellent, as well as the transparency and evenness of presentation. The highs were a bit thin. (Hang in there for a minute!) The first recording I heard, hopefully Doug can fill in which it was, where the upper range of organ and the trumpets lacked body. The notes were there, but it was a little thin. Perhaps this is what Andrew heard(?). It is also possible that more time on the caps will improve this. Over the course of the evening, we discovered a not too subtle at all improvement with a change in power cords. At that point there was nothing left to do but just enjoy great music.

Much like Nick's Alaap preamp, the Essential does get out of the way of the music. I often describe the Alaap as not sounding like tube gear and I would describe the Essential as not sounding like SS gear. (I don't share Raul's disdain for tubes nor Paul's for SS amps.) Sorry, I can't offer direct comparisons to the Alaap and Essential since we did not perform this comparison while I was there. Perhaps Doug can fill in with some comments on that subject since they did an extensive listening session Saturday night. There are some extra bells and whistles that you get with the Essential, such as the logic circuit. It is important to note that this unit offers what is two completely separate phono stages. So, you can get a MM/MC or MC/MC configuration. It is clear to me that either Jose and Raul's Essential or Nick's Alaap are far better at faithfully rendering what is on the recording as most commercially available pre-amps, especially considering the price points.
I am (and I am sure many others)glad that finally many more audiophile will have auditioned Raul's Preamp and many more view on its performance. As I am in mmarket for a reference preamp. In the past Raul has been updating me with the info and when it would be availble. From the reviews so far, it sure sounds like it has performance qualities like ' live music'- transperancy, images with body and transperancy in low to mid bass freq performance(very rare traits indeed). The phono plus preamp function all -in one is another big plus. It is curious though that Raul and Jose designed their ref preamp solid state (I, in general, share alleged Raul's disdain for tube based design).
Here are some pics. I've never used an image hosting site before so I'm not sure this will work, or how many people will get to view them in a day before it stops access, but thought I'd give it a shot.





Since that didn't work out so well - I posted the pics on my system page so you can just click the link below. The pics hosted on the other site are higher resolution, but I'm afraid it will limit the number of folks who can view them in a day. I'll leave them posted there so some people will get the chance if they want.
Paul and I want to thank Raul for taking the time (and expense) to travel all the way from Laredo TX to CT, on very short notice. His visit was a great joy and he is a wonderful person to know and have as a guest. He loved Paul's cooking, which is easy to do, and he laughed at my jokes, which isn't.

We are still collating our impressions but one thing should be stressed. We did not perform any extensive A/B between our Nick Doshi Alaap and Raul/Jose's Essential. There was no playing of the same track through one preamp and then the other. For Raul, the only reference that matters is the memory of live music. We listened to the Alaap for an hour or so to let him get a handle on our sytem, then switched to the Essential until it was time for him to pack up.

Sonically we'll not be contradicting anything written above. We'll put some flesh on the bones but the short version is easy: when properly installed the Essential and the Alaap come closer to reproducing the experience of live music than any other preamps we've heard. The Essential does it with transistors. The Alaap does it with transistors in the MC stage and tubes thereafter. This gives them different strengths and weaknesses, but their strengths are manifold while their weaknesses are few. Many other preamps seem unlistenable after hearing these two. Either of these two provide enough of the illusion of live music to satisfy our ears and priorities.

Most of you know I'm not shy about saying what I dislike about a component. There won't be much of that. When Paul says of a component, "I could live with this", we've reached pretty rarified levels of performance. There are only two cartridges and two tonearms about which he has ever said that, and until this weekend there was only one preamp. Now there are two.

Thanks again to Raul for joining us and expanding our horizons,
I don't know what the 3150 stands for either, but everytime I look at it, it reminds me that the Essential contains 3 stages - an MC amp, MM amp and Linestage - and has a balanced output impedance of 150 Ohms. Seems reasonable(?), but I'm just taking a wild guess.
Or maybe the number of Pesos it would have taken to bribe the customs officials to let him cross the border with it?
Out of curiousity, did Raul change the load impedance resistors to match any of the carts with you all this past week? Considering how sensitive some of our carts are to these things I thought it might be worth asking.
I think 3150 is what it cost to make, in Pesos (hecho en Mexico!) Raul just forgot to take the cost off the finished product, ha ha! OK, only kidding, but one thing no one has remarked so far:

Could this be the first ever high end audio product to come out of Mexico?! Quite an auspicious start I'd say! And it didn't have to swim over from China!

Good luck Raul. The dedication required to make such a big splash in such a small pond borders on saintly!
Mab33, an excellent question. A big missing info most of the time they (them magazines)review either cartridge or phono preamp.
I'm not sure why this is any issue. Based on the consensus and what I heard there is no reason to question any of the impressions due to the loading.

I'm guessing that Raul and Doug and Paul are intelligent enough to figure out if there was any gross loading issues. :)

If the 150 ohm loading that Mab33 mentioned was the default configuration, then there is no there, there.
Hi Dan_ed,

No issue, just curious. I didn't mean to suggest there was any gross mismatch, as obviously everyone involved, except me maybe:-), has enough experience to know better. Judging by the comments above I'm sure whatever load the pre had (maybe 100 Ohms?) was not so far off the mark as to be a problem, but I still think it's a valid question to know how well matched they were. The pre has no default load impedance as it is tailored to your individual cart when ordered(kind of what I was getting at). Also, the 150 Ohms I mentioned was the balanced output impedance, not the load impedance:-).

I guess when I asked the question I was thinking more that I was surprised that the Essential performed so well with one load(if that's the case) presented to several different carts. Perhaps most of the carts used share a similar coil impedance and that's why there wasn't any problem. My Colibri wants a 200 Ohm load and in the past when I loaded it at 100 Ohms or 500 Ohms I definitely heard changes in the frequency response, hence my curiousity. Anyways, I didn't mean anything negative by the question, I was just surprised it performed so well with several different carts if the load remained consistent, that's all:-).

Dear friends: The 3150 denomination on the Essential means something very simple, like Matt posted the Essential 3150 is in reality three fully balanced independent preamps in one box/chasis: Moving Coil, Moving Magnet and Line, so:
MCMML = 3150. We have a second model: two MC and Line:
2MCL = 2950.

The roman numbers were translated two the arabic numbers, that's all.

On other idea order and like Matt already posted the Essential is finished with the impedance that you choose. Yes, I change the load impedance with Fred, Albert and Paul/Doug systems. To do this you have to solder the resistor value that you need.

As Matt posted the introductory price of the Essential 3150 will change after we receive the first 10 orders, after that the price go higher.. We could receive, only, another seven orders at that price.

Btw, some of you maybe can remember an old refrence where I posted about a " English gentleman " that own the Essential 3150, well he is Desmond Bailey and you can contact with him at: desmond@owlsolutions.eu.com . His audio system: Talon speakers, Acoustic Signature Mambo TT, Ikeda/Moerch/Lustre tonearms, Allaerts MC2 Finish/Dynavector XV-1/MusicMaker cartridges, Levinson amp, etc, etc.

I don't want to " take " the Andrew thread so I'm thinking to share with all of you ( in other thread ) the great experiences that I lived during my audio trip in USA

Regards and enjoy the music.
I'm glad to hear you're returning home safely Raul. You really put yourself out with driving, especially considering the Thanksgiving holiday madness (and traffic).

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and spending time with you, thanks for including me on your trip.
Dear friends: That was a mistake: 3150 = MMMCL , is the right way and the other is 2150 not 2950.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul called me before leaving Laredo to ask about impedance loading for our UNIverse. I suggested 100 ohms, since that is nominally the optimum load for a 4 ohm cartridge in an unknown circuit. He soldered in the appropriate resistors before leaving (or maybe on the plane?).

That worked fine. HF response was neither peaky nor rolled off. LF response was powerful and deep yet well controlled. If I were ordering an Essential 3150 for use with this cartridge I wouldn't chose a different value, at least not for our system.
Dear friends: There are somethings that belongs to this thread and that help to understand the Essential 3150 quality performance:

- the Essential was not designed thinking in any one of you ( with all my respect to any one of you ), it is designed thinking in us ( Jose and I ), we designed for us wanting to have a better ( non compromise ) quality music/sound reproduction, over any other single electronics out there, that could bring out in our audio system what is really on the recording and to be nearer ( not so far away ) to the live event. This whole target was a huge challenge and was our motivation to build the Essential and to be here after almost 12 years of work about.

- We make an " in deep " electronic research theories for the Essential design/lay-out to find the right way where ( through the electronic design ) we could achieve our whole Essential targets. We use not only our know-how and skills about but the whole know-how that already exist out there. I want to tell you that from the Essential design we already start with three patented electronic design process. The Essential is a unique Phonolinepreamp.

- we check/test several parts: bipolars, Fets, resistors, caps, etc, etc, to find not only which was the best way to integrate those single parts on the whole Essential design but which parts had/have the most neutral " sound " performance. We don't choose and we was not looking for the " higher price " ( marketing ) parts but for the best neutral ones.

- we design ( for the most part José ) with out any commercial compromomise our compromise is only with the MUSIC. That's why the Essential is an active high gain ( no step up transformers that degrade the signal quality ) Phonolinepreamp integrated unit ( no additional interconnect cables and connectors that degradedd the signal quality ).

- we design with non signature sound in mind: warm/smooth/clear/etc, etc., we don't manipulated the Essential design to a signature kind of sound: tube/sound/hybrid " sound " ) and you can hear it because the SS Essential design has not the typical SS sound.

- now, the Essential design is not unique only because we say so. I'm not a " specification lover " but I take the " numbers " where they really counts.
Here are only some Essential critical specs:

inverse RIAA eq deviation: 0.015db from 20 to 20kHz !!!!. This one help to the Essential to be " truer to the recording " fact like no any single ( commercial or not at any price ) phonolinepreamp out there.

flat frequency response from: 0.01Hz to 1mHz.

overall distortion: 0.0002%

common mode rejection: -150db!!!

- other Essential considerations: our design is a Non-feedback, direct coupled, pure class A , true balanced input to output, dual mono design and fully regulated input to output. This dual mono design only share the chasis but both channels are totally independent from each other even in the external power supply that is so important to the performance on our phonolinepreamp.
The signal through the Essential not even not pass through any caps but even not pass through any single piece of wire because all parts ( including connectors ) are soldered directly to the 4 layers circuit boards. Btw, we use a 4 layer boards in the Essential design because is the only right way to design true segmented ground plane.

- the Essential design is a current mode one : The advantages of this extraordinarily simple technique are:

1) The volume control attenuates the audio signal and the stage noise at the same time, resulting in outstanding signal-to-noise ratios and dynamic range.

2) For every volume position, there is only one resistor defining the quality of the amplified signal (even a high-quality stepped attenuator has two resistors per position). This is one of our " unique design approach ".

As high-quality resistors are within the most sonically transparent devices available, the output signal is an exact replica of the input, only differing by an amplifying factor. The result is a phonopreamplifier combining the purity and transparency of a passive preamplifier with the speed, dynamics and drive of an active preamplifier. Btw, almost all the preamplifiers out there change its frequency response every time you move the volume: the Essential don't, the Essential frequency response is always the same it does not matters of the volume pot position!!!

Well, with the Essential ( all of us ) we have not only a " truer to the recording " Phonolinepreamp but a very critical/critic tool that for the better or worst tell you if everything is ok in your audio system or if there is/are some issues about.
When we own the Essential and we are hearing it we have to think seriously if our audio system today set-up is really right on target. The Essential could help you to make this because its almost inexistent noise/distortions/colorations.

The Essential " leaves " the music/sound flows freely with all music/sound feelings and emotions.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Hi All,

As an Essential owner from across the pond (yes, it's me to whom Raul refers above), I can only say that it surpasses anything I've heard or owned before.

As a formerly life-long tube listener, I should mention that there were a variety of challenges in adjusting my ears to the new and fuller level of musical information that I was receiving through the Essential: not least of which was to begin listening to the musicians and their performances rather than (what I have now come to recognise to be my former practise of) listening to my hifi system and its colourings.

I can only suggest that anyone who can afford one and who is more interested in live music, get's one. Congrat's Matt we'll have to talk more as things settle in with yours. Just my penny's worth.


I'm no expert on language but I think you meant Felice Navidad

Either that or you spelled it correctly and THIS Falice is what you're wishing for Raul.

If so, no wonder he headed home.
This is great stuff guys.

Along the lines of what Doug intimated, it's not so much your overall choice of tubes vs. solid state, but what you do with it. I have every confidence that between the Essential, the Alap, and (if I may be so bold) the Artemis Labs phono stage, that the big boys will soon be sweating bullets.

The small guys have one very big advantage - it's spelled P-A-S-S-I-O-N. I've held firm to the opinion that the personality and sensibilities of the designer bleed through into their design to the point where the two are inseparable.

Many of you may remember Harry Pearson's pontification about gear with dark colored faceplates tending toward a dark or warm presentation (emphasis on the upper bass through lower midrange). At first blush, this is a completely screwball statement.

Taken in the context that a product is an expression of the tastes, sensibilities, and of course competency of the designer, then his choice of color is quite possibly correlated to his these sensibilities and communicated in the sonic palate they select.

I've been asked publicly on this list on more than one occasion about those phono stages I feel to be unworthy of my highest consideration. Its not my place to trash other manufacturers and I won't answer that question.

I feel much more comfortable about the flip side of this however (the great stuff), and I have every confidence that Raul's Essential is in the top tier of gear. Heck !! Two of my customers state it in this thread, and we know that they obviously have great taste (grin).

Congratulations on your whirlwind tour, Raul! I am very anxious to meet you. Are you guys planning on exhibiting at next year's Rocky Mountain Audiofest? It's not too early to start thinking about it. If you have any questions about it, let me know privately, off-list

Thom @ Galibier
Dan got it 100% wrong and I got it 50% wrong, but please add 50 points for the girly photo.
Dear friends: There is something that you all have to know: during each Essential presentation on those audio system the signal from the cartridge was passed to the Essential through unbalanced ( RCA ) way, no one of those audio systems had a balanced phono interconnect.
This fact means that we could not take advantage of the " natural " balanced operation design on the Essential and of course the better quality sound reproduction in balanced mode.

Btw, Desmond and Mattew " run " the Essential in fully balanced mode.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, perhaps you forgot about my setup.

We used Balanced XLR Purist Anniversary phono cables from my Walker turntable to your Essential.
Dear Albert: Yes, I forgot: sorry.

Btw, I don't know which balance configuration is using Purist: we recomended the cartridge floating one that is what Desmond and Mattew are using.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Might I ask why this thread is under analog rather than amps and preamps? I had heard of the thread but had to do a search to find it. I would have loved to hear it.
Dear friends: One other aspect that could help to understand the Essential quality performance is that is designed through bipolar transistor technology and that is build through only two gain stages.
I don't know any other active high gain Phonopreamp out there ( SS or tube ) that using bipolar transistor has only two stages. Btw, the V-caps that the Essential is using are the Teflon ones.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear friends: " Brass sounded brassier with the CAT than through the Essential ".

From my point of view I would like to address this misunderstanding:

other than many critical design differences between the CAT and the Essential 3150 there are at least two important subjects that make a huge difference in the quality sound reproduction that we perceived through both units: with the CAT and with out music you could hear a radio station ( very clear ) through the Andrew's speakers and a very significant tube rush. Only these two issues makes a difference against the non-distorted/non-colored Essential performance.
In my humble opinion there is no " thin " Essential sound, there is a truer to the recording neutral/purer sound.

With the CAT the sound was not " brassier " but bright and almost harsh and with the Essential was: well " brassier ".

We have to remember that in some ways we are hearing a different frequency reponse from those units.

During my trip I never try to compare between the Essential and the other Phonolinepreamps, what I want it is that the people hear the Essential, that the people could hear something different from what they already have.

All these people already have the opportunity to hear the Essential in their systems only for a few hours (Paul/Doug heard it for two days ), I suggest that any one of you take direct contact with Desmond and Matt ( Essential owners ) to know more about the quality sound reproduction on the Essential 3150.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, perhaps you could explane the "cartridge floating" balanced configuration you mentioned.

Also, any thoughts in this context about the Lloyd Walker's phono stage which is another attempt at no compromise?