Hattor Audio preamps?

Got my eye on one of these. And yes, my system is passive friendly. I've had resistor based passives before, as well as transformer, autoformer and LDR preamps. So I know I like the sound quality which can be had with a passive. Anyone out there have any experience with the Hattor stuff?



I own the totl Luminous Audio, 3 in, 2 out, single ended, with remote volume, and it has been the most neutral of all passives I have tried, including many of those mentioned above. My best, MrD.

Earlier this year, I owned the icOn 4PRO AVC balanced passive preamplifier that uses four Slagle autoformer volume control modules. It was seductive in how the music was presented with the warmth described by @ozzy62 coming from a dead quiet background. I really enjoyed listening to it, and the Django TVC, if at all similar, may be just the thing for you. Ultimately, I slightly preferred my Khozmo volume control/SMc Audio TLC Signature Buffer slightly better, so I sold the icOn AVC unit.

I have not spoken with Arek since earlier this year and I am a bit surprised to hear he would recommend the AMRT resistors over the AMRG version. Both are carbon film but the AMRG appears to be Amtrans Corp’s more upscale version based on their higher pricing, gold-plated OFC lead wire, and description as "High-end carbon resistor." The AMRG resistors sound better to me than the Takman REY metal film resisters I had in an earlier Khozmo passive volume control. I have not heard the Takman REX or AMRT resistors. I suggest doing some research and talking with Arek before deciding on resistors.

Talking with Arek he suggested the AMRG to me. His words were they were more musical. This was in response to wanting more "body or warmth" in the setup. 


In a different thread you asked about Hattor's Tube Active Stage and I said I would answer here in this current thread.  I have cut/pasted and slightly edited portions of a couple of my previous posts that I believe will answer your questions about the Tube Active Stage:

Active Buffers

The functional purpose of an active buffer is to improve impedance mismatches by reducing higher impedance inputs to lower impedance outputs.  This can be helpful when driving amplifiers with low input impedances, when using passive volume controls that do not actively buffer the signal, and/or when driving long interconnects.  The effect can be significant, even in cases of unity gain (i.e., no net voltage gain between input and output), and the change in sound is sometimes described as having more body, tonal color, and drive.   Active buffers can be either fully solid state or tubed.

Tube Active Stage

I use the Hattor Audio Big preamp in passive mode to control the volume of my system and it sounds significantly better to me when followed by my SMc Audio buffer (solid state and unity gain) that is based on their VRE-1 preamp.  I also have the Hattor Audio Tube Active Stage, which is a tube buffer that typically comes with 9dB gain (mine has 6dB).  It is basically a tube buffer stage without a volume control. I have tried the Tortuga Tube Buffer on one of their tours, so I had it in my system for about a week, and I also tried the Purity Audio tubed buffer in my system. 

IMO, and in my system, the Hattor Tube Active Stage sounds very good although it just doesn't provide quite the magic of my SMc Audio TLC Signature buffer, so it is currently sitting in a box.  However, if I didn't have the SMc buffer, I would be perfectly happy to substitute the Hattor after my passive volume control.  

The Hattor Big preamp also comes with an opamp active stage (mine has the NewClassD discrete opamp stage), which can be set to 3/6/9 dB gain.  I bypass the active stage to run the Hattor as a passive into the SMc buffer.   However, I have tried it through the discrete opamp stage and I also find that to be an improvement over running it passively.  Therefore, in ranking buffers (some with low gain) in my system, I would put the solid state SMc Audio buffer first and the Hattor Tube Active Stage second, both of which I would be happy to use.  Third would be the discrete NewClassD opamp stage in the Hattor Big preamp, which I would judge as just a small step below the first two, although others may reverse the order and prefer the opamp stage over the tubed stage - they are close.  Finally, I just did not like the sound of the Tortuga or the Purity Audio buffers in my system.

and, more thoughts...

As I remember it, I was impressed with the sound through the internal NewClassD op-amp active stage of Hattor’s The Big Preamp. The drive, dynamics, and clarity were very good.  My recollection is that I could live with either the tube stage or the internal op-amp stage.