Herron HL-1 Preamplifier, Solid State; Herron still in business? Thoughts about sound?

I'm looking into having a solid state preamp along with my other tube gear. I'm considering a Herron HL-1 preamp on the used market. Comments about Mr. Herron's gear and his reputation as a talented and kind man are all over the internet.

It seems he has retired or is in semi-retirement. His website has been de-commissioned, it seems.

So, two questions:

(a) I don't expect a unit to break quickly, so I'm more interested in how easy to fix his solid state preamp might be by a third party? If you have any thoughts about that kind of scenario, please let me know.

(b) More important, if you have had experience with the HL-1 Herron preamp, how would you characterize its sound compared to other things you've heard? Any other thoughts?

With all the hoopla around about gear, I find myself drawn back, again and again, to smaller makers who take pride in their work and genuinely care about listening to the things they make. This is why I'm drawn to makers like deHavilland, Herron, Quicksilver, Aric Audio, Atmasphere, and many others.


The HL-1 is extremely transparent, neutral and has zero colorations of its own.  It provides gain and has a remote control that is quite handy.  It is neither warm nor cold/dry.  

Keith Herron has a background in designing rugged, high-quality musical instrument electronics / amplifiers.  His conservative designs are reflected in the durability of Herron Audio products.  I would not be concerned with the care and feeding of the HL-1 as some other audio companies' offerings.  


@hilde45 Pass XP-12 came to mind based on your description. I know you’re asking about Heron so just a thought….

So, to answer your question about the HL-1.  Buy it! Keith make’s fantastic gear and I have heard the HL-1 and it sounds great.  Call the number from Herron’s website and leave a message and he will most likely get back in touch with you.  His SS preamp is close to his tube preamp in sound.  I have owned many high priced gear and the Herron surpassed most of them, his tube preamp is neutral sounding with a touch of tube warmth.  Keith is a musician, engineer and spends countless hours listening and tweaking his designs for a natural sound which gets you as close to how the instruments and vocals sound in real life.  Let’s face it nothing sounds like live music from home audio but if it puts you where you feel like you hear what it’s like being there in a live setting then it has accomplished what it’s suppose to.

Good luck with your search and don’t let a semi retired/retired Keith Herron steer you away from buying his products on the used market.

Keith's pre for under 1K is the best buy on the internet.  He still services his equipment.  Funny, I was just looking at a HL1 a couple days ago!!  Better hurry ...

Great replies! 
@bpoletti calls the HL-1 "extremely transparent, neutral and has zero colorations" while @cfarrow  calls it "neutral sounding with a touch of tube warmth" -- close enough for me and very appealing.

@audphile1  thanks for the Pass rec. Not sure I can find it for under 1k. By the way, can you tell me why you have Pauly Walnuts as your icon? I always find it disconcerting.

@blackbag20 Are we looking at the same unit? How might it fit with your system? 

Herron's high reputation come through again and again. Sounds like a mensch's mensch!