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.

128x128hilde45

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!
 

@hilde45 for under $1K you can also get a Herron VTSP-1 tubed I will say I had this preamp myself back in the day and it is dead neutral. So dead neutral I sold it craving more tube warmth.


https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/650060982-herron-vtsp-1/

 

I’ve known Keith for years and owned several of his preamps and phono amps, though I haven’t had the pleasure of owning an HL-1. However, right at the time he was introducing it I caught up with Keith at CES when he still made the trips to the shows to exhibit his gear. Keith’s rooms were always an oasis of friendliness and natural musicality in the craziness and excess that marks many rooms at CES and other shows.

That year was not an exception and after catching up a bit with Keith (sorry Bill, I don’t recall now if you were there too that year) I settled back to enjoy the music his Herron system was making. Several selections into listening, Keith told me the preamp he was using was a new one, the HL-1 and it was solid state! I was amazed -- I had absolutely no idea from the sound he was getting that there was a solid-state component in the mix, and at the time I owned and listened to one of his tube preamps and phono stages for many hours each day in my home system.

As many have said, Keith is a kind, generous man and scrupulously honest. We’re all getting older and there will inevitably come a time when Keith stops servicing his designs -- and I hope that day is many years away -- but *any* Keith Herron designed product will be lovely sounding, reliable in operation and last for many, many years. If you can find one of his products for less than $1K -- that is the buy of the century. Get on it!

Steve Z