Preamp Advice/experiences needed

I recently auditioned a Vac Renaissance Mk 5 and it was damn fine. But there are some issues I have with it that would not make it a great fit in my system and also costs a bit much. I also have on my short list the Aesthetix Calypso Eclipse and Ayre KX-5 twenty. Can anyone chime in with their experiences? any advice is appreciated. (my pwr amp is CJ Premiere 12 monos). TIA


I have a Calypso Eclipse. I won't touch a lot on the sound quality side but, it's very satisfying to me. First, taking a logic, practicality, common sense view, it has several features that are major reasons why I have it. It has a large easy to see display, it's always muted when bringing it out of standby, the display and LEDs are dimmable, the top cover is held on by Velcro making tube access a snap and very importantly to me it has remote control switchable polarity inversion (often incorrectly called phase inversion) (yes, I know that many people are not sensitive to correct/incorrect absolute polarity).

One caveat is about tube changing. Aesthetix does warn about this issue. To avoid circuit damage, a wait of 15 to 20 minutes is required between powering off the unit and any tube removal. I suppose that the caps need to fully discharge before pulling out any tubes. Also, while I do have their new version of the remote control, I don't like it and prefer to use the original one.

It is a "musical" sounding component as opposed to an analytical or clinical/sterile sounding component. I'm using it with a McCormack DNA-500 with SMC Audio's second generation Silver Plus upgrade to drive a pair of Focal Sopra 2 speakers. The old saying that there is no such thing as too much power is easily observed in this case. I think the Calypso works well in my setup. Big and deep soundstage, boatloads of detail and lots of beautiful sound.



how do I add my system under my ID??

My system comprises of a VPI Classic II turntable with a JMW 10.5 inch arm and Dynavector 10X2L LOMC cartridge. Phonostage is a Art Audio Vinyl Reference (Designed and manufactured by K and K audio, Super Phono Max that is further upgraded by Kevin Carter (Vac and Veritas). One of only 5 built. Linestage is a Rogue RP7 with NOS tubes, Power amps are Conrad Johnson Premiere 12 monoblocks and my “summer amp” is a NAD M23. Digital section is a Emotiva ERC 3 used as a transport only DAC is an Auralic Vega and an Intel NUC running Roon Rock/Qobuz.

Speakers are my DIY 12 inch 3 way with a 5 inch carbon composite mid and aluminum/magnesium tweeter. Subs are GR Research H Frame dual 12 with Rythmik amps.


The VAC does not have ability to control balance. This is important as I have hearing loss in one ear. Also there is no power switch on front of unit. There is only a single output.


Does anyone think the Aesthetix can give the Vac a run for the money or are they in different leagues?