Review: Spectral DMC-30SL

Category: Preamps

The Spectral DMC-30SL is not for everyone.
Unless you have very revealing speakers
with excellent transient response and
a very high resolution CD player with
balanced topology, then you will be pulling
your hair out with this one. And not to have
the very best cabling going, you will not
get the best out of this beast. However, if
you do have the above prerequisites then you
are in for a treat. The soundstage is now
wall to wall and deep, the images are absolutely
rock solid. Not the least bit grainy nor any high
frequency fatigue. It has the typical liquid
sound of Spectral. However its coup de main
is its unprecedented low level resolution.
Whatever is on a cd WILL be transmitted to
the speakers and I mean everything. A foot
tapping, a very light slap on the body of
of a cello, and much to my chagrin the grunge
of digital audio. The Resolution CD50, in its
day was a fine CD player, not now!! Every
imperfection shines through and is magnified;
its like looking through a microscope. Cabling
is sometimes an important issue with Spectral,
in particular, their amplifiers, but now with
their preamplifier too. Just changing interconnects,
will alter the character of the soundstage and
imaging. It looks like until I have the finest
interconnects, this preamplifier has not reached
its highest level of performance. And until I
upgrade the CD playback system, this system will
play music and play digital grunge, too.
So do I recommend this preamplifer, only if
are willing to go the extra mile and ensure the system
has the finest interconnects, speakers, and cd
playback system. Then it will be a keeper for
a very long time. Reference quality for a reference
musical system.
Shubertmaniac you hit it right on the head. Spectral makes some killer gear IMHO and to get the most out of it you have to go the extra mile. System matching is what it is all about.
Hi Shubertmaniac,as an owner of the DMC-20s2 and DMA150 and Avalon Opus speakers I agree on your conclusion that for a highend pre-amp to show its capabilities, it requires (demands) high standards for the fron-end as well as the back-end of your system and not to forget the cables and the AC. For a broad band pre-amp as the DMC-20 any high frequency noise will effect the phase correctness (assumed it is) of the input signal and there goes the (inner) soundstage and positioning of the image. Not to mention the lost of inner detail and timbre.
A spectral component or chain requires at least a shielded (best is double or tripple shielded) AC cable from your equipment room to location where the AC comes into your house and is splitted to the various groups. In The Netherlands (where I live) the AC in an normal house has 3-phases and I use an seperate individual phase for my equipment. Although the improvement is less than by using a direct shielded AC-line. A slong as you haven't taken such measures I wonder if you will ever experience what your DMC-30 is capable of.
Good luck Henk
After 6 months of critical listening to the whole system, I replaced the DMC30SL with both a DMC10 and and an ARC SP8; switching back and forth between the two. Then the following day going back to the DMC30SL. There is just no comparison! The DMC30SL has a much larger soundstage and better control of the image, the bass impact is stronger.
But the two most breathtaking aspects of the DMC30sl is resolution and tonal balance and correctness. My favorite instrument is the cello and the Spectral preamp gets this right,from top to bottom of the musical scale;just amazing. The woodiness of the cello is not muted or plastic, just natural. But its ability to get into the CD bitstream and glean what is there is something to behold. It is enchanting. So many old CDs, become more vibrate with the ambient resolution that this preamp produces. Honestly, I cannot wait to get home and turn my system on and just get enraptured with the music. They say solid state is cold
and heartless, Spectral puts the heart and soul back in.