May 1, 2010

The One You Can Stay With - Usher P-307A Pre-amplifier

During the 2 weeks or so the Usher P-307A Preamplifier was in my system, I had no great desire to take it out and return to my resident pre-amp.

The Usher P-30A is a 2-piece pre-amp: the main chassis is metal, relatively light, containing all the knobs, circuitry, and connectors; the other box is the power supply, smaller but heavier than the main chassis, your power cord goes in there and an umbilical xlr-style cord connects to the main chassis. Both boxes are well made and classy looking. What I could not understand was the design difference between the two, the main unit was all metal, while the power supply unit had wooden side-cheeks, the two looked a little incongruous together.

The P-307A is an entirely single-ended units, it has 8 inputs, 2 pre-amp outputs and 2 record/monitor loops. It is also a manual unit, i.e., no remote control (rather inconvenient for my listening habit as my CDs have different recording levels) . List price is Rm8,050.

Since the P-307A is single ended, I could not use my normal interconnects. I reverted to 2 pairs of RCA cables from my old cable 'collection'. A pair of Wireworld Eclipse II went from the CD player to the pre-amp and a pair of Wireworld Polaris III went from the pre-amp to the monoblocks. I believe the Wireworld influenced the sound quality I observed, though the relationship was quite positive at the end of the day.

Was it due to the lack of remote control facility? The Usher P-307A turned to be a totally quiet pre-amp. The Usher's volume knob was labelled with negative numbers (in dB, I believe), going up to zero and then to +10. For the first time using it, I wanted to turn the volume down before starting to play. I must be half sleeping that day, looking at the numbers I thought I was turning it down and found it is a little strange that the knob went clockwise. I was of course turning the volume up mistakenly. In the whole process, I did not hear the slight hiss from my speaker tweeters going up a bit, which would have clued me onto my mistake. The music was ear-shattering! I repeated the process again later without music playing and, yeap, the line stage was indeed quiet.

The P-307A aimed at musical enjoyment. With it in the system, I listened to music as long as ever before, I did not get bored nor did I get listening fatigue. The Usher was pretty much fit and forget. The midrange was especially beautiful, it had a certain liquidity, like the quality from valve gears that many described, which made listening to vocal music particularly rewarding. The highs were sweet, not particularly extended, but what was to be there was there, there was no brightness or darkness. The bottom, probably under the influence of the Wireworlds, was tuneful and well defined, a performance tended to being civilized rather than very impactful.

Taken together, the Usher excelled at male vocal, such as Lee Leesack (which Big E wrote about just a while ago) and female vocal such as Ella Fitzgerald and Stacey Kent. Classical was done well too with excellent delicacy and flow. On Jazz music, the emphasis was more on the texture of the sound rather than emphasizing on the rhythm of the music.

This Usher pre-amp is a comfortable and soothing way to listen to music.

Like I said earlier....
I had no great desire to take it out from my system.

Usher is carried by CMY Audio & Visual, contact John, tel: 03-21439206

1 comment:

Big E said...

I do have a funny question for the Usher guys, if they are lurking here?

I do find it baffling that their power amps allow XLR balanced inputs, but the pre amp has no balanced outputs? And at this day and age, no remote???

I did not listen to the Usher pre amp though, but the build quality looked of equally high standards, if the styling elements of the power supply unit and the main unit does looked a little mismatched.