Howdy y'all. I have been assembling several components to build a second two channel rig at my work apartment. I wanted the apartment rig to be as simple as possible and the thought of a passive pre intrigued me for this. I found a Luminous Audio Axiom Passive Pre on the 'Gon for $80 and bought it.
Last night I came back home to GA to find a whole bunch of goodies waiting for me; speaker cables, custom SDA ic, tubes, and the passive pre. I decided to give the Axiom a test run because I was curious if it would work with the equipment I planned on using for the aprtment rig. I read that passive pres can be hit or miss depending on your source, ics, and amplifier. Synergy and careful matching of components was crucial. I decided to use my Consanance CD-120 Balanced as the cdp since I knew it had a lot more gain then my Denon DVD-2900 SACD/DVD-A player and my Jolida JD-9A Phono Pre. I hooked the Axiom up to Consanance and then to my Anthem Amp-2 SE tube/soilid state hybrid amp at first. The sound was very detailed and clean with great speed, dynamics, and transparency, but it lacked the warm sound and 3-D soundstage I was getting with my modded Anthem Pre-1L tube pre. The thing I love about tubes is the overall emotion and feel that they give music. Tubes seem to pull you into the music in ways that I just don't get with most solid state products. The Consonance/Axiom/Amp-2 combo was a little too solid state sounding for my liking, but there were things that I really liked about it like the increased detail especially with the highs.
Next up I decided to try the Consanance cdp/Axiom pre combo connected to my Anthem Amp 1 tube amp. From the first note I knew this was going to be a sweet sounding set-up! The mid-range warmth and 3-D sounstage were back in spades, but the system seems to have a level of detail, again especially in the highs that I was not getting with my tube pre. The increase in detail is smooth without being fatiguing. Bass seems to be much more articulate and has more weight. I have been listening to this setup almost constantly since last night and I'm really liking what I hear from rock, jazz, bluegrass, country, R&B, and classical. It all sounds great. I still think my tube pre sounds slightly better with jazz and classical, but it's really, really close. The tube pre has just a touch more warmth which lends itself to this type of music. The Axiom is all over the tube pre when listening to rock and other music that is faster and has a little harder edge to it. So far the Axiom pre seems to be the more versatile of the two in terms of sounding good with a wider range of musical styles.
I'm looking forward to more listening with this combo and seeing if I still have these feelings over time. Right now I have been playing the combo with my LSiM-703s and it is a great match. I will be using the combo with my SRS 2s at the work aprtment and I can't wait to hear it. I'm actually looking forward to going back to work now just to hear it! That's saying a lot!