Home Theater Bypass
Give the designer credit for addressing the home theater enthusiast who
might want to integrate the preamp with their system by offering an HT
connection as well, related to that bypass feature button found on the
front. Essentially it allows the integration of the Perseus for two-channel
with CD, or a phono source with a processor for multi-channel. By activating
the Bypass, the input is routed through the preamp directly to the
processor. The analog benefits are of course the lure in this setup, and I
love the feature.
The question always becomes, to pair up a tube preamplifier with a tube
amplifier or solid state amplifier. Of course the direction I took was to
use a solid sate amplifier. Why? Without getting into a dissertation about
the benefits of either tube or solid state, the combination can bring the
best of both worlds together. The wonderful mid-range from tubes combined
with a low distortion and deep bass driving amplifier will bring out the
most of your speakers.
I paired the Perseus then with a transistor amplifier from Audio Design
Associates (ADA) I had on hand from a previous review. Although the fan
noise from the ADA unit interfered with some of the quiet periods, the
Perseus nevertheless benefited from the collaboration.
Input sources included a turntable from Marantz, the TT-15S1, a McCormack
universal player with the Reference 205/2 speakers from KEF, Alpha-Core
interconnects and speaker cables from Goertz. All were plugged into a Torus
20 amp power conditioner.
Rogue Audio sends out the Perseus fully burned in, which also means it must
go through some lengthy testing prior to leaving the shop.
The Perseus has a "slow start turn on sequence" which preserves the tubes
and power source. It takes about 10 seconds once switched on before the
voltage turns on and another 10 seconds before the outputs "disconnect from
This of course gives you plenty of time to get acquainted with the simple
yet hefty remote control which only controls volume up and down.
Allow me one minute gripe: using the remote is
a bit hard to get the volume just where you want as it's either just too
loud or too low. There seems to be a lingering delay as the volume knob
continues after you stop pushing the button on the remote.
Immediate impression, this thing is very quiet! I had expected a bit more
noise, yet the Perseus relegated any such "hiss" to extreme volume with
nothing playing - and still I had to leave my chair and place my ear to the
On vinyl, Nat King Cole's LP, After Midnight is in itself a wonderful
moody recording from 1956. Perseus presents Nat and the Trio with a full
range – his voice is smooth yet throaty, forward, and airy. The instruments
from Stuff Smith's violin, and Nat's piano playing are nicely articulated,
alto sax, trumpet, and trombone sufficiently brassy. This is an accomplished
ensemble. Perseus made this two-album LP so much fun!
Of course CDs are where it's at, right? Yo-Yo Ma's Vivaldi's Cello
with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra is an easy listen and not all that
complex to enjoy. Of course if you love the cello as I do, Perseus delivers
it with warmth and musicality. Believable "live" bass is tight and fast.
Highs are nicely extended and crisp, yet the edges are softer, relaxed.
An ultimate male voice demonstration disc from Cantus, Against the Dying
of the Light, is an emotional CD with tenors, baritones, and basses
recorded in a chapel, in Minnesota. Perseus reproduces the group with
complex voice layers and a stage presence, placing me several rows back.
I wondered what Perseus would do with more modest speakers, say monitor type
and how it may exploit or bring out the full potential of the speaker.
Auditioning the new BLS bookshelf from Outlaw Audio, I found the emphasis
was on detail.
Perseus pushed the dynamic of the tweeter, yet
I was struck by the depth and range from deep bass and a full midrange – a
wonderful match it seems with many speaker types, is my point.
Perseus unveiled Marta Gomez's pretty CD Cantos De Agua Dulce with a
natural ease, her voice natural and sweet with background vocals forward.
Percussions absolutely dynamic and spatial and more pronounced. Very much
like the cello, the guitar is warm without being too "woodsy".
Almost completely opposite to Marta Gomez's silky voice is bass singer
Kurt Elling - Live in Chicago with its stage nuances and club
atmosphere. No DSP here, this is a club concert. Perseus reveals Elling's
voice so precisely you almost sense the few times he may be off key, after
all this is live! Instruments on the other hand are meticulous - Perseus
presents the piano with such vigor and attack! Acoustic bass guitar is once
again forward, almost in your lap.
I'd be remiss if I didn't challenge Perseus with a difficult classical
orchestra – Mahler's romantic, poetic and tribute to nature with Symphony
no. 1, specifically the CD Blumine, with David Zinman, and the
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. Mahler intended the sense of distance to some of
the instruments, trumpets, and violins and the third movement is dream-like
and provocative – credit the recording, yet Perseus clearly delivers,
finished, and polished.
Lately, I've enjoyed reviewing the convenience of integrated amplifiers, and
with so many exceptional pieces, I've shunned the need for a separate
preamplifier. Oh, what I was missing! The phono stage, especially, can
certainly make the difference on a modest turntable, elevating it to "much
Those who simply cannot find space for a separate two-channel system can add
the benefits from this analog source easily with the HT Bypass feature.
Although I spent most of my time with the Perseus in a separate room with a
two-channel system, placing it in my solid-state surround sound greatly
improved the system with more character, dimension, texture, and an overall
timbral balance. It's literally painful to remove it from that system. If
your motive is the same as mine, you want the pure enjoyment of music.
You've heard this before about components and you'll hear it again - the
Rogue Audio Perseus is a bargain for a preamplifier of this caliber.
- Piero Gabucci -