Your preamplifier is arguably the second most important device in your audio system. Only the source component,  your CD player, LP playback system or other prime source, is more important to the overall sound. At Musical Design, we believe you want to hear the beauty of the music recorded on your precious software. That's our mission, to play the music faithfully. 

Design Philosophy

At the core of our beliefs is the drive to attain simplicity. Each and every component in a preamplifier contributes in one way or another to the non-linearity of the output. No matter how good any given component part is, it is not perfect - by definition. Each new part adds distortions that are often unrelated to the music being amplified. Complex circuit designs inevitably sound compressed, dry and unnatural. Some manufacturers boast about the complexity, and therefore, supposed sophistication of their designs. Complex design is the antithesis of sophistication. Complexity is no surrogate for actual sophistication. No amount of strong-arm, negative-feedback will completely, accurately make up for the non-linearities inherent in each and every device. In addition, the application of excessive negative feedback results in the secondary production of distortion, such as TIM.  This is more sonically harmful than lower feedback levels with higher, but more benign distortion properties. Our SP-2B, for example, is a remarkably simple design accomplished without the use of overall negative feedback. Yet, it has relatively low distortion due to the elegantly simple, sophisticated circuit design.

How we test!

Matching our component preamps against a 'straight-line preamp' is one of the ways we test for musical transparency. How do we do this? It is really rather simple. Just take a preamp and eliminate the actual amplification stage. You still have the volume pot, RCA jacks, wiring and so forth. This zero-gain, but otherwise identical 'preamp' acts as a reference against which you compare the normal preamp version. On a good system, it is not difficult to hear the differences between most preamplifier stages and a straight-line version of the same preamp. 

In our experience, most preamps don't do too well on this test. Musical Design preamps not only exhibit great purity in these tests, they actually allow the dynamics and bass power of the signal to reach full expression. In the case of Musical Design preamps, the amplified signal is actually preferable to the straight-line preamp. This is borne out on some of the finest tube-powered, electrostatic headphones on the planet, which we use as a secondary reference.

What you get!

There are plenty of audio makers racing to build the heaviest remote control, to have the thickest faceplate, to use the most 'name brand' parts, to offer the thickest power cord, to find the sexiest new metal finishing technique and on and on. I think you're following me. These things aren't the issue. Natural, inviting sound is the issue. Sound quality is what we concentrate on at Musical Design. If you are of like mind, we have some interesting components for you.

Musical Design Preamplifiers