Finally! My first block of eight T15 preamps is ready! Tested and operating beautifully!
You may ask “What is so important about that?”. Well, I kind of built them from scratch. See, there is this company called Sevent Circle Audio from Oakland, CA and they sell the kits to build your own preamp modules.
At first I was a bit skeptical. Made by me? How good could it possibly sound? Well, I guess at least it will be made in the USA, right? 😉 Anyways, I did a bunch of research and finally decided to order one kit and give it a try. I was rather surprised to receive my kit the next day, but then it all made sense – I live about an hour away from their HQ in Oakland. Still, it was a pleasant surprise.
When I opened the box I found a bare circuit board and a bunch of plastic bags with all the parts in them. Resistors, diodes, capacitors and connectors – everything that needs to go on that board was there. Things were meticulously labeled and really well packaged. After studying the paperwork and downloading the assembly instructions (please, don’t even think for a minute that you’ll get away without reading them this time) I tentatively started work. It is a good idea to have the proper tools for work. There is a list of things you’ll need, all listed in the instructional PDF. Using those things can dramatically improve your work and contribute to a pleasant and problem free experience.
The beauty of this whole thing is that you can start with a simpler preamp, like the T15, or go for something a bit more complex, such as the N72 (a beautiful sounding Neve clone). I strongly recommend starting small, it takes a decent chunk of patience and dedication to finish one of these.
Anyways, it took me about a whole day to put my first module together. The instructions were a little outdated so I had to spend a some time on their forums trying to figure some things out. The good news is once you build you first module you speed up considerably. By the time I started building my 6th module I could assemble one of these in 2 hours.
People ask me “How about the box? Where did you get this good looking thing from?”. Well, the power supply and the housing for 8 modules can be also purchased from Sevent Circle Audio. It definitely makes more sense to order them together with some modules, because they give you a pretty serious discount that way. Oh, and do not worry, the power supply comes already assembled. You will only have to do some minor and basic work to fit things together and get that thing going.
How do they sound? Well, if you have followed the directions closely and have been careful about your work you are really going to love the sound of it. The T15 is extremely clean and very transparent. I did not expect such definition and presence. It definitely beats any preamp + AD converter combos I have worked with in terms of depth and dynamic range. When we talk about other pro grade equipment I would say the T15 probably does not carry as much personality and flavor as your typical API or a Neve pre, but if you are looking for something clean and solid to truly represent the signal – this would do the job!