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September 2017
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Best Audiophile Product Of 2017 Blue Note Award
Best Of 2017 Blue Note Equipment Awards

VAC Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V With MM/MC Phono Stage
Price: $12,990

Click here to read the complete review.


  The letters VAC is not an abbreviation for vacuum, although the VAC Renaissance Mk V does have five miniature twin triode vacuum tubes on board. The company banner is actually an acronym for, Valve Amplification Company. This Mk V preamplifier is something entirely new in the VAC lineup for 2017. There is a basic MkV line stage preamplifier without the phono stage that sells for $9990. That configuration uses just two miniature Dual Triode tubes. The Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V under evaluation contains an optional phono amplifier stage which adds three additional 12AX7 tubes. With the optional phono stage on board the cost increases to, $12,990. Interestingly the VAC company are not very specific about the exact type of tubes required. The specification tells us that you can substitute the following, 6DJ8 / ECC88 / E88CC / 6922 / 7308 these are once again all similar miniature dual/twin triode vacuum tubes.

The first MM phono section provides the gain and RIAA equalization required for basic phono playback. This is the heart and lungs of the phono stage, as it were. The MM jacks have independent loading at 47,000 Ohms and 100 picofarad, as is appropriate. The MM/MC switch disconnects the MM jacks and connects the gain/EQ stages to the dedicated MC input. The key features of the MC input are two precision, wide-band step up transformers actually the same type found in the VAC Statement Phono Stage and a dedicated variable resistive loading switch. So, MM and MC share the tube gain and EQ sections, but have separate input, loading, and MC gain provisions.



Flipping through my vinyl LP stash of flea market finds one after another the quality all proved to be just mediocre. So at the risk of repeating myself let me talk about Another Page by Christopher Cross. This studio album Is a favorite because of the clarity and depth complexity of the center image. The first cut side two, Its "All Right" the backup vocals repeat the phrase, "Its all right I think we are gonna make it". The spacing between those voices in the center are well defined. The tonal inflection and timber in each voice comes through with perfect clarity. The fast paced tempo is pure energy driven by a bass guitar and key board. This makes for an excitement laced complex instrumental arrangement. So far no surprises, this is what I'm accustomed to hearing when playing this recording with my Adagio Phono amplifier.



My Tavish Adagio has been bested, I didn't think it possible. If only it was as free as the Renaissance of any electronic background hash this might have held the Adagio on an equal footing. Talking about this preamplifier by dividing it up into separate parts may be misleading in some way. The important thought to hold onto is the calm and natural liquid quality that pervades all the music. These are expressed as purer timber richer harmonics and more stable images.



The Renaissance is not inexpensive but reasonable taking into account it is at the cutting edge of what is possible. If you're serious about and love music, this preamplifier will provide many years of totally immersed enjoyment. Go find a dealer, audition the VAC Renaissance Mk V preamplifier, and most certainly you will like what you hear. Remember to enjoy the music and from me, Semper Hi-Fi!


Click here to read the complete review.



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Best Audiophile Product Of 2017 Blue Note Award
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