Boundless curiosity definitely has a down side. My on line product research led to so many side branches that if it they were laid out on paper it would resemble a highway map. The hook was baited for me in Montreal at the 2009 Salon Son & Image show. The Salon show is primarily a dealer-oriented event held every year at Montreal's Le Centre Sheraton Hotel. At this show I found myself a stranger in a strange land and everything looked strange (French) to me. It seems that up in the Far North some of our Canadian Cousins were and are into some exotic flavors of high-end audio. Specifically speaking, it was the components on display in Salon 7, the Obad Imports demonstration room. Obad is an on line direct marketer that operates out of two Countries, Langley, British Columbia and in the U.S. from Blaine Washington. The proprietor Sasha Obad specializes in importing novel audio components usually difficult to find outside their home countries. When entering their demo room my first impression was that they were getting some very nice sounds from some very tiny Chinese black boxes. One in particular caught my attention it was the King Rex PREFerence Preamplifier it had much to my surprise an optional Phono Stage circuit board. Note: The odd spelling is exactly the way the King Rex Company writes the word preference.
The front panel of the KingRex control preamplifier is simplicity itself. A source knob on the left selects one of the four inputs and at the right is an Alps RK 27 volume control knob. In the center between the two knobs is an array of five blue LED's the center LED is on when the unit is powered up. Forming a square are the four remaining blue LED's they are on when the corresponding input signal is selected. Note: All of the four pairs of RCA inputs on the rear and front panel are numbered from one to four with roman numerals. Now looking at the rear panel there are the four pairs of co-axial RCA input jacks plus one additional pair labeled preamp output. If the preamplifier is equipped with the optional Phono Stage the number four pair of RCA's is then used for the cartridge input. Two things remain on the rear panel, a grounding post for the turntable cartridge and a three-pin XLR female connection for the DC power supply. In a separate box there are eight cone-shaped feet and eight disks that are placed under the pointed feet. That is four disks under the power supply and four disks placed under the preamplifier.
Pop Pulse T150 Amplifier
than the obvious physical construction of this amplifier and the fact that it
was a Class-T design, no explanatory literature came with it. The Pop Pulse
appearance is of a black painted sheet metal rectangle measuring, 6.25 x 10 x
2.5 (WxDxH in inches) and weighing approximately 9 pounds. The front panel has a blue
power on LED and a large volume control knob. At the rear there is the usual IEC
power cord socket and an On/Off switch. Additionally there are four insulated
speaker cable binding posts and two left and right channel RCA preamplifier
input jacks. Oddly there is only one XLR output socket on the back panel.
I believe that this single XLR female input socket on the rear panel is used
only if you use two PP T150 amplifiers in a mono configuration, one amplifier
for each speaker.
This dearth of information necessitated more surfing on the Internet to fill in some of the blanks. In April 25, 2008 the Tripath Company declared bankruptcy. The intellectual property was sold to Etelos and then in a back merger with Cirrus Logic. Now it is Cirrus Logic who produces the Tripath circuits. Gathering data on line I can now tell you the Pop Pulse amplifier was manufactured in Hong Kong by Wickin Development Ltd. Apparently my sample was upgraded and uses a higher power Tripath Ta-2022 circuit. It is rated at 75 wpc and it may be bridged to produce 150 WPC. Another site tells me that the volume control can be bypassed but nowhere does it tell you how to do it. There is something you should be aware of. Some specifications given by manufactures from Asia do not always follow U.S. guidelines. As an example the power rating might be listed as 150 watts but that's a combined total for both channels. Additionally it may be listed at 4 Ohms with no mention of the RMS specification.
spite of some confusion about specifications the bottom line is as always to
ENJOY THE MUSIC (sorry they made me write that). Installing the
PREference and the Pop Pulse in my system was straight forward, the small size
and lightweight made everything much easier. The preamplifier as received was a
show demo and I had been assured that it was broken in. However the Pop Pulse
amplifier was new. But as it turned out the Pop Pulse amplifier never seemed to
require any time to break in, the sound essentially remained the same for as
long as I had it in my system.
From the very first the combined PREFamplifier and Pop Pulse T-150 power amplifier exhibited what they can do and do very well indeed. And that presentation is comprised of lightening fast transient attacks painted over a dead quiet background. This is in combination with deep bass and slightly bright treble that seems to be more prominent as I listened to my reference CD's. The sound in stereo is the width of the two speakers and extends about five or six feet back where it flattens as if against a solid wall. In this space there is image location and a modicum of height information. My reference CD recording is Basia-Time And Tide, [Epic EK40767]. On this recording the subjective bass boost is not in any way offensive as a matter of fact it just might get your toes tapping to the tunes. This bass prominence was the single most noticeable characteristic for as long as I kept these two components playing in my system. Which one of these two components is responsible for this bass sound? OK, let us find out. I connected the PREFerence Preamplifier directly into my reference Sanders ESL power amplifier via: 1.5 meters of Audio Research Litzline coax. Consequently with the Sanders amplifier in the system the sound was far more frequency flat from top to bottom. Obviously the low bass prominence was mainly coming from the Pop Pulse T150. At first you might miss the excitement of the bass beat that compels you to tap your feet. But after awhile you realize what your hearing is a closer approximation of what's on the recording without the added bass.
Reconnecting the PREFerence Preamplifier directly into my Sanders ESL amplifier and playing the same vinyl recordings with the Shure 15 V-MR cartridge. As you would expect the overall frequency response is far more even from the bass up to dog whistle levels. Removing the Pop Pulse amplifier from the system ameliorates/flattens most of the elevated bass. But even with far less boom in my room there still needs to be more lower midrange information coming through the PREferenc preamplifier. As an added benefit there is a noticeable lowering of vinyl groove noise when listening with the Sanders amplifier. Now one last factoid: the Sanders power amplifier does not have as much gain/volume as the combination of the PP T150 power amplifier and the PREFerence preamplifier.
However, Obad Imports lists many affordable hi-fi goodies on their website and their $379 Dollar King Rex Pre-Amp is certainly worth taking a long look. The Pop Pulse power pumper is a strange beast, a mixture of sonic zing and what was that? OK, maybe it is not exactly neutral but certainly a lot of fun to listen to? And so at this juncture I should ask, what kind of music do you like to listen to? Do you play your music loud and do you like big bass? You could use it to bi-amp the woofers of stereo speakers or to power a separate AV subwoofer. All things considered I think the Pop Pulse T150 amplifier is most certainly an unequivocal steal at $260 Dollars.
Semper Hi Fi
Marantz DV 8400 Universal CD player, Cambridge Audio
Discmagic-1 CD transport, Cambridge S-700 Isomagic HDCD D/A Converter fed into
ART Audio DI/O Tube D/A and A/D processor Up sampling output to 48/96, Magnum
Dynalab FT101a tuner and Dynalab Signal Sleuth. Aurum Cantus SE2, Sota Sapphire
2, Grado Signature arm with Shure V15 V-MR.
Three meter Kimber Cable 8TC, 3 meter RCA, 3 meter, Wire World
Eclipse-2, RCA, 1 meter Chord Silver Siren, 1 meter and Wire World 10 gauge IEC
power cord, Audiobhan 0.5 meter unbalanced digital
System Power conditioning inclues the Richard
Gray 20 ampere Substation, Islatrol Industrial 20amp ac line conditioner, Alpha
Core Balanced Transformer Power Supply, Audio Power PE-1 power enhancer, Triad
2-ampere isolation transformer, VPI Magicbricks, Argent Room Lens system, Room
Tunes Panels, and a comfortable chair.
Pop Pulse T150 Amplifier
Voice: (415) 692-5401