To Garret Hongo,
Thanks for your review on the VAC Renaissance Mk.3. Very nice. You mentioned listening to many preamps but the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 was the winner. I'm wondering, have you listened to any Shindo preamps? I’ve had a VAC Standard LE preamp for a few years now. However, as I had my preamp for some maintenance, I had a friend's Shindo Aurieges on loan. I must say I was quite impressed. Don’t actually know if it’s better than the Standard LE, but at least it seems to fit my system better. The instruments and voices were definitely more real and vibrant. Then again, some seem to think VAC’s better preamps are comparably a lot better than the Standard LE. So I’m wondering about an upgrade path. Any experience with, say, the Shindo Monbrison or Masseto compared to the VAC Renaissance MK.3 preamplifier?
Yes, I think the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 is an outstanding preamp. Though I've no experience with either the VAC Standard LE or the Shindo Aurieges you mention, I have had a Shindo Monbrison in my system. I found it tonally saturated, dynamic, and vibrant, particularly as a linestage and with jazz, rock, and blues. The VAC Renaissance (as a linestage) might be more resolving, less tonally dense, but also more nimble and nuanced, particularly at the top end (I listen to opera and Renaissance choral music). I thought their phono stages were comparable. But these auditions were over 18 months apart, so you can take these assessments with a grain of salt. . . . Garrett Hongo