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What’s on DEQX? The PreMate can be described as an analogue preamplifier with built-in DAC which also features the DSP powers that made DEQX world famous. In fact it shares many of the features of the current flagship HDP4. By that virtue alone, the new PreMate has quite the pedigree. But what the brains behind DEQX wanted to achieve with it was a product that would easily fit the context of established audio enthusiast systems without upsetting traditional and more conservative configurations, yet also offer the more adventurous an avenue into the advanced wonders of digital manipulation.

In its basic guise the PreMate can be used as a high-quality preamplifier with 32-bit resolution DSP volume. It will accept a digital signal from a legacy CD transport or a computer whilst also taking a balanced and single-ended analogue input (all switchable by remote). The in-built high quality PCM1795-based DACs then take over the signal, crunch the numbers and pass on the signal to the analogue line outputs to connect to a power amplifier. Connection to an integrated amp would mean maxing its volume control and riding levels with the PreMate (preferable due to its high-resolution volume control); or one could do it the other way around.

Now for the cream. For users with the spirit of Cortez as sonic explorers and conquistadors, the PreMate can be much more than a transparent preamp and superb DAC. A simple process can apply room correction whose memory presets can be saved and accessed—even easily bypassed—via the remote control. In my case measurements were taken from the listening position to apply time-domain room correction below 200Hz and correct a minor room-related bass hump around 100Hz. As conducted by DEQX’s Alan Langford, these measurements took all of 15 minutes to complete. The PreMate generated a number of tones for each channel, then produced a graph with the measured frequency response plot. Corrections can be made in real time and/or stored.

To facilitate the measuring process, some dealers stock loaner microphones. Alternatively DEQX offer a ‘Calibration Kit’ for around $195. A second level of digital wizardry may be applied to your speakers. Speaker driver correction can be used to compensate for group delay errors so all frequencies are aligned in time (pseudo-anechoic measurement). In the past I’ve found this correction to range from subtle with very expensive speakers using high-quality drivers and well-designed crossovers; to a sobering and jaw-droppingly dramatic sonic improvement with speakers of more modest drivers at the low- to mid-level price points.

Third, the PreMate can correct for impulse response timing errors for seamless subwoofer integration (preferably multiple units) whilst adding the option of adjustable low-pass and high-pass filters. So really, the point to stress about this new DEQX product is that the PreMate can fit into any system with as little or much reconfiguration, digital manipulation and user activity as the individual is willing to undertake.     

On ya mate! The unit has been completely restyled to become a more conventional component albeit with a classy diamond-polished aluminium front panel available in black or silver; a medium-gauge steel chassis; and high-quality connectors. As far as the latter go, the PreMate features one each analogue input on RCA and XLR and a host of digital inputs. These include optical, S/PDIF on BNC and RCA, AES/EBU and USB. The USB input is a user-retrofittable option for an additional US$495, PCM only, asynchronous from 16-24 bits at 44.1-192kHz and with direct I²S conversion. A BNC output rounds out digital connectivity. RS-232 D-connector control options are also offered. Plus there’s an XLR microphone input for the various correction features. For analogue outputs there are  RCA and XLR main outs and two subwoofer outputs also on RCA and XLR. A fused and switched IEC socket provides AC power.