Having dealt a mortal blow to any DHT’s supposed weakness, I proceeded to examine other sonic aspects. Here another myth was confirmed. The Ref DHT will produce an astonishingly nuanced presentation (carried through the entire range from bass to treble) with textural cues that elevate the reality illusion. If your speakers are up to the task, there are shades and tones in this preamplifier’s palette as it transmits it to the high-level amplification which will surprise you. What you knew to be a snare, trumpet, cello, violin, vocal etc. will now sound more so. More real. More natural. More present. It’s an almost tangible authenticity to the nature of timbral qualities. This is a truly sincere presentation akin to, if I may use the cliché, watching an image in the highest possible definition (now 8K?) not just in terms of added sharpness—even if there is no musical detail left out by the Ref DHT—but more in terms of contrast and dynamic scope. The Ref DHT’s tonal palette and dynamic expressiveness open a view nearing the plausibility of realism.

Take my oft-used acoustic guitar reference, Duets by Sylvain Luc and Biréli Lagrène. The virtuosos play against each other in what may be my music collection’s best guitar recording in terms of fidelity. With the Ref DHT in the system, the guitars were reproduced with such authenticity that listening became first an experience and then an immersive submission to the performance. You submit to the musical event. That is the transcendental power of an extraordinary component. Similarly with Miles Davis’ trumpet in "So What" from Columbia’s SBM remaster of Kind of Blue which is scarily real-sounding. Here the instrument powered through the mix with breath and brass. It did so again with the complexities and detailed subtleties of Renaud Garcia Fons’ 5-string bass plied with skin, gut and even paper (Fons weaves it through the strings) which were rendered with lifelike presence and explosiveness.

And then there was the beauty, sweetness and delicacy of marimba and vibraphone as played by Robert Oetomo in his Evergreen CD where the harmonic content and extended decay lingered bell-like in my room. "Evergreen Lullaby" is Oetomo’s own composition to close off the set. It features a mid-piece crescendo that through a lesser preamp would be somewhat stunted but the Reference DHT scaled along with the music’s intensity. And this vigorous energy was carried through from the leading transient across the fundamental and on to the decay. So powerfully rendered was this section that I almost jumped for the volume control thinking I had set the overall level too high. No, it was just the preamp’s unfettered dynamic scaling and its unbridled potency. Soundfield descriptions in terms of stage width, depth, height and image focus were equally satisfying. Given the appropriate acoustic live recording, the Ref DHT spread a soundstage that extended beyond the speakers’ outer sides and went remarkably past the front wall. This preamp was very adept at providing accurately placed images within the soundstage, with each instrument or vocal having lifelike physical presence. 

Conclusion. The Supratek Reference DHT is a unique preamplifier built by a passionate music lover and artisan far removed from audiophile dogma, with engineering experience stretching many decades. It provides clear, dynamic, powerful and tonally beautiful music to the music lover who is open enough to accept a distinctive component from a craftsman who hand-builds and voices each unit as if it were his personal one-off. It will compete sonically with anything you may care to mention, at any price. And in fact, at the asking price which is admittedly manufacturer direct, this preamplifier is the proverbial high-end bargain pin-up. Regrettably and due to a number of technical and logistical issues of my own, I was unable to test the phono stage. From all reports it at least mirrors (and maybe even surpasses) the excellence of the line stage. However, in the context of this reviewer’s system—one which has hosted many high-end preamplifiers both solid-state and valve—the Supratek Reference DHT reigns supreme. It provides a complete set of sonic attributes across all required parameters while most distinctly punctuating extraordinary lifelike timbre and dynamic expression. The Reference DHT just does music. It has evolved along the way and a decade on, Mick Maloney’s preamplifier is still my personal reference and the absolute heart of my system. Now, the new Supratek Reference DHT is also its musical soul.

Quality of packing:
Well insulated with foam, shipped in a single cardboard box.
Reusability of packing: A number of times.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Easy task.
Condition of component received: Very minor cosmetic blemishes.
Completeness of delivery: All provided.
Quality of owner's manual: Instruction manual via PDF.
Ease of assembly: All instructions provided.
Website comments: The original URL on .biz was hacked and has since transferred to .com.au. This suffix change also applies to Mick's email.
Warranty: 3 years.                                          
Human or web interactions: Very good. Mick Maloney responds within a day or so.
Final comments & suggestions: None at this stage.

Supratek website