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Iain Borthwick: "I hear what you're saying about the confusing nature of StereoKnight's website still being live despite having no product to sell. According to Fang their sales stopped in November 2011. But since James was in charge of the site Fang can't take it down from his end. Fang asked me to explain his rational behind the new Audio Music preamp. He states that it is a reference design, hence the dual volume controls, separate power supplies, transformers and voltage regulators and his custom 20 copper-foil capacitors. He feels that his old method of remote control via relays was detrimental to ultimate sound quality. At the moment how he wires up his volume pots would necessitate a very powerful motor to actuate them mechanically. It's something he's still working on. This circuit is not truly balanced as that would entail four attenuation transformers. Fang claims that the sound is better single-ended so that's what he went with.

Audio Music's true balanced passive with proper socketry and selector markings.

"The balanced sockets are a mere convenience to increase connectivity options. The loss of the double output connections is due to Fang thinking them to be unnecessary plus the unit is physically smaller than the StereoKnight had been to create a lack of back panel space. Some of my customers have heard this preamp and say exactly the same as you. Although enthralled by the sound they need a remote, a display for volume level and markings for the input selector. I asked Fang about it all and he feels that marking the front would ruin the looks. He quite correctly states that once you start using the unit the selector becomes intuitive but I must let others be the judge. I too feel that the lack of remote is a pain but I recently had opportunity to run the two-box reference silver Enigma with remote or the Audio Music. I chose the latter. I incidentally lost sales on the StereoKnight due to the very irritating sound of relays clicking on its remote versions. On a final note, having had discussions with Fang over this I decided that for our market this model will only sell direct through me. The new price is £4.250 [it originally was slated for £5.500 when I was first approached - Ed]. That makes it somewhat of a bargain. Given its functional limitations I feel this product won't open up a huge market."

This thematic—yawn—is quite common for perfectionist designers who'd rather have you sit on a bed of nails than sacrifice an iota of performance you'd never know about. They pass on responsibility for overcoming objections and getting beat up about lacking conveniences to their (few) sales agents. From the above Iain Borthwick was perfectly aware of it all. That he still felt representing this machine was worth his time and effort during these early days either tells us about his pigheadedness; the sound of the terribly named Audio Music R-T1 preamp; or both. Let's simply say I was intrigued enough to remain signed up. Another reason was that the 6H30 tube here isn't used as output but driver triode. I dislike the 6H30 in the latter role where it nearly invariably turns glassy and dry. French contributor Joël Chevassus concurs. He claims the only one to avoid it is Rogue Audio's massive Hera II. I've had much better results with the 6922, ideally its 7308 variant. I was thus hopeful that the Arty One would avoid previous 6H30 sonics.