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This review first appeared in the July 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of SAC's La Finezza in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or SAC - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: VPI Scout II, SME M2 12 incher, VPI JMW 9T, Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103, SAC Gamma Sym; Luxman D-05, Logitech Touch, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP notebook, M2Tech Hiface, Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Octave HP300 MkII with phono, Electrocompaniet AW180, Denon PMA-2010AE
Loudspeakers: Dynamikks Monitor 8.12, Thiel SCS4
Other: Creaktiv Trend 3 rack, fis Audiotechnik power bar, Ascendo tri-wire set, Dynamikks Speakerlink, Ecosse ES 2.3, Zu Audio Libtec and interconnects from Ecosse, Vovox, Zendo Cable and others
Review component retail: €3.498, €3.996 with optional regulated power supply

Many a new amp
garbs itself in retro threads yet packs a hi-res or similarly capable DAC. And now the antidote. SAC's new preamp arrives in a pitch-black gleaming acrylic timeless finish and packs tape monitoring for up to three decks. Retro inside. What utter coolosity. Diehard fans of magnetic tape ought to be thrilled. What new machines continue to support their passion? But even tapeless yours truly had plenty of fun with the La Finezza. Why we'll get to in the sonic chapter. First more details on the Fine One.

SAC's La Finezza is the successor of the Alpha preamp which mostly explains the fascia. Very symphatically this firm from Essen enjoys offering updates. For less than €2.000 Alpha dogs can thus woof up. This swaps out all internal electronics but keeps the chassis for the familiar layout of, left to right, source selection, tape monitor, MM/MC phono, mono and mute LED plus volume control

Those not upgrading but buying new peel off €3.500 to get a line stage with external power supply offering six inputs, two each rec and pre outs and a home theater bypass. Another €500 upgrades the power supply to a far larger unit with 250V toroid and 40.000µF capacitance (the stock supply does 30VA/9.400µF) and voltage regulation. More on that later. For $349 the phono selector gets connected to support MM/MC and various capacitive and impedance trim via external plugs. Our loaner was a pure linestage version.

Fit'n'finish were fine. Other packaging might be more glamorous but I personally find the no-frills look okay. Considering the box from behind I do have two nits to pick. First there's no XLR in or out which some would probably want. Two, do RCAs have to cluster this tightly? Whilst I find cable bling stupid, just 5mm of more distance would accommodate gigantors without fuss. Input signal first encounters an RC filter at ~600kHz to strip HF noise. Next is an input buffer based on a National Audio LM49720 opamp which also applies impedance conversion to enter the following circuit at low Z. The relays behind the opamps don't merely switch inputs but also control the monitor, mono and mute functions. Volume control is by motorized Alps, then we get dual-mono voltage gain via a combo of AD797 and LT1210 opamps. Those choking on mentions of operational amplifiers are reading the wrong review.