The Artera series of solid state audio devices gets its first dedicated preamplifier, the Artera Pre, which sees the return of Quad’s well regarded Tilt control.What you may ask is the Tilt control? This is essentially an audiophile version of tone adjustment and was first implemented on the Quad 34 preamplifier back in 1982. The company wanted an EQ designed to take into account tonal adjustments for different recordings and room acoustics (way before Dirac Live!) and believing typical tone and EQ controls were insufficient to deal with such requirements, the Tilt control was created.
Rather than controlling bass or treble balance individually, the Tilt control adjusts both ends of the frequency spectrum together, either attenuating the bass and lifting the treble or vice versa. Effectively, it rotates - or tilts - the audible frequency range on a 700Hz axis, adjusting the overall balance of the sound to make it ‘warmer’ or ‘cooler’ without affecting the apparent volume or colouring the sound.
Making a reappearance after a decade away, the Tilt control provides a subtle, precise and consistent way to adjust sound to compensate for different recordings and the acoustic anomalies of different rooms.
Added to the Tilt function are a series of analogue bass filters that can also be used to shape, lift and cut bass frequencies for adding a little more extension or dealing with room resonances, and their effect is more sophisticated than typical bass controls.
Moreover, the Tilt and bass filters can be combined into individual EQ profiles that can be assigned to each source input. Thus, a range of EQ profiles can be configured and applied to an input depending upon the source component, be it a turntable, CD Player, tuner, DAC or streamer - as long as it has an analogue output. The profile doesn’t preclude further realtime tone adjustments being made to suit the individual audio tracks being played.
Favouring transparency of sound, fidelity to the source and the overall sonic neutrality expected of the best audiophile preamplifiers today, the Pre also demonstrates state-of-the-art design with exceptionally well specified circuitry including a low-noise toroidal transformer, numerous reservoir/smoothing capacitors and multiple ultra-low-noise regulators. Additionally, the core signal path is short and direct in order to preserve signal purity, and volume is adjusted in the analogue domain under microprocessor control.
The available connections include four stereo RCA inputs - three line-level and one phono - plus one balanced XLR, which cater for a wide range of possible uses, starting with vinyl fans who get a low-noise, Class A phono stage which is configurable for both MM and MC cartridges.
All the inputs have the option of direct mode which bypasses all other circuitry and provides the shortest possible signal path from input to output, and the Artera Pre’s four-channel volume control enables the audio signal to remain fully balanced throughout.
The sensitivity (gain) of each input can be controlled in 0.5dB increments (between -8dB and +8dB) for smooth and precise level matching between different sources. For additional flexibility, one of the line level RCA inputs can be switched to AV bypass mode in order to connect an external AV processor.
On the output side, there are both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA preamp connections alongside a fixed-level RCA output. A pair of 12v trigger outputs is also included, to switch connected equipment on/off in line with the preamp.
And for late night or solo listening sessions, the integrated headphone amplifier features a discrete, Class A output stage with low output impedance to drive even the toughest of loads.
Joining the other members of the Artera range, the Pre makes the perfect partner for the Artera Stereo power amp, sharing the same 320mm x 320mm footprint and overall design blueprint of a textured aluminium front panel, thick glass top and CNC-routed heat sinks on either side. There're also touch-sensitive controls built into the circular OLED display, though control via the included, fully featured remote control is also possible.
The Quad Artera Pre is available from October, priced at £999 with a black or silver front panel.
Source: Press release
Image Source: Quad
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