While chatting recently with a customer (which I love doing BTW) he mentioned that he would be attending Axpona in Chicago and asked if Tortuga Audio would also be at the show. I told him that, unfortunately, circumstances prevented Tortuga Audio from being at Axpona this year.
He suggested that in that case he might take his single input Tortuga LDR1.V2B balanced passive preamp along with him to Axpona. When I asked him why he said, “I know some people who need to hear this thing”.
This customer is no slouch when it comes to high end audio and owns some truly spectacular gear. Once he tried our balanced preamp he was unequivocal that it was the best he’d heard regardless of price and has been a big fan of Tortuga Audio ever since.
Our customer went on to explain that he might be able to have some after-hours fun with some folks he knew that had a room at Axpona showing several brands of well respected gear. Of course I was both grateful and curious how this would play out.
He called me after returning from Chicago to share how things went. I was all ears of course. Now I have to preface the story to say that I’m not going to name names of people, products or companies as per our customer’s request. The gear involved included excellent DAC, preamp, amps, and speakers each listing at $10k or higher. All very nice high end gear and all of which have received accolades in the audio press over the past couple of years.
On an evening as the show wound down, the halls emptied and the vendors began to relax into the evening, our customer suggested now might be a good time to give the Tortuga a listen. And so the Tortuga was installed. As is often the case with passive preamps, expectations were…”reserved”. Still, the attendees were ready to see what this little box could do.
While these small hotel rooms are notoriously challenging environments for demoing audio gear – even on a good day – the high end equipment in this room was very revealing and would quickly expose any weak link in the chain.
First comments were (as Tortuga owners frequently report) that the bass was exceptional, not just for a passive, but equal to the best active preamps at the show. Next, were observations of both how clean the sound was while at the same time rich in harmonics and detail.
Interestingly, when various input impedances were selected (a recent new feature in Tortuga Audio preamps), it was found that the DAC preferred a higher source impedance than was previously being used. This allowed a tailoring of the system’s sound to find the sweet spot where the highs were neutral and extended while retaining the fully fleshed out midrange and powerful, controlled bass. Experimentation with various input impedances demonstrated how important that capability is to properly match components and to really get the most out of the significant investment in hardware of the complete system. This ability to zero in on the ideal input impedance wasn’t available to the system before the Tortuga joined the party.
I think it’s a fair statement that Tortuga Audio’s biggest obstacle selling to the audiophile community is the still widely held opinion that “passive” preamps can’t match (let alone exceed) the performance of active preamps. Not because they tried Tortuga and were disappointed but because they, or as likely someone they know and respect, or someone in a forum post or magazine article, had tried a passive before and had been disappointed.
This customer’s demonstration at Axpona is a perfect example of how Tortuga Audio’s LDR passives aren’t just different audio. They’re better audio. And thanks to our customers’ sharing their experiences with the Tortuga preamps, more audiophiles are hearing that some passives truly are more equal than others. Indeed more equal even than many high end actives!
The Totuga Audio preamp at Axpona was the LDR1.V2B Balanced Passive Preamp which is offered at $1895 direct through Tortuga Audio. More info on the LDR1.V2B can be found here.