LDRx vs. LDR3.V2 – A Tale of Two LDR Preamps

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Although we never set out to deliberately cause confusion we have nonetheless succeeded. What confusion you ask? The confusion that arises when prospective customers diligently comb through our website trying to understand the differences between two of our LDR preamps; the LDRx ($1795) and the LDR3.V2 ($1195).

The essential confusion can be summed up by this typical prospective customer query: “It appears the differences between these two preamps are fairly minor yet one costs $600 more than the other. Am I missing something? Which one should I buy?”

I’m going to sidestep answering that question just yet and provide a bit of background first.

In the 3rd quarter of 2014 we came out with our LDRxB (balanced) preamp which is housed in a distinctive bamboo plus anodized brushed aluminum enclosure measuring roughly 12.5″ wide, by 10″ deep by 3.5″ tall. That enclosure was designed specifically for the LDRxB which being balanced contained a fair amount of hardware and extensive point-to-point audio signal wiring. It needed an enclosure that large – even for a passive preamp.

As we approached the release date of the LDRxB we decided to also offer a less complex single ended model using the same enclosure. Thus the LDRx was also released. Being an single-ended unit the LDRx involved far less hardware than the LDRxB but it didn’t make much sense to design and manufacture a smaller version of the same enclosure just for the LDRx.

Several months later we decided to reintroduce an updated version of an earlier discontinued model called the LDR3 and thus we came out with the LDR3.V2. Why? Because we knew we could offer the LDR3.V2 at a lower price point than the LDRx by virtute of using a smaller and simpler, albeit less attractive, enclosure.

Ok, so that’s the history in a nutshell. Here are the differences.

   LDRx    LDR3.V2
Enclosure  Distinctive custom hand made 3 ply lacquered or oiled bamboo side panels plus black anodized brushed aluminum front, rear and top panels. Approx. dimensions 12.5″ wide by 10″ deep by 3.5″ tall. Mass produced black powder-coated extruded aluminum body with custom front and rear anodized brushed aluminum panels. Approx. dimensions 6″ wide x 8″ deep by 3″ tall. Optional custom wood front panel.
Inputs 3 RCA inputs standard. Optional 4th & 5th input. 3 RCA inputs only.
Power Supply AC mains (120/240 AC switchable) followed by emi/rfi filter and low emi toroidal transformer feeding to into full rectification bridge and DC filter and finally dual high performance switch mode DC-DC converters.This model will work anywhere in the world as-is using any power cable with common IEC style female plug. High performance external linear regulated “wall wart” style dc power supply connected to preamp via 2.1 by 5.5 mm barrel plug.This power supply is only available in 120 VAC. A 240 to 120 converter is  shipped with units sold to international customers with in-country 240 VAC power.

To summarize the LDRx has a bigger and nicer looking enclosure, can accommodate more inputs, and has a marginally superior power supply.

Now to answer that essential question.

The core LDR audio hardware is the same in both models. Therefore, in our opinion, the real world audio performance of these two models are essentially indistinguishable. We are also of the the opinion that the LDRx offers a higher level of aesthetic satisfaction and will be a better visual fit with most other audio hardware.

Whether these similarities vs. differences and the commensurate price difference justify one model over the other is truly a question that only the buyer can answer.

More info on these two models can be found via the links below:

LDRx Passive Preamp

LDR3.V2 Passive Preamp

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8 years ago

Excellent description and guide. One that does not automatically push the consumer to the more expensive product. I want the best sound for my dollar since this I have to go without in other areas. Thank you.

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