The Preos which has done so well in the UK always offered customers a world class Phono stage and DAC but even discounting those “extras” that exist inside the box, as just a standalone linestage I always felt that it had a level of performance to put it fair and square against any of the industries big hitters from Switzerland, the US, Asia etc. at £30,000 and beyond. In my time with the Preos, watching the sorts of exotic Preamps and Linestages it has matched or usurped, I have always known it to be comfortably at the very top level. But honestly, the Preos is not even close to the new Prisma. The new preamp is a whole different thing, a whole dimension away. It has life and purity that the Preos only ever merely hints at. As audiophiles we are always talking about transparency, how we look through a window back to the source and the view gets clearer and clearer as one banishes noise and upgrades his system. With this Prisma though, there is now not even a pane of glass there in the window. Just a feeling of absolute clarity and a nagging sense that every system you heard before was actually a little distant and obscured by comparison.
We all probably know just how crucial the linestage is in a system, how influential it is on the architecture of the sound, the transparency of the system and indeed the power and dynamics of the system. Indeed, the dynamic ability of the watts in your power amp are ONLY ever as good as the bandwidth and performance of the linestage in front of them. Dynamics do not come from WATTS, they come from low noise and bandwidth through the system. To a large degree, they come from the linestage. So a linestage upgrade has always been one of the largest and most satisfying you can make and in this way the Prisma is a very easy component to fall in love with. And if you fire up the inbuilt phonostage and attach a good record player, then you’ll likely want to put a ring on its finger too. The Prisma’s MC input is pure, precise and incredibly well organised and that impression of total invisiblity of the electronics is fully retained. It feels like the grooves in the vinyl are directly wired into your inner ears. I obviously sell separate phonostages from other brands but let me tell you that we would need their very best offerings to match what you get inside this new Tidal, so easily the other side of £20,000.