Control Preamplifier
More Music, Less Technology

No single review stands alone so for a balanced perspective on our products we encourage you to read all reviews and to compare and contrast the differing opinions.


Our Control Preamplifier and Reference Mono Power Ampliers were reviewed in depth by Scot Hull in this online review. We were very happy with what he found! The review is available online here.


This review of our Control Preamplifier is such a good one we have printed it in full below. You can view the original, in French, here. You can also download a pdf copy of this review in it’s original format.

Test: Pureaudio Control Preamplifier.

One might think that Pure Audio is an enigma in the world of hi-fi, but it is nothing of the kind. This brand is instead the result of a successful collaboration on the part of two men whose CV speaks for itself.

If Pure Audio is a young New Zealand brand, its two creators are old hands. These are “old timers” who have worked within the audio industry for a long time. Gary Morrison is indeed a long-time friend of Peter Thomson, the creator of Plinius. At his side, he developed and conceptualised all the flagship products that have created the legend of the brand. The SA 50, SA 100, SA 250, SA Reference, M16 and others, the 9100, 9200; all of these are his. The second man, Ross Stevens, is the designer! It’s to him that we owe the first curves on an electronic chassis when, in July 2001, he presented a piece of curved aluminium to the rest of the staff at Plinius. The Odeon multichannel amplifier unveiled this transcendent look in 2002, which other manufacturers have since tried to copy. But the “Plinius” curve was not just a cosmetic touch; it was a real industrial challenge made possible by hard work with the brand’s metalwork partner. These are the two men who are now launching Pure Audio.

The “Pure” concept verges on absolute asceticism when it comes to the design. Besides, the purpose speaks for itself. It’s about a preamplifier design whose real genius lies in a highly innovative enclosure that can be found on other products in the range: a phono preamp, and a pair of mono blocks.

While the sides are close to the 19-inch rack format, any form of classicism stops there! The unswerving imagination of Ross Stevens has given rise to an (acoustically) absolutely “transparent” platform. The enclosure is made with two thick, folded sheets of aluminium forming the cradle and the cover, the fit of which has been carried out to the millimetre. The upper part has been extensively cut to form a sort of postmodern design. These large asymmetric gills are filled with a fine stainless steel mesh that prevents all “impurity” from penetrating the enclosure, while ensuring excellent ventilation. The sequencing of the gills contributes as much to the thrilling appearance as the thermal aspects of the device. Finally, an “open” frame still sounds better than a completely closed one! This housing is, of course, anti-resonant and non-magnetic. It sits on three circular feet made from a special resin that completes its mechanical isolation.

It is difficult to be more uncluttered than the Pure Audio preamp, which features on the front just one single control, a (very) large volume knob that is agreeable to the touch. In the “6 o’clock” position, it puts the device in standby. One notch is enough to get it going. This control is not based on a conventional potentiometer, but a network of calibrated nonmagnetic Vishay-Dale resistors controlled by relays. The user has at their disposal an absolutely transparent 32-step gain attenuator. Despite this “relative” aridity, the user interface is flexible. Source selection is automatic. The detected signal is switched by the corresponding input.

This amp is built like a true dual mono product, implying a true separation of power, signal path and ground planes. To ensure optimal silent operation and no interference, the internal electronics is devoid of microprocessors and other pollutants like that.

Sound analysis
In our twenty-year career, we have had the opportunity to listen to many preamplifiers of this calibre, and we were able to easily place this Pure Audio device in this line-up. This is a high quality product. Its fundamental characteristic sound is simply to have no characteristic sound. This is where our “relative positioning” section comes into its own; we get a much better understanding of this type of product by comparing it to its peers. Be aware that the Pure Audio is a preamplifier that includes a wide bandwidth, without attenuation in the extreme bass or in the treble. We were able to pick this up with the excellent test disc “Bach Recital – Pierre Mea” in Ad Vitam Records. The extension at the bottom of the spectrum is very clear, and it is accompanied by a wealth of detail that makes the listening much more true-to-life. All operating noise of the instrument, the inflections of the lower octaves, the intricacies of the organist’s playing come together easily. At the top, micro-details emerge simply and without simplification. These multiple components come together to recreate a truly three-dimensional image. An understated recording, it offers a fluid vision of a difficult piece. And the Pure Audio preamp allows this to be expressed completely.

Relative positioning
We listened to the Pure Audio preamp with the aid of a digital source, the Orpheus (transport Zero / One Converter SE), two power amps (Pure Audio mono blocks and Plinius SA 103 Stereo Amplifier) and Leedh C speakers. Acoustic Zen cabling was employed throughout. Needless to say, this system denotes a high degree of resolution. More importantly, we had the opportunity to compare the Pure Audio to some remarkable competitors: the Cello Encore, the Hovland HP100 and the Nagra PL-L.

The New Zealander is generally acknowledged to be superior in terms of pure transparency (you can say that again). It surprised us, particularly with respect to Cello, which is a reference in the field. Generally, the Pure Audio appears less ‘coloured’. It is more true, less “pretty”, but also more natural. However, it does not round the corners; be careful when pairing it with other components! The Hovland and Nagra are particularly seductive: they know how to make the most pleasure from musical excerpts by surrounding them with a superb brightness with consummate elegance, even if it means sometimes cheating a little. The Pure Audio refuses to do this, but does appear to dive more deeply into the heart of the piece. In terms of bandwidth, it provides greater extension. We also note a more fluid treble, less “electronic”, when compared with the Cello. The midrange is less emphasised than the Hovland and, to a lesser extent, the Nagra. In short, the Pure Audio is not a synthesis, but a response to these three outstanding products. Certainly, it is less well known, but careful listening will convince you of its qualities.

HiFi Statement March 2014 (Germany)

We will have a full translation of this review available for download shortly.

The published review is at the HiFi Statement website.