German Physiks Emperor Preamplifier – Positive Feedback

At 66 pounds, it took two of us to rigorously hoist the new German Physiks Emperor Preamplifier onto my rack. This is the heaviest preamp I’ve had because the mbl 6010D a decade ago. That was so big I wanted to get peak extenders for my TAOC rack. The Emperor shouldn’t be that huge, just slightly greater than my CH Precision L1 Preamp (which is already bigger than the typical). At 18½” W x 6⅓” H x 18½” D, the Emperor simply fit on the shelf. But why is that this factor so heavy? We’ll answer that shortly.

Not Your Regular Black or Silver Field

That is one chassis that gained’t recede into the visual background. The chiseled, louver-like metal-work wrapping around the entrance and sides creates an impression of masculine solidity and mass. The top cowl, with a central panel displaying the German Physiks emblem floating on a black metallic surrounding grill, makes a fair bolder design statement. It’s all fabricated from 15mm thick silver anodized slabs. Fairly a press release! “Wow! That looks like a small amplifier,” was Joseph’s impulsive reaction.

Picture courtesy Laurence Head

In its approach, the louver motif reminds me of the fortress-like US Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, which the locals affectionately nicknamed The Bunker.

The Emperor electronics line is model new from German Physiks, an organization recognized for audio system. It had its U.S. unveiling at Chicago Axpona 2019, and features a preamp, stereo amp, monoblocks, integrated amp, and a line of audio wires, with ambitions for a CD player. When the US importer inquired if I had an curiosity in doing a evaluate, I didn’t hesitate.

I usually don’t absorb gear and not using a constructive appraisal from a trusted supply. On this case, I used to be already acquainted with the speaker line, particularly the HRS-130 and the Borderland ($24,500 and $37,250 respectively, with the non-compulsory high-polish end). Both are two-ways with a downward firing woofer and the German Physiks proprietary, omnidirectional DDD driver overlaying the vary from about 200Hz on up. The audio system impressed me with a huge soundstage—wider and deeper than I get at residence—seamless coherency, and a heat, full tone that was instantly ingratiating. I figured whoever had enter on the voicing of the audio system would have labored on the electronics as properly.

Initial Impression

Joseph brought over a curiosity, the Quartuor de Clarinettes de Geneve (Gallo 30-391). I appeared askance on the LP jacket and questioned why? A clarinet quartet? Next, it’ll be a tuba quartet. (Now that might be fascinating.)

I cued up the LP and in seconds discerned its superior sound quality. The 4 devices, E-flat, B-flat, A, and bass clarinets, share obvious affinity as members of the only reed household. Collectively they comprise an ensemble analogous to a string quartet and, like a superb string quartet, where the 4 instruments align in a continuity of timbres (i.e., the second violin shouldn’t sound noticeably totally different from the first), with continuity from the deepest notes of the bass clarinet to the at occasions piercing excessive notes of the E-flat instrument.

The Emperor transitions smoothly across this extensive frequency vary. While prolonged on prime and bottom, it plays favorites with the midrange, followed by the bass, with the treble coming in a robust third. Tonal shadings have been steady, avoiding any trace of the step-like gradations that you simply typically encounter that depart a mechanical taste. This seamless stream made me assume ANALOG (versus how we conceive of digital). You’ll discover this analogy repeated under in one other context. The purpose is prime to the Emperor.

The quartet sits middle stage and the instruments blend and overlap, their tones merging into one another. This is not a hyper-precision sort of sound that spotlights devices into discrete pictures with sharply drawn borders and brings out chair scrapes or page turns that you simply never heard before. These may be current, just not within the foreground. The Emperor’s acuity lies in finely drawn tonal shadings and timbral portraits, which assist to outline and locate each instrument without counting on imaging cues. I had no hassle discerning who was enjoying and where they have been situated.

The Emperor locations you in a seat approximating mid-hall in a small recital venue. The massive pictures have a lot physique that some will call it a fats sound, within the constructive method that jazz aficionados use the adjective. (Not in the pejorative means audiophiles apply it, as in unfastened and warm as a result of, whereas it is a bit warm, rest assured there’s nothing unfastened right here. The whole lot is agency and taut.) Related to that, you’ll word the absence of romance or extra bloom.

A Tale of Two Concertos for Orchestra

This was how the Emperor sounded listening to Lutoslawski’s ever-popular Concerto for Orchestra, with Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Telarc SACD 60618).

Switching to Edward Gardner’s take with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Chandos (CHSA 5082), the presentation shifted significantly. The massive, full-bodied photographs went on a weight-reduction plan and slimmed down, their borders firmed up and became discrete, and empty area appeared between them. No one would call this a fats sound. And so it went: The Emperor gave insights into the engineering features of every source I put on, a sworn statement to the machine’s comparatively small footprint and important neutrality.

The mass loading impact

The bodily weight of the Emperor necessitates we talk about mass loading. My CH Precision L1 Preamp weighs 44 pounds, already on the heavy aspect. The Emperor is half once more as heavy. I knew immediately this is able to impart a big mass loading impact—and that made me smile, because mass loading has its advantages. A long time ago I found a correlation: adding bodily mass to a shelf translated into a weightier sound. I consider upping mass lowers the resonance point of the rack (and every part on it). I purchased marble slabs for just this objective a long time ago. I nonetheless might use extra—everybody needs extra weight of their sound, right?

The majority of the load in the Emperor preamplifier is concentrated in a pair of giant toroidal transformers within the energy supplies for the audio and control sections. Are dual transformers in a preamp uncommon? No. Loads of designers do it because anytime you cut up up an electronic element’s features, you make it simpler for it to do its job and probably enhance performance. Over-sized and this heavy? Yes. I posed the question to a number of engineers and the consensus opinion was that, beyond a sure point, growing transformer capacity brought no further value.

Whether it was the mass loading effect or the over-specification, my suspicion is these twin transformers play a large position in the phenomenal macros. My ear is used to the CH L1 Preamp outfitted with the optionally available CH X1 Outboard Power Provide (an improve obtainable for $17,000). I’m not finding any fall off with the Emperor.

Beyond the wide selection, crescendos have been dealt with very comfortably, with no indicators of stress. I pay attention rigorously for any breakdown in sound quality at sign peaks. There was none. And it was seamless. The escalation en route to a crescendo transitioned smoothly and made me assume once again of analog (vs. digital). Many elements sporting highly effective dynamics are in a rush to get to the top and make the move in jerky, ratchet-like gradations. Macros had the additional advantage of the Emperor’s bottom-heavy frequency response, which threw additional weight and heft into the image. Stereo separation was also prime notch.

Set up

It was straightforward to get good sound from the Emperor Preamp. For a change, I didn’t need to run by means of my wire inventory or in any other case fiddle round. I related the same wires I had been using with the CH L1: a Kubala•Sosna Elation! power twine and balanced ICs. But with some audiophile nervosa focus utilized to the subject, you can also make it even higher.

The Emperor proved unusually sensitive to the soundroom surroundings. For instance, once I swapped out my CH L1 preamp, I inadvertently left its X1 exterior energy provide on. After a couple of days, I remembered and shut it down. Surprisingly, the sound modified. The distinction was slight, however noticeable. I did some experiments. If I powered up the CH L1/X1 (although they have been out of the sign path), the sound turned tighter, more damped. On the jazz piano trio CD I used to be enjoying, this was good for the double bass but not for the piano, which sounded like it was in a recording studio with the wood case coated by a blanket and a mike shoved into its belly. With the CH L1/X1 powered off the bass acquired looser but the piano resonated extra, like an acoustic instrument. Now it was like a recital hall. I began to make use of this as a helpful fine-tuning tweak. More often than not, I most popular the L1/X1 off because the Emperor brought enough management by itself.

What’s happening? The X1 accommodates a big bank of power provide regulators and capacitors. The modifications I’m hearing are according to including (or subtracting) regulation and capacitance. My guess is it’s just like the phenomenon often known as back-EMF. A small quantity of these commodities kicks back from the X1 alongside its energy twine and gets into the AC line. From there it spreads to other elements. Consider it as a type of (useful) powerline air pollution. Adding these is often a great thing, however it depends upon what your system wants.

Or examine this one out. I used my Fanfare FM Tuner to burn in the Emperor for a number of days, after which forgot about it. Sometime later, we have been listening and Lynn advised me to “take it out, because it always degrades the sound.” Once I powered it down, positive sufficient there was a slight improvement. She additional requested unplugging the tuners’ ICs from the Emperor: one other improvement. Amazed at what was occurring, I walked over behind the rack and pulled the tuner’s power twine, and—yup, once once more. These are simpler to know: all could possibly be associated to ground potential differences.

German Physiks Emperor Preamplifier

Taken to the nth degree of audiophile mindfulness, you’d connect just one source at a time to get greatest performance from the Emperor. This implies pulling your phono ICs whenever you’re listening to digital, or disconnecting the digital ICs when you’re enjoying vinyl. And, when you’re testing ICs to see which you favor, don’t depart any unused ones related. It’s well-known that wires hanging off a element act like an antenna for noise. What you’ll get is a richer, extra liquid sound.

The ethical of this story is to be cognizant of interactions within the sound room. Don’t have something unnecessary related. Then again, connect any unnecessary stuff if it makes a constructive difference. For the dyed-in-the-wool audiophile, it’s by no means as simple as plug-n-play.

Miscellaneous Discussion Points

In operation, the Emperor was flawless and performed with out glitches or sudden events. Clearly, inordinate attention was lavished on this product. Holger Mueller, the proprietor of the corporate, sent along the following notes:

  1. To offer the Emperor range a glance that was on the same degree as its technical efficiency, we employed the providers of the most effective industrial designers in Germany.
  2. The design workforce spent lots of of hours listening to the preamplifier as we evaluated totally different elements and topologies. At one point this resulted in going back and doing a serious redesign to be able to achieve the level of performance we needed.
  3. To keep noise to a minimum, the preamplifier is absolutely balanced. It’s a dual mono design, with great attention paid to the symmetry of the format. The construction uses an inner steel chassis with a 15mm thick silver anodized aluminum outer case. This offers magnetic screening, along with structural rigidity to attenuate the consequences of external vibration.
  4. Once we designed the Emperor preamplifier (and indeed the entire Emperor electronics vary), we needed to be able to exploit the exceptional dynamic vary of the German Physiks Gaudi and Loreley loudspeakers. The Emperor preamplifier has an distinctive dynamic vary of 140dB.
  5. There are a selection of the way to implement a quantity control. In the quest for transparency we selected a balanced management; though it’s harder to implement than a standard potentiometer, it does not end in tonal modifications at totally different volume levels. As well as, implementing this with a relay-switched resistor network provides much more accurate channel monitoring than is possible with a potentiometer.


As I began drafting notes concerning the German Physiks Emperor Preamplifier, it struck me that I used to be on repeat mode. Many front-end elements priced round $15-20Okay have come via just lately—the Doshi Line Preamp and Phono V3.0, the Audionet PAM G2, Lamm L2.1 Reference Preamp, the Merrill Audio Jens Phono. In all those critiques I observe the absence of grain, edge, glare, and noise. Discussing these artifacts was helpful, say 10 years ago, once they have been widespread. At this time’s elements at this worth point routinely escape them; they’re not a problem. So, going forward, I’m dropping that dialogue, if it’s only to note their absence.

One other commonality in the group is superb dynamic vary and macro performance. It’s notable that these designers selected to make use of outboard energy supplies—excluding the German Physiks. I speculated that it achieves superior dynamic efficiency by way of other means, as discussed above.

And one other: All of the models on that listing buck at the moment’s development in the direction of modularity, front-end elements prepared configured to simply accept DAC, streaming, or Phono modules. The elements mentioned above are single objective. The Emperor Preamp is an analog stereo preamp. That’s all it’s made to do.

When it comes to sonics the Emperor is a hybrid. Sure elements—its heat, full physique, and holistic feel—harken back. Different points—its agency grip, the absence of excess bloom—are very modern. General, nevertheless, on this market with analog, digital, and hybrid designs, the Emperor won’t be mistaken for something but an analog gadget.

And, wouldn’t you realize, all the things I’ve stated concerning the Emperor Preamplifier could be comfortably associated to German Physiks speakers as properly.

Emperor Preamplifier

Retail: $19,750

German Physiks

U.S. Importer

Distinctive Stereo LLC

[email protected]