Christine Reference Preamplifier
"It's About the Music"
Building a reference preamplifier is difficult. The difficulty is perhaps only exceeded by the challenge of building a reference class phono amplifier.
The preamplifier is where the signal arrives from the source – or in the case of a turntable fronted system, where it arrives from the phono stage, and the job of the preamplifier is to take this signal and pass it to the power stage in as pure a form as possible. But the signal is exceedingly delicate. Here we must be especially careful to eliminate noise and acoustic anomalies from component resonances that could easily distort it.
Music is a subtle thing. Music tells its stories in its details, dynamics, harmony, timing, syncopation, and with its underlying speed. An accomplished violinist might shape harmony by, perhaps, slightly sharpening the notes in a rising figure, and slightly flattening them in a falling one. Harmony is a very subtle thing. In the baroque and classical eras there was a whole science and philosophy around this. Bach invented Well Temperament, which was a way of tuning a keyboard so that it sounded harmonious in all keys, something which had not been possible before.
Music does not live in the notes. Music lives between the notes, beneath and around them. Music happens in the relationship of notes, that form figures, which form passages, which form movements, which form symphonies, sonatas, string quartets.
Or great rock songs, folk pieces, jazz improvisations; whatever it may be. We want to know about, learn about all the micro choices that musicians make expressing their purpose – the small picture, and the big picture. Christine is built to hold and convey it all.
It’s not as simple as ‘detail’. It’s the details which build musical coherence, which get us to the emotional heart and soul of art.
Of course we use only the finest components in the Christine reference preamplifier but we listen to them, obsessively, for many hours, to make sure they are correct, before they go into the design. Component quality is only part of the story. The rest is making sure our amplifier has the transparency and breadth to really convey every vital, every musical nuance.
She is hand built to the most exacting standards, paying attention to the placement, layout and length of each trace. An external multi-stage ‘Kratos’ power supply, of exceptional quality, ensures class leading silence in operation and the unit is impervious to noise on the A/C line.
Our goal here is nothing less than to allow you to re-connect with your music collection in a new experience of discovery, teaching, joy and profound emotion. And to do so again and again.
We present ‘Christine’, our finest preamplifier.
It’s about the music.
In keeping with the philosophy of a product whose job is to sonically ‘disappear’, to be as transparent as possible, Christine partakes of a pared back, minimalist, clean aesthetic. She shares the Merrill Audio design dna with her beautifully finished sultry rose gold fascia. Gently radiused and with purposeful depth and weight, it forms an attractive contrast with the mid-dark finished solid steel chassis. A deeply recessed centre window encloses the amplifier’s clear and easy to read information panel with its soft blue LEDs that can be brightness adjusted or turned off. Her name is proudly engraved top right in an elegant curling script. We are very proud of Christine!
The Christine reference preamplifier exudes class, quality and the sense of quiet authority. It sits at the heart of the system and controls everything with masterful grace and poise, feeding power amplifiers the precious musical signal with our class leading speed and control.
Christine features dual independent outputs, four inputs for high quality source components, a maximum and minimum volume setting and the ability to store settings when the power is off. It is also possible to reset the unit to its factory defaults. Isolation from unwanted environmental vibration is provided by high performance feet at each corner.
|Input Voltage max:||+/- 10V|
|Output Voltage max:||+/- 12V|
|Frequency Response:||800kHz 0.1db, 1.5MHz -3db|
|Inputs:||4 balanced with individual gain presets|
|Outputs:||2 balanced with individual level presets|
|Volume range:||-84db to +26db in 0.5dB steps (0 to +115)|
|Input Preset Gain Range:||+/- 12dB|
|Output Preset Range:||0 to 115dB|
|Preset Max volume level:||0 to 115dB|
|Preset Min Volume level:||0 to 115dB|
|Display Brightness settings:||1 to 9, and off|
|Display delay dim time range:||5 sec to 25 sec|
|Display Size:||1.25″ high x 6″ wide, blue LED dot matrix|
|Remote Trigger:||12V, 20mA|
|Other:||Permanently saved settings|
|Double-fused external power supply|