Why use a Pre-Amp at all? Why
not just connect my CD player directly to the power amp
and use variable output of the CD player to control the
would be a great idea if your CD player, DAC or
Phono Pre-Amp came equipped with a 126 step
attenuator that used only Vishay® S-102 resistors.
These very expensive and transparent resistors have
to be heard to be believed. The most dramatic
listening test of all is to compare the sound of the
"Variable Out" of your source with the clarity,
dynamics and purity obtained by using the "Line Out"
from the same source and going through the
Vishay® S102 attenuator of a Placette unit instead of
the built in volume control of the source. This
simple test (and the one below) demonstrates what a
very weak link the volume control in your system
does "transparency" mean as applied to the Placette?
"transparency" to mean that the Placette has no
sonic signature of it's own. In other words, if you
insert a Placette in series between the Linestage
you are now using and your Power Amp, the overall
sound of your system will be unchanged because the
Placette will accurately pass the signature of your
Linestage intact. But when you remove the old
Linestage and just use the Placette, you will hear
all of the musical detail you have been missing. And
the Vishay® S102 resistors deliver this clarity
without adding the brightness and smearing that is
the bane of lesser volume controls. Placette offers
the only Volume Controls that are guaranteed to be
Isn't a Passive Pre-Amp the most
transparent of all because it doesn't have to go through
any electronic circuitry?
is not always true, although many lower quality
Pre-Amp output stages certainly do more harm than
good. In almost all cases, it's the volume control
itself that is doing the most damage and then that
damage is then passed on in full by the output
amplifiers in the Linestage to the power amp. Since
all passive designs are inherently flawed with
serious matching and frequency response limitations,
it's only by using Vishay® S102 resistors with their
perfectly resistive load that a truly transparent
passive line control is possible. This means that
the Placette actually has an input resistance rather
than input impedance. All frequencies, from the
deepest bass to the highest highs are passed through
with perfect linearity. Nothing is added or taken
Why do passive controls cause
such a loss in dynamics?
general rule, it's the impedance limitations of the
typical high-end volume pot that causes the poor
reproduction of dynamics and high frequency loss.
But because Vishay® S102 resistors provide a
perfectly resistive load with virtually instant
rise-time, our passive customers report that the
dynamics are actually improved over what they were
using before. Of course, the Placette's Active
Line-stage also offers a resistive load (with an
even higher input resistance) and it has the
additional advantage of a very low output impedance
to provide the ultimate in perfect transparency and
dynamics. Keep in mind that even the slightest
unevenness in frequency response or phase distortion
will add a false sense of dynamics since the
apparent volume of the playback will vary as the
pitch of the music varies. These factors also add a
muddiness to the sound. The goal of Placette users
is to get as close as possible to the actual sound
of live acoustic music by eliminating all
distortions and colorations from the volume control.
Do all passive controls lack good Bass response?
passive controls do not transfer frequency extremes
well. But because of the non-inductive load provided
by Vishay® S102 resistors, Placette Passive Controls
are able to accurately pass along a perfectly linear
signal including the deepest bass. Keep in mind that
it is very difficult to build a Tube Linestage or
Transformer Volume Control without a slight bulge
and some muddiness in the bass. If you sense that
your system needs improvement with bass response, we
would suggest that you add a Sub or change the
set-up rather than try to correct the problem by
adding Preamp distortion.
Can a Pre-Amp be too
transparency is defined as the absence of
distortion, then no distortion is always better. The
fear that many audiophiles have is that a
transparent Pre-Amp will allow the distortions of
their sources to come through. Although this maybe
true in a few cases, it is also true that the most
irritating distortions they now hear are caused by
the volume control itself. If you have not heard
what your system sounds like with a truly
transparent Vishay® S102 attenuator then you have not
heard your system at anything near its true
potential. We guaranty this with our 30 day
in-system trial. A Placette will dramatically
improve the resolution, clarity and smoothness of
any system not already using a volume control made
up of discreet Vishay S102 resistors.
What causes the "brightness"
that is so often associated with solid state?
measure the frequency response of most stereo
components, you will find that very few actually
measure with a significant bias toward high
frequencies. In fact, most components have a slight
roll-off of the high frequencies in an attempt to
minimize the true cause of brightness, which is high
frequency distortion. This is an extremely
irritating kind of distortion that often drives many
listeners to use tube equipment or Transformer
Volume Controls to simply roll-off these troublesome
frequencies. But a Placette Remote Volume Control or
Active Linestage will allow all of the musical
detail through without the distortion, brightness
and smearing of the conventional volume control. In
fact, most listeners are so used to this slight,
constant tinge of brightness that listening without
this distortion for the first time is a revelation.
Don't several companies offer Vishay® resistor
do but at a significant increase in price. But a lot
of so called Vishay® resistor volume controls simply
run the audio signal through a single Vishay S102
and then ground the signal through a much cheaper
resistors This does not provide the clarity that
Vishay's are known for. The signal must also be
grounded through a Vishay®. And the Vishay® resistors
used must only be the very expensive S102. And many
stepped attenuators built today use active switching
to select resistor values and this can cause
non-linear distortions and irritation like we are
all used to hearing when listening to AV receivers.
Just as important, the cost of building large
switching attenuators is so high that most only have
30 to 40 steps so it is often difficult to select
the exact volume level desired. Placette products
use only Vishay® S102 resistors in the volume
control and have 126 separate volume steps.
Remember, Vishay® is a company with many divisions.
Like General Motors. The so called Vishay-Dale
resistors are simply Dale resistors that cost only a
few cents each. Only the Vishay® S102 resistor is
Why don't Placette Products have
remote operated balance control is available on all
Placette products as an extra cost option. We have
only built a very few Preamps with this option
because the tracking of our stepped attenuator is so
perfect that it is not needed. The volume output
from each channel is always perfectly balanced from
channel to channel at every one of the 126 volume
Does the remote control of Placette Audio
products affect the sound quality?
Absolutely not. If it did, we would not offer it!
The control system mechanically selects the resistor
for each step. The actual volume control on all of
our products is totally passive. The only active
audio circuits are in the Active Linestage that use
two separate, discrete, Class-A output amplifiers.
Each of these two amplifiers uses an additional
eleven Vishay® S102 resistors in the signal path.
These utterly transparent amplifiers also serve as
the finest headphone drivers available today.
Why would some people say that Vishay®
resistors are not the best sounding?
few people have ever actually heard the sound (or
lack of sound) of a properly designed Vishay® S102
resistor stepped attenuator. But once you hear that
clarity, it becomes very addictive and you quickly
lose your tolerance for even the slightest trace of
volume control distortion that you will then easily
hear in other systems. Also, since these resistors
are so costly, many manufactures' are reluctant to
use them because they would more than double the
retail price of the Pre-Amps they build. Placette
sells direct to the customer and so we pass this
savings on in the form of much higher parts cost and
unequaled Preamp performance.
Why don't you recommend balanced
offer truly balanced versions of all of our products
at twice the cost of single ended units. To build a
truly balanced volume control or preamp requires
building four channels of everything instead of the
usual stereo pair. Because of the very high cost of
the Vishay® resistors and adding extra internal
controls and interlocks, it's very expensive and
it only offers an advantage in a very few
situations. But, because of the extremely good
tracking of our balanced four channel volume
controls, noise cancellation is the very highest
possible because the plus and minus signals are
always exactly equal but opposite in phase at every
What about the
wonderful, warm midrange of tube electronics?
midrange frequencies are still there of course, but
because of the much lower distortion they are even
sweeter. But along with that midrange, you also get
the delicate, undistorted, brightness free highs and
the accurate, deep and controlled bass. In short you
get all of the musical detail that was recorded at
the source exactly as it was recorded. You will have
full access to everything that your source
components can provide for you. You will find that
most high-end source components are already much
better sounding that you ever thought possible.
What type of system is most
compatible with Placette Line Stages and Volume
Because Placette products are so transparent, they
offer outstanding performance in just about any
system. And since they don't have a sonic
signature of their own, you can judge each new
source or power amp on it's own merit, not just on
how compatible it is with Preamp distortion.