If I have my Greek mythology correct, Perseus was the slayer of Medusa,
the serpent-haired Gorgon monster. Using his sword to view her reflection
(because we all know a mere glance directly at her would turn you into stone
instantly), he was able to slay her in her sleep.
Don't ask me why this is
important to the review of the Rogue Audio Perseus; I just thought it would
add some color.
There is nothing frivolous however about the latest preamplifier from Rogue
Audio, and in fact it's quite easy to be seduced by the Perseus at $1,795,
given their reputation for built quality.
Reviewing their website, I'm struck by the
Rogue Audio Mission:
"At Rogue Audio we design and manufacture
vacuum tube amplifiers. There is fierce competition in this market and we
will only survive by delivering a superior product and superior service - we
have the engineering and managerial talent to do so. Our core competencies
are electrical, mechanical and production engineering, along with an
overarching passion for excellence. These skills will be used to create
products that offer outstanding value in the high-end marketplace.
Rogue Audio amplifiers will always be engineered to provide the four key
elements of audio value:
◊ Superior Sonics
◊ High Quality and
◊ An Outstanding
◊ An Affordable
Our philosophy is simple - We will never
design any amplifier that we would not purchase for ourselves."
Perseus offers an immediate visual impression - firstly how very thin or
low profile the chassis is, and secondly, the elegantly arched protective cage
covering the compliment of tubes. The unit stands deceptively 4 ½" high
including the cage.
Under the removable cage are four line stage 12AU7 tubes
peeking (and venting) through the top of the unit. The cage can be removed
by first removing the cover and unscrewing the cage from below.
The faceplate is carved out of solid aluminum
and is about 3/8" thick. The simply styled front is dominated by three larger
knobs, including an input selection, volume, and balance controls. Each knob
spins easily and feels solid in your fingers. Additionally, on the front are
a power on/off button which also lights up a glowing blue light on one side,
and a mute and bypass button which reside just above the etched logo on the
other side, more on that later.
Perseus is a four input preamplifier, and the rear sports unbalanced
heavy-duty gold plated RCAs labeled Phono (with ground), CD, Tuner, and
Auxiliary. Three outputs are possible with two variable and one fixed -
controlled by the front volume as you may connect both an amplifier or
subwoofer and a fixed output (uncontrolled) for recording.
A detachable power cord completes the rear
design, and Rogue Audio recommends that both the Perseus and your power amplifier
are plugged into the same outlet to prevent ground loops.
The Perseus allows adjustments to phono cartridge loading (resistance and
capacitance) and gain by removing the cover and setting your preference. You
moving coil or moving magnet cartridges via switches on the circuit board.
The phono stage has a specified gain of 40 - 65 dB, yet I found it
amazingly quiet, attributable to the mu-follower circuit design.
Further, the Perseus meets the RIAA equalization specification which is
essentially a vinyl recording adjustment made during playback. Because low
frequencies require a larger slot for the stylus possibly causing it to
jump, recording engineers reduce the lower frequencies. During playback
those lower frequencies are amplified to the correct volume.
Under the hood, what you will find is the engineering Rogue Audio puts into this
sophisticated American made preamplifier. Perseus boasts a "massive power
supply, ultra-high tolerance resistors, polypropylene capacitors,
and gold/ceramic tube sockets".
Go to Part II.