Friday, January 14, 2011

Master Audio Systems Momentum Preamp

The Momentum preamp features integral Internet radio, with the capability to tune in thousands of streaming radio stations worldwide. It can also play files stored on network-attached storage (NAS) hard drives, USB memory sticks, and computers.

AES/EBU and coaxial digital inputs allow connection of digital source devices such as CD players and satellite radio tuners.
The analog section of the Momentum represents Dan D’Agostino’s most ambitious preamp design to date. Six balanced XLR stereo inputs allow connection of analog audio sources; unbalanced connections can be made through adapters. The analog preamp circuitry is fully discrete, using separate transistors instead of integrated circuits. Even the digitally controlled  volume circuitry is fully discrete, employing an R/2R resistor ladder with relays instead of a digital volume control chip or an analog potentiometer. A theater throughput feature lets users incorporate the Momentum preamplifier into a home theater system.

The control arrangement is as unique as the circuitry inside. A 3-by-4-inch screen on the front shows metadata from digital files, listings of Internet radio stations, and basic operating information for the preamp. The remote is an included Apple iPod touch®, specially programmed for this application, which also shows the same information available on the front-panel screen. Through the remote, the user can browse digital audio content from the comfort of the couch.

The unit’s power supply employs a unique design D’Agostino has never before used. It offers nearly 1 farad of storage capacitance—three to four times as much as found in many of the best high-end amplifiers and far more than ever before used in a preamp. “It’s more like a battery than a power supply,” D’Agostino said. “The power it delivers is extremely pure, totally unaffected by variations at the AC outlet. The result is extremely low noise and sound that’s more pristine than I’ve ever heard from a preamp.

“I’m eager to see the reactions of our customers and dealers to this new design,”  D’Agostino continued. “Not only does it push digital technology to the limit, it takes analog  preamp technology to heights never before achieved. You could say it’s the best of both  worlds.”