The Delta PRE is designed to be a holistic solution to integrating all of your audio/video sources into one superbly designed and engineered control unit. The first thing you notice as a noticeable departure from earlier versions of the Delta Series is that even though the gently rounded corners are still present, the soft silver chassis has been replaced by a dramatic looking basic black aesthetic. These components have a bespoke look and feel to them, like James Bond in a basic black tuxedo. Elegant, serious, and capable of almost anything.
The rear panel of the Delta PRE is where you start to appreciate the vast array of sources that it will accommodate. Right away, I noticed that there was a phono section that accommodates both moving coil and moving magnet cartridges. So I knew right away that I would be comparing it to my Pass Labs XP15 phono stage.
Considering that the Pass Labs has been anchoring the analog setup in my system for years, my biggest hope for the Delta PRE’s phono section was for it to be at least comparable to the Pass. Initially, it wasn’t, at least not until I had more time to adjust its settings and try a couple of other cables. Eventually, I did get the results that I was hoping for, and the PRE’s phono section did give me a performance that was at least as good, and on some recordings, better than the Pass Labs.
I had just received the excellent Audeze LCD-X headphones for review and just in time to evaluate them with the Delta PRE. Let me tell you; this was an experience. I won’t go into a lot of detail about this combination here, but I will tell you about the performance of this headphone amp when I played one of my all-time favorite live concert DVDs through it. Pink Floyd’s Pulse concert film features a fantastic performance by David Gilmour on the song “Comfortably Numb.” It simply must be heard to be believed.
As played through the Classé CDT 300/Delta PRE/Audeze setup, the sound was HUGE and dynamic, yet draws the listener in so deeply that it is one of the most emotional experiences you will have listening to rock music.
Rhythm, pace, and speed all blossom through the Delta PRE/MONOs, drawing you deeper into the musicians’ performance. They all seem to be occupying realistic spaces within the soundstage, and you get a real sense of the room they must’ve been in, giving you that “live” recording feel. I’m not sure you could ask for much else […].
The Vitus [Audio RD 100 DAC] Linestage and the Delta MONOs were shockingly good together and drove the heck out of the Tektons [Double Impact SE loudspeakers]. But when I finally installed the Delta PRE with the MONOs, the system was transformed. […]There was this sense that the components somehow “locked-in” with each other, and musically they achieved the synergy that I heard when I listened to the Patricia Barber album. Stunning.
Regardless of what others may be doing, in my opinion, no other audio company offers this combination of operational flexibility, high-quality parts, thoughtful design, build quality, and faithfulness to the performance of music. Well done, Classé!
- Dave Thomas
- 22 April 2021