201009_vacPrice: $9900 (line stage), $11,900 (with phono stage)

Website: www.vac-amps.com

Garrett said: In the past few years I’ve auditioned a number of different preamps, some for review, some not. A few could be critiqued as being too incisive, too polite, too limited in features, not compatible with a wide enough range of amplifiers. Another few could be considered "serious" in terms of their sound. But of all these preamps, the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 boasts the most impressive combination of serious sound, first-class build, great looks, compatibility with a range of amps, and overall flexibility in its numerous features of any model I’ve yet had in my system.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Garrett's choice in an expensive tube preamp.

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