Angela-Gilbert Yeung C312 Preamplifier

Angela-Gilbert Yeung C312 Preamplifier

Note: for the total suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click on right here.

Marcia likes to get up sooner than I do. On weekdays she will get up round 5:30 a.m. and writes in her journal for about 45 minutes. She sits in our darkened front room, and she or he lights a couple of half-dozen candles, together with one thick beeswax job that finally ends up with an enormous wick.

It’s a beautiful sight that greets me after I shamble downstairs at 6:00 a.m. There she is on the sofa, with the canine beside her, backlit by candles. It’s like waking as much as a scene from a Rembrandt portray.

There’s all the time music enjoying. Often it’s both Brian Eno’s Music for Airports or John Zorn’s Alhambra Love Songs working off the music server and piped via the Estelon YB audio system.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

The music performs at a louder quantity than you’d count on, given the scenario. Marcia isn’t afraid of music—she likes to bodily expertise it. After she goes to work and I sit down to write down, I usually spend a good bit of time listening via the secondary system on the principle flooring. But my daytime wants are completely completely different from Marcia’s. I’m utilizing the music in tandem with my second espresso to get me going, to mild a fireplace underneath my ass.

I’ve usually thought that having two separate programs on the principle flooring can be nice. The Estelons are simply great—no want to vary them. It’s the amplification I wish to modify. For Marcia’s candlelit mornings (she’d take a look at me like I wasn’t proper within the head if I urged this), I believe there needs to be tubes within the system. Partly due to the look, the glow. But extra for the burnished richness they’d add to the sound, to the entire gestalt.

My afternoons are a solid-state constellation. Espresso, a stiff chair with good lumbar help, and the solar streaming in, revealing the Brownian movement of mud suspended within the air. My Hegel Music Systems H120 makes it so, with its crisp Nordic presentation.

But what if it had been attainable to make use of the identical element to infuse music into Marcia’s sepia-hued mornings and my glacier-sharp afternoons? That’s a query which may be answered by this evaluation in the event you’ll solely hold studying.

Welcome again in a distinct type

I’ve had an extended relationship with Angela-Gilbert Yeung’s merchandise. Blue Circle Audio—do I actually need to say extra? For almost 20 years, Blue Circle Audio was an anchor on the planet of Canadian hi-fi. Yeung ended up closing down Blue Circle Audio, stepping again from manufacturing, and commenced to give attention to design and engineering. Most lately, the Saturn Audio 401 phono preamplifier, which Yeung had a hand in designing, blew my socks off.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

And now Yeung’s again on the forefront, again on the audio present circuit, and again with new and appropriately mercurial merchandise, together with the C312 preamplifier, which I’ve spent the final couple of months attempting to make sense of. I’ve obtained it found out now, and I’d prefer to share it with you.

What the hell

On the face of it, the C312 ($6300, all costs in USD) is a two-chassis preamp, comprising a foremost unit and the GC312 exterior energy provide. The C312 is just not absolutely balanced, however it’s outfitted with two balanced inputs and three single-ended inputs. My pattern was outfitted with two balanced outputs and one single-ended output, however the inventory model comes with one balanced and one single-ended output. The exterior energy provide connects to the preamp through a braided cable with a four-pin XLR connector.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

The energy provide has two extra DIN connectors to accommodate A-G’s non-obligatory capacitor packs. Angela-Gilbert is a agency believer in the advantages of including heaps of capacitance to their merchandise, and on the 2022 Toronto Audiofest, George Taylor of Entracte Audio—Angela-Gilbert’s Toronto-area seller—gave a convincing demo throughout which he added farad after farad of capacitance to the amplification chain whereas replaying the identical observe. As Taylor added capacitance, the sound turned smoother, and the decays of notes lingered longer.

The Cap Pack 5 provides 500,000μF of capacitance to the C312 and retails for $710. Plug the Cap Pack 15 into the again and also you’ve added 1,500,000μF of power-supply capacitance. This will set you again $2085. The top-line Cap Pack 36 delivers 3.6 farads, which is an ungodly quantity of capacitance. It retails for $3335. All my auditioning was accomplished with the inventory GC312 energy provide.

While I didn’t unbutton the C312, I may see via the air flow slots that the innards had been festooned with artfully utilized swirls of colourful silicone. This is one thing I recall from my Blue Circle days. “Silicone,” I recall then-Gilbert saying, “has nice damping traits, and it glues issues down very well. And it’s low cost! Why wouldn’t I exploit it?”

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

The C312’s chassis is made out of sturdy metal, and the highest cowl feels considerably undamped. The entrance panel consists of two slices of plexiglass, the deep, translucent burgundy backing panel, and in entrance, a black piece that’s gently curved, evoking an analog waveform. Dead middle on the entrance panel is a backlit round cutout that glows a pleasant muted blue. This flourish is a straight-ahead callout to the Blue Circle merchandise that Angela-Gilbert crafted again within the day.

The controls up entrance are flanked left and proper by two massive dials: one selects between the 2 balanced inputs and the flight of single-ended inputs, and the opposite is the grasp quantity management. Should you select to set the massive selector to its single-ended setting, you’d should manually select which of the three inputs you needed to make use of. You flip the in-use toggle change up and make sure the different two are flipped down. I wasn’t certain what would occur if two switches had been within the up place with music enjoying via each, however it felt like a really dangerous concept, and for some motive, an atavistic a part of my mind stated don’t do it! After conferring with Taylor, I found that nothing dangerous would occur—I’d simply hear each inputs enjoying on the identical time.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

The C312 ships with a cute little distant with two buttons for quantity—all anybody actually wants—which I may think about hooked up by a hoop to a chunk of hockey stick, similar to the important thing to the bathroom at a gasoline station.

The most evident, distinctive attribute of the C312 is its three dials, mysteriously and ominously labeled Warm, Tube S, and SS. The latter two are marked under every dial respectively with the circuit symbols for a tube and a transistor. The Warm dial doesn’t have an emblem.

Here’s the place it will get fascinating. Each dial controls its personal acquire stage. The output of the nice and cozy acquire stage—which, as I found, appears to behave as a type of grasp acquire—is cut up and routed via the opposite two levels. “Tube S” stands for “tube simulator.” It’s one other lively stage with a passive community that emulates the sound of a tube. There’s no precise tube in there (though there’s a 6SN7 tube and a 6922 tube within the higher-spec C318). The SS stage is a solid-state acquire stage, so the tube simulator and the solid-state stage might be blended to realize completely different traits.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

The aim of getting separate controls for every of those acquire levels is to permit you to bend the sound to your desire after which use the grasp quantity on the suitable to set the precise degree.

The C312 sat on the highest shelf of my custom-built gear rack. For a lot of the evaluation interval, the C312 acquired indicators from an EMM Labs DS-EQ1 optical phono equalizer, though I additionally used its child brother, the Meitner Audio DS-EQ2. The DS-EQ1 fed the C312 through a balanced enter, and the DS-EQ1 linked through single-ended RCAs. Power amplification was by the use of a Hegel H30A amplifier through a balanced connection. Interconnect cables had been Nordost Tyr 2, and speaker cables alternated between Crystal Cable Art Series Monet and Audience Au24 SX. As all the time, my VPI Prime Signature served because the supply, together with my DS Audio DS 003 optical cartridge.

Just under and to the left of the place I put in the C312 was my very own Sonic Frontiers SFL-2 preamplifier, an all-tube design that employs eight 6922s. Even although the SFL-2 is jam-packed with tubes, it doesn’t sound overtly tubey. Actually, it’s pretty impartial. The SFL-2 features as an ideal reviewing device, and through the years, it’s given me nice service with out my having to consider it a lot.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

So when Taylor requested me how I needed the C312 to sound, I pointed on the SFL-2 and stated, “Make it sound like that.” The Hegel H30A amplifier is kind of delicate—it doesn’t require a high-level sign—so Taylor set all three levels close to the 9 o’clock mark. He then set the Tube S management only a tad larger than the SS management, and we sat again for a hear.

Roll with it

Well yeah, my first publicity was a constructive expertise. I completely anticipated the C312 to sound good at worst, and very good at greatest. Yeung is a stone-cold genius. I’ve reviewed numerous Blue Circle merchandise previously, and whereas they had been all relatively quirky—the yellow- and red-painted however spectacular-sounding BC202 amplifier involves thoughts—they’ve all accomplished one thing that made me sit up and take discover.

As I’m scripting this, I don’t recall precisely what Taylor and I had been listening to, as there was heaps occurring with me attempting to get a deal with on how these acquire levels labored collectively. At the time, it wasn’t clear to me, so I simply took a photograph of the baseline settings that Taylor had urged—in case I began spinning dials and couldn’t get again to the place I began—and rolled with it.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

Initially, I discovered the method of manipulating the controls considerably irritating. It isn’t attainable to vary the tube or solid-state stage with out an ensuing change in total degree. Increase both of the levels and the general quantity goes up, so that you’ve obtained to decrease the grasp quantity or the Warm dial to deliver it again down. This stops you from listening to the change in isolation. Ideally, in the event you turned up, say, the tube stage, the quantity would stay constant, you’d hear the consequence, and it’d be straightforward to inform what precisely it was bringing to the present.

This was greater than slightly complicated. I’ve affordable religion in my means to determine issues out. It’ll come, I believed to myself. So I stated, screw that motion and determined to simply hearken to the factor for some time.

My preliminary impressions, as soon as I’d stopped worrying about methods to cope with these knobs, had been of deep silence. With no music enjoying, the C312 was coal-mine silent. When I turned up the quantity knob full blast, it was near-as-dammit nonetheless silent. More than that, I had a way of virtually additive blackness. Similar to the best way black velvet appears to suck in mild relatively than simply not reflecting it, the C312 tasks music out of a deep tunnel of darkness that’s truly blacker than darkish.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

If you’re going to die of a damaged coronary heart, Astor Piazzolla’s music will show you how to together with type. Early within the evaluation interval, I put Tango: Zero Hour (LP, Pangea PAN-42138) on the VPI and let it rip. As I listened to “Milonga del Angel,” I discovered myself beginning to drift away from my seat in my basement. I used to be again in highschool, breaking apart with my first girlfriend. This breakup was an asteroid about to smash into the earth, the tip of the world, a mass-extinction occasion. I felt the C312 projecting the music, maintaining that deep acoustic bass in examine, flowering the violin like a blossom. And via it all of the C312 maintained an underlying feeling of distance, of peace.

It didn’t recess the soundstage—it didn’t create distance in that method. There’s a component simply previous halfway via “Milonga del Angel” the place the violin fades out and Piazzolla’s bandoneon ramps up. That transition is magical. The bass and piano recede, and the C312 offered that demarcation as if it had been showing out of an infinite void. The area round every instrument was very good, and I obtained an exquisite sense of the C312 spotlighting the interaction between the violin and the bandoneon. Through my SFL-2, enjoying the identical piece gave me much less of that mild from above feeling, much less of a lateral recession of the opposite two devices. So, set because it was, the C312 was, for probably the most half, impartial and expansive, with a pleasant, tight grip on the bass.

Deep into the evaluation interval, I felt like I’d gotten a deal with on the C312’s sound. I’d simply acquired the DS Audio W3 optical cartridge and matching phono stage, and I used to be messing round with the cartridge alignment. The W3 is a extra open, resolving cartridge than my DS 003 cartridge, and it’s obtained super bass, so I introduced the Estelon XB Mk II audio system slightly additional into the room to compensate. But this introduced up the highs greater than I felt was optimum. I regarded askance on the C312 and figured I’d do some knob twiddling to see if I may dial on this modification.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

I like tubes! So let’s crank up the tube dial, I believed. Taylor had warned me that the dial is considerably logarithmic and small modifications work greatest. I absolutely anticipated the Tube S dial to mellow issues out, to melt the sides of the highs. Not so! While the Tube S dial did improve the heat of the midrange and add a sense of granularity and depth to the higher midrange and treble, it additionally made the highs extra outstanding. So I went again to my baseline settings and re-evaluated.

Next, I went in the wrong way. I backed off the Tube S dial and elevated the SS dial only a hair. Now we’re speaking. This setting diminished the general prominence of the highs, taking just a bit of the biting edge off devices just like the effect-laden guitar in Talk Talk’s “Ascension Day,” from their masterpiece album Laughing Stock (LP, Polydor 00600753655191). This specific setting didn’t lower absolutely the degree of high-frequency data. Rather, it appeared to simply spherical off the vanguard of the preliminary crackle of the observe. And there are many main edges on this observe. In what got here to be a signature post-rock gadget, Mark Hollis simply whacks away on the guitar, constructing rigidity in a fashion that generates a sense of manic disaster. With the Tube S dial backed a contact, there was much less stridency, much less overt crackle, of which there was already a lot.

Despite the modifications I’d made to the tonal traits of the C312, it nonetheless shone out at me as being exceptionally impartial in its presentation. On the face of it, that assertion is a contradiction, I notice, however I’m going to face by it. After I’d gotten the tube-solid-state factor sorted, I threw a remastered model of U2’s The Joshua Tree (LP, Island Records B0026626-01) onto the VPI. I’ve had an extended love affair with facet 2 of this document, beginning with “Red Hill Mining Town.” Running the remastered model over two LPs meant that I used to be now facet 3, however that wasn’t an issue, as this reissue actually opens up the imaging and solidifies the bass.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

The rejiggering of the C312 completely buttered up the highs of the Estelons. Giant heaps of element now landed on me with a silkiness that took my breath away. If something, making this variation to the acquire circuits elevated the neutrality of the sound. I used to be capable of chill out into the music and take in particulars in a very unforced method. The extra decision of the W3 cartridge was nonetheless clear to me. I may hear deeper into the piled-high harmonics of The Edge’s guitar and the shimmer on Larry Mullen Jr.’s cymbals. There was nonetheless loads of growl on the outskirts of Adam Clayton’s bass, which actually may have suffered by the use of the C312’s calming of the W3’s brilliance.

I’d prefer to make it clear that the changes I used to be making to the C312’s acquire levels didn’t act just like the tone controls on yer dad’s Sansui receiver. It didn’t in any means really feel like I’d simply turned down the treble dial. It felt extra like I’d adjusted all the temperament of the preamp and, as a result of the preamp is the core element, of the system itself. Despite their evocative character, I’m unsure “tube” and “strong state” are solely correct labels, provided that the Tube S dial appeared to brighten up the general sound, which isn’t how I’ve come to grasp tube-based elements.

At any charge, as soon as I had some expertise with the acquire controls, I used to be capable of see how they’d be helpful. Although I didn’t actually really feel the necessity to take action, I took some further trip from my listening chair, scurrying as much as the C312 and subtly altering the acquire controls to go well with the temper of the music I used to be listening to. When issues obtained slightly scorching on a slashing rock recording, I’d nudge the SS dial up only a contact and nip a tiny bit off the Tube S dial. On softer stuff, the inverse change would brighten up the acoustic and put me nearer to the orchestra.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

In my conversations with Taylor, he knowledgeable me that the impacts of the controls are interwoven. Turn up the Warm dial and the Tube S dial reacts otherwise. The upshot right here is that there’s a good studying curve, and people three controls require some quantity of artistry to mix in a repeatable, deliberate method.

I suppose it really works!

But irrespective of how I modified these dials (and I by no means did have to vary any of them by greater than a one-hour increment), the fundamental nature of the C312 remained constant—clear and open, resolving, and detailed, with a wonderful portrayal of area—and so, so quiet. If this preamplifier didn’t have these a number of acquire levels, it could nonetheless be worthy of advice.

The inclusion of these acquire levels means—definitely—that this preamp’s not for everybody. While I discover the C312’s variable levels intriguing, I’m not sure I’d make adequate use of them to make their inclusion in my system worthwhile. That stated, the one time I did want it, the C312’s adjustability mounted an issue I’d probably have needed to reside with.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung

Still, the Angela-Gilbert Yeung C312, which I’m and listening to as I write this, is a sweetheart of a preamplifier. If my description of its variable acquire levels intrigues you, I strongly recommend you give it a hear.

. . . Jason Thorpe
[email protected]

Note: for the total suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click on right here.

Associated Equipment

  • Analog supply: VPI Prime Signature turntable; EAT Jo N°8, DS Audio DS 003, DS Audio W3 cartridges.
  • Digital sources: Meitner Audio MA3 digital-to-analog converter, Logitech Squeezebox Touch.
  • Phono preamplifiers: Aqvox Phono 2 CI, iFi Audio iPhono 3 Black Label, Hegel Music Systems V10, EMM Labs DS-EQ1, Meitner DS-EQ2.
  • Preamplifiers: Sonic Frontiers SFL-2, Hegel Music Systems P30A.
  • Power amplifiers: Bryston 4B3, Hegel Music Systems H30A.
  • Integrated amplifiers: Hegel Music Systems H120, Eico HF-81.
  • Speakers: Estelon XB Mk II, Focus Audio FP60 BE, Estelon YB, Aurelia Cerica XL, Totem Acoustic Sky Tower.
  • Speaker cables: Audience Au24 SX, Nordost Tyr 2.
  • Interconnects: Audience Au24 SX, Furutech Ag-16, Nordost Tyr 2.
  • Power cords: Audience FrontRow, Nordost Vishnu.
  • Power conditioner: Quantum QBase QB8 Mk.II.
  • Accessories: Little Fwend tonearm carry, VPI Cyclone record-cleaning machine, Furutech Destat III.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung C312 Preamplifier
Price: $6300.
Warranty: Three years, elements and labor.

Angela-Gilbert Yeung
Ontario, Canada

Email: [email protected]
Website: www.angela-gilbert.com

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November 15, 2023 at 02:10AM

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