There was a sense of precision to this sound that permeated every track played; from acoustic Rolling Stones to Choral music, and even to the old and rather shrieky sounding Vivaldi Four Seasons by Marriner and the AMSF [Argo]. This is a record many of us have been able to maintain a love/hate relationship over the years, thanks on the one hand to perhaps what is the best playing of Vivaldi, on one of the worst recordings. Curiously, the Karan manages to side-step the bad and focus on the instrumentation and the musicianship. Moving to more modern classical recordings again, the preamp’s ability to put you in the same room as Joyce DiDonato in her Stella di Napoli album [Erato] explains it all, as you are left speechless and breathless at the scale of her singing, as if hearing it anew.
There’s a category error made by some, in thinking that because well-recorded acoustic instruments in a live space is an audiophile Gold Standard, that’s all good audio can do. However, the same goose-bumps moments apply equally to everything from electronica to hard rock, too. Of course, to fully realise that goal, you need a preamp as musically honest as the LINEa.
I feel the Karan Acoustics LINEa is the perhaps the most approachable and universal of the ultra-preamplifiers. That could have gone one of two ways; the preamplifier that the highest of high-end respected… as they were buying another preamplifier, or a preamplifier that carves out its own niche as the best choice for the widest number of listeners. I can’t help but think the LINEa ticks that second box brilliantly. If a £29,000 preamp could be called ‘the preamp of the people’, the Karan Acoustics LINEa is that preamp!
Type: Line-level solid-state preamplifier
Inputs: 4× XLR balanced, 2× RCA single‑ended
Outputs: 1× XLR balanced, 1× RCA single-ended
Input Impedance: 30 kOhm (balanced/unbalanced)
Output Impedance: 90 Ohm
Output Level: 1.55 V/RMS (nominal), 18.0 V/RMS (maximum/balanced/600 Ohm load)
Max. Input Level: 5.4 V/RMS (balanced/unbalanced)
Gain: 6db (9db with internal adjustments)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz, ±0 dB;
Distortion: 0.003% (Full output, 20Hz to 20kHz)
Signal to Noise Ratio: >120 dB (unweighted)
504 × 126 × 390 mm (Main control unit and Power supply unit)
Weight: 16.2kg (Main control unit), 17.1kg (Power supply unit)
Manufacturer: Karan Acoustics
UK Distributor: Audiofreaks
Tel: +44(0) 208 948 4153