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Revised price. $4950.00
Gulp. I am putting my system up for sale, the unimaginable.
This is the Tube Research Labs Dude Preamp. It has a selector dial, stepped attenuated volume control, has both balanced and unbalanced inputs / outputs - even thought it is a unbalanced design. The preamp is all about a tremendous power supply and has capacitors that most power amps would be jealous of. The Dude is a stripped down version of the 15 grand Golden Triode Preamplifier Dual Mono preamp.
Sonically it is very musical, very dynamic, powerful, with great imaging, both in sound staging and clarity of individual instruments. According to many people who have gone through tons of expensive gear, they feel that the TRL gear is the most musical and truly world class. I would have to agree. Paul was not interested in creating a big company so it remained a very small, niche, product line. His design philosophy was built around very powerful, robust, power supplies. The Dude competes with some of the very best preamps out there according to those who have done the gamut of audio foolery.
You will notice that you don’t see TRL for sale on the used market. First, there is a smaller number out there than main brands, expensive, but more importantly, people who have them know after decades of chasing audio that they have found something very special, so they are holding them. I know if I sell this preamp and the 225 power amp that it will be very hard to replace them down the road. So I don’t take this lightly.
Here is your opportunity to take advantage of my delusional decision making process.
Here are some quotes from folks who have gone the distance on the audio journey and landed on TRL. These are older reviews. The last price on the Dude was 5500.00 US.
"This review is on the Dude tube preamp made by Paul and Brian Weitzel of Tube Research Labs (TRL). I purchased this preamp some 7 months ago direct from TRL which is how they market and sell them. The price is $3500. The unit has 5 tubes total with one 6sn7 tube per channel.
I am not a technical person and can only comment that the unit is very heavy, all point to point wired and contains a forest of caps the size of Red Bull and Coke cans!
The Dude also benefits from TRL’s newly designed power supply which is something very special indeed. It comes with two sets of outputs and three inputs – all RCA. I think Paul can work out XLR’s if you desire, but you would have to ask him. My unit has special wooden knobs which I prefer over his high quality gold ones.
The unit is turned on by a breaker switch on the back on the unit. The Dude does not incorporate any fuses, simply the breaker, for improved sound. The chassis is well built and solid in terms of fit and finish. While it is not eye candy, the Dude offers a simple attractiveness.
I must have over 700 hours on my unit by now and it is fully burned it. I have found this preamp responds very well to tube rolling. This review is based on the use of RCA 6sn7 GT’s ,VT231 with smoked glass. I picked up 6 of these for $130 on Ebay and just love them in the Dude. Paul likes Raytheon NOS’s, but I have not tried them as yet.
I like female vocals, Christian contemporary, jazz, piano and acoustic guitar instrumentals as well as some small ensemble Classical. You can also read my review of the TRL Samson amps for more information of my musical tastes.
As you have noticed I have owned and heard many great preamps over the years. The Dude has far outclassed each of them in virtually every important performance area. I particularly liked the Audio Horizons and Tube Distinctions preamps on my list. The Dude simply recreates real music in my home well beyond these other fine units.
The level of transparency is utterly shocking. Details and musical lines previously hidden now come alive and my music sounds brand new to me. I was amazed at all the instruments and notes I was missing in my recordings. What a revelation and joy to me as one into this hobby for 30 years.
Right now I am listening to solo acoustic guitar by Phil Keaggy and am consistently astounded with the additional pic, string and guitar body sounds completely hidden before. The sting plucks are so much more distinctive with every molecule of nuance presented to my senses. This is true at even the lowest of volumes on my system. Magic my friends and I mean magic!
I have never known any preamp to dig as deep, taunt and powerful in the bass region as the Dude. Bass has incredible impact, drive and articulation. Easily the best bass I have yet to encounter in a preamp. This tube preamp will shatter your preconceptions of tube preamp bass performance. Bass is no longer this vague sort of deep running tone, but rather a distinct and articulate portion of the whole performance.
Tonality is so beautiful and right. Not a hint of listener fatigue to be found. The massive amount of detail is delivered with exquisite beauty, body and soul. Don’t we all want that? The Dude does both in a way I felt was not even attainable. Tonality is vitally important to me. Voices have weight when they should. Like the guitar work nuances mentioned above the human voice is rendered absolutely and completely naked before you. You will hear aspects of your favorite vocalist you have never heard before. More air, more texture, more nuance, more personality – just amazing.
The Dude sets the stage big, wide and deep. First time I have heard stage depth so profoundly obvious. I now get a sense of what some reviewers mean by 3D! Life sized performance is a consistent attribute of the music flowing from this preamp.
I like to listen to very loud music at times. I like the live scale it gives the recording. The Dude is always in control and supremely poised. Nothing, no part of the audio spectrum is ever out of balance or forced. I hear a new standard of performance in terms of effortless, uncompressed music.
My system seems to have infinite room filling abilities. This is very, very important to me. Even at very loud settings music must flow not attack! The Dude is a complete gentleman in this regard.
Highs seem to have no ceiling or cap as they extend smoothly and without any hint of hardness. I am very sensitive to bright or hard highs and will quickly box up a unit if I hear a trace of it. Yikes! The Dude is a smooth operator and does so without robbing music of the precious detail and air we desire.
Well, I could go on much longer as the Dude is a revelation to me. It is the heart and soul of my current system and really makes everything sound so real and right.
I hope my words were able to convey what I experience with The Dude.
Have fun! "
Please see my member system.
PBN Montana EPX custom speakers
TRL Modified Sony CD player/battery
TRL Samson amps
Audio Horizons cable
Star Sound Sistrum stands
Echo Buster room treatments
SVS PB 12 Plus/2
I have owned or had these preamps in my home system.
Audio Horizons TP2.1 fully loaded
Joule LA100 MKIII
Conrad Johnson LS16 V2
Thor 1000 MK2
Tom Evans Vibe
Audio Note m5
Tube Distinctions SoulMate
Wright Sound WLA 12A
"I am a 20-year audiofool and thought I had really heard most of what was possible in a home stereo system. I have owned several highly regarded tube and SS preamps costing up to $12,000 new, but this new DUDE preamp from TRL is an absolute sonic breakthrough.
As I listen to music tonight I must say that I am completely overcome with the DUDE. This preamp is the absolute top of the audio chain in terms of sound. If you were to ask me in what ways it is better or what about it makes it the best I have heard, I would be at a loss for words. Why? Because it is not one or two things, rather it is everything. It opens music in my dedicated audio cave in ways I did not think were even possible or attainable.
I know this intro sounds hyped, but it is my honest and actual experience with the new TRL amps - both power and now preamp. I am going to write a full review as I listen to more and more of my collection and the DUDE burns in fully. These are exciting days for me in audio.
Other owners please chime in as the Audiogon cummunity must know more about this breakthrough amp. The DUDE simply transends descriptions like body, texture, organic, extended, natural and commands more - much more. I guess it must be experienced.
I know one easy way for me to explain my experience. When you listen to live amplified music in a great accoustic setting the music is huge, dramatic, full of impact/ energy and is in utter control no matter how loud. The sound is bold and totally uncompressed. Full bodied with detail and texture. You feel the music and it is a live experience. This is the sound of my home stereo now because of the DUDE preamp and 225 power amp.
When I go back to other "well regarded" amps it sounds like a stereo - a puny stereo. Emphasis on puny folks. That is the bottom line description.
The DUDE is MUSIC."