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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Esoteric UX-1, Yamamoto YDA-01
Preamp/Integrated: Esoteric C-03 (transistor), ModWright DM 36.5 (valves)
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5, Hextateq Premium 100SE [on review]
Speakers: ASI Tango R, DeVore Fidelity Nines, Zu Essence
Cables: Complete loom of ASI Liveline
Stands: s Ikea Molger and butcher-block platforms with metal footers
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters, Advanced Acoustics Orbis Wall & Corner units
Room size: The sound platform is 3 x 4.5m with a 2-story slanted ceiling above; four steps below continue into an 8m long combined open kitchen, dining room and office, an area which widens to 5.2m with a 2.8m ceiling; the sound platform space is open to a 2nd story landing and, via spiral stair case, to a 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls from a converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse and 2nd-story landing.
Review Component Retail: $1,799 with remote

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. EJ Sarmento worked for Rick Cullen at Cullen Circuits, California's OEM for PS Audio. When McGowan outsourced to China instead, Sarmento needed to stay busy. He founded Wyred4Sound with a low-power ICEpower amp. Between unexpected growth there and his ongoing work at Cullen Circuits, soon the squeeze was on. But Rick and EJ were long-time collaborators determined to make things work for both.

Priced to undercut dealer-sold competition at Bel Canto Design and PS Audio, the Wyred4Sound amp lineup today includes every conceivable combination of channels and power ratings in a single chassis. Then there are stereo and mono flavors to round things out. Still at the oversight committee had been a matching preamp. What would EJ Sarmento cook up with a little help from the Cullen chief? Something passive and active. It would perform automatic transitions at unity gain, sport a very trick relay-switched precision resistor volume control, add fully balanced circuitry with RCA and XLR i/o ports and sell for just $1,799. Enter the pertly christened STP - or STereo Preamp spelled out in long hand.

Anyone worried over passive lameness (no current, no drive, no color, no density) will be keen to pop the hood in case EJ approached the topic differently. 23 screws later, you'll be relieved to see that he did. The reason the demure looking STP is secured so redundantly has to do with the face plate being part of the traditional U cover. The display, input up/down buttons, remote eye and volume encoder control are all mounted to this combo cover. Thus the ground and encoder wires as well as master ribbon cable must first be unhooked like a bra.

Then you're greeted by resistor ladders composed of Dale rn55d cooper lead units, alleys of capacitors, banks of relays, a discrete dual FET buffer stage for impedance stabilization and a butch power supply with a 25A Schottky bridge rectifier and 164,560+ uF of capacitance to outmuscle more than one power amp. For ultra quiet operation -- Wyred specs <6uV in passive mode, <18uV in active -- there are two filter stages with Nichicon bipolar Muse capacitors. The volume control offers max attenuation of 128dB, isolation of >106dB, channel matching to +/- 0.05dB and half-dB steps.