What obviously was too heavy to make the jump were the fancier threads of the Adagio, Pavane and Forte; their black glass tops, massive fascias and matching sides. Box envy is genetically hard coded into the Jade. There Adagio remains king. Cue the violins. Still, Jade can be had with a silver or black face and a demure black casing. And though it should be crystal already, Jade's entire raison d'être versus Onyx is decommissioning a preamp. That won't work with analog sources. But if you're homo digitalus, Jade does a Trump and fires your separate pre. Run it amp direct, reduce box, cable, cord and shelf count and smoke the saved cashish elsewhere. Pass it around? With that 115/230V switch inside, you could; even across international borders.

To appreciate Jade's digital preamp functionality in the proper light, it's instructive to remember basics. Regardless of type, typical volume controls throw away gain unless we listen above unity gain. Unity what? Source output voltage. Unless that's unusually low; your amp's input sensitivity is; or you listen very loud... you'll be reducing source signal strength, not adding to it. Hence wiring up source to amp would be far too loud to require a gain cut. Voilà, the argument for passive preamps. Why generate gain only to throw it out again? But even passives do. After all, you'd not run one if you needed more. So unless you crank their volume to the max, you'll still dump gain. You just won't add to what you're throwing away as you would with an active. Not so a circuit with true variable gain. It only generates what you actually listen to; no more. In that sense, the clever Jade is more passive than even a passive. Shouldn't that predict sonic behaviour?

Part Deux of your due diligence today should be a return to the last page: in-house dipoles and Forte amp. By activating a room's ambient field where direct radiators do not, dipoles behave closer to real instruments, hence make better fuller tone. Next, the Forte was deliberately designed to mimic a tube hybrid. "It's an idea from when I had such amps for pleasure listening and critical evaluations. What I did not like was the fact that triodes suffer aging. In simulation software, I started to imitate triodes with Fets. The good thing with triodes is their low gain and high bandwidth without needing feedback. That was my goal. It took me a few weeks of simulations but I hit upon the desired result. It falls somewhere between a 12AU7 and 12AT7 on gain but with a bit more bandwidth. The disadvantage is that it runs on the same high 350V rails as real tubes would. From there we drive a class A/B output section (10 watts in class A, 50w/8Ω, 100w/4Ω, 170w/2Ω). Damping factor is 200. Compared to my old hybrids, there's no sonic difference but less noise. Now we've turned this into a commercial product with a lot of added protection because during startup, we must charge up 176'000µF. And that, in a nutshell, is the Forte platform." As my review explained, its sonics play to the Pass Labs XA30.8 class A aesthetic - dark, earthy, heavy, dense.

OSX recognized the Jade as hiFaceTWO UAC 2 Output with a 384kHz limit. The shown 9:00 volume equaled standard levels balanced out into LinnenberG Allegro monos driving Audio Physic Codex.

Armed with this background, you'll likely conclude that our Dutchies wouldn't think of additive editorializing in a preamp as desirable. They neither need nor want it. The obvious question is, do you? If you're eyeing our Nagra Jazz, you do. If you're lusting after the just reviewed £9'000 The Bespoke Audio Company transformer passive, you don't. Now you're a perfect candidate to get jaded. Go green. It's nice for the environment, too.

"I forgot to inform you about the following. As mentioned, the jumpers at the edge of the board will set the mother board for fixed or variable gain. As a matter of fact, that is just a part of the story. I told you that in case of the fixed position, the outputs conform to Redbook specs and are set by the upper jumper. If the upper jumper is set to the right, max output voltage is 3Vrms for the RCA output, 6Vrms for the XLR. But if you set this jumper to the left, this becomes 2/4V respectively. In case of sensitive power amps, that can be more convenient and as a result, the output level will decrease by 3.5dB." Very useful.