Thrax Orpheus Phono Preamplifier From Bulgaria Looks to be a Sonic Winner

Thrax has yet to make major inroads in the American market but that will surely change as its products become better known. At least that's my assessment based upon what I saw and heard in Munich.

The products look beautiful and the engineering is impressive based upon my conversations with the owner/designer Rumen Todorov Atarski. A nasty rumor floated around last year claiming that Thrax designs and builds Ypsilon's products. I don't know who started such a rumor but they should cut it out!

In fact Mr. Atarski and Ypsilon's Demetris Backlavas are friends but they are also competitors manufacturing very different products, though the Orpheus, like the Ypslion VPS-100 phono preamplifier features zero feedback passive LCR phono equalization.

The Orpheus's input stage is a low noise D3A German Post triode tube that produces gain and the output impedance to drive the LCR RIAA equalization that uses high precision custom made Sowter coils wound with Cardas wire and Jupiter BeeWax impregnated paper capacitors.

The next stage uses another low noise tube, this one a Russian triode similar to a WE417 loaded by a Hashimoto transformer to produce necessary level and isolation from the next stages.

But enough circuit description in a show report. The rest will have to wait for a review. If anything is a "Ypsilon competitor (or killer)" this might be it. The power supply is equally impressive. The Orpheus has two RCA and one balanced XLR input, with ground planes switched between inputs to avoid ground loops and induced ground noises.

The Thrax line includes a remote controlled preamplifier, a directly heated triode power amplifier, a Class A Hybrid tube/fet amplifier and a DAC that incorporates a DSP controlled discrete resistor ladder DAC built for Thrax by MSB.

In its brochure (a close second place to Sperling for sumptuous photography) Thrax pays homage to Shisido San's Wavac and Kondo San's Audio Note Japan designs. The International aspect of Thrax's componentry is among its many attractions. Price is circa $20,000.

only analog for me's picture

Being a hardware junkie, I for one would like to see the internal photos of not only this phono-preamp, but other equipment as well, show me why I'm paying so much, impress me with not only the sound quality, but with the construction as well, show me that I am not simply paying a premium for "packaged space", ..