25 July, 2008

Review: SHINDO Claret preamplifier

The CLARET is a RARE preamp, an older model of Shindo that helped put Shindo on the map. Its circuit is simple but regarded as extremely well implemented by a very large following in the DIY circle. The popular Thorsten Loesch has always championed it. The good Thorsten also left a whole folder of Shindo pics in a Shindo file in the FILES section of my Yahoo group. In this link you shall find the circuit as well as a DIY project:


Years ago, my friend Ringo bought it from Ebay and he generously let me listen for a long time. I was really impressed and almost bought it from him when he sold it, eventually to yet another friend Simon hing, who is now using it together with Shindo 300B monoblocks (not at all enough power to drive his TAD 2402). During its time with me, I knew its rarity and took some pics, so I can share them with you now.

The preamp is exceptionally well-built, using mostly hard wiring in conjunction with a little circuit board and compartmentalization to reduce noise. See the shielded phono amplification.

The 12Ax7's in the phonostage have damper rings around them, the 12AT7/12AY7 in the line stage doesn't. Selected vintage components are used, as you can see. Does this not remind you of the Marantz and other vintage preamps of yore?

It's difficult to characterize the sound. I would say it is neutral, fast and quiet. All that despite the presence of many vintage parts in the preamp! That goes to show you implementation is the most important and forget about pre-conceived notions. The phonostage, though just MM, is supremely clean, effortless and powerful, surprisingly better with MCs than many a weaker MC stage! The linestage is a little on the "yang" side, but I'd not like to give the wrong impression that there is anything harsh sounding here. It's a super preamp for those who like tube gears that veer a little towards the neutral side. Its performance in just about every aspect of sound reproduction, including dynamics and rhythm-and-pace, is exceptional. It gives you music with a good measure of presence and is a good re-producer of live music if you partner it well.

Although Shindo shall never sound like many clinical sounding modern tube gears, still, it is not for those "vintage sound" lovers that we see so often here, for all the wrong reasons.

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