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ECLIPSE

4.450,00

Robert Reina, Stereophile concluded:
“…this preamp is a tube rollers dream. Depending on what your sonic tastes are will determine which tubes you will want to use in your Eclipse. While you may like the sound of the Eclipse with the stock Harmonix tubes, in my humble opinion, NOS tubes like the RCA Clear Top take its performance to a higher level. Highly recommended!”

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:::  ultra high end line pre amplifier  :::

:::  Préamplificateur ligne ultra haut de gamme  :::

 

REVIEWS:

Mike Wright, The StereoTimes concluded:
”…this vacuum tube-based unit is a combination of looks, build quality and sonic enjoyment that I could not, in good conscious, bypass. The clear acrylic top allows you to peer inside and smile at how well it’s built and show off for your friends, and of course, sonically, it makes music quite enjoyable. The biggest secret yet lays hidden deep inside of this preamp, beyond the visage of the human eye. Once you replace the stock tubes with NOS tubes, the performance escalates to a higher level and gives the Eclipse the ability to perform at a much higher level, comparable to preamps costing two to three times its cost. Using NOS tubes, the performance at the frequency extremes becomes noticeably better and the midrange becomes eerily life-like. It’s a good preamp with stock tubes that becomes an exceptional one using NOS tubes…”

Ken Kessler for Ultimate Audio concluded:
“…it was easy to fall in love with the AudioValve pair (Eclipse pre-amp and Challenger mono-blocks), even the baroque styling; it was like looking at a gigantic Montblanc pen. The Eklipse impressed me because of its authoritative performance, openness, ergonomics and build quality. The Challengers? Deceptive they are, like U-boats. Small footprint, not too heavy for a 6-valve amp with huge transformers – yet they drive any bad without complaint, maintaining their composure at all times. Yeah, 1 could live with these without complaint…”

Robert Reina, Stereophile concluded:
“…this preamp is a tube rollers dream. Depending on what your sonic tastes are will determine which tubes you will want to use in your Eclipse. While you may like the sound of the Eclipse with the stock Harmonix tubes, in my humble opinion, NOS tubes like the RCA Clear Top take its performance to a higher level. Highly recommended!”

Art Dudley, Stereophile concluded:
“…for the past several weeks, the Audio Valve Eclipse has been a joy: fun to audition, fun to look at, even fun to deoxidize. Visitors have noticed its styling, too, and praised it for looking less dour than most: for looking both modern and retro in one neat stroke…the Eclipse competes in a tightly run race, but does so gamely: Other choices offer different combinations of strengths, some of which will suit you more than others, but the Eclipse isn’t shamed by any of them. In fact, to the listener who prizes musical drama above all else, the superbly crafted Eclipse could be seen as the only choice. Reasonably. A lovely product, and a decent value for the money: The Eclipse has me wondering what Audio Valve’s power amplifiers sound like…”

FEEDBACK:

“..now, this preamp is like nothing I have ever heard. And I used to be an assistant in a company here in Perth that made possibly the world’s best solid state preamp back in the late seventies. This preamp (known as HSA) consistently beat all preamps that it went up against, even the Mark Levinson. The point is that I do have a very good ear, and I have never heard a system that could beat the old HSA. Many can now, but none as well as your Eklipse…”

“…the detail is stunning. With the clarity of my Soundlab M1 electrostatics and the explosive power of the Sanders Sounds ESL monoblock amplifiers the sound is electrifying! Bass – I had started to doubt that the Soundlabs had any bass – WOW the bass now is amazing!!!! Guitar strings and piano are stunning but then a voice comes in and the singer is standing in the room – fantastic!”

“…once again – thank you for designing and building such a wonderful instrument. The design and build quality are stunning but it is the sound quality that is on a different level to anything that I have ever heard. Thank you for this gift of sound…”

 

 

The EKLIPSE is AudioValves latest product, which is the result of the experience gained in preamplifier design over a span of 15 years. In every aspect it is quite different from other Audio`Valve products. Our absolute priority in the design of the EKLIPSE was total shielding from RFI and unwanted noise which could degrade the purity of the signal.

The chassis is, therefore, machined from laser cut 5mm steel fully isolating its 4*12AU7/6189 tubes. The circuitry is housed on a double-sided circuit board designed by the most advanced computer technology.

The EKLIPSE is a true class A line stage pre-amp. Designed for the audiophiles who want pure analog with the highest quality sound available, without the price of one.

All that combined with the 1% film resistors, Draloric NOS carbon resistors, polypropylene caps and built on a solid FR4 material with Military specs PC board, 2 oz copper. The Eklipse components are soldered by hand and all matches to perfection between the left and right channels.

Audio and power traces are separated from each other by lanes and blocks of ground. Alps motor pot is used for volume control mounted on a PC board, like wise input selector and volume control by hand or remote controlled 

The quality of sound is a dream come true, with a true 3 dimensional sound. Where the depth of instruments and their location, the warmth and transparency puts you in a world where only few have been. You will discover that your music has details that were held back and now are being revealed.

The quality of sound is of highest you can imagine. Precise, dynamic, warm, and full. It is very quiet and detailed. The Eklipse is warranteed for 2 years, parts and labor from day of purchase and it is transferable to second owner.

AUDIOVALVE`s Eklipse provides an exception to the rule. A look inside the unit reveals a special two sided, 2 oz. pure copper panel known as a FR4, a military approved high-quality PC motherboard. Created with special software, the FR4’s design eliminates the need for point-to-point soldering. The signal and power lanes are separated by ground traces or block of grounds to minimize cross talk or noise. The result is a tube component board void of maze-like lanes and jumpers that can compromise sound quality. A tight and secure component board is the heart and soul of AUDIOVALVE`S Eklipse.

Most pre-amps on the market today are designed with a point-to-point soldering system, a cluttered and disorganized, albeit economical and quick method of production, characterized by numerous wires and cables.

The power supply’s components are over rated in wattage and precise in value. All resistors (Dale Vishay certified) are 1% wire wound. The caps can withstand temperatures up to 105 degrees Celsius. Like all of AUDIOVALVE`s components, the caps and resistors are soldered to the power supply board, resulting in a silent pre-amp that is void of hum or noise.

AUDIOVALVE`s Eklipse regulated power supply is superior in its design and a draw to the true audiophile. Split into two sections – the filter and regulation circuitry – the power supply’s voltage is held to a constant level and never affected by AC line fluctuations.  

 The pre-amp is contained in a black anodized 4 mm steel chassis with custom designed face plate and knob. The power supply employs the highest quality 160 VA toroidal transformer with dual primary and secondary winding. Each secondary has its own full wave bridge rectifier. All electrolytic caps are bypassed by polypropylene caps. The power supply is regulated by four adjustable regulators for an exact plate – and heating volts DC. And both of the regulators are fully protected against any short through diodes.

The Eklipse is broken in for at least 48 hours before shipping to customer. With a 2 year transferable warranty. Warmup time is 15-30 minutes.

AUDIOVALVE`s  Eklipse comes equipped with high quality ALPS motor volume control flawlessly installed onto its wired PC board. Specially designed  in steel bracket provide extra support for the controls, which are linked to a volume control rod using a special universal joint. All parts are matched between the left and right channels to perfection (resisters and caps). The output stage is capable of driving any load at any ohmage.

The face plate features sleek, custom made brass anodized knobs. Added to the front panel are more color LED displays, which change color in different mode. 

The AUDIOVALVE´s Eklipse features a striking faceplate stroked with easy-to-read gold lettering. The back panel and bottom plate of the chassis is made of  4 mm  rugged steel polished in a smooth black finish.

The Eklipse is generous in input and output, 20 in all. All gold plated and soldered directly to the I/O board. Among the connectors: seven line inputs, one complete tape loop (I/O), and two pre-amp outputs. Added to the unit are two high quality rotary switches. They are warranted and tested for 25,000 rotations. Additionally, the switches are sealed, keeping dust and corrosion to a minimum. Screws are used to attach the switches to a specially designed I/O board. Again, no wires are used, resulting in shorter signal paths and less noise.

All parts were carefully matched for the most exacting tolerances. Condensers are of the highest quality and the total is completed by the use of classic NOS resistors. The EKLIPSE is versatile, as well. Its solid and slightly projecting rear has both balanced and single ended outputs as well as a full array of single ended input connections.

The beauty and elegance of the EKLIPSE`s design and construction mirrors the purity and vibrancy of its musical presentation. Music is freed from the boundaries of the speakers. The EKLIPSE was created to pay a special homage to all musicians and the music they create.

  • Concept: high class douple mono pre-amplifer
  • Output Level: 15 V max.
  • Power Bandwide: 4 – 45.000 Hz.
  • Distortion: 0,1 % (1V)
  • Noise: 0,05 mV (Volume noise limiter)
  • Inputs: 7 Line In, & 1 Line Out, tape loop
  • Output Impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Power Consumption: 40 Watt
  • Line Voltage: 117 up to 240 VAC
  • Valve Line – Up: 4*6189 (12AU7)
  • Spec.-Features: Stand By & Mute Function, rem. – Control
  • Dimensions: (w-d-h) 420 * 320 * 130 mm
  • Weight Net: 20 kg
  • input configuration:
    CD1 – 17 dB – 20K
    CD1 – 22 dB – 16K5
    AU1 – 15 dB – 19K
    AU2 – 20 dB – 15K
    AU3 – 24 dB – 15K
    TUN – 26 dB – 17K
    TP   – 26 dB – 17K 

NOTE: please examine the inputs for your needs. Also for sound quality examine the more sensitive inputs.

 new remote controls unit for all models, black or silver anodized, in a really heavy full metal aluminium case !

L‘EKlipse est le dernier produit d`AudioValve, qui combine tous d’expérience de plus de 15 ans dans le développement de préamplificateurs. Il est différent dans chaque aspect d’autres produits d`AudioValve. Notre priorité absolue dans le développement de l`Eklipse était totale blindage de RFI et les bruits indésirables, ce qui pourrait réduire la pureté du signal.

La découpe laser 5 mm d’épaisseur boîtier en acier, par conséquent, isolés les 4 tubes 12AU7/6189 complète. Le circuit est sur une carte imprimée double-face, développé par la technologie informatique de pointe.

L’Eklipse est une véritable classe A ligne stage préamplificateur, créé pour les audiophiles qui veulent l’analogie pur avec le son meilleure qualité – sans avoir à payer un prix exorbitant.

Tout cela combiné avec des résistances stratifiés de 1%, des resistances de carbone Draloric NOS et bouchons en polypropylène sur un matériau solide de F4, avec une carte imprimée précisé militaire de 2 oz de cuivre. Les composants de l`Eklipse sont soudés à la main et s’adapter parfaitement entre les canaux gauche et droit.

La trace d`audio et de l’énergie sont séparés par des rues et des blocs. Sur une carte imprimée se trouve monté des potentiomètres motorisé Alps pour contrôler le volume. La sélection de l’entrée et le volume peut être commandé manuellement ou par télécommande.

La qualité du son est un rêve devenu réalité avec le son en trois dimensions. La profondeur des instruments, la chaleur et la transparence va vous guider dans un monde de sons, dans la mesure où seuls quelques-uns ont été autorisés à plonger. Vous trouverez les détails dans votre musique qui ont eu lieu en arrière et enfin révélée.

La qualité sonore est aussi haut que vous pouvez rêver. Précis, dynamique, chaleureuse et pleine et très calme et détaillée. L’EKlipse dispose de 2 ans à partir de la date d’acquisition. Ceci est transférable à un deuxième propriétaire.

AudioValve`s Eklipse est une exception à la règle. Un coup d’œil à l’intérieur du unité a révélé une plaque spéciale bilatéral de 2 oz de matériel de cuivre pur (connu sous le nom FR4) – une carte mère d`ordinateur de haute qualité qui étais utilisé pour la première fois dans l’armée. Fabriqué avec un logiciel spécial la conception FR4 élimine la nécessité pour le brasage point à point. La trace de signale et de l’énergie sont séparés par des rues et des blocs terres pour réduire le couplage et les autres bruits. Le résultat est une carte avec des composants du tube, plein de ruelles et de pontages comme un labyrinthe, où la comparaison avec la plus grande qualité sonore n’a pas besoin de la peur. Ce conseil composante dense et sûr est le coeur et l’âme de l’Eklipse.

La plupart des préamplis sur le marché aujourd’hui sont faits avec un système de soudure point à point – un désordre et pas très organisée, même si économique et rapide méthode de la production, caractérisée par de nombreux fils et câbles.

Les composants du bloc d’alimentation sont supérieurs en watts et précise de la valeur. Toutes les résistances (Vishay Dale certifiés) sont bobinés 1%. Les bouchons peuvent résister à des températures jusqu’à 105 degrés Celsius. Comme tous les composants d`AudioValve, les chapeaux et les résistances sont soudés à la carte imprimée, ce qui rend le préampli si tranquille et libre de vibrations et de bruit.

Le règlement de l’apport énergétique dans l`Eklipse d`AudioValve est excellente et une attraction pour le vrai fan de Hi-Fi. Divisé en 2 sections – le système de filtration et le système de contrôle réglementaire – la tension d’alimentation reste à un niveau constant et n`est jamais touchés par les fluctuations de courant AC.

Le préamplificateur est situé dans un boîtier noir anodisé, en acier d’épaisseur 4 mm, avec une application spécifique boutons du panneau avant. Le bloc d’alimentation utilise un transformateur toroïdal de haute qualité 160 VA avec deux bobinages primaires et secondaires. Chaque site secondaire a son propre redresseur à pont à deux alternances. Tous les bouchons d’électrolyse sont contournés avec bouchons en polypropylène. Le bloc d’alimentation est régie par quatre contrôles ajustables pour atteindre précise circuits de tension et de chauffage. Voici les deux contrôleurs sont entièrement protégés contre tout court-circuit à travers les diodes.

L’Eklipse passe avant chaque expédition au client un minimum de 48 heures de fonctionnement continu d’essai. Elle a une garantie transférablede et de 2 ans. Le temps de préchauffage est de 15-30 minutes.

AUDIO VALVE `s Eklipse est équipé d’un contrôle de volume ALPS à moteur, de haute qualité, correctement installé sur sa carte imprimée. La conception clip acier spécialement conçus est un soutien supplémentaire pour les contrôles qui sont associés à une tige de commande de volume, qui utilise un joint universel spécial. Tous les composants sont adaptés à la perfection entre les canaux gauche et droit (résistances et casquettes). L’étage de sortie est capable d’exécuter n’importe quelle charge sur chaque nombre d`Ohm.

Le front a des boutons brillants, sur mesure, en laiton anodisé. En outre, le plastron offre des affiches LED coloré qui change le couleur dans des modes différentes.

Sur le front panneau impressionnant de l`Eklipse d`AudioValve se trouve en outre une inscription d`or,facile à lire. La plaque arrière et en bas du boîtier sont faites d`acier dur de 4mm puissance, polie pour une finition lisse et noir.

L’Eklipse est généreux avec ses total de 20 entrées et les sorties. Tout l’or et directement avec la carte E / S soudé. Pour la connexions: sept entrées ligne, une boucle de bande complète (entrée / sortie), et deux sorties préampli. Ajouté à l’unité sont deux commutateurs rotatifs de qualité. Ils garantissent également et sont testés avec 25.000 rotations. En plus, les commutateurs sont scellés pour empêcher la poussière et la corrosion aussi faible que possible. Les vis utilisées pour fixer le passage à une spécialement conçus carte d`entrée /sortie. Encore une fois, pas de câbles sont utilisés pour réaliser les chemins de signal plus courte et moins de bruit.

Toutes les pièces ont été soigneusement comparer pour des tolérances exigeantes. Les condensateurs sont de la plus haute qualité. Le tout est complété par l`utilisation de résistances classique NOS. L’Eklipse est aussi polyvalent. Leur solide, un peu précédent revers a à la fois, des sorties balance et single-ended, aussi qu`une gamme complète de connexions d’entrée single-ended.

La beauté et l’élégance de la conception et la construction de l’Eklipse reflètent la pureté et la résonance de sa présentation de la musique. La musique est libérée des liens des haut-parleurs. L’EKLIPSE était créée, quand un hommage à tous les musiciens et à la musique ils créent.

  • Concepte : Mono préamplificateur d’haut niveau
  • Niveau de sortie: 15 V maximale
  • Plage de puissance: 4 – 45.000 Hz
  • distorsion:0,1 % (1V)
  • bruit: 0,05 mV (limiteur de volume sonore)
  • les intrants: 7 Line-Intrants, 1 Line-sorties, bouffette
  • impedance de sortie: 300 Ohm
  • la consommation d’énergie: 40 Watt
  • la tension de ligne: 117 bis 240 VAC
  • tubes: 4 * 6189 (12AU7)
  • les caractéristiques spéciales: fonctions Stand-by et silencieux, contrôle à distance
  • mensurations 420*320*130mm
  • poids: 20 kg net
  • la configuration d’entrée:
    CD1 – 17 dB – 20K
    CD1 – 22 dB – 16K5
    AU1 – 15 dB – 19K
    AU2 – 20 dB – 15K
    AU3 – 24 dB – 15K
    TUN – 26 dB – 17K
    TP   – 26 dB – 17K

NOTE: S’il vous plaît vérifier les entrées selon vos besoins. Inspecter pour une bonne qualité sonore aussi les entrées sensibles.

Nouvelle unité de contrôle à distance pour tous les modèles, noir ou argent anodisé dans un lourd boîtier métallique en aluminium plein!


NEW FEATURE since 09 / 2009
home theatre bypass for EKLIPSE !

The Audio Valve Eklipse Pre-amplifier now has an optional Home Theater Bypass “Direct Output” feature.

This feature is especially useful with a combination home theater system and two channel stereo system.  It enables you to use the volume control of your home theater processor without have to make any connection cable changes from your stereo system.


How It Works


To enable this function, simply connect your home theater processor to “Tape In” (RCA connectors on back) and turn the input knob to “Tape In” and the signal passed directly to the XLR output connectors going to your amplifier.  This way you can use the volume control of your processor without any influence from the Eklipse.  Switch the input knob to any of the other inputs to go back to normal stereo use.

Please note, that the volume control on the Eklipse is no longer in use when the Home Theater Bypass mode is enabled.  Be careful, or you might experience full level output  !!!

NOUVEAU DISPOSITIF depuis 09 / 2009
Dérivation du cinéma-maison pour l’Eklipse!!!

La préamplificateur Eklipse d`AudioValve dispose désormais d’une option de contournement home-cinéma “sortie directe”.

Cette offre spéciale est particulièrement utile en combinaison avec un système de cinéma maison et un système stéréo à deux canaux. Il vous permet d’utiliser la commande de volume de votre processeur home cinéma sans changer de modifications dans le câble de votre système stéréo.


Comment ça marche?


Pour utiliser cette fonction, il suffit de connecter votre processeur home cinéma avec “tape in” (connecteurs RCA à l’arrière) et tournez le bouton d’entrée sur “tape in” et le signal est acheminé directement vers les sorties XLR qui mènent à votre amplificateur.

De cette façon, vous pouvez utiliser la commande de volume de votre processeur sans aucune influence de l’Eklipse. Mettez le bouton d’entrée sur l’un des autres intrants pour le retour utilisation en mode stéréo normal.

S’il vous plaît noter que la commande de volume sur l’Eklipse ne sera pas utilisée si l’appareil est en mode de contournement de cinéma maison. Faites attention ou vous pourriez éprouver de la tension de sortie complète!!!!

important message:

the test of the stereo file via the eclipse is misleading in terms of the output resistance. Clients have brought to our attention and we want to correct the at this point.The output resistance of the Eclipse is 256 ohm. We have enclosed a copy as documentation of the calculation. We have the output capacitor in its capacity now quintupled, so that at low frequencies the output resistance is based. Please kindly note this. Becker

http://www.stereophile.com/content/audio-valve-eclipse-preamplifier-measurements


Important note:
In 2017 we reduce the max. gain from ECLIPSE down to 14 dB. We register, that more and more sources spend high signal output levels and so its no nessesery to have a Eclipse basic gain from 26dB ! The overall characteristics of the amplifier have improved even more. The other inputs are accordingly less sensitive, they are attenuated. Anyone who is interested in updating his Eclipse, please get in touch with us, we will spend the pics what is to do for this modification update in Eclipse.

 

( read the complete test in the EKLIPSE sub directory folder – “test reviews” – Stereophile, issue August 2008 )
(Lire le test complet dans l`Eklipse sous-dossier “recensions de test – Stereophile, édition août 2008)

“Now, this preamp is like nothing I have ever heard. And I used to be an assistant in a company here in Perth that made possibly the world’s best solid state preamp back in the late seventies. This preamp (known as HSA) consistently beat all preamps that it went up against, even the Mark Levinson.

So much so that Remy Thorens (of Thorens) wanted to have the world distribution rights, but costs put the tiny company out of business.

The point is that I do have a very good ear, and I have never heard a system that could beat the old HSA. Many can now, but none as well as your Eklipse.

The detail is stunning. With the clarity of my Soundlab M1 electrostatics and the explosive power of the Sanders Sounds ESL monoblock amplifiers the sound is electrifying !

Bass – I had started to doubt that the Soundlabs had any bass – WOW the bass now is amazing !!!!

Guitar strings and piano are stunning but then a voice comes in and the singer is standing in the room – fantastic !

Once again – thank you for designing and building such a wonderful instrument.

The design and build quality are stunning but it is the sound quality that is on a different level to anything that I have ever heard.

Thank you for this gift of sound.”

Peter Ferguson Perth, Western Australia, 2009

«Alors, cet amplificateur est comparable à rien que je n’ai jamais entendu. Et j’ai été assistant dans une entreprise ici à Perth, qui a probablement produit le meilleur préamplificateur à semi-conducteurs dans le monde de la fin des années septante. Ce pré-amplificateur (connu sous le nom HSA) a suggéré que tous préamplificateur contre laquelle il a pris, même le Mark Levinson.

Il est même allé si loin que Remy Thorens (de Thorens) voulait avoir les droits de distribution à travers le monde, mais le coût a diminué la petite entreprise à la faillite.

Le fait est que j’ai une très bonne oreille, et je n’ai jamais entendu un système qui pouvait battu l’ancien HSA. Aujourd’hui, le nombre, mais aucun n’est aussi bon que l’Eklipse.

Le détail est à couper le souffle. Combiné avec la clarté de ma M1 Soundlab électrostatique et la puissance explosive de l’amplificateur Sanders Sound ESL-monobloc, le son est électrisant!

La basse – J’avais déjà commencé à douter de la Labs Sound a toute la basse – WOW, la basse est incroyable maintenant!

La guitare et le son du piano est déjà écrasante, mais alors une voix lui vient, et il se sent être le chanteur dans la salle elle-même serait – fantastique!

Une fois encore, je tiens à vous remercier – pour le développement et la fabrication d’un instrument tel merveilleux.

La qualité de conception et de production sont bonnes, mais c’est la qualité du son, qui est à un niveau aussi élevé, comme je l’ai jamais entendu.

Je vous remercie pour ce don de la musicalité et le son.

Peter Ferguson, Perth, Australie de l`ouest

Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier Robert J. Reina, June 2008

Robert J. Reina wrote about the Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier in June 2008 (Vol.31 No.6):

I was excited when I heard that Art Dudley was going to review the Eclipse line preamplifier from German manufacturer Audio Valve (Stereophile, August 2007). I have owned the preamp for four years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. But I wondered what Art might say about it. To my ears, the Eclipse was detailed and dynamic, but had no sound of its own—no coloration, no sonic signature. How could AD stretch that into an entire review and make it informative and entertaining? I then thought that AD is such a talented writer that he can spend an entire article discussing cole slaw and make it informative and entertaining. (Come to think of it, I think he already has.) Anyway, John Atkinson was amenable to my suggestion that I add my two cents to Artie’s spot-on review.

When I think of the Eclipse ($4200), I think of Audio Research Corporation, for several reasons. First, in his review of the Parasound Halo JC 2 line preamp (March 2008), JA discussed his old Audio Research SP10 and how neutral that component is. Neutral is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Eclipse. I also think of the last great preamp that visited my house prior to the Eclipse, the Audio Research Reference 3. I loved that preamp as well, but when I bought the Eclipse, I thought it reminded me of a more neutral, more dynamic Reference 3. Finally, I recently spent quite a bit of time comparing ARC’s Reference 3 with the Eclipse (see Follow-Up, June 2007, Vol.30 No.6). But the Eclipse is much more than a “poor man’s” ARC.

For my discourse on the Eclipse, I mined some of my favorite LPs, using the Vendetta phono stage. The Eclipse loved well-recorded vocal discs. The original UK pressing of the Beatles’ first album, Please Please Me (LP, Parlophone PCS3042), sonically the band’s best recording (except for Love, of course), let the Eclipse strut its stuff. Lennon’s note-for-note cover of Arthur Alexander’s “Anna (Go to Him)” betters the original, and has the most powerful vocal Lennon ever recorded with the group. His silky yet stressful and pleading voice was holographic through the Eclipse, vibrant and bathed in the warm light of studio reverb. On “I Saw Her Standing There” (the best punk-rock tune ever written), the interplay of Lennon’s rhythm guitar with Paul McCartney’s melodic bass line and Ringo Starr’s chunking, churning rhythms demonstrated that the Elipse’s capabilities of dynamic and transient articulation were beyond reproach. The sound was completely coherent, every transient attack in the right spot at the right time, with no sharpness, blunting, dullness, or sluggishness.

When I listened to “Gloria’s Step,” from Bill Evans’ Live at the Village Vanguard Featuring Scott La Faro (LP, Riverside/Acoustic Sounds 9376), the Eclipse’s sonic signature (or lack thereof)—its open, detailed, uncolored midrange and high frequencies—rendered Evans’s piano as delicate, silky, rich, and intimate. The title track of Miles Davis’ Seven Steps to Heaven (LP, Columbia C12051) presented Davis’ trumpet as vibrant, burnished, golden tones with requisite bite, and Tony Williams’ drum solo on the title track highlighted the Eclipse’s ability to capture every cymbal and snare-drum transient naturally and in the pocket.

The Eclipse is no silky, syrupy reproducer of tubey high frequencies—the highs were extended and natural on all recordings. The delicate guitar interplay between Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore on the intro to “Free City Rhymes,” on Sonic Youth’s NYC Ghosts and Flowers (LP, Geffen 0069490550), were clean and shimmering, and the Audio Valve captured the silky consonant tension of the gentlemen’s unorthodox tunings.

As for well-recorded classical percussion, oh my God! Charles Wuorinen’s Ringing Changes for Percussion Ensemble (LP, Nonesuch H17263) is the acid test. The Eclipse captured every subtle dynamic inflection, from ppp to fff, on that recording’s wide, deep soundstage, as well as the acoustic of the recording venue. The long decay of the vibraphones and chimes seemed to extend to infinity, and each subtle, delicate piano inflection was easily discernible beneath the pompous timpani blasts. The lightning-fast piano transients at all volume levels in André Previn’s recording of Messiaen’s Turanga;îla Symphony (LP, EMI SLS 5117) were perfectly reproduced, and the subtle percussion along the back wall were undeterred by the bass-drum blasts, which shook the room without a hair of overhang.

Speaking of bass blasts, it’s time to discuss the Eclipse’s greatest strength. How many times have you read reviews of expensive tube preamps in which the reviewer raves about the bass performance, then ends with this slight caveat: “You can spend more money on a great solid-state preamp and get slightly tighter bass, but then you’d lose the tube magic,” etc. Well, not with the Eclipse. The Audio Valve had everything else you’d want from a great tube preamp, as well as kick-ass, slammin’, solid-state–like bass. On “Lord’s Tundra,” from Dean Peer’s Ucross (LP, Jazz Planet JP 5002-1), the thundering lower-register pedal tones rumbled and shook the room without overhang, resonance, or any sense of coloration or attenuation of the low bass, as with his right hand Peer plucked bell-like upper-register harmonics that shimmered and sustained. From my notes: “unlimited dynamics.”

I like this preamp very much. I share Art Dudley’s enthusiasm for its brick-Scheisshaus construction quality, its point-to-point wiring, its glorious retro-modern look, and the fact that in the four years I’ve owned the beast, the only trouble it’s given me has been a single bad tube. (It runs on four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7s, which you can find cheaply at any Guitar Center store—it’s the same tube they use in Fender and Marshall guitar amps.)

Can the Audio Valve Eclipse be improved on? Sure—it might be possible to find a tube preamp that has a slightly wider, deeper soundstage, retrieves slightly more ambience, resolves a bit more detail, and has a slightly more extended bandwidth on top. I can think of two offhand, but both have prices in five figures. Probably the greatest praise I can heap on the Eclipse is that, after living with the stunning Audio Research Reference 3 for several months, and shaking my head at how that preamp did some things right that I’ve never heard any other audio component do, I was not disappointed when I replaced it with the Audio Valve Eclipse.

Finally, although the Eclipse’s price has risen in the four years since I bought my unit (that damn euro again), it’s still a bargain at $4200. I don’t understand why every tube-loving audiophile doesn’t own one.—Robert J. Reina

John Atkinson – Stereofile
The Eclipse was non-inverting; ie, it preserved absolute polarity.

The Eclipse could deliver very high output voltages with moderately low distortion. Fig.2 shows how the THD+noise percentage changes with output level into loads ranging from 1k ohm to 100k ohms. The downward slope of the traces below 1V or so in this graph results from the measurement being dominated by noise. The actual THD starts to rise out of the noise when the traces “bottom”; the fact that this occurs between 1V and 2V into the higher impedances—the highest voltage the preamp will be asked to deliver into a typical power amplifier—suggests that the Eclipse’s gain architecture has been sensibly arranged. The preamp is obviously not comfortable driving the lowest impedance (top trace),
but peculiarly, the Eclipse is most linear into 10k ohms (bottom) rather than the usual 100k ohms (middle).

NOTE by AudioValve: we replace the output condenser by a higher capacitor one as result for more stable signal in the low frequency range.

Fig.2 Audio Valve Eclipse, distortion (%) vs 1kHz output level into (from bottom to top at 2V): 100k, 10k, 5k, 1k ohms.

Plotting the THD+N percentage at an output level of 1V into a range of load impedances gave the graph shown in fig.3. Again, the preamplifier is most linear into 10k ohms (bottom trace), but also again, the Eclipse is uncomfortable driving a load as low as 1k ohm (top trace – uninteressting impedance ). However, the THD+N into 5k ohms (second trace from top) is not much worse than that into 100k ohms (third trace from top), suggesting that the preamp will be well behaved with real-world power amplifiers.

Fig.3 Audio Valve Eclipse, THD+N (%) vs frequency at 1V into (from bottom to top): 100k, 10k, 5k, 1k ohms.

As is usually the case with single-ended tube preamplifiers, the distortion spectrum consists predominantly of the subjectively benign second harmonic (fig.4), at levels of –68dB (left) and –70dB (right). However, the right channel has more third, fourth, and fifth harmonic evident (red trace), although still at a low level in absolute terms. Intermodulation distortion was also relatively low (fig.5), with the difference component resulting from an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones lying at –73dB (0.023%). This was into a fairly low impedance; into 100k ohms, the difference component rose to –62dB (0.076%), though this is still low.

Fig.4 Audio Valve Eclipse, spectrum of 1kHz sinewave, DC–10kHz, at 1V into 8k ohms (linear frequency scale).

Fig.5 Audio Valve Eclipse, HF intermodulation spectrum, DC–24kHz, 19+20kHz at 1V peak into 8k ohms (linear frequency scale).

Provided it is used with power amplifiers having an input impedance of at least 30k ohms, the Audio Valve Eclipse measures well for a tube design, with its performance optimized for real-world conditions. John Atkinson

 

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Specs

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  • Concept: high class douple mono pre-amplifer
  • Output Level: 15 V max.
  • Power Bandwide: 4 – 45.000 Hz.
  • Distortion: 0,1 % (1V)
  • Noise: 0,05 mV (Volume noise limiter)
  • Inputs: 7 Line In, & 1 Line Out, tape loop
  • Output Impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Power Consumption: 40 Watt
  • Line Voltage: 117 up to 240 VAC
  • Valve Line – Up: 4*6189 (12AU7)
  • Spec.-Features: Stand By & Mute Function, rem. – Control
  • Dimensions: (w-d-h) 420 * 320 * 130 mm
  • Weight Net: 20 kg
  • input configuration:
    CD1 – 17 dB – 20K
    CD1 – 22 dB – 16K5
    AU1 – 15 dB – 19K
    AU2 – 20 dB – 15K
    AU3 – 24 dB – 15K
    TUN – 26 dB – 17K
    TP   – 26 dB – 17K 

NOTE: please examine the inputs for your needs. Also for sound quality examine the more sensitive inputs.

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Awards

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Hifi magazines

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REVIEWS:

Mike Wright, The StereoTimes concluded:
“…this vacuum tube-based unit is a combination of looks, build quality and sonic enjoyment that I could not, in good conscious, bypass. The clear acrylic top allows you to peer inside and smile at how well it’s built and show off for your friends, and of course, sonically, it makes music quite enjoyable. The biggest secret yet lays hidden deep inside of this preamp, beyond the visage of the human eye. Once you replace the stock tubes with NOS tubes, the performance escalates to a higher level and gives the Eclipse the ability to perform at a much higher level, comparable to preamps costing two to three times its cost. Using NOS tubes, the performance at the frequency extremes becomes noticeably better and the midrange becomes eerily life-like. It’s a good preamp with stock tubes that becomes an exceptional one using NOS tubes…“

Ken Kessler for Ultimate Audio concluded:
„…it was easy to fall in love with the AudioValve pair (Eclipse pre-amp and Challenger mono-blocks), even the baroque styling; it was like looking at a gigantic Montblanc pen. The Eklipse impressed me because of its authoritative performance, openness, ergonomics and build quality. The Challengers? Deceptive they are, like U-boats. Small footprint, not too heavy for a 6-valve amp with huge transformers – yet they drive any bad without complaint, maintaining their composure at all times. Yeah, 1 could live with these without complaint…“

Robert Reina, Stereophile concluded:
„…this preamp is a tube rollers dream. Depending on what your sonic tastes are will determine which tubes you will want to use in your Eclipse. While you may like the sound of the Eclipse with the stock Harmonix tubes, in my humble opinion, NOS tubes like the RCA Clear Top take its performance to a higher level. Highly recommended!“

Art Dudley, Stereophile concluded:
„…for the past several weeks, the Audio Valve Eclipse has been a joy: fun to audition, fun to look at, even fun to deoxidize. Visitors have noticed its styling, too, and praised it for looking less dour than most: for looking both modern and retro in one neat stroke…the Eclipse competes in a tightly run race, but does so gamely: Other choices offer different combinations of strengths, some of which will suit you more than others, but the Eclipse isn’t shamed by any of them. In fact, to the listener who prizes musical drama above all else, the superbly crafted Eclipse could be seen as the only choice. Reasonably. A lovely product, and a decent value for the money: The Eclipse has me wondering what Audio Valve’s power amplifiers sound like…“

FEEDBACK:

„..now, this preamp is like nothing I have ever heard. And I used to be an assistant in a company here in Perth that made possibly the world’s best solid state preamp back in the late seventies. This preamp (known as HSA) consistently beat all preamps that it went up against, even the Mark Levinson. The point is that I do have a very good ear, and I have never heard a system that could beat the old HSA. Many can now, but none as well as your Eklipse…“

„…the detail is stunning. With the clarity of my Soundlab M1 electrostatics and the explosive power of the Sanders Sounds ESL monoblock amplifiers the sound is electrifying! Bass – I had started to doubt that the Soundlabs had any bass – WOW the bass now is amazing!!!! Guitar strings and piano are stunning but then a voice comes in and the singer is standing in the room – fantastic!“

„…once again – thank you for designing and building such a wonderful instrument. The design and build quality are stunning but it is the sound quality that is on a different level to anything that I have ever heard. Thank you for this gift of sound…“

RECOMMENDED LOGO NEW

The very first thing I did as I carefully peeled away the protective covering after lifting the Eclipse out of its carton was whisper and astonished “Wow”. The pre-amp is gorgeous to look at! An absolutely stunning mixture of Art Deco architectural loveliness and German hi-tech precision. It has a see-through perspex top and is gently internally illuminated with a couple of red LEDs when in operation. You just have to see it, photos really do not do it justice.

AudioValve have been around for quite a while and have earned a reputation for making good sounding valve-based equipment with salon-level visual appearance. The current product range encompasses 14 different models of valve amplification, from headphone amps to pre and power amps, and integrateds.

The Eclipse (or Eklipse as it is called in German speaking areas) is a valve (tube)-based remote controlled pre-amplifier. The review sample had “Eclipse” on its faceplate.

It has 7 stereo RCA inputs, 2 pairs of RCA outputs and 1 pair of XLR outputs.

The front panel sports and output selector (including mute), source selector, volume control and, quite unusually, a balance control.

Valve options

I decided to perform this review with the pre-amp valves in stock form; four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7A. The audiophile world is practically awash in tube-rolling options, and undoubtedly the overall flavour and presentation of the Eclipse pre-amp can be substantially modified by inserting your own choice of valves. Which in a way makes this review something of a snapshot of a moving target, but hey ho, that’s part of the fun of valve based kit, I guess!

According to Steve Dorian, of the UK distributor Audioelec, “The Eclipse is a “tube rollers” dream. Depending on what your sonic tastes are will determine which tubes you will want to use in the Eklipse. While you may like the sound of the Eklipse with the stock Harmonix tubes, in my opinion, NOS tubes like the RCA Clear Top take its performance to a higher level.“
Yep, based on my experience of other valve pre-amps, I can well believe that. And I would certainly encourage Eclipse owners to try a few alternatives to see how the sonic standard can be raised further from the excellent performance already available with the ElectroHarmonix valves.

The Sound in Eclipse

This is a very fine sounding pre-amp – there’s an immediate feeling of rightness and a wonderful sense of dynamic ebb and flow. I knew I was going to enjoy this review from the off.

Overall tonality is pretty much spot on, I think. A genuinely full-range sound, from the generous (but not too generous!) bass thru a very palpable midrange to a smoothly extended treble which gets vocal sibilance (a difficult challenge) just right.

Vocals have more individuality and character than I often hear, with excellent articulation and clarity, and sheer in-the-room presence. There’s a rich tonal texture conveyed in voices that make them seem more real than usual with the Eclipse. Very nice indeed.

Bass is deep, textured, controlled, powerful and vibrant. It really is impressive. I’m tempted to characterise it as solid state bass done right! Those listeners who prefer some valvey bloomy loveliness to the lower frequencies may well be disappointed by this valve pre-amp, but my own view is that the Eclipse is far more realistic in its portrayal of lower frequencies than that.

There is an impressive lucidity in complex, multi-strand music. Nothing seems to phase it, music is just presented clearly and without confusion no matter how ‘busy’ it gets. I was very impressed by this, all too often the musical plot is lost as the going gets going, not so with this pre-amp.

Despite the eulogy of praise so far presented in this review, its imaging ability is, quite possibly, where the Eclipse pleases me most. There’s a wholeness to the soundstage, a sense of immersion in the recording space that really encourages involvement in the musical experience. There’s a ‘you are there’ feel to the presentation that really tops off an already impressive performance.

The one area that I have any real reservation about is in the ultimate resolution of detail. Leading edges of transients are slightly smoothed over, a little of the ‘spang’ of plucked strings, for example, is lost; rapid runs become just slightly homogenised and run together. The feeling of musical immediacy is reduced compared to some amps, you may feel that you are seated a little further back from the musicians than with some components. I know that some listeners will like this aspect of the Eclipse’s presentation, those who enjoy a slightly laidback and less intrusive presentation. Others, like me, would prefer to feel they are closer to the action.

I often find it illuminating to try and come up with a single word which encapsulates a hifi component’s nature, a word that instantly conveys my emotional response to its sound. For the Eclipse I think that word would be “vibrant”.

Usability

There’s a warm-up period of about a minute after switch-on before the Eclipse becomes operational.

The remote control of volume is nicely slow in operation but not too slow, you are unlikely to get whisked to unexpectedly high volumes by the careless press of a button.
But the manically flashing red light indicating remote operation is a bit distracting! – personally, I’d cover this with a small piece of black insulating tape.

An unusual feature of the Eclipse is its ability to clean and deoxidize the internal relays’ contacts. An amazing racket of clicking switches results when this feature is selected – it’s quite worrying when you first do this. And there is a firm recommendation in the user manual to turn your power amp OFF when using this function – I suggest you follow this recommendation!

Tube hiss / valve noise? Nope, I never heard any. OK, if I turned up the volume toward full there was a faint tracery of hiss – but the volume level would have been insanely, ridiculously, speaker-destroyingly loud – I can’t believe that anyone would ever have an issue with this.

Value for money

This strikes me as being reasonable, not one of the world’s great bargains, but you get what you pay for. Current UK pricing is £3,700, for which you obtain wonderful appearance (subject of course to personal taste), superb build quality and genuine high end sound. My feeling is that you pay a bit extra for the visual design aspects, but that seems fair enough to me and will be an important aspect for many buyers at this price level.

Summary

Despite the slight shortcomings heard in ultimate resolution, I can imagine many music lovers falling in love with the Eclipse pre-amp. You can count me as one of their number! It really is a musically rewarding and engrossing pre-amp.

So the Audio Valve Eclipse pre-amp is recommended! – for its musical palpability and sense of involvement, and yes, the vibrancy of the presentation. If you want the ultimate in resolution and micro-detail I would suggest you may want to look elsewhere, although you may have to sacrifice other aspects in which the Eclipse excels if you do so!
Author – Jerry Jacobs


Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier Robert J. Reina, June 2008

Robert J. Reina wrote about the Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier in June 2008 (Vol.31 No.6):

I was excited when I heard that Art Dudley was going to review the Eclipse line preamplifier from German manufacturer Audio Valve (Stereophile, August 2007). I have owned the preamp for four years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. But I wondered what Art might say about it. To my ears, the Eclipse was detailed and dynamic, but had no sound of its own—no coloration, no sonic signature. How could AD stretch that into an entire review and make it informative and entertaining? I then thought that AD is such a talented writer that he can spend an entire article discussing cole slaw and make it informative and entertaining. (Come to think of it, I think he already has.) Anyway, John Atkinson was amenable to my suggestion that I add my two cents to Artie’s spot-on review.

When I think of the Eclipse ($4200), I think of Audio Research Corporation, for several reasons. First, in his review of the Parasound Halo JC 2 line preamp (March 2008), JA discussed his old Audio Research SP10 and how neutral that component is. Neutral is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Eclipse. I also think of the last great preamp that visited my house prior to the Eclipse, the Audio Research Reference 3. I loved that preamp as well, but when I bought the Eclipse, I thought it reminded me of a more neutral, more dynamic Reference 3. Finally, I recently spent quite a bit of time comparing ARC’s Reference 3 with the Eclipse (see Follow-Up, June 2007, Vol.30 No.6). But the Eclipse is much more than a „poor man’s“ ARC.

For my discourse on the Eclipse, I mined some of my favorite LPs, using the Vendetta phono stage. The Eclipse loved well-recorded vocal discs. The original UK pressing of the Beatles‘ first album, Please Please Me (LP, Parlophone PCS3042), sonically the band’s best recording (except for Love, of course), let the Eclipse strut its stuff. Lennon’s note-for-note cover of Arthur Alexander’s „Anna (Go to Him)“ betters the original, and has the most powerful vocal Lennon ever recorded with the group. His silky yet stressful and pleading voice was holographic through the Eclipse, vibrant and bathed in the warm light of studio reverb. On „I Saw Her Standing There“ (the best punk-rock tune ever written), the interplay of Lennon’s rhythm guitar with Paul McCartney’s melodic bass line and Ringo Starr’s chunking, churning rhythms demonstrated that the Elipse’s capabilities of dynamic and transient articulation were beyond reproach. The sound was completely coherent, every transient attack in the right spot at the right time, with no sharpness, blunting, dullness, or sluggishness.

When I listened to „Gloria’s Step,“ from Bill Evans‘ Live at the Village Vanguard Featuring Scott La Faro (LP, Riverside/Acoustic Sounds 9376), the Eclipse’s sonic signature (or lack thereof)—its open, detailed, uncolored midrange and high frequencies—rendered Evans’s piano as delicate, silky, rich, and intimate. The title track of Miles Davis‘ Seven Steps to Heaven (LP, Columbia C12051) presented Davis‘ trumpet as vibrant, burnished, golden tones with requisite bite, and Tony Williams‘ drum solo on the title track highlighted the Eclipse’s ability to capture every cymbal and snare-drum transient naturally and in the pocket.

The Eclipse is no silky, syrupy reproducer of tubey high frequencies—the highs were extended and natural on all recordings. The delicate guitar interplay between Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore on the intro to „Free City Rhymes,“ on Sonic Youth’s NYC Ghosts and Flowers (LP, Geffen 0069490550), were clean and shimmering, and the Audio Valve captured the silky consonant tension of the gentlemen’s unorthodox tunings.

As for well-recorded classical percussion, oh my God! Charles Wuorinen’s Ringing Changes for Percussion Ensemble (LP, Nonesuch H17263) is the acid test. The Eclipse captured every subtle dynamic inflection, from ppp to fff, on that recording’s wide, deep soundstage, as well as the acoustic of the recording venue. The long decay of the vibraphones and chimes seemed to extend to infinity, and each subtle, delicate piano inflection was easily discernible beneath the pompous timpani blasts. The lightning-fast piano transients at all volume levels in André Previn’s recording of Messiaen’s Turanga;îla Symphony (LP, EMI SLS 5117) were perfectly reproduced, and the subtle percussion along the back wall were undeterred by the bass-drum blasts, which shook the room without a hair of overhang.

Speaking of bass blasts, it’s time to discuss the Eclipse’s greatest strength. How many times have you read reviews of expensive tube preamps in which the reviewer raves about the bass performance, then ends with this slight caveat: „You can spend more money on a great solid-state preamp and get slightly tighter bass, but then you’d lose the tube magic,“ etc. Well, not with the Eclipse. The Audio Valve had everything else you’d want from a great tube preamp, as well as kick-ass, slammin‘, solid-state–like bass. On „Lord’s Tundra,“ from Dean Peer’s Ucross (LP, Jazz Planet JP 5002-1), the thundering lower-register pedal tones rumbled and shook the room without overhang, resonance, or any sense of coloration or attenuation of the low bass, as with his right hand Peer plucked bell-like upper-register harmonics that shimmered and sustained. From my notes: „unlimited dynamics.“

I like this preamp very much. I share Art Dudley’s enthusiasm for its brick-Scheisshaus construction quality, its point-to-point wiring, its glorious retro-modern look, and the fact that in the four years I’ve owned the beast, the only trouble it’s given me has been a single bad tube. (It runs on four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7s, which you can find cheaply at any Guitar Center store—it’s the same tube they use in Fender and Marshall guitar amps.)

Can the Audio Valve Eclipse be improved on? Sure—it might be possible to find a tube preamp that has a slightly wider, deeper soundstage, retrieves slightly more ambience, resolves a bit more detail, and has a slightly more extended bandwidth on top. I can think of two offhand, but both have prices in five figures. Probably the greatest praise I can heap on the Eclipse is that, after living with the stunning Audio Research Reference 3 for several months, and shaking my head at how that preamp did some things right that I’ve never heard any other audio component do, I was not disappointed when I replaced it with the Audio Valve Eclipse.

Finally, although the Eclipse’s price has risen in the four years since I bought my unit (that damn euro again), it’s still a bargain at $4200. I don’t understand why every tube-loving audiophile doesn’t own one.—Robert J. Reina


I’m not sure what motivated me to read the owner’s manual for the Audio Valve Eclipse, but I’m glad I did: As it turns out, this line-level preamplifier has at least one distinctive feature that I would have missed otherwise.First, a few basics: Audio Valve was founded by Helmut Becker, a German guitarist and music enthusiast who began building amplifiers 40 years ago, at age 15, and who has spent the greater portion of his professional life building audio electronics and medical equipment. Herr Becker and his wife, Heike, operate Audio Valve in Kalletal, a municipality in the Lippe district of North Rhine–Westphalia, itself known for contributing a full 22% of Germany’s gross domestic product. (Lippe is also famous for having remained independent during the Napoleonic era. Good for them!)

image: https://www.stereophile.com/images/archivesart/807vavle.jpg

The Eclipse (known in most other markets as the Eklipse) uses four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7A tubes for voltage gain. In each of the two channels, both halves of the first dual-triode work together as a cathode-based gain amplifier, inverting the signal polarity. The second dual-triode restores the original polarity, and allows the introduction of a small amount of local feedback: According to Becker, global feedback is to be avoided at all costs. He also suggests that a line-level input signal is too fragile to survive the resistive elements of even the finest-quality potentiometer—which is why Audio Valve takes the uncommon step of amplifying the signal before it’s sent to the volume control and source-selector switch.

The Eclipse’s power supply, which is dual-mono downstream from the power transformer, is an unremarkable design built to remarkable tolerances. The above-mentioned transformer is a slickly potted toroid that seems capable of powering all but the largest power amps, and the regulators for the filament voltages are fastened to heatsinks of respectable size. Red LEDs splash their light against those heatsinks, giving the inside of the Eclipse an exotic glow.

The interior aesthetics are easy to enjoy, thanks to Audio Valve’s choice of a clear acrylic top plate, machined with a pair of rounded ventilation slots for the tubes. The rest of the chassis is crafted from laser-milled stainless steel—generously lacquered—which Becker uses simply because it sounds better. As you may recall, amplifier guru Ken Shindo uses steel, rather than aluminum, for the same reason; also like Shindo, Becker uses NOS carbon-composition resistors in some sonically critical parts of the Eclipse.

The transformer, tubes, regulators, heatsinks, carbon-comp resistors, and other supporting bits are all fastened to the sturdiest, cleanest circuit board I’ve ever seen: a copper-clad FR4 motherboard made of laminated fiberglass and epoxy resin, and bearing the highest density of copper—2oz per square foot—that’s said to be available. The layout and construction quality of my sample were first-rate, with especially great care given to the juxtaposition of the signal and ground paths. (The Eclipse is not a star-ground design.) All component parts appeared to be more than adequate, and were beautifully dressed and hand-soldered: Quite possibly, the grandchildren of the men and women who buy an Eclipse in this day and age will come to appreciate that.

Installation and Setup
A front-panel switch activates the Eclipse’s power supply, and defaults to standby mode; about one minute later, rail voltages are applied to the tubes, and the preamp is ready to play music. Standby mode can be returned to manually, if one wishes, using the Eclipse’s output selector—which also has a Mute position, and which provides a choice between either or both of two pairs of unbalanced RCA output jacks on the rear panel. Also provided are XLR outputs, on which the same, unbalanced signal is always present.

While the Eclipse has a total of seven line-level inputs, including its buffered tape loop, only two of those inputs—for tuner and tape—have the same gain and high-frequency rolloff characteristics as each other. There are slight differences among all the rest, with gain ranging from 15 to 26dB, to allow the user to individually optimize the performance of each source component. Even the CD1 and CD2 inputs are a bit different from one another. Nice.

The Eclipse’s source-selector knob has nine positions: 1–7 correspond to the inputs described above, and 8 allows remote source selection, using the infrared handset provided—a charmingly massive device that looks as if it might once have spent its evenings selecting from among such fare as Columbo and The Dick Cavett Show. (The remote handset can be used to mute the Eclipse and adjust the volume level at any time, regardless of the front-panel switch setting.)

To move the input selector switch beyond position 8 is to get the measure of Helmut Becker’s ingenuity: Position 9 activates an oscillator that’s wired directly to all of the input and output relays on the rear panel, causing them to chatter like the wind-up novelty-store teeth that some people, like me, used to find so funny. The idea is to regularly clean and deoxidize the relays’ contacts, thus maintaining their sonic purity. The user does this with the power amp switched off, of course; even then, the sound of 10 relays all snapping their jaws at once is like something out of Mahler’s Symphony 2: a very distinctive sound.

The Eclipse worked well during its time in my music system, my only ergonomic complaint being that it lacked a mono switch—although it did have a useful front-panel Balance knob. As one might expect, the Eclipse operates in class-A, but my sample never became more than moderately warm to the touch. It had no trouble driving any of my amplifier choices—Fi 2A3 Stereo, Shindo Montille, and Quad II and Lamm ML2.1 monoblocks—through 4m-long interconnects, and it even responded well to my enduring favorite tweak: a trio of Ayre Myrtle Blocks between it and the table.

Listening
For those who haven’t seen a preamp review of mine in a while, or who have otherwise been spared my thoughts on the subject, a brief summary: While there may once have been a great disparity between the sonic personalities of even “the best” preamplifiers available for domestic use, it seems to me that the performance gap has been narrowed in recent years. I can’t remember the last time I heard a preamp whose characteristic sound was flat-out objectionable, and while certain of them appeal to me more than others—most notably the Shindo Masseto, the EAR 912, the Cary SLP 05, and the classic Fi—I can’t honestly say that any of those really embarrasses its more modestly priced competitors.

And it must be said: Whether or not you accept that one well-designed preamplifier can have a significant, audible influence on a system’s musical performance, as compared with another well-designed preamp, there’s no denying that the Audio Valve Eclipse was more well behaved—obviously, audibly quieter—than most others I’ve had in my home. Tube hiss was virtually nonexistent, and, as with the Shindo preamps I’ve tried so far, I couldn’t get the Eclipse to hum: silent evidence that a lot of hard work went into its circuit layout.

Beyond that, the Eclipse impressed me with its clear and pleasantly forward sound and wider-than-average dynamic range—the latter possibly resulting from the user’s being able to match various line-level sources with the most sympathetic of the seven inputs available. Whatever the cause, the effect was a musical presentation with plenty of drama, plus a very good sense of size and scale. Gilbert Kaplan’s recording with the LSO of the aforementioned Mahler symphony (Conifer Classic 75605 51277 or MCA Classics MCAD 2-11011) benefited from that: The carillon bells at the end sounded huge, as did the famous percussion crescendo much earlier in the movement.

Orchestral recordings weren’t the only ones treated so well by the Eclipse: It added to my system’s headroom—and floorroom, apparently—on music such as Elgar’s String Quartet in E Minor, Op.83, performed by the Maggini String Quartet (CD, Naxos 8.553737): The Eclipse seemed to enhance the dynamic contrasts in that recording—in addition to which there was a greater-than-average sense of clarity and openness throughout the piece, with note attacks sounding especially clean and unambiguous. (Consequently, with upbeat music, timing distortions were nonexistent.) String textures were acceptably good, although I wouldn’t have wanted a shade less of it; the more expensive Shindo Masseto, for its part, delivers a good deal more.

The Eclipse’s tonal balance was neutral overall: I can’t imagine anyone thinking it was too bright, too dark, too anything else. There were no range-specific colorations that I could hear in my system—no boom in the upper bass, no clang in the lower highs—and it didn’t appear to add to the sound any artificial texture of its own. The Eclipse required relatively little time to sound its best for each listening session, and its sound changed remarkably little from its first day here to its last.

As to spatial performance: Given a decent enough mono recording, a good component will create a listening experience in which the musical message is honored above all else, so much so that the number of channels never becomes an issue—yet it should also play a stereophonic recording in such a way that the extra information is used to full advantage, to create a spatially more believable experience. The Eclipse not only succeeded in that regard: It was a singular success. It allowed Zino Francescatti and Dimitri Mitropoulos’s recording of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto 2 (CD, Sony Classical MH2K 62339) to sound big and real and exciting. On the other hand, it allowed the naturally good stereo effects in the Tony Rice Unit’s Unit of Measure (CD, Rounder 1161-0405-2) to shine through: The mandolin and fiddle were solid and “there,” and it was easier than usual to distinguish Tony Rice’s and Wyatt Rice’s guitars from one another, just by their physical locations.

That’s what the Audio Valve sounded like in and of itself. Compared with other preamps, the Eclipse’s limitations had to do with those performance aspects where real excellence is rare to begin with—and where expectations have yet to be raised in the minds of most hobbyists. (As another German of note, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, put it, “Excellence is rarely found, more rarely valued.”) Clean and dramatic though the Eclipse certainly was, both the Shindo Aurieges ($3895) and Masseto ($11,500) preamplifiers allowed melodic lines to sound more organic and less mechanical—or, if you will, more like music and less like mere sound. That was especially true of the way those preamps played back the human voice—such as tenor Ian Bostridge in Philippe Herreweghe’s masterful recording of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (CD, Harmonia Mundi HMC 951676.78). Through the Eclipse, Bostridge’s Evangelist was tuneful, emotive, and present-sounding; through the Shindo Masseto, in particular, I could hear more clearly how Bostridge shaped such words as kreuzigten and Golgatha. In this comparison, at least, the more expensive product was also more artistically communicative and unambiguous.

Conclusions
For the past several weeks, the Audio Valve Eclipse has been a joy: fun to audition, fun to look at, even fun to deoxidize. Visitors have noticed its styling, too, and praised it for looking less dour than most: for looking both modern and retro in one neat stroke.

The Eclipse competes in a tightly run race, but does so gamely: Other choices offer different combinations of strengths, some of which will suit you more than others, but the Eclipse isn’t shamed by any of them. In fact, to the listener who prizes musical drama above all else, the superbly crafted Eclipse could be seen as the only choice. Reasonably.

A lovely product, and a decent value for the money: The Eclipse has me wondering what Audio Valve’s power amplifiers sound like . . .

Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/tubepreamps/807av/index.html#Ayif5AGX2k6BZPuJ.99


audio valve
Eklipse preamplifier

as reviewed by Art Shapiro

I had been told that the Audio Valve Eklipse preamp was drop dead gorgeous, and upon uncrating it, I had to admit that this was not an exaggeration. It made my CAT look like a prototype whipped up in someone’s garage. The rather stocky chassis sports good-sized cooling slots on both sides and, in perhaps the most interesting departure from the norm, the top is clear plastic, allowing a clear view of the circuitry. The cover has two slots, directly over the tubes, doubtlessly to aid in heat dissipation, although the openings might not be ideal considering the inevitable dust buildup. Its controls are silky smooth, and there is a plethora of obviously high-quality input and output RCA jacks on the back. This being a line stage, I wasn’t able to use my phono gear. As usual, I received no owner’s manual or other documentation, though it might have proven useful. For example, one position on the input selector switch caused a rapid oscillation of some internal relay or relays. Assuming the unit was correctly functional, I can’t begin to guess the intent of this.

Amidst all that beauty, however, I had to raise my eyebrows. As I gazed through the transparent cover at the guts, I couldn’t fail to notice that all the components were evenly spaced, and either parallel or perpendicular to each other, with typical German precision. However, isn’t the whole idea behind printed circuit boards to minimize the signal path and optimize component location?  It seemed to me that the device’s potential performance was taking a back seat to its visual appeal. More significant was an alarming and decidedly nontrivial flare-up of the tubes whenever the Eklipse was turned on. This had to be brutal on the tubes. Considering that there is a fairly long muted delay before the Eklipse is available for use, I would say that this is a significant deficiency in the implementation. Tubes can be rare and n expensive resources, and anything that can be done to improve their life-span is an asset. I did no experimentation with tubes while I had the unit, but noticed how convenient it would be to remove the top cover, which is held down by knurled knobs. No power cord came with the review sample, so I tried it with both a Marigo and a standard heavy Belden, without finding any significant difference between the two. As is my usual practice with units not having a separate power supply, I plugged the unit into a free outlet in my power conditioner, initially the Power Wedge 116 and later a BrickWall that I had just purchased.

One can’t help but have expectations when trying a new piece of equipment. Given the solidness and precision of the construction, and the curiously perfectionist physical layout, I was almost certain that this unit would conform to the stereotypical German/Swiss sound: extremely detailed, but too sterile, dry, and revealing for my taste. I’ve heard systems, sometimes considerably more expensive than my own, in which every last nuance of the music is reproduced with utterly devastating clarity. Such systems reproduce sound, not music, and send me figuratively screaming from the room. I hoisted my turntable from the top of the rack and replaced it with the Eklipse, this being a spot that would allow use of the existing one-meter Monster Sigma 2K interconnects. I powered it up, gave it an hour or so to warm up, and gave a listen. Within a minute or two, it was obvious that my expectations were utterly wrong!  I was listening to a delightfully warm, rich preamp.  Whatever adjectives might be used to describe the Eklipse, “sterile” and “dry” were not among them. What a surprise!

At first I simply left it in the system, and for over a week used it to enjoy music without attempting to be analytical. It was thoroughly enjoyable. I was vaguely aware that the music was missing some of the subtlety and nuances to which I was accustomed, but the Audio Valve was no slouch. When it comes to sins of omission vs. those of commission, I’ll take the former every time. Eventually it became necessary to get down to business and start comparing the Eklipse with the CAT, and it wasn’t until the AB-ing began that the degree to which the Audio Valve was sacrificing detail became apparent. Both units were first rate in various areas—even tonal balance, good dynamics, and quietness—but with piece after piece I auditioned on the two preamps, the CAT gave me more of the music without straying into excessive detail. The CAT conformed to its reputation as a relatively neutral unit, whereas the Audio Valve preamp lay reasonably far up on the warm end of the scale. The sound of the Eklipse brought back memories of an extremely warm but seductively enjoyable Conrad-Johnson PV-9 that I borrowed and used in my system a few years ago. The German unit didn’t have the utterly mesmerizing musicality of the C-J, but in fairness my system was completely different at that time. The warmth of the Eklipse might be an asset in taming an extremely revealing system, but in my case it was just a bit over the line.

Although such things are usually not important to me, with the Eklipse I was sometimes conscious that the soundstage was slightly compressed between the speakers when compared to the same recordings through the CAT, especially at lower volume levels. This did not strike me as extreme, but it was noticeable. As always, I spent a fair amount of my listening hours with solo piano recordings, and the two gave completely different renderings of the instrument. With the CAT you might say that the piano was a powerful instrument, with the Eklipse you’d say it was rich, and both assessments would be correct. This was quite apparent on a remarkably close-miked and clattery recital by Russian virtuoso Sergei Tarasov on the Melodia label. The Eklipse had an obvious smoothing effect on this recording, lessening its aggressiveness and consequently permitting more of the music’s melodic aspects to be heard. This was in marked contrast to the presentation through the CAT, with which I cannot help but picture Mr. Tarasov as the captain of a huge and mighty grand piano with almost limitless dynamics and power. Having heard this recording on literally scores of audio systems, I’d postulate that the CAT is closer to the truth, but this doesn’t mean that the sonic portrayal of the Eklipse is wrong. Music is art, and the difference between two units is a matter of aesthetics, not mathematics.

I selected another CDs that I’ve heard on over a hundred different systems, a Dorian recording of Bach secular cantatas. I listened to several bands from the Coffee Cantata. The richness and warmth of the Eklipse were particularly enjoyable on the male voices, although the effect served to reduce some of the subtle nuances of the female soprano. Similarly, the delicate flute melodies, which waft through the listening room with the best systems, were slightly constrained through the Eklipse. This is a spectacular, well-balanced recording, but the Audio Valve unit brought it down to earth just a little. I had a very similar impression on another of my favorites, an EMI recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Nigel Kennedy as soloist. The Eklipse reduced the orchestra’s power compared to the CAT, while on the solo violin there was the same slight blurring of detail and loss of nuance that I had observed on the Bach CD. While a valid sonic presentation, I nevertheless continued to feel that the CAT was the product of choice.

Observing how the units differed at the low end of the frequency spectrum caused me to pull out two more of my standard auditioning vehicles. On an AudioQuest jazz sampler, I listened to the Bruce Katz Band’s “Crescent Crawl”, which features some relatively low electric bass guitar passages. The CAT may have had a slight advantage here, although it was not significant. The percussiveness of the piano, the snap of the drums, and the aggression of the saxophone were all well portrayed by the CAT, and slightly smoothed over by the Eklipse. I continued to prefer the CAT. For extremes of low bass, I pulled out the Reference Recordings CD of the John Rutter Requiem, selecting the “Piu Jesu” track with its extraordinarily low organ pedal stops. Here the Eklipse started to lose it—at 20Hz. and lower, an area in which my REL subwoofer earns its keep, there was noticeably less bass energy through the Eklipse. This might be a complete non-issue in most audio systems, especially since the glorious warmth of the Eklipse was otherwise a benefit, giving an enjoyable richness to the choral singing.

I could go on mentioning other recordings, but the reader should have a pretty good sense of the Audio Valve by now. It is a physically appealing unit, with obviously top-notch guts, wonderful controls, and excellent jacks. It is quite expensive, but still a lot less costly than many other audiophile units (such as the CAT). Regarding the sound, I crated up the Eklipse and said goodbye with a trace of sadness. While it might have not been the definitive preamp for my system, my weeks with it had been enjoyable.  It is an interesting component whose sonic characteristics are fairly apparent, and it might be perfect for a different system, perhaps one with a solid state amplifier. Art Shapiro

 

REVIEWS:

Mike Wright, The StereoTimes concluded:
“…this vacuum tube-based unit is a combination of looks, build quality and sonic enjoyment that I could not, in good conscious, bypass. The clear acrylic top allows you to peer inside and smile at how well it’s built and show off for your friends, and of course, sonically, it makes music quite enjoyable. The biggest secret yet lays hidden deep inside of this preamp, beyond the visage of the human eye. Once you replace the stock tubes with NOS tubes, the performance escalates to a higher level and gives the Eclipse the ability to perform at a much higher level, comparable to preamps costing two to three times its cost. Using NOS tubes, the performance at the frequency extremes becomes noticeably better and the midrange becomes eerily life-like. It’s a good preamp with stock tubes that becomes an exceptional one using NOS tubes…“

Ken Kessler for Ultimate Audio concluded:
„…it was easy to fall in love with the AudioValve pair (Eclipse pre-amp and Challenger mono-blocks), even the baroque styling; it was like looking at a gigantic Montblanc pen. The Eklipse impressed me because of its authoritative performance, openness, ergonomics and build quality. The Challengers? Deceptive they are, like U-boats. Small footprint, not too heavy for a 6-valve amp with huge transformers – yet they drive any bad without complaint, maintaining their composure at all times. Yeah, 1 could live with these without complaint…“

Robert Reina, Stereophile concluded:
„…this preamp is a tube rollers dream. Depending on what your sonic tastes are will determine which tubes you will want to use in your Eclipse. While you may like the sound of the Eclipse with the stock Harmonix tubes, in my humble opinion, NOS tubes like the RCA Clear Top take its performance to a higher level. Highly recommended!“

Art Dudley, Stereophile concluded:
„…for the past several weeks, the Audio Valve Eclipse has been a joy: fun to audition, fun to look at, even fun to deoxidize. Visitors have noticed its styling, too, and praised it for looking less dour than most: for looking both modern and retro in one neat stroke…the Eclipse competes in a tightly run race, but does so gamely: Other choices offer different combinations of strengths, some of which will suit you more than others, but the Eclipse isn’t shamed by any of them. In fact, to the listener who prizes musical drama above all else, the superbly crafted Eclipse could be seen as the only choice. Reasonably. A lovely product, and a decent value for the money: The Eclipse has me wondering what Audio Valve’s power amplifiers sound like…“

FEEDBACK:

„..now, this preamp is like nothing I have ever heard. And I used to be an assistant in a company here in Perth that made possibly the world’s best solid state preamp back in the late seventies. This preamp (known as HSA) consistently beat all preamps that it went up against, even the Mark Levinson. The point is that I do have a very good ear, and I have never heard a system that could beat the old HSA. Many can now, but none as well as your Eklipse…“

„…the detail is stunning. With the clarity of my Soundlab M1 electrostatics and the explosive power of the Sanders Sounds ESL monoblock amplifiers the sound is electrifying! Bass – I had started to doubt that the Soundlabs had any bass – WOW the bass now is amazing!!!! Guitar strings and piano are stunning but then a voice comes in and the singer is standing in the room – fantastic!“

„…once again – thank you for designing and building such a wonderful instrument. The design and build quality are stunning but it is the sound quality that is on a different level to anything that I have ever heard. Thank you for this gift of sound…“

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The very first thing I did as I carefully peeled away the protective covering after lifting the Eclipse out of its carton was whisper and astonished “Wow”. The pre-amp is gorgeous to look at! An absolutely stunning mixture of Art Deco architectural loveliness and German hi-tech precision. It has a see-through perspex top and is gently internally illuminated with a couple of red LEDs when in operation. You just have to see it, photos really do not do it justice.

AudioValve have been around for quite a while and have earned a reputation for making good sounding valve-based equipment with salon-level visual appearance. The current product range encompasses 14 different models of valve amplification, from headphone amps to pre and power amps, and integrateds.

The Eclipse (or Eklipse as it is called in German speaking areas) is a valve (tube)-based remote controlled pre-amplifier. The review sample had “Eclipse” on its faceplate.

It has 7 stereo RCA inputs, 2 pairs of RCA outputs and 1 pair of XLR outputs.

The front panel sports and output selector (including mute), source selector, volume control and, quite unusually, a balance control.

Valve options

I decided to perform this review with the pre-amp valves in stock form; four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7A. The audiophile world is practically awash in tube-rolling options, and undoubtedly the overall flavour and presentation of the Eclipse pre-amp can be substantially modified by inserting your own choice of valves. Which in a way makes this review something of a snapshot of a moving target, but hey ho, that’s part of the fun of valve based kit, I guess!

According to Steve Dorian, of the UK distributor Audioelec, “The Eclipse is a “tube rollers” dream. Depending on what your sonic tastes are will determine which tubes you will want to use in the Eklipse. While you may like the sound of the Eklipse with the stock Harmonix tubes, in my opinion, NOS tubes like the RCA Clear Top take its performance to a higher level.“
Yep, based on my experience of other valve pre-amps, I can well believe that. And I would certainly encourage Eclipse owners to try a few alternatives to see how the sonic standard can be raised further from the excellent performance already available with the ElectroHarmonix valves.

The Sound in Eclipse

This is a very fine sounding pre-amp – there’s an immediate feeling of rightness and a wonderful sense of dynamic ebb and flow. I knew I was going to enjoy this review from the off.

Overall tonality is pretty much spot on, I think. A genuinely full-range sound, from the generous (but not too generous!) bass thru a very palpable midrange to a smoothly extended treble which gets vocal sibilance (a difficult challenge) just right.

Vocals have more individuality and character than I often hear, with excellent articulation and clarity, and sheer in-the-room presence. There’s a rich tonal texture conveyed in voices that make them seem more real than usual with the Eclipse. Very nice indeed.

Bass is deep, textured, controlled, powerful and vibrant. It really is impressive. I’m tempted to characterise it as solid state bass done right! Those listeners who prefer some valvey bloomy loveliness to the lower frequencies may well be disappointed by this valve pre-amp, but my own view is that the Eclipse is far more realistic in its portrayal of lower frequencies than that.

There is an impressive lucidity in complex, multi-strand music. Nothing seems to phase it, music is just presented clearly and without confusion no matter how ‘busy’ it gets. I was very impressed by this, all too often the musical plot is lost as the going gets going, not so with this pre-amp.

Despite the eulogy of praise so far presented in this review, its imaging ability is, quite possibly, where the Eclipse pleases me most. There’s a wholeness to the soundstage, a sense of immersion in the recording space that really encourages involvement in the musical experience. There’s a ‘you are there’ feel to the presentation that really tops off an already impressive performance.

The one area that I have any real reservation about is in the ultimate resolution of detail. Leading edges of transients are slightly smoothed over, a little of the ‘spang’ of plucked strings, for example, is lost; rapid runs become just slightly homogenised and run together. The feeling of musical immediacy is reduced compared to some amps, you may feel that you are seated a little further back from the musicians than with some components. I know that some listeners will like this aspect of the Eclipse’s presentation, those who enjoy a slightly laidback and less intrusive presentation. Others, like me, would prefer to feel they are closer to the action.

I often find it illuminating to try and come up with a single word which encapsulates a hifi component’s nature, a word that instantly conveys my emotional response to its sound. For the Eclipse I think that word would be “vibrant”.

Usability

There’s a warm-up period of about a minute after switch-on before the Eclipse becomes operational.

The remote control of volume is nicely slow in operation but not too slow, you are unlikely to get whisked to unexpectedly high volumes by the careless press of a button.
But the manically flashing red light indicating remote operation is a bit distracting! – personally, I’d cover this with a small piece of black insulating tape.

An unusual feature of the Eclipse is its ability to clean and deoxidize the internal relays’ contacts. An amazing racket of clicking switches results when this feature is selected – it’s quite worrying when you first do this. And there is a firm recommendation in the user manual to turn your power amp OFF when using this function – I suggest you follow this recommendation!

Tube hiss / valve noise? Nope, I never heard any. OK, if I turned up the volume toward full there was a faint tracery of hiss – but the volume level would have been insanely, ridiculously, speaker-destroyingly loud – I can’t believe that anyone would ever have an issue with this.

Value for money

This strikes me as being reasonable, not one of the world’s great bargains, but you get what you pay for. Current UK pricing is £3,700, for which you obtain wonderful appearance (subject of course to personal taste), superb build quality and genuine high end sound. My feeling is that you pay a bit extra for the visual design aspects, but that seems fair enough to me and will be an important aspect for many buyers at this price level.

Summary

Despite the slight shortcomings heard in ultimate resolution, I can imagine many music lovers falling in love with the Eclipse pre-amp. You can count me as one of their number! It really is a musically rewarding and engrossing pre-amp.

So the Audio Valve Eclipse pre-amp is recommended! – for its musical palpability and sense of involvement, and yes, the vibrancy of the presentation. If you want the ultimate in resolution and micro-detail I would suggest you may want to look elsewhere, although you may have to sacrifice other aspects in which the Eclipse excels if you do so!
Author – Jerry Jacobs

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Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier Robert J. Reina, June 2008

Robert J. Reina wrote about the Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier in June 2008 (Vol.31 No.6):

I was excited when I heard that Art Dudley was going to review the Eclipse line preamplifier from German manufacturer Audio Valve (Stereophile, August 2007). I have owned the preamp for four years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. But I wondered what Art might say about it. To my ears, the Eclipse was detailed and dynamic, but had no sound of its own—no coloration, no sonic signature. How could AD stretch that into an entire review and make it informative and entertaining? I then thought that AD is such a talented writer that he can spend an entire article discussing cole slaw and make it informative and entertaining. (Come to think of it, I think he already has.) Anyway, John Atkinson was amenable to my suggestion that I add my two cents to Artie’s spot-on review.

When I think of the Eclipse ($4200), I think of Audio Research Corporation, for several reasons. First, in his review of the Parasound Halo JC 2 line preamp (March 2008), JA discussed his old Audio Research SP10 and how neutral that component is. Neutral is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Eclipse. I also think of the last great preamp that visited my house prior to the Eclipse, the Audio Research Reference 3. I loved that preamp as well, but when I bought the Eclipse, I thought it reminded me of a more neutral, more dynamic Reference 3. Finally, I recently spent quite a bit of time comparing ARC’s Reference 3 with the Eclipse (see Follow-Up, June 2007, Vol.30 No.6). But the Eclipse is much more than a „poor man’s“ ARC.

For my discourse on the Eclipse, I mined some of my favorite LPs, using the Vendetta phono stage. The Eclipse loved well-recorded vocal discs. The original UK pressing of the Beatles‘ first album, Please Please Me (LP, Parlophone PCS3042), sonically the band’s best recording (except for Love, of course), let the Eclipse strut its stuff. Lennon’s note-for-note cover of Arthur Alexander’s „Anna (Go to Him)“ betters the original, and has the most powerful vocal Lennon ever recorded with the group. His silky yet stressful and pleading voice was holographic through the Eclipse, vibrant and bathed in the warm light of studio reverb. On „I Saw Her Standing There“ (the best punk-rock tune ever written), the interplay of Lennon’s rhythm guitar with Paul McCartney’s melodic bass line and Ringo Starr’s chunking, churning rhythms demonstrated that the Elipse’s capabilities of dynamic and transient articulation were beyond reproach. The sound was completely coherent, every transient attack in the right spot at the right time, with no sharpness, blunting, dullness, or sluggishness.

When I listened to „Gloria’s Step,“ from Bill Evans‘ Live at the Village Vanguard Featuring Scott La Faro (LP, Riverside/Acoustic Sounds 9376), the Eclipse’s sonic signature (or lack thereof)—its open, detailed, uncolored midrange and high frequencies—rendered Evans’s piano as delicate, silky, rich, and intimate. The title track of Miles Davis‘ Seven Steps to Heaven (LP, Columbia C12051) presented Davis‘ trumpet as vibrant, burnished, golden tones with requisite bite, and Tony Williams‘ drum solo on the title track highlighted the Eclipse’s ability to capture every cymbal and snare-drum transient naturally and in the pocket.

The Eclipse is no silky, syrupy reproducer of tubey high frequencies—the highs were extended and natural on all recordings. The delicate guitar interplay between Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore on the intro to „Free City Rhymes,“ on Sonic Youth’s NYC Ghosts and Flowers (LP, Geffen 0069490550), were clean and shimmering, and the Audio Valve captured the silky consonant tension of the gentlemen’s unorthodox tunings.

As for well-recorded classical percussion, oh my God! Charles Wuorinen’s Ringing Changes for Percussion Ensemble (LP, Nonesuch H17263) is the acid test. The Eclipse captured every subtle dynamic inflection, from ppp to fff, on that recording’s wide, deep soundstage, as well as the acoustic of the recording venue. The long decay of the vibraphones and chimes seemed to extend to infinity, and each subtle, delicate piano inflection was easily discernible beneath the pompous timpani blasts. The lightning-fast piano transients at all volume levels in André Previn’s recording of Messiaen’s Turanga;îla Symphony (LP, EMI SLS 5117) were perfectly reproduced, and the subtle percussion along the back wall were undeterred by the bass-drum blasts, which shook the room without a hair of overhang.

Speaking of bass blasts, it’s time to discuss the Eclipse’s greatest strength. How many times have you read reviews of expensive tube preamps in which the reviewer raves about the bass performance, then ends with this slight caveat: „You can spend more money on a great solid-state preamp and get slightly tighter bass, but then you’d lose the tube magic,“ etc. Well, not with the Eclipse. The Audio Valve had everything else you’d want from a great tube preamp, as well as kick-ass, slammin‘, solid-state–like bass. On „Lord’s Tundra,“ from Dean Peer’s Ucross (LP, Jazz Planet JP 5002-1), the thundering lower-register pedal tones rumbled and shook the room without overhang, resonance, or any sense of coloration or attenuation of the low bass, as with his right hand Peer plucked bell-like upper-register harmonics that shimmered and sustained. From my notes: „unlimited dynamics.“

I like this preamp very much. I share Art Dudley’s enthusiasm for its brick-Scheisshaus construction quality, its point-to-point wiring, its glorious retro-modern look, and the fact that in the four years I’ve owned the beast, the only trouble it’s given me has been a single bad tube. (It runs on four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7s, which you can find cheaply at any Guitar Center store—it’s the same tube they use in Fender and Marshall guitar amps.)

Can the Audio Valve Eclipse be improved on? Sure—it might be possible to find a tube preamp that has a slightly wider, deeper soundstage, retrieves slightly more ambience, resolves a bit more detail, and has a slightly more extended bandwidth on top. I can think of two offhand, but both have prices in five figures. Probably the greatest praise I can heap on the Eclipse is that, after living with the stunning Audio Research Reference 3 for several months, and shaking my head at how that preamp did some things right that I’ve never heard any other audio component do, I was not disappointed when I replaced it with the Audio Valve Eclipse.

Finally, although the Eclipse’s price has risen in the four years since I bought my unit (that damn euro again), it’s still a bargain at $4200. I don’t understand why every tube-loving audiophile doesn’t own one.—Robert J. Reina

Michael Wright, The StereoTimes (01/2010) Most Wanted Component 2009:
“…hot on the heels of last year’s biggest surprise, the Audio Valve Eklipse, comes their new flagship preamplifier, the Conductor. To state it simply, the Conductor performs on another level from most preamplifiers that I have heard in my system. It’s a vacuum tube preamplifier that is detailed, fast, dynamic, and possesses bass power with extension and impact. The Conductor elevated the performance of every component I hooked up to it. Eklipse owners beware: The Conductor is not just a better version of the Eklipse, but instead, is a totally different animal that provides a higher level of the music enjoyment experience…”


norsk audio test review


 

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PDF user manual

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FAQ

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remote handling

In case the remote doesn`t work, please follow the instructions:

– Make sure that the batteries are fitting tight at their place.

– On the back side of the remote through a little hole you can see a blue LED .Located on the PC board of the remote.

– Now press at the same time the volume up and down button together, untill the LED flashes, then stop doing so.

– If it flashes 1 time, the remote is for the CONDUCTOR
– 2 times for the EKLIPSE and 3 times for the ASSISTENT 50.

– You can change the program of the remote by pressing the buttons of the volume, untill the LED is flashing as much as you need to be the correct program.

Last update: 2014-02-05 19:24
Author: AudioValve, Helmut
Revision: 1.0


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2 reviews for ECLIPSE

  1. admin

    “Now, this preamp is like nothing I have ever heard. And I used to be an assistant in a company here in Perth that made possibly the world’s best solid state preamp back in the late seventies. This preamp (known as HSA) consistently beat all preamps that it went up against, even the Mark Levinson.

    So much so that Remy Thorens (of Thorens) wanted to have the world distribution rights, but costs put the tiny company out of business.

    The point is that I do have a very good ear, and I have never heard a system that could beat the old HSA. Many can now, but none as well as your Eklipse.

    The detail is stunning. With the clarity of my Soundlab M1 electrostatics and the explosive power of the Sanders Sounds ESL monoblock amplifiers the sound is electrifying !

    Bass – I had started to doubt that the Soundlabs had any bass – WOW the bass now is amazing !!!!

    Guitar strings and piano are stunning but then a voice comes in and the singer is standing in the room – fantastic !

    Once again – thank you for designing and building such a wonderful instrument.

    The design and build quality are stunning but it is the sound quality that is on a different level to anything that I have ever heard.

    Thank you for this gift of sound.”

    Peter Ferguson Perth, Western Australia, 2009

  2. admin

    Der (lange) Weg zum audiophilen (AudioValve) Nirwana….
    (Assistent 30…..Eklipse/Challenger 115)

    Nach dem Ankauf von Quad ESL-57 Lautsprechern und der Renovation durch Quad Musikwiedergabe (quad-musik.com/) verlief der erste Hörtest sehr enttäuschend (Lehmann Linear + Quad 303 QR, http://www.quadrevisie.nl/quadrevisie.html#12). Völlig überzogene Höhenwiedergabe, aufgeblasene Basswiedergabe und fehlende Mittenwiedergabe….(dafür konnte aber unmöglich der Lehman oder Quad 303 QR sein…)
    Die Akustik des Musikzimmers musste also (dringend) verbessert werden …. Nach 5 Monaten und 3 verschiedenen Firmen/Spezialisten und einem Raumklangprozessor (DDRC-24 mit dirac live, minidsp.com/products/dirac-series/ddrc-24) ist es dann endlich gelungen um die Hörtestsitzungen wieder ernsthaft auf zu nehmen…
    Schnell wurde deutlich, dass die Kombination (siehe oben) nicht in der Lage war, die Qualitäten der Lautsprecher und des angepassten Raums voll auszunutzen…..
    Upgrade 1: Durch meine äußerst positiven Erfahrungen mit meinem AudioValve Luminare lag es nahe, um wieder bei Herrn Becker an zu klopfen…. Der „Assisstent 30“ wurde angeschafft und brachte direkt eine große Verbesserung ….. ein viel räumlicheres, warmes, aber sehr deutliches, nuanciertes Klangbild mit sehr ausgewogenem, ordentlichem Bas…. Eine Budget- und Klank-freundliche Lösung, mit der ich ziemlich zufrieden war….die aber auch ein paar Grenzen bloß legte: die Kraftreserven des Assistent 30, die die sehr schwierige kapazitiven Last der Elektrostaten ab und zu nur mit (leicht hörbarer) Mühe bewältigten…und auch die räumlichen, akustischen Anpassungen waren noch nicht ausreichend und optimal.
    Zusammen mit einem Ton-techniker (post audio producer, http://www.sigertdejean.be/) und einem renommierten Hifi-Händler, der sehr viel Wert auf die Raum-Akustik legt (www.veryfinesolutions.com/) wurde der Raum nochmals klang-mäßig analysiert und angepasst.
    Upgrade 2: Mit Herrn Becker wurde überlegt und beschlossen um die Kombination Eklipse/Challenger 115 anzuschaffen.
    Jetzt endlich, nach ungefähr 7 Monaten, bin ich am Ziel meiner Reise: Das Zusammenspiel der verschiedenen Komponenten meiner Anlage (Auflistung unten) und die akustischen Anpassungen meines Musikzimmers ist schlichtweg (außergewöhnlich) gut.
    Kleinste Details werden durch die Eklipse/Challengers auf eine ganz natürliche, ungezwungene Weise an die Quads durchgegeben – enorme Dynamiksprünge nötig ?…. die Challengers liefern sie wenn immer nötig mit einer spielerischen Leichtigkeit. Ob die Sopranistin/der Tenor links in der Mitte oder rechts vorne steht, die Eklipse/Challengers sorgen dafür, dass die Quads das Klangbild korrekt in den Raum projektieren. Ob ein Orchester unten, vor der Bühne spielt und die Opernsänger sich auf der Bühne bewegen, lässt sich bei guten Aufnahmen perfekt nachvollziehen. Die räumliche Abbildung ist ungeheuer präzise, beinahe holografisch. Aber nicht nur die akribische Detailwiedergabe und die räumliche Darstellung machen die tägliche(n) Hörstunde(n) zum Genuss…. Es ist ebenso faszinierend wie die Eklipse/Challenger in Kombination mit dem DSP und den geschickt aufgestellten Klangverteilern (Artnovion, ) den Quads einen tiefreichenden, trockenen Bas entlocken kann, den ich bisher bei den ESL-57 noch nicht gehört habe. Hart angestrichene Celli, Viola da Gambas oder Contrabässe („Viola Bastarda“ gespielt von Roberto Gini auf Olive Music oder G.C.Wagenseil, Quartets for low strings, Accent…, Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side…) besorgen Gänsehaut….Ob Fagott, Bas Saxofon, Oboe, Klarinette, Block- oder Querflöte oder Piccolo, jedes Instrument ist erkennbar und hat/behält seine wunderschöne Klangfarbe, kommt lebhaft und natürlich aus den Lautsprechern und steht (beinahe) greifbar im Raum. Vor allem bei kleineren (Barock) Ensembles habe ich regelmäßig das Gefühl einem intimen, privatem Konzert bei zu wohnen….wunderschön…. im AudioValve Nirwana.
    Es gibt einen Nachteil an dieser Geschichte: Mein bis dato treuer Assistent 30 (noch kein Jahr alt und in tadellosem Zustand) wird jetzt viel zu wenig gebraucht….es wäre schön wenn er in einer neuen Umgebung ein „warmes“ Zuhause finden könnte (Interesse? ue@telenet.be)

    Die heutige Anlage:
    Server (Musikfiles)
    Roon
    Wadia di122 (DAC)
    DDRC-24 (DSP)
    AudioValve Eklipse
    AudioValve Challenger 115
    Quad ESL-57 (48,4 Hz: +1,6 db // 865 Hz: -0,2 db // 15150 Hz: -2,2 db)
    interlinks: Horn Audiophile “the analyst” (RCA + XLR)
    Lautsprecherkabel: Sommerkabel Orbit 240 MK2
    Diffusors: Artnovion Logan, Duron, Myron

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