Soulution 755 Phono Preamplifier

Crème de la Crème

Equipment report
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Phonostages
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Products:
Soulution 755
Soulution 755 Phono Preamplifier

Whether it’s because of their successful implementation of NFB or their very short signal paths or their dual-mono configuration or their virtually unlimited power supplies, Soulution components have always done several things better than the other solid-state and tube units I’ve reviewed. First, they have the kind of three-dimensional imaging that you generally only hear with valves. Second, they have an incredibly hard-hitting bottom octave. Third, they have an extraordinary power range that adds lifelike foundation and color to the midband and makes the transition to the low bass more continuous (albeit at the price of a somewhat “bottom-up” tonal balance).

When connected directly to an amplifier, the 755 does all three of these things, making it the most realistic-sounding phonostage of the lot. It not only fills in the Big Blank Spot by offering superb resolution, lifelike bloom, three dimensionality, dense tone color, lightning transient speed, and wall-to-wall soundstaging in a single package—making it appealing to fidelity-to-source and absolute sound listeners alike—it also has the midbass slam, low-bass extension and grip, and power range fullness that musicality-first listeners adore. I must say that I haven’t heard anything else quite like it.

Take a listen, for example, to The Band’s “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” on the outstanding MoFi reissue of The Band. This fabulous ballad, with its hard-knock mix of calamity, endurance, and salvation, has something of the same vibe as The Weavers’ “Union Miners.” Using the sparest of musical means—the tapping of Levon Helm’s cymbal and the climactic thud of kickdrum and bass in the chorus, the swirl of Garth Hudson’s organ (evocative of the sound of the wind on the water), the autumnal dry-leaf crackle of Robbie Robertson’s guitar (the polar opposite of “guitar-hero” pyrotechnics), the clean, rope-like lines of Rick Danko’s Fender, and Helm and Richard Manuel’s hesitant, troubled delivery of the almost imagistic lyrics (“Scarecrow and a yellow moon. Pretty soon the carnival on the edge of town”)—“King Harvest” is a masterpiece of composition, performance, and, in the MFSL reissue, sound. But you won’t get the mysterious, almost overwhelmingly powerful effect of this great song without hearing the way these musical means work individually and together to create the dark, almost Biblical landscape of plague and fervently hoped-for (but not quite certain) redemption.

The Soulution 755 (in combination with the Soulution 711 amplifier) delivers the muscular ache and beauty of “King Harvest” better than I’ve ever before heard it delivered. It is simply magical to hear Helm sitting beside his drums and cymbals in three dimensions—you can almost see him cocking his head and scrunching up his face toward the microphone. To hear Danko’s Fender bass sound not just incredibly dense in color, but ropelike in texture—thick, rounded, there. (Bass strings just don’t get reproduced with this kind of three-dimensionality without a sacrifice in speed, color, and definition.) To hear Robbie Robertson’s elliptical guitar work (about which he wrote: “This was the new way of dealing with the guitar for me, this very subtle playing, leaving out a lot of stuff and just waiting until the last second and then playing the thing in the nick of time”) with its lightning-flash-in-the-clouds suddenness and luminosity intact.

Like the other three preamps in this review, the Soulution 755 is not perfect. As noted, it tends to be a little dark or “bottom-up” sounding (because of the fullness of its power range and bass). It is not as nakedly detailed as something like the Audio Consulting Silver Rock or the Constellation Perseus, but that is because it is incorporating detail into a three-dimensional image rather than delivering everything “upfront” in a single plane. When you listen to it closely, you’ll find next-to-nothing is being omitted. It is also ungodly expensive. But given that it can drive an amplifier directly—obviating the need to purchase a linestage and a pair of expensive interconnects—some of that price tag seems more reasonable, especially given its superb sonics.

As I said at the start I could easily live with all four of these phonostages, but were I forced to choose one for the long haul, the Soulution 755 would be my pick. It is not only the most complete-sounding phono-preamp I’ve yet heard; it is also, in my opinion, the single best product Soulution has thus far made and marketed. It goes without saying, or should, that it gets my highest, most enthusiastic, and most affectionate recommendation. Why affectionate? Because I love the thing. 

Specs & Pricing

Analog inputs: Two unbalanced moving coil; one unbalanced moving magnet
Analog outputs: One balanced output (XLR); one unbalanced output (RCA)
LINK-system: Two RJ45
Gain: 62dB (moving magnet); 78dB (moving coil)
Output voltage: 4Vrms balanced; 2Vrms unbalanced
Peak output current: 1A
Impedance: 10 ohms balanced; 10 ohms unbalanced
Frequency response: DC–2MHz
Total harmonic distortion (THD+N): <0.002%
Noise floor: -140dB 
Price: $72,000

AXISS AUDIO (U.S. Distributor)
17800 South Main Street, Suite 109
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 329-0187
axissaudio.com

JV’s Reference System
Loudspeakers: Magico M Project, Raidho D-5.1, Raidho D-1, Avantgarde Zero 1, MartinLogan CLX, Magnepan .7, Magnepan 1.7, Magnepan 3.7, Magnepan 20.7
Subwoofers: JL Audio Gotham (pair), Magico QSub 15 (pair), JL Audio CR-1 active crossover
Linestage preamps: Soulution 725, CH Precision L1, Constellation Audio Altair II, Audio Research Reference 10, Siltech SAGA System C1, VAC Statement
Phonostage preamps: Soulution 755, Constellation Audio Perseus, Audio Consulting Silver Rock Toroidal, VAC Statement Phono, Innovative Cohesion Engineering Raptor
Power amplifiers: Soulution 711, CH Precision M1, Constellation Audio Hercules II Stereo, Zanden Audio Systems Model 9600, Air Tight ATM-2001, VAC 450iQ, Siltech SAGA System V1/P1, Odyssey Audio Stratos
Analog sources: Acoustic Signature Invictus/T-9000, Walker Audio Proscenium Black Diamond Mk V, TW Acustic Black Knight, Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian with Viper tonearm, AMG Viella 12
Tape deck: United Home Audio UHA-Q Ultimate OPS
Phono cartridges: Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Air Tight Opus-1, Ortofon MC Anna, Ortofon MC A90
Digital source: Berkeley Alpha DAC 2
Cables and interconnects: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream, Synergistic Research Galileo UEF, Ansuz Acoustics Diamond
Power cords: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream, Synergistic Research Galileo UEF, Ansuz Acoustics Diamond
Power conditioner: Synergistic Research Galileo LE, Technical Brain
Support systems: Critical Mass Systems MAXXUM and QXK equipment racks and amp stands
Room treatments: Stein Music H2 Harmonizer System, Synergistic Research UEF Acoustic Panels and UEF Acoustic Dots and ART System, Shakti Hallographs (6), Zanden Acoustic panels, A/V Room Services Metu acoustic panels and traps, ASC Tube Traps
Accessories: Symposium Isis and Ultra equipment platforms, Symposium Rollerblocks and Fat Padz, Walker Prologue Reference equipment and amp stands, Walker Valid Points and Resonance Control discs, Clearaudio Double Matrix SE record cleaner, Synergistic Research RED Quantum fuses, HiFi-Tuning silver/gold fuses