I have been playing the Freya Plus a lot and have a few bullet comments to provide. I don't want to get into details yet because I want to wait for the Vidar to get here and I also want to try it with my best cables, speakers, etc. in order to give you the best perspective. Here is what I have so far:
- I like the way the preamp gives you 3 modes of operation; passive, jfet, or tubes. The tube section has a lot more gain than the other two options. So far, I prefer the sound of the tube output, but I could also be very happy with the SS mode.
- It gets pretty warm in tube mode. Not burn your hand warm, but a good hand warmer when you place your hand on the case. It is cool as a cucumber in passive or SS mode. I wouldn't put it on top of other gear and would place it in a spot with proper ventilation.
- The 128-Step Relay-Switched Volume control makes an electronic noise when turned, but it doesn't bother me. I can't say whether Ilike or dislike it as of now.
- The volume has to be turned up a lot before you get sound. This probably has everything to do with impedance matching between the preamp and the amplifier section of the NAD C356bee.
- The Freya Plus is much better than the NAD preamp section; clear, accurate, holographic with a big deep, wide soundstage and pinpoint imaging. I still haven't tried the stock tubes. I just see no need yet.
- I have had a lot of decent gear over the years, but never the best out there. The best preamp I have ever owned was the Audio Research SP16 with the phono section that retailed for around $2500 back in 2001. This one may be as good, maybe better. I would go so far as to say not better but different.
- The Freya Plus in tube mode is not like some of the old school tube gear I have heard. It doesn't have that thick, syrupy sound, nor is it cold and sterile. It has a full bodied sound and is texturally rich but not in a "thick" manner. That may be due to the tubes I have in it now, but tube roll may change that. With the Sylvania tubes it sounds somewhere in between old school tube and solid state. It displays a clean and accurate presentation. Like most gear it is getting better with each day of break in.