Nagra’s long-awaited HD Preamp was on display at CES 2018, having previously been shown at RMAF 2017, and listed as an honouree in the CES Innovation Awards.

The HD Preamp is a two-chassis affair, with the power supply in a different chassis and the preamplifier circuitry featuring valves. The power supply uses Super Caps and is based on Nagra’s ‘virtual battery’ technology, which the company claims ‘provides superior results compared to a conventional battery without the inconvenience of dealing with charging time and battery life.’

The volume control on the HD Preamp uses a patent pending technology that Nagra says allows perfect level matching, yet has a more transparent sound than if the company had used a potentiometer or even switched resistor technology. Matthieu Latour, of Audio Technology, which manufactures Nagra in Switzerland, wasn’t giving away much information because of the patent, but he did start to say ‘it’s because there is no attenuation of the input signal, just an automatic selection of a tap…’ before stopping himself.

Latour was more forthcoming about the HD Preamp’s virtual battery technology. ‘Just as the PL-P made use of batteries to isolate the unit from external interferences, the HD Preamp’s power supply uses a unique virtual battery technology,’ he said. ‘One of the consequences of this superior supply is that the noise floor level of the HD Preamp is the lowest ever measured on any Nagra product.’

Nagra says that the design of the HD Preamp started from a blank page. ‘Every aspect and step in the design process involved research to find the most elegant solution to accurately and faithfully convey the music from the source to the amplifier,’ said Latour. ‘As a result, the HD Preamp, which like the PL-P is also a tube design, includes several patent-pending technologies that take the music listening experience to new heights. It is the perfect partner for the HD DAC and HD Amp.’

As a tribute to Nagra’s legendary tape recorders, the HD Preamp also features a ‘modulometer’, a custom-made meter that Nagra says is faster and more accurate than a traditional VU meter and an improvement on the modulometer fitted to the original PL-P.

For more information about the Nagra HD Preamp, contact Nagra’s Australian distributor, Advance Audio Australia Pty Ltd.