CREEK OBH-22

MJ20.07.2009

Preamplifiers

The Creek OBH-22 was a heart-stopper. When I substitued different preamps with it or when I used it as a front end of integrated amplifiers, it did not do anything that would impair the sound. So actually it did what it was supposed to  do: attenuate only.

Function and form

91%
Ease of use
20%
Sound
73%
Appearance

The preamplifier module of the Creek is a small PCB in a small aluminum enclosure (15 x 10 x 6cm); there is a motorized potentiometer, switching relays and a remote control submodules. The circuits that control the potentiometer's motor as well the remote controller's paths are disconnected when not in use not to affect the sound.

The OBH-22 offers two identical line inputs, one tape-monitor loop, a fixed and a variable output (with 20kohm output impedance) and the Mute function. The green LEDs on the Creek's front plate show the status of the preamplifier.

Bass management

Weight
66
Slam
53
Articulation
54

The Creek OBH-22 is powered through an outboard DC power supply (24V, 30mA) that is known from mobile phones. However, the external power supply is not obligatory - should you do not need to use remote control then the Creek can be used as a totally passive attenuator without necessity to plug it in. In such a case the inputs can be selected with miniature switches on the preamp's fascia.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
55
Air
50
Transparency
56

As I outlined already the passive attenuator only attenuates so there is no voltage  gain. Therefore it is necessary that the front end component has sufficient voltage output. I used it with many commercially available CD players as well as with the Yamaha KX-493 tape deck with no issues.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
67
Dynamics
68
Temporal resolution
58

The impedance ratios are a kind of reversed in passive devices so the length of the output cable may be critical (that is the cable which connects the attenuator and the power amplifier). It is advisable to use cables with low capacitance or to use as short runs of the interconnects as possible. From my experience a pair of 1m interconnects represent no issue, if you need to bridge few meters than you need to test in advance.

Spatial resolution

Holography
70
Soundstage width
70
Soundstage depth
70

I compared the Creek OBH-22 directly to the Accuphase's C-2000 preamplfier. With the Creek the lateral soundstage was a bit more compact, tonal pallete was less rich, textures less resolved and air between instruments less palpable. The flute was more lifelike through the Accuphase as was the raspy voice of Johnny Cash. The voice acquired a bit of boxiness on top of that and was less dynamic. What I want to say is that there is a difference between the cheap passive solution and a fairly good active preamp, however, the price of the Creek is a fraction of the Accuphase and the OBH-22 did not fall behind that much.

Price as reviewed:11 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

High-End Audio Studio, Praha, tel. +420 224 256 844

Associated components

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-78, Yamaha KX-493
  • Amplifiers: NAD C355BEE, Marantz PM8003, Luxman L-550A II, Accuphase E-550,Accuphase C-2000
  • Interconnects and speaker cables Nordost Heimdall, Krautwire Clever, Krautwire Fractal
  • Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Virgo V, Dynaudio Confidence C2, JMlab Focal Alto Utopia, Mirage OMNI-150, Usher BE-718
  • Power conditioning: Nordost Thor (modified), Nordost Valhalla

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CREEK OBH-22

The Creek OBH-22 was a heart-stopper. When I substitued different preamps with it or when I used it as a front end of integrated amplifiers, it did not do anything that would impair the sound. So actually it did what it was supposed ...

Recommended resellers

High-End Audio Studio, Praha, tel. +420 224 256 844

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