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Carver Research Lightstar Direct preamp review



6 input selections
3 Balanced
3 Unbalanced
Balanced and Unbalanced Stereo outputs
Silicone free signal path
Remote Controlled functions via Motorola microprocessor
Front Panel displays for Volume(0 to -63dB), Balance, Input, Absolute Polarity, Stereo/Mono.



Balanced : DC>100k
Unbalanced : 10Hz to 100kHz
(+0, -0.5dB worst case)
Phase Response

Balanced 0 degree
Unbalanced +12 degrees, -6 degrees

Distortion : 0.005% typica

-92 Dbv

> 60dB

GAIN : 20 dB (unbalanced output only)

Mute level >-70dB


Carver Research Lightstar Reference 2.0 Amplifier
Carver SD/A-490t Vacuum Tube Reference CD Player
Carver TX-11 FM Tuner
Carver TD-1400 cassette deck
Technics SL-1900b TT w/ Shure V-15 type III-g cartridge
Carver Amazing Loudspeakers(original version)
Carver Silver Edition Amazing Loudspeakers
Audio Note AN-9 hand-drawn Silver speaker cables

Most of my listening involved my Carver SD/A-490t as the primary signal source. I keep my signal source to pre to amp IC distances as short as possible, less than 1 meter. I have no room treatments in my listening room as I have small children and have found the 2 cannot co-habitate.

My reference recordings include 'A Decade of Steely Dan', the Indigo Girls 'Indians, Saints and Nomdas', Dian Shurr and Count Basie, Motley Crue's 'Girls, Girls, Girls', and Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 'Tarkus'.

First up was the Crue. I know it's hair metal, and widely considered passe, but the recording is outstanding. The soundfield is detailed, stable, and deep. The band member's locations are easily definable. The timbre of each instrument is quite accurate and coherent. The pace of the record seems correct to my ears and the band is tight and right on que. Vince Neil can belt out a Rock tune with the best of them. While I don't find him as engaging as Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, or Roger Daltrey, he Rocks on this LP. Tommy Lee's drumming is outstanding, big, bad and pounding. he has the rythym in a noose. Mik Mars and Niki Sixx bring their own special personalities to this outing and help make it a success.

You'll notice I didn't mention Lightstar once, it seemed to add nothing other than act as a switching function. It has no tone controls and only one tape monitor circuit making it the least flexible pre I own. But it is by far the most transparent. It adds nothing, and taking nothing away. I'd say it is a great pre.

Deedle's Blues, the first track on the Diann Shuur disc Rocks. Ms. Shuur can belt out a tune, and this disc shows her skills to be finely honed. Listening to this session, I often find myself in the room with Diann and the band. You can hear the feet tapping, fingers sliding on strings, brushes on drum heads, I feel like I'm in the room during the session, damn few discs do that for me. 2 kewl.

I like to hear the Indigo Girls renditions of modern folk music. The dual guitar mix is outstanding and lends the right body to the music. Lightstar lets you hear each guitar and voice separately, but together as a part of the composition.

Tonight(Thursday October 18th, 2007) I did some listening to the Texas Tornadoes, an excellent example of Texas Zydeco. I love this shite, these guys really go all the way out there. Flaco Jimenez kicks it on the accordion, Doug Sahm and Freddie Fender share vocal chores and Augie Meyers round out this very tight 4-some. The tunes are of the classic Tejano bent but with a rock flair for production. Meyers and Sahm were part of the 60s band 'The Sir Douglas Quintet'.

Lightstar preserved the awsome soundstage of this recording, wrapping it 150 degrees to the side and behind me...without SH. Fu(king incredible!! The images were rock solid and very separate, you can walk between and around these guys while the disc is playing. 2kewl 

My old Carver system didn't fair anywhere near as well.

SH takes it further over the top and behind. I really dig my's not your typical rectangle or square. Although it looks like a proper rectangle, none of the walls are the same length or parallel making it a great listening room, most of the alignment nodes are nullified, so standing waves are kept to a minimum.

I'm not much of a fan of the accordian but I dig it here. Flacco Jimenez is a Master and it shows. I really thought Lighstar gave the accordian a shape of sound I hadn't heard until now. Freddie Fender's voice has taken on a kind of aura surrounding it that's lost in other pre/amp combos.

I'll add more later, but you get the idea. This is one fantastic piece of equipment. Damn shame they don't build it anymore.


GREAT preamp!!!  I loved the one I HAD.  I will be snagging one from Toy Maker in March.  I will be half way there.


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