I was taken to this forum looking for inexpensive preamps with HT bypass. I love my stereo preamp but don't want to have 2 separate systems just to play DVD-A, SACD or surround concerts. The industry sure has made the simple task of 5.1 analog bypass hard on anyone looking for this basic implementation in something below $500. Anyway, the discussion of the USP-1 caught my eye and I found this review below:
add www to the front of the link below
Regarding the phono section, the reviewer said "I basically liked what I heard here, but I prefer my outboard Manley Steelhead because I can fine tune the loading impedance which does change the sound a bit." He's using a Manley Steelhead and VPI HR-X turntable with a Blackbird cartridge and says he basically likes what he heard here but prefers
... He didn't say his Manley blows it away or is in a different league! That to me says he's being objective and hopefully honest in his findings. When you pair a phono section of a $399 preamp to a Manley and the most you say is it sounds good but I prefer
... then that $399 phono section must be of great quality. Also, he says he only prefers it because of the cartridge loading options the Manley gives him to tailer the sound, so it's even more about control
than the general sound of the two. A reviewer in his position isn't likely going to be cavalier about a product that is of poor sound quality. Still, I can't dismiss Bill Mac's experience with the zippy high frequencies and spitty "sssss
" sound. Something has to be amiss somewhere. The only way to know is to hear one for oneself, but this review offers only optimism rather than anything derogatory so I thought it might be something helpful to others looking for other points of view.