Silver Statement Preamp
User Review #1 (copied with permission)
I first heard the Purity Audio Silver
Statement preamp at the 2010 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I have read about it
and was interested in hearing it at the show. It was love at first "sight."
Something about the sound grabbed me the first time and I kept going back to
listen to it. I had heard a previous design from Bill Baker before at the 2008
show also paired with Rethm speakers and it didn't work for me then. I had
wanted to like it but something was missing. It may have had something to do
with the lack of high frequency extension from the speakers. The prototype RAAL
tweeters augmenting the speakers this time really showed what this preamp can
do. I liked it enough to make a deal at the end of the show to buy the Silver
Statement and audition it in my room for 30 days. Joe "Jam'n Audio" Jurzec and
Bill "Response Audio" Baker extended a 30 day return period if things did not
work out. This was important for me since audio shows are notoriously bad for
getting the sound right. I had high hopes though since I liked what I heard in
that small room at the Marriott even though it was not an ideal acoustic
The preamp arrived in two crates. They were built like a proverbial tank and
each weighed a "ton." Needless to say, they arrived in perfect physical shape.
I pulled the metal "heat sink" off the tubes as I never like them. It is quite
spacious in there and I didn't think there would be any overheating issues. I
put on a pair of Herbie's UltraSonic Rx-9 tube dampers instead. I was able to
hear the preamp after a minor glitch with volume control was resolved. A cable
connector came dislodged during shipping and it was causing a hum when I first
turned it on. Bill identified the problem and I just reconnected it. It’s
really not a big issue since this contact is not directly in the signal path. I
could tell that I had something special even with the stock JJ 12au7 tubes in
them. Bill later sent me a pair of OS RCA clear tops and what little mid range
congestion I heard cleared up. After rolling through various tubes, I settled
on a pair of NOS Telefunken ribbed plates. The Silver Statement is the best
preamp I have heard in my room. There are others that can do better on certain
aspects of music but nothing has as good an overall presentation as the Silver
Statement. I spent a month comparing the Purity preamp to my two previous
"reference" units: Aesthetix Callisto Signature with 2 power supplies and MBL
5011 with direct input and MM phono options. These are really excellent units
on their own and it's a testament to the excellence of the Silver Statement for
me to have decided to keep the Purity preamp over these other units.
Before I delve into the nitty-gritty comparison of the units, let me tell you
what I look for in my audio system. I am foremost an Opera fan who loves the
sound of female vocals. My audio system is all about getting the Divas to
sound right in my room. I attend Operas regularly and I want to recreate the
live environment of the best live productions in my room. I was fortunate
enough to attend a performance of The Barber of Seville featuring Juan Diego
Florez and Joyce DiDonato at La Scala this past summer. What a fantastic venue
and the music was first rate that night. I want that in my room. When I put on
a recording from La Scala, I want to hear the same acoustics with the perfect
balance of the orchestra and the singers. With the Silver Statement, I am the
closest I have ever been.
As generalizations go, one would guess that tube preamp would be smooth,
textured and airy whereas the solid state preamp would excel at PRaT at the
expense of leaner tonality. This generalization holds true for Callisto which
uses 8 tubes in the preamp section and 8 in each power supply for a total of 24
tubes in all. This is an amazing preamp that gives incredible layering and
texture for mids and highs. When it comes to rendering vocal music right, there
may be none better. Notice many females vocals I have listed in the reference.
Callisto makes almost everyone sound the best she can be. Lee Ann Womack’s
recording is compressed and voice comes out thin on my midfi home theater. I
know because my wife used to play and sing “I hope you dance” to our then infant
daughter all the time. Through Callisto, however, her voice gains body and
texture that conveys her feelings. This is pop at its best in a sappy way. I
am a sucker for that. The acid test for vocals to me is always Maria Callas.
I love her artistry but detest the way her steely voice comes through on stereo
systems. I give the nod to Callas as the best Tosca because she brings passion
to her singing and Floria is nothing if not passionate, but I can’t stand the
horrendous screeching that I hear from a lot of stereo systems. Vissi D’arte on
1953 recording on vinyl through Callisto is the best I have heard her voice.
The impassioned high notes convey anger, defiance and resolve with flintiness
but without harshness. The artistry comes though. I thought I would stretch my
luck to see if I can make Diana Krall listenable. So many people like her and
I want to join the crowd but I just find her singing unenjoyable. I play “I
Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You” from the only Krall CD I have, the
Love Scenes. Nope. I mean she is right. She doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance
with me. I think I would rather listen to Fran Drescher sing.
As expected, the MBL 5011 has a leaner sound than Callisto but this is probably
true for 99% the preamps out there. It’s only leaner in comparison to the
Aesthetix as I remember it is warmer than Modwright SWL 9.0 SE that I had
before. Where MBL excels is the Pace, Rhythm and Timing. It is adroit, facile
and dynamic. Chesky recording of Africando by Ana Caram has good pace and
rhythm accompanied by tidy spatial cues. 5011 handles it with aplomb. Ani
DiFranco/Utah Phillips' instrumental track of Joe Hill is a good recording to
test how much width and depth you notice in your system. With MBL you can
really recreate the whole stage inch by inch from left to right and front to
back. There is a picture in the booklet and that is exactly what you hear. The
unreal sweeps across the width of the stage on Pink Floyd's "Time" from TDSOTM
album is like a sonic laser show with the MBL preamp. Evelyn Glennie's Last
Contact has a deep foreboding rumble with very fast percussive upper frequency
from wooden sticks, ceramic balls and metal pipes. The fast and furious attack
was no problem for 5011. Decay was excellent with the right amount of
tingling. The low rumble was clearly defined. The lowest organ notes on Bach's
Toccata and Fugue in D minor were more mumbled into a long rumble by Callisto
whereas the MBL clearly delineated each note. Montagues and Capulets from
Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (recorded by AC member, Russell Dawkins) and Mars
from Holst's Planets really need good rhythmic punches and MBL delivered them
Eva Cassidy, more known for crooning, gets a good rhythm going on the blues
number, “Take Me to the River.” I like this recording because I am familiar
with the acoustics of the Blues Alley where it was recorded. The big brick wall
behind the stage and the intimate size gives Blues Alley a very recognizable
acoustical signature. Surprisingly, I like this one through Callisto more than
the MBL. The smoother presentation from Callisto was more akin to the live
sound I remember. High resolving power alone doesn’t always give you the real
live sound. On her “Fields of Gold,” the sibilance is noticeable through the
This brings us to the Silver Statement Preamp. It only uses 2 tubes. The gain
is transformer coupled. What does this mean? I don’t really know. I listened
in the passive mode using the Statement as a silver TVC and I didn’t like it all
that much. There wasn’t much drive or oomph to the music. It was very quiet in
the background but it was also bleak even when the music was playing. Go back
to the active setting and it comes alive. What I know is that the tubes and the
transformers, together, enable this preamp to do some amazing things. I want to
say this Purity preamp gets the best of both tube and solid state
characteristics while minimizing the deficiencies inherent in each. But this
would be like having the cake and eating it too. We know this is not supposed
to be possible. Or is it?
Let’s take the first couple’s dance song at my wedding. We selected the Blue
Moon Revisited [Song for Elvis] by the Cowboy Junkies. I love Margo’s voice but
bass guitar has always been problematic when I play the Junkies’ albums. At the
wedding with DJ’s pro speakers it was fine, but I always got a sense of bloated
bass when I play them in my system. Enter the Silver Statement and the problem
is solved. Instead of an amorphous and booming bass rumbling I can hear Margo
sing sweetly above the cleanly plucked bass notes. It is interesting to note
that clarity removes the boominess from the bass and restores the musical
My favorite Diva is Ileana Cotrubas, a Romanian Soprano who sang from the late
60s to the mid-80s. I have scoured the European E-Bay to get every obscure LPs
that have her anywhere on the recording. I already have everything available in
the States. In other words, I am nuts about her singing. So, it shouldn’t be a
surprise to anyone that any gear in my system would have to get her singing
right. Silver Statement does just that. I have to admit the Callisto wins out
on the sheer vocal rendition but when accompanying instrumental music is also
considered, Purity wins out. Cotrubas’ voice is very brittle on the top
register and husky in the lower. Callisto holds together her brittle top
register while smoothing her husky lower register to really showcase her
artistry in portraying delicate female roles. When Violetta starts to read
the letter in her husky voice leading to singing “Addio del pasato” in that
delicate treble, my heart always just ache. Purity gets the emotional drama,
but Callisto is magical with voices.
Where Silver Statement outshines Callisto is when melody is accompanied by a
rhythm section. Take “Moritat” on the B side of Sonny Rollin’s Saxophone
Collosus. Both preamps make Sonny’s sax sing but only the Purity preamp keeps
up with Max Roach’s drumming. On “Allegro” on Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto,
the hammers hit with more authority and definition when heard through the Silver
Statement making it sound more like you are in the premier orchestra seat. With
Callisto you are sitting in the back on the top tier. Mahalia Jackson had a
great alto voice and nowhere is it more showcased than in the 1952 recording of
the “Upper Room.” Her strong singing on this gospel comes though with
conviction on the Silver Statement whereas Callisto presents a more sedate
Mahalia. It’s kind of like the 60s Columbia recording that only shows the
shadow of her younger self.
With the Silver Statement preamp, I am really rediscovering songs like “Rollin’
On” with Mark Knoffler and Emmylou Harris, SRV’s guitar virtuoso on “Riviera
Paradise,” Joni Mitchell singing “Morning Morgantown,” Annie Haslam flexing her
awesome voice on “Carpet of the sun” and even Rebecca Pidgeon wishing you an
“Auld Lang Syne.” I like them before but they are just better today.
So there you have it. I think I am eating the cake right now. As I listen to
Nina Simone singing “I Put a Spell on You,” I can tell you the Silver Statement
has put a spell on me.
Bach, Johann Sebastian. “Toccata and Fugue, for organ in D minor, BWV 565.”
Toccata & Fugue in D minor; Prelude & Fugue in B minor; Concerto No. 2 in A
minor; Prelude & Fugue in D major. Perf. Michael Murray on the organs at
First Congregational Church, Los Angeles. Telarc, 1990. CD.
Beethoven, Ludwig. “Allegro.” Piano Concerto No.5 [Emperor] In E Flat Major
Op.73. Perf. Claudio Arrau and Concertgebouw Orchestra. Cond. Bernard Haitink.
Philips 1964. LP.
Caram, Ana. “Africando.” Maracana. Chesky Records, 1993. CD.
Cassidy, Eva. “Take Me To The River,” “Fields of Gold.” Live at Blues Alley.
Blix Street Records, Inc. 1998. CD.
Cotrubas, Ileana. “ Depuis le Jour.” Louise. Comp. Gustave Charpentier. Perf.
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus and Placido Domingo. Cond. Georges Pretre.
Famous Opera Arias. Sony, 1998. CD.
Cotrubas, Ileana. “Pace, Pace mio Dio.” La forza del destino. Comp. Giuseppe
Verdi. Perf. Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus. Cond. Sir John Pritchard.
Famous Opera Arias. Sony, 1998. CD.
Cowboy Junkies. “Blue Moon Revisited [Song for Elvis]” The Trinity Session.
RCA 1990. LP
DiFranco, Ani and Utah Phillips. “Joe Hill [instrumental]” Fellow Workers.
Righteous Babe, 1999. CD.
Glennie, Evelyn. “Last Contact.” Shadow Behind the Iron Sun. RCA, 2000. CD.
Harris, Emmylou and Mark Knopfler. “Rollin’ On.” All the Roadrunning. Warner
Brothers, 2006. CD.
Holst, Gustav. “Mars: Bringer of War.” Planets. Perf. Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra. Cond. Andre Previn. Telarc 1990. CD.
Jackson, Mahalia. “In the Upper Room.” Appolo Sessions: 1946-1951. Pair, 1994.
Krall, Diana. “I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You.” Love Scenes. Grp
Records, 1997. CD.
Mitchell, Joni. “Morning Morgantown.” Ladies of the Canyon. Warner Bros,
Pidgeon, Rebecca. “Auld Lang Syne.” Retrospective. Chesky Records, 2003.
Pink Floyd. “Time.” The Dark Side of the Moon [Original Recording Remastered].
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, 1979. LP
Prokofiev, Sergey. “Montagues and Capulets [Dance of the Knights]” Romeo and
Juliet Suites 2 and 1. Perform. Ukranian Radio and TV Orchestra. Cond. Aram
Gharabekian. Rec. Russell Dawkins. Russian Disc, 1999. CD.
Puccini, Giacomo. “Vissi D’arte.” Tosca. Perf. Maria Callas, Orchestra del
Teatro alla Scala. Cond. Victor de Sabata. Columbia, 1953. LP.
Renaissance. “Carpet of the Sun.” Tales of 1001 Nights I. Sire, 1990. CD
Rollins, Sonny. “Moritat.” Saxophone Collosus. Analog Productions, 2002. LP.
Simone, Nina. “I Put a spell on You,” “I Love You Porgy,” “Don’t Let Me Be
Misunderstood.” Verve Jazz Masters 17 [Original recording remastered]. Polygram
Records, 1994. CD.
Vaughan, Stevie Ra . “Riviera Pardise.” In Step [Extra tracks, Original
recording reissued, Original recording remastered . Sony, 1999. CD.
VerdI, Giussepe. “Addio del pasato.” La Traviata. Perf. Ileana Cotrubas,
Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Pacido Domingo, Sherill Milne. Cond. Carlos Kleiber.
Deutsche Grammophon, 1977. LP.
Verdi, Giussepe. "Gloria all'Egitto,” “Marcia trionfale." Aida. Perf. Rome
Opera House Orchestra. Cond. Georg Solti. RCA Victor 1962. LP.
Womack, Lee Ann. “I Hope You Dance.” I Hope You Dance. MCA Nashville, 2000.