Considering a Backert Rhythm 1.4, talk me out of it

Hello everyone,


I have been in the market for a preamp for a couple of years.


I have already tried a Cary SLP-05, which had some issues that gave me one of the worst customer experiences ever. I also tried a BAT VK-33SE which was a bad match for my system - not only did it sound thin and had less life than no pre, the soundstage collapsed.


A while back, I had settled on the Backert Labs Rhythm 1.3, and while saving up the cash, the 1.4 came out and a series of price hikes. We have gone from about $8K to the current price of $12,900.00 after the most recent price hike.

At $8K the Rhythm seemed like a pretty safe bet, everyone seems to think it hits way above its price and I like the design philosophy.
$13K though opens a lot of doors. Not only could I get something like a Zesto Leto II new, I could get a Pass Labs XP-32 used.


I listen to mostly Progressive Rock, a bit of Classic Rock, a fair amount of Trip Hop, and some acoustic music. I have a special love for mezzo-sopranos singers, and rock drummers like Ginger Baker and John Bonham. 

I am very sensitive to sibilance and mid-range distortion. I appreciate a fast rise in a kick drum or piano note, a smooth crisp decay of symbols, and an open soundstage. 

I am not married to having a tube preamp, and am open to solid state.

I have a couple of things that I must have: low gain (under 13dB), and able to accept the 5.8V balanced or 2.9V SE from my DAC. This eliminates some really good gear like the GAT II (20dB gain ?!?).

There are some things that I really prefer: Fully balanced circuit, remote control, HT bypass.

EveAnna Manley very strongly recommended the Steelhead with a SkipJack since I really need attenuation more than amplification. I have two issues with this, one is that the Steelhead does not get any love when used as a linestage, and two, I would feel a need to start down an upgrade path with my turn table. I would be very interested in any comments from people with a Steelhead.

I would appreciate any thoughts on the Rhythm and possible alternatives. I do not really have a budget. I prefer to spend $8Kish, but am resigned to paying $13Kish. I doubt I will cross $15Kish. $11K for something really nice sounds like a good compromise.



i9 based server running HQPlayer and Roon > Sonore Optical Rendu >

Holo May KTE DAC > Manley Snapper Monoblocks > 6pi Corner Horns (104dB sensitive)



Well, as I’m sure you know the Rhumba Extreme gets you a lot of the Rhythm’s performance for $8500.  Another one to consider would be the Atmasphere MP-1 that’s around $10k w/o phono stage.  VAC may also be worth a look, and on the solid state side Constellation gets very favorable reviews but not sure what’s in your price range.  Happy hunting!

I own a Rhythm 1.3.  There is nothing to talk you out of :-)  I'm using mine with a McGary amp and Fleetwood Deville SQs, so a conical horn design.

+1 BACKERT LABS Rhythm 1.3 linestage tube, which I was targeting as my first tube preamp, but recently discovered Mola Mola Makua preamp which has great reviews also and has quality phono stage and DAC options.

My SS pre is Constellation Inspiration.

Get an Aric Audio Motherlode XL preamp for half the cost and enjoy a state of the art preamplifier for literally peanuts. That’s sure as hell what I am doing.

I think Backert gives you a 14 day return option.  Check with them to be sure.  Rising prices are killing everybody, so you know what to do about it in the fall.

Go for the new Rhythm 1.4. Get some NOS Mazdas and be mesmerized. Have fun!

Post removed 

I really appreciate all the input.

The Mola Mola does looks pretty interesting, seems it has also gone up in price by as much as the Rhythm.


I hope to make a final choice in the near future.



If you don't mind used, you could put the Backert Rhythm on a watch list at hifishark as they do occasionally come up for sale.  As mentioned previously, the Rhumba Extreme gets very close to the Rhythm performance, and one is currently available used.  If you're handy, you can do as I have done and upgrade the capacitors to V-Caps as used in the Rhythm at half the cost of new, and you're even closer to the Rhythm performance.

I have owned a Rhumba Extreme 1.3 for the past three years and truly enjoy it. That said, based on my experience the op may wish to consider a solid state line stage simply based on the choice of music (and subsequently quality of recording productions). The Backert is very much a "straight line with gain" and will reveal everything good and bad about a recording.

I have the BACKERT LABS Rhythm 1.3 linestage  and recently compared it to a Shindo Partager and preferred the clarity and dynamics of the Rhythm. I also like so much about its design: balanced and SE ins and outs, balance control, HT pass, mono switch. Swiss Army knife!  I just sent it to Backert to have it upgraded towards the 1.4.  They did a lot. On their recommendation, I chose not to update the bottom plate with brass.. They were SO reasonable and accommodating with the upgrade.  Just $600. Where do you find that kind of reasonableness in the audio industry?  Andy was a pleasure to work with.  I recommend that route. I’d say you’ve got nothing to lose!

I ended up ordering a Mark Levinson 523 off the 'Gon. It should be here by the 17th :)

I paid about the same price as the Rhythm 1.3 cost before the price hikes. It was a tough choice, but I feel pretty good about it. Not only did I get what is probably a "better" preamp, I have enough left over to buy a decent TIG welder :)


Thank you all for the input. Even though this did not come up in the discussion, other suggestions led me to this. 



Backert is awesome, great support great product, can't ask for much more..I own a ARC preamp and love it but if I ever made a change it would be to the Backert or CJ.

I own a Backert Rhythm 1.4 . It is a perfect fit with my Lumin U1 streamer and Aqua Acoustics LaScala DAC. I believe that they have an audition period where you can listen to one in your home. Give Andy a call and give one a listen.