Hattor Audio preamps?

Got my eye on one of these. And yes, my system is passive friendly. I've had resistor based passives before, as well as transformer, autoformer and LDR preamps. So I know I like the sound quality which can be had with a passive. Anyone out there have any experience with the Hattor stuff?



I don't, but coincidentally I was just in contact with a fellow who owned one and he was quite impressed with his. Nice wood case, too.

They certainly do look the part. If I buy, I will be ordering with the AMRG Trans resistors. It appears that you get a lot for your $$.



His had the Vishay, so the one your eyeing should sound even better.

And they really do appear quite reasonable for what you get.

Cool logo, too!

I was quite happy with my dual mono, balanced unit. Unfortunately, it presented an Impedance mismatch. He sells a buffer that would have resolved it, but I didn't want to risk installing myself. Extremely well made

I have a couple DIY preamps using fully balanced Khozmo stepped attenuators which I really like. Hattor is the brand used for complete preamps from the same company. I prefer an active output stage, which Hattor also offers. 

I have not tried the AMRG resistors, but have read good things about them.  My first build uses the Takman REX resistors in the shunt positions with a Vishay Z-foil series resistor. This combination sounds excellent with exceptional transparency. My other Khozmo use Takman REY shunt resistors and an Audio Note silver tantalum series resistor. I'm still working on tweaking this preamp which uses different power supplies and output buffers, so I'm not ready to say whether I like this combination better or not. 

My Don Sachs preamp had the Khozmo attenuator and it was really nice in it's operation.

I have a balanced version with the AMRG Trans resistors. I am using it with an ARC Ref 75SE at the moment. It is superbly well built and the remote works really well. It controls volume, input, balance and has a mute. Once set up I am not sure you need much else. The sound is superbly natural, not surprising given there are only 2 high-quality resistors in the path. The only thing to watch out for is impedance mis-matches and it sounds like you have that sussed. It has equalled some very expensive preamplifiers in naturalness and clarity. If you want to alter the sound then this is not for you but if you want a neutral preamp then the value is great. It comes in a flight case and is really well made. I ordered a buffer input and all it required was to add a board, job done.

Short answer is that yes, I actually own a Khozmo and two Hattor preamps, and the Hattor Active Tube Stage, and I really like them.

The longer answer is that I became acquainted with Hattor as way to remotely control the volume in my system.  I own a very nice sounding active, unity gain SMc Audio TLC-1 preamp, which has been upgraded to a similar sound quality as their VRE preamp.  Unfortunately, the onboard Shallco VC does not allow remote control of the volume.  I worked with Steve McCormack to modify the TLC-1 so it is now a unity gain buffer achieved by removing the VC from the circuit and replacing it with two large AN silver tantalum resistors. 

With the TLC-1 as a buffer, I still needed a method of controlling my system volume and gave Khozmo a try with one of their inexpensive passive units.  I really liked the sound and the interface/remote so when I saw a Hattor Big Preamp for sale used at an attractive price, I purchased that.  Some months later, I wanted to try their tube active stage and Arek (the owner/designer) gave me a good price on a package with a Big Preamp, which is how I came to own two of them.

In my main system, I use the Hattor Big Preamp in passive mode, which provides me with a system interface that is as good as I have had with any of the preamps I have previously owned.  With the Hattor Big Preamp, you get rca and XLR inputs/outputs, a large display in your choice of color, input selection, and selection of mute, volume, and balance, all controllable using the remote.  My unit has the optional NewClassD OPamp active stage, which provides your choice of 3/6/9 dB gain, also selectable by the remote control.

Sonically, the Hattor Big Preamp is great, IMO.  I have literally owned about 20 preamps with at least two costing north of $10K before I found the SMc unit I have now, and IMO the Hattor would hang with all of them, particularly in passive mode where it seems to have close to zero impact on the sound.  You do get your choice of resistors and I chose the Amtrans AMRG carbon film resistors, which are made in Japan by the former distributor for Riken resistors.  In my Khozmo unit, I had Takman REY shunt resistors with the Vishay Zfoils in the series position, and IMO the AMRG Trans resistors in the Hattor sound more musical.

Regarding gain, I could be happy with the sound of the discrete OPamp board in the Big Preamp.  I could also be happy with the Khozmo Active Tube Stage, which sounds very good (a bit more musical/natural than the OPamp board) and better than the Tortuga and Purity Audio tube buffers I have had (on loan) here in my system.  My unity gain SMc TLC-1 buffer sounds better than all of them to me, so that is what I use - with the Hattor in passive mode providing my system interface. 

I hope this helps.   I would be happy to answer any specific questions.

I have been using Big Hattor Dual mono (AMRGtrans, active phase of NewClassD for two years now - but I usually listen in passive mode) in conjunction with the SimAudio Moon W8 power amplifier. It suits me perfectly. Compliance with the input impedance of the amplifier is an important consideration for operation in passive mode.

I have one that’s got all the upgrades and the tube stage as well. It’s a superb preamp for sure.  In my system, the tube stage adds a lot to the sound being amazing.  I recently compared to the Benchmark and there was no comparison, the Hattor is worlds better.  This piece oozes quality and sounds incredible.

Can someone give me the rundown again as to the rule of impedance compatibility?


the higher the input impedance of the power amplifier, the better, the minimum from which I would probably be interested in passives is 50k

I've used a Khozmo volume control/ "preamp" for several years now in two different iterations, and I would be hard pressed to go back to an active preamp despite having owned a few excellent ones through the years.  Sonically, it's about as transparent as you can get and is the embodiment of simplicity.  Build quality is top notch, and customer service from Arak (despite being in Poland) has been exemplary.  My highest recommendation.

I do not own the Hattor but own Arek's Khozmo passive. Excellent passive but definitely prefer the Dave Slagle autofomers!

I purchased a Khozmo preamp a few months ago.  I had been using a 12AU7 tube buffer.  I did not like the volume control.  Not linear but sound was good.  I bought the Khozmo to keep the cost down(vs Hattor)  I have upgraded resistors.  The build quality is superb.  Aesthetically, this is a unique and nice looking piece.  Sound is transparent.  Their equipment is customizable with the intent of unaltered sound.

Arek is very easy to deal with. I emailed Arek and hoped everything was OK in Poland.  He is housing a Ukrainian mom and her child.  What a noble gesture.

I have exchanged several emails with Arek over the last two weeks. He is very responsive and I have no doubt the transaction will be seamless.



@curiousjim ,

So, the preamp should have at least 10 times the impedance of the amp?

Terrific, thank you!

The impedance issue can be more involved than simply verifying a 1:10 ratio (which many consider a minimum with a more desirable number being 1:20 or higher).  For example, many preamps (and particularly tubed preamps) have output impedance that is significantly higher at frequency extremes (particularly at bass frequencies) than at 1K Hz which is the typical frequency where the output impedance is reported.  In those cases, the reported output impedance (i.e., at 1K ohms) can result in one ratio while the actual ratio at frequency extremes could be much different (i.e., lower).  JA at Stereophile used to regularly report about this in his measurements of (mostly tubed) preamps.  Below is an example from his review of the Lamm LL2 Deluxe:

The LL2's output impedance was a low 245 ohms in the midrange and treble, this rising to 3.3k ohms at 20Hz, presumably due to the finite size of the output coupling capacitor. As a result, the preamp's frequency response suffered from a premature low-frequency rolloff into the low 600-ohm load (fig.1, lower pair of traces). Into the higher 100k-ohm load (fig.1, top traces), the response is flat from 10Hz to 50kHz and just 1dB down at 200kHz. 

It also becomes important with passive volume controls (i.e., passive linestage) where the output impedance is dependent on the impedance value of the volume control, and where the IC cable impedance becomes more important without active circuitry (which is why most recommend very short cables when using passives).  

Regardless of what Paul says in the video, there are still solid state amplifiers with input impedance as low as 10K ohms.  This is rarely a problem when using active solid state preamps, which typically have output impedances in the range of 100-200K ohms, or lower.  However, amplifiers having low input impedances will not likely reach their full sonic potential when driven through a passive line stage.  For this reason, the sonic impact of using a buffer (i.e., active circuitry to address output impedance) between a passive preamp and an amplifier can vary significantly depending on the differences in input impedance between amplifiers.

I keep tellimg my brother to get one of these ... the remote with digital display

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I placed my order today with Arek for his "big" preamp with the AMRT resistors. He says it should ship next week. Stay tuned.



I had the Big and loved it. Wish I could have kept it for some future need, but needed the money to help fund its replacement

I just wanted to update this thread. I received my preamp about a week after ordering it. Working with Arek was a pleasure. It is extremely well constructed and solid. When you factor in the quality build and the flight case it ships in, you can understand he’s not getting rich at this.

It is very transparent as you might expect, but dynamic as hell too. Just gets out of the way and let’s your amp do it’s thing, which is exactly what I wanted. Highly recommended.

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I still own two of the Big Preamps and more recently had Arek make a custom Khozmo dual-mono passive using his best Amtrans AMRG resistors and volume control from the Hattor, upgraded connectors, and only a single input and output (i.e., no switching) that I use to remote control the volume and provide a display into my solid state, unity-gain buffer.

The Big Preamp is IMO hard to beat for the money and for what you get wrt the volume control, remote, display, balance, connectivity (RCA and XLR), flexibility (i.e., passive vs. active with variable/switchable gain), and of course sound quality.  I also owned the Hattor Tube Active Stage, which is quite nice as an option to their op-amp active stage (my Hattor preamps have the NewClassD op-amps).

Do you have specific questions?


Not sure how I responded to the wrong member but my post below from earlier today was intended for you.  Hattor’s The Big Preamp is a very good sounding preamp and a great value.  Let us know if you have any specific questions.

I appreciate the replies!

My current situation:

I have a new 3 stage 300b amp from Radu Tarta. It is amazing! The catch is that it doesn't need my Radu 26 DHT preamp infront of it. So I'm looking at going the passive route. I currently have a Luminous Audio Axiom w/ Walker mods on loan from an audio buddy. It's great! With the exception that I miss the body that the DHT preamp adds to the system. The Axiom for lack of better terms sound detailed and quick but that midrange warmth is tough to lose. 

I have a Django TVC that will be here Monday and I've been talking with Arek about a Khozmo withers the AMRG and the opamp added so I can have the gain if needed down the road. 


My question is will I get more body to the sound with the TVC or the higher end Khozmo? I love all of the positives that come with the Axiom though. 

I have owned most every type of passive device. In my opinion, a TVC is the warmest of all. I wouldn’t say it has more body, but definitely a warmer sound while still retaining the transparency of a passive. TVCs aren’t quite as transparent as an LDR or resistor based passive.

The Hattor is the first resistor passive I have liked. Mine has the AMRT resistors from AMT Trans. Similar to the AMRG but according to Arek, even better. I am pairing it with an Aric Super 300B amplifier and the result is to my liking. I feel like I get all the goodness of the 300B tube with incredible transparency.

The Hattor Audio Big passive is a stone cold bargain IMHO.



I had the Hattor Big passive, and loved it, but got a great deal on Audio Alchemy DDP-1 + PS 5, which includes a very good dac, so I sold the Hattor

I own the totl Luminous Audio, 3 in, 2 out, single ended, with remote volume, and it has been the most neutral of all passives I have tried, including many of those mentioned above. My best, MrD.

Earlier this year, I owned the icOn 4PRO AVC balanced passive preamplifier that uses four Slagle autoformer volume control modules. It was seductive in how the music was presented with the warmth described by @ozzy62 coming from a dead quiet background. I really enjoyed listening to it, and the Django TVC, if at all similar, may be just the thing for you. Ultimately, I slightly preferred my Khozmo volume control/SMc Audio TLC Signature Buffer slightly better, so I sold the icOn AVC unit.

I have not spoken with Arek since earlier this year and I am a bit surprised to hear he would recommend the AMRT resistors over the AMRG version. Both are carbon film but the AMRG appears to be Amtrans Corp’s more upscale version based on their higher pricing, gold-plated OFC lead wire, and description as "High-end carbon resistor." The AMRG resistors sound better to me than the Takman REY metal film resisters I had in an earlier Khozmo passive volume control. I have not heard the Takman REX or AMRT resistors. I suggest doing some research and talking with Arek before deciding on resistors.

Talking with Arek he suggested the AMRG to me. His words were they were more musical. This was in response to wanting more "body or warmth" in the setup. 


In a different thread you asked about Hattor's Tube Active Stage and I said I would answer here in this current thread.  I have cut/pasted and slightly edited portions of a couple of my previous posts that I believe will answer your questions about the Tube Active Stage:

Active Buffers

The functional purpose of an active buffer is to improve impedance mismatches by reducing higher impedance inputs to lower impedance outputs.  This can be helpful when driving amplifiers with low input impedances, when using passive volume controls that do not actively buffer the signal, and/or when driving long interconnects.  The effect can be significant, even in cases of unity gain (i.e., no net voltage gain between input and output), and the change in sound is sometimes described as having more body, tonal color, and drive.   Active buffers can be either fully solid state or tubed.

Tube Active Stage

I use the Hattor Audio Big preamp in passive mode to control the volume of my system and it sounds significantly better to me when followed by my SMc Audio buffer (solid state and unity gain) that is based on their VRE-1 preamp.  I also have the Hattor Audio Tube Active Stage, which is a tube buffer that typically comes with 9dB gain (mine has 6dB).  It is basically a tube buffer stage without a volume control. I have tried the Tortuga Tube Buffer on one of their tours, so I had it in my system for about a week, and I also tried the Purity Audio tubed buffer in my system. 

IMO, and in my system, the Hattor Tube Active Stage sounds very good although it just doesn't provide quite the magic of my SMc Audio TLC Signature buffer, so it is currently sitting in a box.  However, if I didn't have the SMc buffer, I would be perfectly happy to substitute the Hattor after my passive volume control.  

The Hattor Big preamp also comes with an opamp active stage (mine has the NewClassD discrete opamp stage), which can be set to 3/6/9 dB gain.  I bypass the active stage to run the Hattor as a passive into the SMc buffer.   However, I have tried it through the discrete opamp stage and I also find that to be an improvement over running it passively.  Therefore, in ranking buffers (some with low gain) in my system, I would put the solid state SMc Audio buffer first and the Hattor Tube Active Stage second, both of which I would be happy to use.  Third would be the discrete NewClassD opamp stage in the Hattor Big preamp, which I would judge as just a small step below the first two, although others may reverse the order and prefer the opamp stage over the tubed stage - they are close.  Finally, I just did not like the sound of the Tortuga or the Purity Audio buffers in my system.

and, more thoughts...

As I remember it, I was impressed with the sound through the internal NewClassD op-amp active stage of Hattor’s The Big Preamp. The drive, dynamics, and clarity were very good.  My recollection is that I could live with either the tube stage or the internal op-amp stage. 

Hello everyone... I have very little experience with passive preamps... I only had a Promitheus whose sound was good but the built quality was mediocre... (RCA jacks were too small)... recently I started a conversation on audiogon in order to find a preamp that would be a good match for a GaN-Fet amp... I wonder if a passive preamp would be a good match with such an amp... anyone has experienced this combination ?

I don’t now why the normal rules wouldn’t apply - passives work best being fed a low input impedance signal (<200’ish ohms) then output to a high impedance amplifier input (>50K ohms) and being positioned so the output IC only needs to travel a short distance to the amplifier (<1.5M).

Even if you meet those guidelines, some (but not all) still find their passives lacking in tonal body and drive that active stages seem to provide.  The only passives I didn’t have that issue with were AVC types.

@ozzy62 earlier in the thread you had mentioned that you had a Don Sachs preamp; I've only heard good things about Don Sachs. I know you and @mitch2 have Aric Audio amps and Hattor preamps, but was curious if you had tried Aric's preamps. I'm a little torn between Don Sach's, Aric Audio, and Hattor for a preamp which would be matched with a Aric Audio Transcend Push Pull (preamp bypassed). Regardless of the answer, this thread has been extremely informative.