Saga +

Passive or Active Remote Tube Hybrid Preamp

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$399

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Description

Specs

FAQ

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Saga+ gives you all the uber-high-end, no-compromises features you need in a preamp—without the insane price. Saga+ brings you a real relay-switched volume control, which you can use in pure passive mode, or run it through a 6SN7 hybrid tube buffer. Saga+ even includes a custom remote control.

Saga+: Easiest Relay-Switched Volume, Ever
The benefits of a relay-switched stepped attenuator for volume are clear. Compared to a potentiometer, they give you essentially perfect channel matching and near-unmeasurable distortion. However, some preamps with relay-stepped attenuators confuse you with buttons and screens. Not Saga+. Saga+ has a volume knob that works just like a volume knob—just grab and turn. And if you use the remote control, the motorized potentiometer changes to match the remote setting. 
 
It’s Your Choice: Passive or Active
Go ahead. Run Saga+ in passive mode for a convenient remote-controlled passive preamp that’s ideal for many systems. If you need to drive long cables, switch it to the hybrid tube buffer—a serious buffer running on 200V rails with vanishingly low distortion. 
  
Perfect Companion to Our DACs
Want a remote-controlled system to interface your digital gear with the rest of your system? Stack Saga+ and Bifrost (or any other of our DACs) for a true no-compromise remote-controlled system.
 
Designed and Assembled In USA
By “designed and assembled in USA" this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Saga+—chassis, boards, transformers, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our chassis are made minutes from our facility. Our PCBs are done just over the hill from us, or done in NorCal. 
 
5-Year Warranty and Easy Return Policy
Saga+ is covered by a 5-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. One exception: the tubes. Those we cover for 3 months. And if you don’t like your Saga, you can send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.
 

Hybrid Tube Buffer Stage:

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 3Hz-200KHz, -3dB 
THD: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS 
IMD: <0.001%, CCIR (active stage)
SNR: >108db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Output Impedance: 180 ohms
Maximum Output: >10V RMS 

Passive Stage:

Output Impedance: varies, maximum 4.8 kohms

Both Passive or Active Stage:

Gain: Approximately 1 (0dB) through either passive or active stage
Input Impedance: 10 kohms
Crosstalk: >-75dB, 20Hz-20KHz

Inputs:
5 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote
Outputs: 2 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote 
Buffer Stage: Hybrid push-pull tube-BJT buffer stage with equalized transconductance 
Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors , 64 1dB steps
Power Supply: One 24VA transformer with regulated +/-100V rails, plus 6.3VDC heaters and 5VDC for microprocessor 
Power Consumption: 25W typical

Size: 9"W x6"D x 2"H, plus additional 1.25" H for tube
Weight: 6 lbs

APx555 Report for Saga+

How is Saga+ different than the original Saga?
It’s really just a few things:

  1. Saga+ has a motorized pot that tracks the remote control volume, whereas Saga did not; which provides a continuous physical reference for the volume level.
  2. Saga+ uses DC heaters for the tube buffer stage, which provides a lower noise floor when in buffer mode.
  3. Saga+ uses our new “fastenerless” chassis design for a sleeker overall look.
Why would I need a preamp?
If you’re using a power amp without volume control, you’ll need a preamp. The preamp allows you to control volume, switch inputs, etc. 
 
Aha. So what’s so special about your Saga?
Lots of things. But let’s start where you probably aren’t expecting us to: in the philosophy. Yes, philosophy. Because in the past 20 years or so, audio gear has gone into full gold-plated Bentley/60’ private yacht/$120MM beach estate mode. As in, prices are completely and utterly insane. Go ahead. Look around for a remote passive preamp, and check the prices. Now add a tube stage. Oh, wait, there aren’t any of those, so check out remote controlled tube preamps. Ouch, part 2. And then start looking at preamps that use a sophisticated, perfectly-matched relay-switched stepped attenuator instead of a volume pot or cheap volume-control chip, and we’ll excuse you so you can go scream at the injustice of the world. And then there’s Saga+, at $399.
 
So how do you make it so cheap?
By making a ton of them at a time, by using automated surface-mount assembly, and through smart design that doesn’t need a ton of hand-work to solder and route wiring. And by selling direct. No magic. 
 
So what’s this about it being passive or active? How does that work?
Passive preamps are great if you have short cable runs and high-impedance inputs to your power amp. On the other hand, active preamps give you the ability to run longer cables and drive low-impedance inputs on some power amps. Saga+ is both. Switch it to passive mode to bypass the tube buffer, or switch it to active mode to use the tube buffer. It’s up to you.
 
And this bizarre hybrid tube buffer? What’s that?
There are plenty of tube buffers out there, but ours is unique. It’s actually a hybrid push-pull tube buffer, featuring a dual triode tube and a pair of BJTs (bipolar junction transistors), with a unique transconductance-equalizing network that pairs the tube and transistor more seamlessly, and helps cancel distortion. The result is a buffer that measures insanely well—better than some solid-state stages!
 
I don’t care what it measures like, I care what it sounds like!
Yes, and some people care what it measures like, too. In our opinion, it both measures and sounds great. Of course, we’re biased.
 
And this relay-stepped attenuator thing?
Yeah. It’s cool. Unlike a potentiometer, it gives you perfect channel matching down to the lowest level of the volume knob. And, the knob on the front of the preamp acts just like a normal volume knob—it stops at the bottom and top of its travel. No endlessly spinning encoders here. Just the same easy-to-use knob you’re used to, coupled with sophisticated microprocessor control.
 
But I don’t want to deal with tubes!
Then you need Saga S, the solid-state Saga. It also saves you $100.
 
But I want just a passive preamp—can’t you make a version like that?
Yes, and other people want just a tube buffer, or they want a preamp with gain, or they want a preamp with a DAC input, or they want a preamp with a phono input, or they want a preamp that’s based on a different kind of tube, or they want a preamp that’s based on a different kind of transistor, or they want a preamp without a remote, or they want a preamp with an app for a remote, or they want a preamp with Bluetooth, or a thousand other things. While we hope you like the Saga, and that it fits your needs, we can only build them one way. That’s one of the reasons it doesn’t cost like a good used car. 
 
Hey, I want balanced inputs and outputs!
Then you need Freya+, Saga+’s big sister.
 
So what’s a Saga?
Saga is a seeress, or a goddess associated with wisdom. Once you get off the beaten path in Norse mythology, it starts getting a bit murky like this. But we do think you’ll find Saga+ a wise choice in a system needing a preamp.
 

On Product Thunderdome:

What is this weird red T logo on the page?
It indicates that Saga+ is part of our "Product Thunderdome" idea. As in, "two or more products enter, maybe none leaves." If you buy a lot of Saga+, we will make a bunch more. If you don't, it'll disappear after this run. So, if you like the idea of a Saga+, buy one now. Because it might not be around forever. 

Why the hell are you doing this crazy thing?
Because we want to try some new ideas. And to do some gear that may be different or special. Think of it as kinda like getting a whole bunch of people to commit to buying something that doesn't exist to get a lower price. Except in this case, the product exists, and the price is already low. 

Thunderdome? Really? You got something for 80s scifi flicks?
What would you call it? No, seriously, let us know, we might change it. Even the name can be thunderdomed!