Within the three model lineup under the HP-100 range, this is the more expensive of the three. And that’s because this is the MC (moving coil) version. The HP-100 is an understated piece of CLASS. It is a beautifully made piece with premium materials used throughout. Controls are simple and have a solid feel to it as it turn the knobs. We wish the markings on them could have been bigger for better legibility, but that’s just us. If you have a two source system – vinyl and CD, then its not a big issue because you would probably have that in memory after a few use off turning the knobs a few times. The warm blue glow (can be switched off if you want) is a nice touch and adds an added serenity when listening to it in a dimly lighted room. And that is when the enjoyment starts.
The HP-100MC is a sweet, transparent sounding preamp. The depth and soundstage is so “organic” you could almost be mistaken that a “real” singer was right in front of you. The finer points in the music was sumptuously picked up where other lesser preamps fumble over it. We had this paired with a pair of Audio Research Reference 210 and the Pass Labs XA200 with excellent result. The MC phono stage alone who rival any standalone phono preamp costing up to $3,000. When we ran a VPI Classic 3 turntable through it, it was just glorious. Phono stage is a fully tubed affair with one 12AT7 and two 12AX7 tubes. Linestage has two 12AX7 and one 12AU7 tubes.
As you can see from the pictures, the preamp looks really good. Minor scuff marks and some slight wear on the faceplate. The HP-100 preamps were never remote controllable (to keep the circuitry inside as simple as possible) so if you want something with a remote control convenience, this is not for you. But that is a HUGE trade off when you are giving up on the soulfulness of this preamp for the convenience of a remote.