When we got this preamp in, it arrived in an oversized box, beautifully packed internally that really paid tribute to the quality of the preamp that it is. The Absolute MKIII is New Audio Frontier’s flagship preamp. It is a two chassis unit with a separate tube regulated power supply. The input and output section is housed in its own chassis which isolates it away from any kind of interference from the power supply unit. The set you see here has the copper faceplate which in our opinion, is the much nicer version as compared to the chrome faceplate version. Collectively, the preamp is a fairly hefty unit and are extremely well made. Every corner is precisely cut and put together. Pretty much like the components from such high end brands like Esoteric, Goldmund etc
Putting the preamp into our system with the matching flaghsip monoblocks from the same company – the Reference 845SE, we were literally floored by the truly organic nature of its sound. Driving our B&W 802 Diamonds, it transform the B&W into a totally different sounding speaker. Imaging took on a bigger landscape and depth with a darker background. After an warm of warm up. the pre and amp combo seems to have melted the B&W speakers into oblivion. There was pure music and when we closed our eyes, we couldn’t even discern where the B&W speakers were. Such was the ability of the New Audio Frontiers combo. The sound of 845 tubes and the Absolute MKIII was a match made in heaven. Tube complements on the Absolute MKIII are two 12AX7, one 12AU7, two 6SN7 and one 5Y3.
Even pairing the Absolute MKIII with our resident McIntosh MC452 was a revelation in itself especially in comparison with the McIntosh C2300 (one of our perennial favorite tube preamp). The C2300 may sound a little more dynamic but the Absolute MKIII was better at imaging and has a different kind of tube sweetness. It was more “mystical” in nature. Where the C23o0 may be a drop dead bombshell model, the Absolute MKIII is the “fairy princess” that floats in an aura of beauty. Either preamp can be the reference setting preamp in any system but if you want something more beguiling and to be be soaked in the glorious sound of tubes, the Absolute MKIII is unrivaled. It will easily compete with the likes from Audio Research’s Reference 3 and even Conrad Johnson’s Art preamp.
The unit you see here was a lightly used demo unit. It is in excellent shape with original boxes, manual, remote and factory supplied tubes.