AC Preamps: Impera II & Impera Signature

Verdier

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2018
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There are an amazing amount of preamps at Aries Cerat - I come up with at least 6 different ones:

Incito, Incito S, Impera II, Impera Signature, Impera Signature Limited and Virgo.

I use a beautiful Impera II and I have to say: this is a really and seriously top-notch preamp and it offers more sonically than the price tag suggests. But if you say to yourself, "Yes, the Impera II is really good. It is extraordinarily good. But let me try the Impera Signature." - what happens then?

The sonic differences are quite easy to describe. As I have said elsewhere here on the forum


the Impera II is, in my opinion, superior to preamps like the Bespoke Audio, the Trinity (Black) Reference Preamp or the CH L1 when used with an Aries Cerat Poweramp. The Impera offers more fine information - integrated into the presentation, i.e. not separately emphasised - and more three-dimensionality and body, but at the same time also more pressure, dynamics and more musical flow. This thing is a lot of fun!

In the same system environment, the Impera Sig. sounds different. Pressure and dynamics increase, but above all the richness of timbre, resolution and space increase, and the unit sounds more neutral overall. The bass range also seemed more neutral and much more contoured to me ... in other words: the resolution also increases significantly in the bass range. With the Impera Sig, you get a big step closer to reality. So we're not talking about nuances, but about a really big step that you can hear after just a few beats ...

Therefore, only the following tip remains. The question "But why don't you let me try the Impera Signature?" should only be asked by those who can seriously imagine purchasing the device afterwards. The Impera II is, as I mentioned before, a really outstandingly good device. But after a listening session with an Impera Sig. there is hardly any way back.

At least that's how I felt ....

(Memo to me: put the other Aries Cerat preamps mentioned at the beginning of this post out of your mind).
 

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Aries Cerat

Industry Expert
May 30, 2015
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Hello

Thank you for the great writeup of your audio journey in this thread and the previous thread.


I just want to pitch in..The new Impera Sig carries the new Gen2 Inverted Triode tech, and was the first design to carry the new tech,

The Gen1 Inverted Triode is, IMVHO a technology to be heard to be acknowledged, as it carries some sonic attributes not found in conventional tube circuits,so it is difficult to describe what brings to the table.

The Gen2 Inverted Triode is technically even superior, and this translates to it's sonic attributes, even is same parts are used (output transformers for example), althought in the new Impera Sig, the design has no common parts with Ref version.

Happy to have you on board

Cheers
Stavros
 

Thieliste

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Aug 31, 2014
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How about pairing an Impera ll or Incito S with a Gryphon Antileon Evo what would be the outcome ?
Probably hasn't been done yet but i'm very curious.
 

Thieliste

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Aug 31, 2014
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What is the output impedance of the Impera ll ? can't find it in the specs.
 

Aries Cerat

Industry Expert
May 30, 2015
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Hello

The Ref has OI of ~200ohm. If you want to mate the Impera Ref to high gain amps like the such of Gryphon for ex, we have developed different output transformers, which not only lower the gain to be more fitted to HG amps, but as a result the output impedance is also lowered significantly (below 50ohm)

Best
Stavros
 
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Thieliste

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Aug 31, 2014
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Hi Stavros, thanks for your response.
Do you have any customers that have tried mating the Impera ll with high gain SS amps and are happy with the result ?
I think the Gryphon amp's input is 20kohm.
Regards.
 

Aries Cerat

Industry Expert
May 30, 2015
285
400
193
Hello

Yes we do have a number of clients that use the Impera with SS amps (most SS are high gain). Sonically it is great match, but sometimes we needed less gain from the preamp.Thus the development of the lower gain units.
20k is a healthy load, our amps are usually lower than that:)

Best
Stavros
 

Thieliste

Well-Known Member
Aug 31, 2014
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Hello

Yes we do have a number of clients that use the Impera with SS amps (most SS are high gain). Sonically it is great match, but sometimes we needed less gain from the preamp.Thus the development of the lower gain units.
20k is a healthy load, our amps are usually lower than that:)

Best
Stavros
Good to know that thanks Stavros.
 

Christiaan Punter

Well-Known Member
There are an amazing amount of preamps at Aries Cerat - I come up with at least 6 different ones:

Incito, Incito S, Impera II, Impera Signature, Impera Signature Limited and Virgo.

I use a beautiful Impera II and I have to say: this is a really and seriously top-notch preamp and it offers more sonically than the price tag suggests. But if you say to yourself, "Yes, the Impera II is really good. It is extraordinarily good. But let me try the Impera Signature." - what happens then?

The sonic differences are quite easy to describe. As I have said elsewhere here on the forum


the Impera II is, in my opinion, superior to preamps like the Bespoke Audio, the Trinity (Black) Reference Preamp or the CH L1 when used with an Aries Cerat Poweramp. The Impera offers more fine information - integrated into the presentation, i.e. not separately emphasised - and more three-dimensionality and body, but at the same time also more pressure, dynamics and more musical flow. This thing is a lot of fun!

In the same system environment, the Impera Sig. sounds different. Pressure and dynamics increase, but above all the richness of timbre, resolution and space increase, and the unit sounds more neutral overall. The bass range also seemed more neutral and much more contoured to me ... in other words: the resolution also increases significantly in the bass range. With the Impera Sig, you get a big step closer to reality. So we're not talking about nuances, but about a really big step that you can hear after just a few beats ...

Therefore, only the following tip remains. The question "But why don't you let me try the Impera Signature?" should only be asked by those who can seriously imagine purchasing the device afterwards. The Impera II is, as I mentioned before, a really outstandingly good device. But after a listening session with an Impera Sig. there is hardly any way back.

At least that's how I felt ....

(Memo to me: put the other Aries Cerat preamps mentioned at the beginning of this post out of your mind).
I can wholeheartedly second when you say "The question "But why don't you let me try the Impera Signature?" should only be asked by those who can seriously imagine purchasing the device afterward.". The same is true when comparing Incito S with Impera II. Now, I don't even WANT to hear the Impera Signature anymore! ;-)

On a related note: I am currently reviewing the Impera II with the CH A1.5 power amp and while this pairing results in a little too few volume steps down below, the sound is simply breathtaking. Indeed, quite something else than the CH L1, or any other preamp that I have heard, be it solid-state or tube.
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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I can wholeheartedly second when you say "The question "But why don't you let me try the Impera Signature?" should only be asked by those who can seriously imagine purchasing the device afterward.". The same is true when comparing Incito S with Impera II. Now, I don't even WANT to hear the Impera Signature anymore! ;-)

On a related note: I am currently reviewing the Impera II with the CH A1.5 power amp and while this pairing results in a little too few volume steps down below, the sound is simply breathtaking. Indeed, quite something else than the CH L1, or any other preamp that I have heard, be it solid-state or tube.
Yes, the Aries Cerat sound is something quite special...like a live concert in your home rather than hifi...
 

micro13

Member
Jun 15, 2020
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the Impera II is, in my opinion, superior to preamps like the Bespoke Audio, the Trinity (Black) Reference Preamp or the CH L1 when used with an Aries Cerat Poweramp. The Impera offers more fine information - integrated into the presentation, i.e. not separately emphasised - and more three-dimensionality and body, but at the same time also more pressure, dynamics and more musical flow. This thing is a lot of fun!
I'm quite curious if the Impera would be still better than a L1 (plus X1) in a CH Precision chain (and without looking at the prices).
I've already read the exciting Impera review from hifi-advice.com (who uses himself a C1 and a A1.5 in his reference system), but I'm still wondering. Still I'm very curious about the Impera.
The thing is that my dac is a Ch Precision C1 and I got the offer for a used L1 + X1 with two regulator boards for a very reasonable price. And I could use the X1 also with my C1, this could be quite a good combination.

Regarding the 3-dimensionality, more pressure and dynamics - is it some kind of coloration or is it beyond that? Does this kind of pressure and dynamics come with a price compared to the rather neutral L1?
 

musicfirst1

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Mar 8, 2015
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We have both the Incito S and the Impera II REF medium gain version in our reference system driving Audionet MAX Monoblocks, and for grins, the amplifier section of the Huboldt.

The synergy with both preamps and high power SS is remarkable, and we have no problems with the gain characteristics of the system using the Kassandra II REF and the Mola Mola Tambaqui as sources.
 
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Thieliste

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Aug 31, 2014
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We have both the Incito S and the Impera II REF medium gain version in our reference system driving Audionet MAX Monoblocks, and for grins, the amplifier section of the Huboldt.

The synergy with both preamps and high power SS is remarkable, and we have no problems with the gain characteristics of the system using the Kassandra II REF and the Mola Mola Tambaqui as source

We have both the Incito S and the Impera II REF medium gain version in our reference system driving Audionet MAX Monoblocks, and for grins, the amplifier section of the Huboldt.

The synergy with both preamps and high power SS is remarkable, and we have no problems with the gain characteristics of the system using the Kassandra II REF and the Mola Mola Tambaqui as sources.
What would be the best connection between an Impera ll Ref and a pair of Heisenberg XLR or RCA ?
 

flyer

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What would be the best connection between an Impera ll Ref and a pair of Heisenberg XLR or RCA ?
As I don’t think the audionet is true balanced, I would therefore say RCA.
If I am wrong, then better to have a Impera Reference with true balanced out option installed.
 

flyer

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I'm quite curious if the Impera would be still better than a L1 (plus X1) in a CH Precision chain (and without looking at the prices).
I've already read the exciting Impera review from hifi-advice.com (who uses himself a C1 and a A1.5 in his reference system), but I'm still wondering. Still I'm very curious about the Impera.
The thing is that my dac is a Ch Precision C1 and I got the offer for a used L1 + X1 with two regulator boards for a very reasonable price. And I could use the X1 also with my C1, this could be quite a good combination.

Regarding the 3-dimensionality, more pressure and dynamics - is it some kind of coloration or is it beyond that? Does this kind of pressure and dynamics come with a price compared to the rather neutral L1?
If you don’t look at prices, then just go for the Impera Signature and never look back…
 
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musicfirst1

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What would be the best connection between an Impera ll Ref and a pair of Heisenberg XLR or RCA ?
Thieliste

As Flyer suggests, neither the Standard A/C preamps nor any of the Audionet gear are true differential balanced designs, single ended RCA connections are the way to go. We've had many many opportunities to try the AC preamps with various Audionet amps, and the superiority of RCA over XLR is easily heard.

Occasionally we have customers running true balanced phono stages, and in this case, the true balanced option for the AC preamp should be considered. We have an Incito S on order for our new demo unit with the balanced option for just this situation. I will report on its sonics once fully broken in, but in their standard configurations, the single ended sounds significantly, if not dramatically better, pretty much regardless of amplification topology, and when pairing with Audionet amplification, single ended all the way.
 
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RaChiK

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I have tried both xlr and rca out from incito S to my amp (octave re 320), and found rca to be better. Same with kassandra ii ref to incito S. My upgrade path in future will be getting up the ladder in Aries cerat line up. Amazing and simply wonderful sonics from incito s + kassandra ref 2.
 

Robert1976

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Feb 4, 2021
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We have both the Incito S and the Impera II REF medium gain version in our reference system driving Audionet MAX Monoblocks, and for grins, the amplifier section of the Huboldt.

The synergy with both preamps and high power SS is remarkable, and we have no problems with the gain characteristics of the system using the Kassandra II REF and the Mola Mola Tambaqui as sources.
Could you please elaborate on the sonic differences between the Kassandra II ref and the Tambaqui? Strong points, weaker points, etc.
 

musicfirst1

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First, both DACs are in my personal conversation for best DACs under 100k.
As for sonics, a good car analogy would be that the Tambaqui is like a Caymen GT4, while the Kassandra II is like a 911 Carrara 4.
The Tambaqui more about speed, detail and air, while the Kassandra focus is more on dynamics, power and analogue sensibilites. If the potential buyer is going to add a Aries Cerat preamplifier and amplifier, then the choice 'edges', and perhaps even 'switches' towards the Kassandra, (especially when using the high gain outputs of the Kassandra), as the Kassandra was originally designed to be a reference source for all the electronics and speakers that were developed subsequently.

These distinctions are subtle, as each DAC is still outstanding in the areas I mentioned where the other DAC shines. One really can't go wrong with either DAC. The choice comes down to personal preferences and system synergy. Hopefully the above helps in that decision.

Of course, if the budget allows, one can move up to the Kassandra II REF SIG, which is the subject of another conversation.

Kerry
 
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