Mono and Stereo review of the 18NS Dart Pre by Matij Isak

Mike Lavigne

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really informative and very positive review of the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp by Matij Isak. obviously i've owned a 2 phono stage version of this Series 2 dart preamp since 2016 and so agree across the board with Matij's views as written.

this is part 1, mostly describing the details and technology. he writes there will be a part 2 more focusing on details of performance.

https://www.monoandstereo.com/2020/08/dartzeel-nhb-18ns-preamplifier-reveiw.html#more
 
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kodomo

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How do you rate the dartzeel internal phono in respect to cs port and emia sut combo?
 

Mike Lavigne

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How do you rate the dartzeel internal phono in respect to cs port and emia sut combo?

right now the answer would be inconclusive, since i've not had the same cartridge yet on both sides since i added the EMIA SUT's. i suspect i would give a slight nod to the EMIA SUT/CS Port combo......just on a slight additional degree of nuance and sexyness.

i'd say with the CS Port by itself compared to the internal dart phono's they are more different than that i would rank one over the other. the battery powered tubed CS Port has this completely grainless purity that really matches the CS Port LFT1 turntable, whereas the battery powered solid state dart is equally as low noise, but is not quite as grainless, and maybe more macro dynamic and explosive. tone, textures, and timbre........i think i hear the turntables and cartridges more than either phono.

i know i would be fully satisfied with only having either phono and both play at a high level. i do switch back and forth with impunity and the musical flow is not interrupted.
 
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spiritofmusic

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Mike, the CS Port has built in phono and comes with it's integrated LT arm? In the UK it retails for £48k, that has gotta be the biggest bargain in high end analog bar none.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Mike, the CS Port has built in phono and comes with it's integrated LT arm? In the UK it retails for £48k, that has gotta be the biggest bargain in high end analog bar none.

built-in phono? no.

there are three separate CS Port turntables, including one with the linear tracking arm i have.

https://www.csport.audio/products/products-lft1-en.html
https://www.csport.audio/products/products-tat1-en.html
https://www.csport.audio/products/products-tat2-en.html

and one phono stage.

https://www.csport.audio/products/products-c3eqm2-en.html

but no combo products with both a turntable + phono together.

OTOH i do agree that as far as......build quality/elegance/value/performance......that CS Port is outstanding to my ears and eyes. it's products play in leagues higher than their price points. and the phono with the 2 added 40db MM inputs does allow for high flexibility. i know i've really appreciated being able to use it for 3 channels of phono.
 
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spiritofmusic

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Ah, my bad. Still...
 

dandylinpsst

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built-in phono? no.

there are three separate CS Port turntables, including one with the linear tracking arm i have.

https://www.csport.audio/products/products-lft1-en.html
https://www.csport.audio/products/products-tat1-en.html
https://www.csport.audio/products/products-tat2-en.html

and one phono stage.

https://www.csport.audio/products/products-c3eqm2-en.html

but no combo products with both a turntable + phono together.

OTOH i do agree that as far as......build quality/elegance/value/performance......that CS Port is outstanding to my ears and eyes. it's products play in leagues higher than their price points. and the phono with the 2 added 40db MM inputs does allow for high flexibility. i know i've really appreciated being able to use it for 3 channels of phono.
really informative and very positive review of the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp by Matij Isak. obviously i've owned a 2 phono stage version of this Series 2 dart preamp since 2016 and so agree across the board with Matij's views as written.

this is part 1, mostly describing the details and technology. he writes there will be a part 2 more focusing on details of performance.

https://www.monoandstereo.com/2020/08/dartzeel-nhb-18ns-preamplifier-reveiw.html#more
Mike, will different power cords affect darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp sound performance?
I tried many sets of power cords to18NS and it seems that the sound is a little different.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Mike, will different power cords affect darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp sound performance?
I tried many sets of power cords to18NS and it seems that the sound is a little different.

yes; for whatever reason power cords do matter with the 18NS. i thought maybe it would not considering the battery power. for a while i used a generic power cord (moved my Absolute Fidelity power cord elsewhere) since i added gear and moved stuff around. i noticed it was not as vivid and refined. then those positive attributes came back adding another Absolute Fidelity power cord back on there.

i have not tried other power cords besides the Absolute Fidelity ones i use everywhere else. these power cords are made by my friend and WBF member Gary Koh of Genesis Loudspeakers here locally in the Seattle area.

https://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/products/cables/

i have another local friend with the 18NS and 108 Model 2 stereo dart amp who also substituted a thermal coupler (like used on my 468 mono blocks) for the fuse on the 18NS charging unit who prefers that. but i decided not to do that as i tried his charging unit but could not hear sufficient differences to justify it (changing from the stock fuse unit).
 
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plasmod3

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apparently Mike, i hear from my dealer here in Australia there is an upgrade coming for the 468. might be just in time for christmas !:)
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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apparently Mike, i hear from my dealer here in Australia there is an upgrade coming for the 468. might be just in time for christmas !:)

thanks, good to know. i like upgrades. i'll ask my distributor about it.
 
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microstrip

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yes; for whatever reason power cords do matter with the 18NS. i thought maybe it would not considering the battery power. for a while i used a generic power cord (moved my Absolute Fidelity power cord elsewhere) since i added gear and moved stuff around. i noticed it was not as vivid and refined. then those positive attributes came back adding another Absolute Fidelity power cord back on there. (...)

Funny - I would expect that the best sound would come with the power cord removed, not with a particular one.
Such finding makes some of us think a lot.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Funny - I would expect that the best sound would come with the power cord removed, not with a particular one.
Such finding makes some of us think a lot.

if i had to guess as to the reason for this; it's likely related to grounding in one way or another....and is not power supply related. since i always run my 18NS in battery mode. and maybe it's just grounding the separate charging box and that a better power cord matters for that.

i do have my Tripoint Elite ground box grounded to my 18NS (at the phono ground post) with a Thor grounding cable.
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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Mike,

I have the Tripoint Troy Signature from many years ago...one of the first. Did you consider the Tripoint Signature NG before you bought your Elite, or was that not out yet? Just curious if you ever went thru the options with Miguel or better yet, might have heard them. Thanks for any insights.
 

microstrip

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May 30, 2010
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if i had to guess as to the reason for this; it's likely related to grounding in one way or another....and is not power supply related. since i always run my 18NS in battery mode. and maybe it's just grounding the separate charging box and that a better power cord matters for that.

i do have my Tripoint Elite ground box grounded to my 18NS (at the phono ground post) with a Thor grounding cable.

It was also my first though - but then we are accepting that the system needs some kind of loop effect to pick noise to sound better. :oops: Hard to believe in my opinion, particularly as you ground the preamplifer to the Tripoint.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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It was also my first though - but then we are accepting that the system needs some kind of loop effect to pick noise to sound better. :oops: Hard to believe in my opinion, particularly as you ground the preamplifer to the Tripoint.

i did not want it to be so, as it did cost me money to know it:eek:. but as the preamp is the pivot point for everything, i had to do it.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Mike,

I have the Tripoint Troy Signature from many years ago...one of the first. Did you consider the Tripoint Signature NG before you bought your Elite, or was that not out yet? Just curious if you ever went thru the options with Miguel or better yet, might have heard them. Thanks for any insights.

Lloyd,

the NG versions came after i purchased my Elite model by a couple of years. Miguel did offer to upgrade me if i wanted to invest in that. i've not heard either NG version and honestly should not do so;). my two Tripoint units (Troy Sig plus Elite) plus my multiple Entreq boxes (plus 5 Taiko Setchi's) are a considerable investment in grounding.

i think grounding has it's part in my system magic and i'm loving it. recently i had occasion to move my Elite from behind my gear on the floor to a position on one of my racks (my 69 year old body about died as it's 100 pounds). it gave me a chance to remove it and go a period with out it; then reconnect it. i was quite taken with it's effect when i reconnected it. and it had been 2+ years since i last did that.

as far as insights; if i were not trying to stop with the gear thing i would move to the NG level. i'm sure it's a good step up. for those who are at that system maturity level and have not tried Tripoint level grounding, i'd say it's worth trying. especially solid state systems with low noise yield predictably positive results. like upgrading multiple pieces in your signal path. and in some ways advances not otherwise accessable.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,693
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Thanks, Mike. As always, insightful, thoughtful and definitive. I have been speaking with Miguel about a number of things in my system (Wilson XLF and Robert Koda K15EX which he knows well), and we got talking...two audiophiles talking...potentially a dangerous pastime! And while he never ventured to talk about his own work other than in passing...I decided to inquire, and it seems like [if] there is a road, it is most likely NG Signature.

Did you try upgraded cables vs regular cables? I have certainly tried different cables of varying levels...but never anything near Miguels cobra-cables. And grounding cables definitely DO matter in my experience. However, I am trying to figure out whether a Tripoint Elite plus Migeul's mega cables is better (for the same price) than a Tripoint NG with standard cables. As an audiophile, my instinct is to go NG...then you control the higher ground and can upgrade cables later. But thought I would ask in case you had experience.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
9,105
3,109
820
Thanks, Mike. As always, insightful, thoughtful and definitive. I have been speaking with Miguel about a number of things in my system (Wilson XLF and Robert Koda K15EX which he knows well), and we got talking...two audiophiles talking...potentially a dangerous pastime! And while he never ventured to talk about his own work other than in passing...I decided to inquire, and it seems like [if] there is a road, it is most likely NG Signature.

Did you try upgraded cables vs regular cables? I have certainly tried different cables of varying levels...but never anything near Miguels cobra-cables. And grounding cables definitely DO matter in my experience. However, I am trying to figure out whether a Tripoint Elite plus Migeul's mega cables is better (for the same price) than a Tripoint NG with standard cables. As an audiophile, my instinct is to go NG...then you control the higher ground and can upgrade cables later. But thought I would ask in case you had experience.

thank you Lloyd.

at some point i might get a wild hair and acquire an NG. can't comment on your compare of the Elite + mega cables and an NG with standard cables.

i have 2 of the Thor Reference grounding cables, the early premium one, and 8 of the standard silver signature cables. i use the two Thor's with the Elite on my sources, one on my darTZeel pre, the other on the MSB Select II. the Thor's are much better (x4?) than the standard cables.

the standard cables are split between the Elite with other sources, and the Troy Signature on my darTZeel mono blocks and speakers. i added a few Entreq grounding cables in spots which seem to also work.

i have not heard any of the new crazy spendy grounding cables. again......i'm seriously afraid to hear what they can do.
 

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