Audio Valve Eclipse preamplifier

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Description: Tubed, line-level, stereo preamplifier.
Inputs: 7 on RCA jacks.
Outputs: 2 unbalanced on RCAs, one unbalanced on XLRs.
Maximum output level: 15V.
Output impedance: 300 ohms.
Voltage gain: 15–26dB (see text).
Harmonic distortion: 0.2% at 1V.
Bandwidth: 4Hz–45kHz.
Absolute Polarity: Non-inverting.
Weight: 44 lbs (20kg).
Price: $4200.

"The Eclipse (known in most other markets as the Eklipse) uses four Electro-Harmonix 12AU7A tubes for voltage gain. In each of the two channels, both halves of the first dual-triode work together as a cathode-based gain amplifier, inverting the signal polarity. The second dual-triode restores the original polarity, and allows the introduction of a small amount of local feedback: According to Becker, global feedback is to be avoided at all costs. He also suggests that a line-level input signal is too fragile to survive the resistive elements of even the finest-quality potentiometer—which is why Audio Valve takes the uncommon step of amplifying the signal before it's sent to the volume control and source-selector switch.

The Eclipse's power supply, which is dual-mono downstream from the power transformer, is an unremarkable design built to remarkable tolerances. The above-mentioned transformer is a slickly potted toroid that seems capable of powering all but the largest power amps, and the regulators for the filament voltages are fastened to heatsinks of respectable size. Red LEDs splash their light against those heatsinks, giving the inside of the Eclipse an exotic glow.


The transformer, tubes, regulators, heatsinks, carbon-comp resistors, and other supporting bits are all fastened to the sturdiest, cleanest circuit board I've ever seen: a copper-clad FR4 motherboard made of laminated fiberglass and epoxy resin, and bearing the highest density of copper—2oz per square foot—that's said to be available. The layout and construction quality of my sample were first-rate, with especially great care given to the juxtaposition of the signal and ground paths. (The Eclipse is not a star-ground design.) All component parts appeared to be more than adequate, and were beautifully dressed and hand-soldered: Quite possibly, the grandchildren of the men and women who buy an Eclipse in this day and age will come to appreciate that.



For the past several weeks, the Audio Valve Eclipse has been a joy: fun to audition, fun to look at, even fun to deoxidize. Visitors have noticed its styling, too, and praised it for looking less dour than most: for looking both modern and retro in one neat stroke.

The Eclipse competes in a tightly run race, but does so gamely: Other choices offer different combinations of strengths, some of which will suit you more than others, but the Eclipse isn't shamed by any of them. In fact, to the listener who prizes musical drama above all else, the superbly crafted Eclipse could be seen as the only choice. Reasonably.

A lovely product, and a decent value for the money: The Eclipse has me wondering what Audio Valve's power amplifiers sound like . . ."
-- Art Dudley

"Provided it is used with power amplifiers having an input impedance of at least 30k ohms, the Audio Valve Eclipse measures well for a tube design, with its performance optimized for real-world conditions. But I am not impressed by the way in which the different input sensitivities has been implemented." -- John Atkinson

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