So a long while ago I got a
Hitachi HCA-7500 preamplifier - absolutely mint in its original box,
about 50$ + shipping. I never understood people who kept their boxes for
20-25 years, but hey....I tested it with some so so speakers and amp,
and as this was the time i also got a Mc C-28, an Accoustic Research
tube SP-12 and an Marantz Esotec SC-6, it was up against some serious
competition (yes, I was all over the place). Anyway, I hooked it up,
made sure it works and boxed it.
A few weeks ago I finally got to hook it properly and test it head to
head against the Esotec (the C-28 is in the home office system and the
SP-12 is still boxed
Hooked it with the Aragon 4004 amp, Sound Shaper 3 eq, and Polk Audio
I'll say it right up front: the 7500 is no Esotec. The more I compare
the Esotec to other preamps, the more I am impressed with it - but the
7500 is a different breed. Where the Esotec is incredibly detailed all
around colored, the 7500 is plain flat. It is a pure no nonsense pre,
without ANY coloring. To my ears, it is a bit weak in the mid tones, but
very good with the highs: the very high tones are very precise and the
bass is good and tight.
The 7500 is best suited for classical music. Mozart piano concertos (21
& 23) are just IT for the 7500 as it brings out the highs in the violins
and the piano.
Rock: Suade (the first one) sounded a bit harsh. I played with the eq a
bit, and obviously it helped a lot. I guess that proper fine tuning can
eliminate the harshness completely, but than again that album does not
have that high a quality recording.
Played some Sparklehorse (the first - "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot"
http://www.sparklehorse.com/pages/vivadixie.html), which is one of
the better sounding albums i know: sounded OK, but not outstanding -
some detail missing. However, when i listened to that album I switched
the speakers with KEF Chorales (a story for another time) and WOW, what
a change! I always thought the Chorales were a bit too low key, but they
are an excellent match for the 7500. They sing together, and the morale
is that the 7500 is best matched with low key small-medium 2 way
speakers. I can't explain it.
Jazz: Diana Krall sounded OK. The bass on the HCA-7500 is tight,
although needs to be brought up a bit on the eq.
Extremely well built - all Aluminum sturdy positive knobs. These preamps
go on the German ebay for between 40$-100$ (depending on condition, rack
handles - the ussual). The black face looks better on that preamp than
the silver face (whereas the HMA-7500 amp looks better in silver - but
that's just me). Not high-high-end gear, but definitely way more than
entry level. I'd say it is an excellent compromise for the budget
restricted audiophile, and with proper speaker matching is one hell of a
deal. A perfect second system pre.