HIGH END 2012: Nagra launches Jazz – not just a preamplifier, but a whole new era

Launched at the High End 2012 show in Munich, the new Nagra Jazz valve preamplifier marks a change of design and tradition for the company, and heralds a complete new range.

Not only does the name break with the Swiss manufacturer's convention of three-letter naming, as in the PL-P and PL-L it replaces, the Jazz also sees a rethink of the design of the circuitry.

No longer is there a need for battery power – instead the Jazz is powered by the external Nagra ACPS II (above) – and even the familiar side-mounted socketry, so long a feature of the company's products, is replaced by more conventional rear-mounted inputs and outputs.

Selling for £9775, the preamp draws its name from the company's sponsorship of the annual Montreux Jazz Festival.

Nagra says that the circuit design has been completely rethought, bringing improvements in precision and stability, and reducing the noise threshold to the point where that battery power is no longer required to keep things quiet.

And the move of the sockets? Nagra says the side-mounting was a hangover from the company's professional products, and the sockets on the rear offer ergonomic benefits, as does the provision of remote control for volume, balance, mute, source selection and on/standby.

However, the Jazz does retain other Nagra hallmarks, not least of which is the brushed aluminium casework, in the same miniature size as past preamps from the company, and the sound, which Nagra describes in terms of 'exceptional transparency.

'It also creates a sound image which is deep, natural, highly defined and extremely rich in detail.'

The next product in the new range will be launched at the next major European high-end audio show, TOP Audio in Milan, in a few months' time.

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.