Quad is one of those rare hi-fi brands that's mastered the art of melding 'classic' hifi with innovative technology. For proof, look no further than its new dedicated Artera series preamplifier.
Billed as "classic Quad for the modern age", the solid state Artera Pre sees the resurrection of Quad's signature Tilt tone control, the audiophile answer to the kind of showy EQ controls that slipped out of fashion in the 1990s.
Conventional tone controls adjust bass or treble individually. Quad's Tilt control, however, adjusts both ends of the frequency spectrum together, adjusting the overall balance of the sound to make it ‘warmer’ or ‘cooler’, supposedly without colouring the sound.
It's been 10 years since Tilt graced a Quad component, so the company's had ample time to make some tweaks. Bass filters have been refined and users now get the option to assign individual EQ settings to each source.
While the Artera Pre doffs its cap to Quad's past triumphs, the futuristic, textured aluminium exterior brings things up to date with touch-sensitive controls built into a circular OLED display.
Round the back, there's a decent array of connections, including four stereo RCA inputs (three line-level, one phono, plus one balanced XLR). Vinyl fans get a low-noise, Class A phono stage.
Prefer solo listening sessions? The integrated headphone amplifier features a Class A output stage with low output impedance for extra oomph.
According to Quad, all that adds up to a preamp that "exemplifies state-of-the-art design, transparency of sound and fidelity of source". Tempted? It's available from October for the sum of £999, with a choice of black or silver front panels.