Recently, I had the good fortune of purchasing the Denafrips Athena preamplifier from Alvin. Before I get to my impressions of the preamp itself, I want to address the customer service I received along the way. From purchase to delivery, Alvin, or a member of his team, kept me informed of what was happening with my order in a very timely manner. Any questions I had were answered quickly and in a comprehensive way.
In other words, the customer service I received was top notch.
This was consistent with what I had read on the internet about Alvin and his team as I was considering my purchase. I would not hesitate to purchase another product from Alvin again.
As to the preamp itself, I could not be happier with the impact it has made on my system. Prior to its introduction into my system, I was a big proponent of using a DAC with a volume control (in my case a Bricasti Design M3) directly into my monoblock amplifiers (a pair of Nuprime AMG STA's mainly). I very much enjoyed the sound with my system in this configuration, however, after awhile I found that I was getting listening fatigue, so could not listen for long periods of time. Aside from that, I also had more than one set of speakers and different amplifiers that I rotated in and out of the system for a different sound. Thus, it was somewhat inconvenient to swap cables as the system configuration changed. Hence began my search for a preamplifier to simplify things. I had heard good things about Denafrips in general and was looking for a preamp with unity gain (I did not need more gain in my system) and 3 outputs and the Athena fit the bill perfectly.
The insertion of the Athena has transformed my system in a way that I would not have believed it could.
The biggest compliment I can pay the Athena is that it has taken the "edge" off of my system such that I can listen to music for hours without fatigue and have done so many times already. Indeed, it seems to take that "edge" off without masking detail because I swear I am hearing things in recordings that I have not heard before, which I know is technically not possible, but whatever the reason the Athena is here to stay. There is a naturalness to its presentation that is addictive.
It most definitely has great synergy with my system and I highly recommend it.
Credit: Chad O. Alberta, Canada