VAC Renaissance Preamplifier
Operation & Maintenance Information
Valve Amplification Company
Manual issued 02/21/2001
CAUTION
THE POWER SUPPLY UNITS CONTAIN NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS. DO NOT REMOVE THE
COVERS. LETHAL VOLTAGES ARE PRESENT WITHIN THE CHASSIS.
NEVER OPERATE THE PREAMPLIFIER WITH THE AUDIO CHASSIS COVERS REMOVED. BEFORE
OPENING TO CHANGE TUBES, DISCONNECT THE PREAMPLIFIER FROM POWER AND ALL
OTHER COMPONENTS, AND ALLOW IT TO SIT TURNED OFF FOR 30 MINUTES.
DO NOT OPERATE THE UNITS IF THEY ARE WET.
THE PREAMPLIFIER AND POWER SUPPLY UNITS ARE HEAVY. BE SURE TO USE PROPER LIFTING
TECHNIQUES TO AVOID BACK STRAIN AND INJURY. BE CERTAIN TO INSTALL IT IN A SECURE
LOCATION FROM WHICH IT CAN NOT FALL OR TIP OVER.
INDEX
Introduction
Installation
Inputs (back panel)
Outputs & Grounding Switch (back panel)
Operation
Front Panel Controls
Remote Control
A Word About Tubes in General
Replacement of Tubes
Warranty & Registration Form
INTRODUCTION
The Renaissance Preamplifier is among the world’s finest audio preamplifiers, second only
to the VAC Renaissance Signature Preamplifier. Sharing similar circuit designs, they are
absolutely unique components. Unusual topology, premium parts, and flexibility make them
a pleasure to hear and operate.
The line stage is, in effect, a small Class A1 power amplifier, capable of driving loads as low
as a few hundred ohms. This is a stark contrast to normal preamplifiers, which claim a low
output impedance but completely collapse when asked to deliver current. The Renaissance
circuit is loafing with a normal load in the 10,000 to 200,000 ohm range, delivering an
effortless, musical performance.
There is no feedback and no coupling capacitors in the line section. All active elements are
triode tubes, the purest, most linear amplifying devices yet invented. Output matching is
accomplished by way of superb output transformers. As a side benefit, different output
grounding configurations are possible, optimizing performance into either balanced or
single-ended loads, and allowing ground loops to be broken.
The optional triode tube phono stage has moderately high gain with a very low noise floor.
Low output MC cartridges are accommodated by means of high quality matching
transformers, which contribute voltage gain without noise, resulting in detail that emerges
from a remarkably dark and neutral background.
Remote control is implemented via motorized mechanical devices. This is expensive, but
provides two major advantages. First, the Renaissance Preamplifier controls are completely
intuitive to use. Second, we avoid the sound degradation attendant with VCAs, relays,
transistor switches, and switched resistor arrays.
The massive chassis is machined from quarter inch thick aluminum plate and fitted with
damping material for a strong, resonance-resistant structure. The sculpted aluminum fascia
has a hand rubbed gloss lacquer finish.
The audio circuitry and power supply are completely hand wired.
You will notice the sound quality of the Renaissance Preamplifier improve during the first few
hundred hours of operation, particularly with regard to subjective frequency extension.
The Renaissance Preamplifier is designed not to the latest fad but to substance, for the
highest possible sound quality. Time spent familiarizing yourself with this manual will be well
rewarded.
INSTALLATION
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Provide adequate ventilation.
Do not operate on carpet or any other surface that might block air flow.
The chassis will become warm in normal use.
Do not allow the chassis to touch any metal parts, such as the frame of an equipment
rack. This might create a parallel ground path that could degrade the sound of your
system.
Input connection is via single ended RCA jacks or XLR jacks (which can be from
balanced or unbalanced sources). Output can be on RCA or XLR jacks, and can be
set for balanced or unbalanced loads, with or without ground connection at the
preamplifier. IMPORTANT: READ THE SECTION ON “OUTPUTS & GROUNDING
SWITCH”. Connect line level inputs (CD, Tuner, Tape, etc.) to the appropriate RCA
input jacks on the rear panel. Note: with the exception of Phono (when fitted), all
inputs are “line level”
Connect phono cables to the rear panel MM or MC inputs labeled “Phono.” Connect
the ground wire from the turntable or phono cable to the “Ground” terminal
provided on the rear panel. Set the MM / MC switch to reflect the input jacks being
used.
Connect the power cable from the power supply to the preamplifier. Note that it has
a locating key and a locking collar. Be sure to insert the connector properly, and fully
tighten the locking collar.
Connect the input and output cables.
Connect the power supply to the power source indicated on the rear panel, either
100, 120, 220, or 240 volts AC. The voltage may be select by means of the
removable selector card located underneath the fuse in the power connector.
Remove the cards and reinstall so that the desired voltage may be read. Avoid
power conditioners that float the ground pin. ALWAYS connect power cord to
component before plugging it into an AC outlet, and make sure that unit’s power
switch is set to the “off” position before making the final connection. For best
performance, try to route the power cord away from signal cables.
Pay close attention to power quality, and be aware that different power cords can
alter the sound. The backlit meters show variation in power line voltage as reflected
to the audio circuitry.
You will notice the sound quality of the Renaissance Preamplifier improve during the
first few hundred hours of operation, particularly with regard to subjective frequency
extension. The phono stage, when fitted, has its own break in time. The MC phono
section has a part unique to it, so use of the MM phono input does not count fully
towards break in of the MC input. Break in is always fastest and most effective with
signal.
INPUTS (back panel)
Three pairs of RCA jacks accommodate unbalanced line level sources. These correspond
to SELECTOR positions “L1" through “L3".
Two inputs, designated “L4" and “L5" may be either RCA unbalanced or XLR balanced. Each
input has a corresponding configuration switch adjacent to it on the rear panel; set this
switch to match the input you intend to use (set to “SE” for RCA inputs or unbalanced XLR
with pin 3 grounded, set to “BAL” for XLR balanced).
Note:
Not all units with XLR connectors are balanced. Many are unbalanced, with
pin 2 or 3 tied to ground. The Signature Preamplifier accepts such sources
without difficulty.
Note: The sound character of the Renaissance Preamplifier is identical in either input mode.
Therefore, the preferred mode will depend upon the design and voicing of the
source component. Generally, units having both balanced and SE outputs tend to
sound better in the balanced mode.
One pair of RCA jacks accommodates a home theater surround sound processor (left &
right front channels). When the CINEMA selection is made, the output from the processor
is routed directly to the power amplifier at a fixed gain. This allows volume levels to be
under the sole control of the processor, allowing easy integration of your high-end stereo
system into a home theater system. When no processor is connected, please keep shorting
plugs in these jacks.
One pair of RCA jacks accommodate the monitor return from a tape deck. If you do not
have a tape deck, these jacks can be used as an additional input.
Units without the optional phono section have two RCA jacks labeled “MC”. These act as
a line level input, engaged when the SELECTOR is set to “L6”.
Units with phono have two sets of RCA jacks, labeled “MC” and “MM”, to accept phono
cartridges of low or high output. The switch should be set to “MM” or “MC” to match the
inputs used. The ground lead from the turntable should be connected to the binding post
located by these jacks.
OUTPUTS & GROUNDING SWITCH (back panel)
One pair of RCA jacks provide line level output to a tape recorder. The level of signal is not
adjusted by the volume control.
Two sets of RCA output jacks are provided as main outputs to power amplifiers. In addition,
one pair of XLR jacks can be used to drive a power amplifier.
The OUTPUT GROUND switch must be set correctly for the output configuration being used.
Incorrect setting will result in either excessive buzz, or cause gross distortion of frequency
response and output.
For power amplifiers with XLR input jacks, you must determine if the input is truly balanced,
or if either pin 2 or 3 is actually tied to ground (unbalanced XLR):
S
For true balanced inputs , select “BAL”.
S
For power amplifiers with unbalanced XLR inputs, select “SE”. This will ONLY work if
the amplifier ties pin 3 to ground (EIA standard); if pin 2 is tied to ground it will be
necessary to modify the power amplifier to meet the EIA standard.
OPERATION
Before turning the power switch to the “on” position, mute the unit by moving the “Mute”
switch to its clockwise (i.e., muted) position. You might also want to turn the “Volume”
control fully counterclockwise.
Mute is automatically engaged when switching on the unit.
Allow the preamplifier to warm up for a minute before you un-mute the unit; failure to wait
can cause a transient to be sent through your power amplifier that might cause damage to
your loudspeakers.
As with all high fidelity products, the sound characteristic of the VAC changes somewhat
as it warms up. Best sound will be achieved after about 15 minutes of operation.
Any time that the VAC Renaissance Preamplifier has not been used for a few weeks the
sound may be different. This is also normal for high resolution audio equipment. Optimum
sound should return after a few hours of operation, preferably with an audio signal.
Please note that although your VAC System has been run for 48 hours at the factory, it will
continue to "break in" for a few hundred hours. Also be aware that many components
display the need for a new break in period after being transported in unheated cargo
aircraft.
FRONT PANEL CONTROLS
Although most of the front panel controls (Volume, Power, Mute) are self explanatory, VAC
has outfitted this unit with several advanced features which bear further description:
Phono Section: When fitted, input “L6" is connected to a discrete, pure tube phono
preamplifier, providing 40 dB of gain, suitable for use with MM (moving magnet) and many
high-output MC (moving coil) cartridges. An MC step up interface can be switched in,
making the Renaissance Preamplifier suitable for most low output cartridges.
Monitor/Cinema: In the “Source” position, input selection is determined by the Source
Selector Switch. In the “Tape” position, the Source Selector is overridden, and the Tape
inputs are activated.
The “Cinema” position provides access to one of the Renaissance Preamplifier’s most
unusual feature. When set in the “Source” position, input choice is governed by the Input
Selector switch. Rotating the control clockwise to the “Cinema” position bypasses all
preamplifier controls (including volume) and passes the output from your surround sound
processor (i.e., the front left- and right-channel outputs of a multichannel processor) directly
to your power amplifier. In this case, the users’ analog stereo sources would be connected,
as usual, to the line, phono and tape inputs. A/V inputs (DVD, Laserdisc, DSS, etc.) would
be connected to the home theater processor, and the processor’s main outputs would be
connected to the pair of rear panel RCA jacks labeled “Home Theater Direct”. When the
control is set to the “Cinema” position, the Renaissance functions as a pass-through ONLY,
and is controlled by the external processor, preamplifier, or other component connected
to the “Home Theater Direct” inputs.
Mute: This knob is spring loaded; moving the control clockwise will toggle between the
“Mute” and “Operate” condition. When muted, the VAC logo will be red; when un-muted,
it will be blue. On occasion the preamplifier may seem not to have responded to a turn of
the “Mute” knob; this is due to “contact bounce” in the switch. Simply turn the knob again
until the desired condition is attained.
REMOTE CONTROL
The remote control allows for wireless adjustment of SELECTOR, MUTE, and VOLUME.
The remote wand is powered by two “AAA” batteries. These should be of the alkaline
type. You will need to install them in the wand before using the remote. Since batteries can
leak, they should be removed from the wand if it is not going to be used for an extended
period of time.
Selector Up/Down: Pressing the left side of this button causes a motor to turn the selector
switch in the counter-clockwise direction. Pressing the right side of this button causes the
selector to turn clockwise. If the control ever stops midway between two settings, merely
push the button again.
Mute: Pressing either side of the “Mute” button will toggle between the “Mute” and
“Operate” condition. When muted, a red glow will be observed in the LED indicator. Mute
is automatically engaged when the preamplifier is first switched on.
Volume Up/Down: These buttons cause a motor to turn the volume control; the more
briefly you press the control, the smaller the motion of the volume control. Motorized
controls offer superior sound, as well as direct visual indication of volume setting. The front
panel control may also be used directly in the conventional way.
A Word About Tubes in General
Tubes are like the tires on a car; they will eventually need replacement. Murphy’s Law states
that a tube will probably fail right at the start of a long holiday weekend. Therefore, many
audiophiles keep a spare tube of each type on hand, just in case!
VAC can test tubes for concerned customers.
REPLACEMENT OF TUBES
The line stage tubes are type 8416.
The phono stage tubes are type 12AX7, also known as 12AX7A, 7025, CV4004, ECC83,
and E83CC. Do not use the 5751, which some suppliers may suggest.
We recommend that you use only tubes specifically selected and tested by VAC for this
preamplifier.
DANGEROUS VOLTAGES EXIST WITH THIS COMPONENT. YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE STEPS
TO PROTECT YOUR SAFETY. Before replacing tubes, all power must be turned off. Unplug
the power cord from the wall, and remove all audio interconnect cables. Wait 30 minutes
before removing the top cover. Install new tubes of the appropriate types firmly in their
sockets, noting the location of holes in the socket and pins of the tubes, taking care to
make sure that pin pattern corresponds to holes in tube socket. Reinstall the top cover
before reconnecting the unit.
NEVER INSTALL OR OPERATE THIS UNIT WITHOUT ALL COVERS IN PLACE.
In the event that trouble is encountered, check all signal, speaker and power connections.
If the problem persists, follow all safety precautions stated earlier in this section, and check
that all tubes are correctly seated in their sockets. If possible, try another tube. If the
problem persists, please consult your VAC dealer or contact the factory directly.
CARE OF CHASSIS
VAC chassis are machined aluminum for superior electromagnetic performance, and finished
in durable textured gloss paint. Cleaning with a damp cloth WHILE THE AMP IS SWITCHED
OFF AND UNPLUGGED should suffice. Do not get cleaning solutions onto or into the
connectors or controls.
When shipping your unit, be certain to wrap the amplifier in the cloth, tissue or plastic wrap
in which it was originally packaged. Given the high gloss of the lacquered finish, make sure
there are no ridges or sharp surfaces in those parts of the cloth which contact the faceplate.
Use of a coarser cloth or failure to otherwise protect the faceplate may result in damage to
the finish. VAC is not responsible for cosmetic damage resulting from improper care or
packing.
WARRANTY
Your equipment is warranted for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of purchase. In addition, if the
registration form is received by VAC along with a copy of your sales receipt from an authorized VAC dealer
within this thirty days, a service contract will be extended to cover your equipment for three (3) years (tubes
excepted). This warranty applies only to units sold in the United States of America through authorized VAC
dealers and operated in the United States. It covers factory service and standard return shipping. For warranty
information outside of the U.S. contact the importer of VAC equipment for your country. Units sold outside
of the U.S. should still be registered with VAC. It is the responsibility of the dealer and customer to ensure
that this unit is suitable for any given application.
Your questions and comments are always welcome. Contact:
Valve Amplification Company
1731 Northgate Boulevard
Sarasota, FL 34234
Telephone 941/359-2066
info@vac-amps.com
Fax 941/359-2057
_____________________________Detach and mail to the address above as soon as possible.____________________________
Renaissance Preamplifier Registration Form
Name
________________________________________________________________________
Address
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Telephone
_______/_______-_____________
e-mail __________________________________
Dealer name
________________________________ City ____________________________________
Salesperson
___________________ Purchase date
____________ Serial Number ________________
How did you first learn of VAC products? ____________________________________________________
What other brands/models did you consider? _________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
What made you decide on the VAC? _______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
What else would you like us to know? _______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Optional:
What magazines do you read regularly?________________________________________________________
What are your hobbies (besides filling in warranty cards)? _______________________________________
What are your favorite types of music? ________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
On what format? (CD, LP, DVD, SACD, MP3, etc.) ______________________________________________