The Wyetech Ruby STD is a hidden treasure for the analog music lover. Everything we’ve heard from the hands (and ears) of Roger Herbert, the owner and designer at Wyetech Labs, has been exceptional in its ability to convey the musical truths we hold dear. His newest creation, the Ruby STD preamp line stage, thankfully falls right in line with what we have come to expect from the man. The preamp is a breathtaking example of simple-yet-elegant audio engineering and the sonic results will make you believe in the magic of audio reproduction.
The first thing you notice is the seemingly endless dynamic capabilities of this preamp. This is one of the most important aspects of such a device, if such a device was designed with sonic purity in mind. With its cavernous dynamics, the music seems to just flow effortlessly without any sense of restraint (this preamp will definitely test your amplifier). The soundstage is big enough to fit the CSO and the LA Philharmonic in your living room, at the same time. Like all Wyetech components, the Ruby lacks any frequency inconsistency, in other words, everything is where it should be. While the top end is silky smooth, the low end is powerful and consistent.
Wyetech Labs was founded by Roger Herbert in 1996 and is based in Ontario, Canada. Mr. Herbert has always taken a purist approach to design, believing that “the best sounding tube amplification will always be single-ended due to the simplicity and inherently pure Class A operation.” All products are sold direct from the manufacturer (a move that obviously, and graciously, reduces the end cost to the potential buyer). The Ruby STD is currently the top reference product in the Wyetech line. An all tube device in one chassis, the unit is a mere 15 pounds and finished with an understated dark purple (a little color goes a long way in terms of style, especially when you consider that 99% of the components we see are some version of either black or silver). According to Herbert, his overall design objectives are to strive for “musical accuracy, longevity, simplicity, and beauty.”
The first Wyetech line stage was the Opal (reviewed by HP in TAS years ago). The Opal used a grounded grid configuration for speed and wide bandwidth (although this is the simplest of circuits, it is incredibly difficult to design properly). The same grounded grid configuration is used in the Ruby STD. Herbert considers the power supply to be even more important than the circuit it feeds, thus the Ruby’s power supply is specifically designed to accommodate the circuit without compromise. The all-tube Ruby is shipped with two 5687WB (NOS JAN Philips USA) military dual triodes and two 12B4A (NOS JAN GE USA) military triodes. The unit is outfitted with high quality switches and big old knobs (for volume, input, and balance) and does not include a remote.
The STD in the name is an abbreviation of the word: Standard. Herbert chose this designation not because this is the standard version of the unit (inferring that there may eventually be a special edition down the line), but because he believes that the Ruby incorporates the “standard circuit by which all other circuits will be compared to and which none can duplicate it’s sonic attributes without cloning it.” He acknowledges that these are “fighting words for all challengers, at all price points, come what may.” It’s safe to say that Herbert believes in his design. And he should, because it is a sensational audio component.
We have had the Ruby for almost nine months now, enough time for a baby, and it has continued to grow and prove itself a rightful place among our reference components. The sound is pure, the sound is rich, and the sound is absolutely thrilling. Paired with tube amplifiers (we have used the Wyetech Sapphires (an obvious match), the Coincident 211 Dragons, and the Audio Research REF-75 to fantastic results), will yield the finest results. Most of all, the Ruby has revealed no less than the finest quality of tone from our reference LPs. Listening to “Laughing”, from Crosby’s, If I Could Only Remember My Name, the electric instruments are revealed with an unrivaled presence. The music just melts over your ears, leaving you helpless to its charms (and its analog vibe). The Ruby STD is a serious contender that any analog aficionado with blood in their veins and music in their heart should experience.
Wyetech Labs Ruby STD – $8,200www.wyetechlabs.com