Veloce LS-1 Battery-Powered Preamp

AC power has long been the bugaboo of high-end audio—necessary to power the electronics, but prone to polluting the audio signal path with unwanted noise. American boutique manufacturer Veloce Audio has come up with a unique and elegant solution to this problem in its LS-1 vacuum-tube preamp—put the power supply and audio electronics in completely separate boxes and run the electronics with a rechargeable battery.

The power supply, shown here, connects to the preamp with an umbilical cable, charging the battery in the LS-1 and providing power for the electronics during the charge cycle. Otherwise, the battery provides 240V of pure DC power for over 100 hours of use, isolating the audio circuitry from any hint of AC-power corruption.

Veloce adheres to the philosophy that simple circuits sound best, so the LS-1 uses the simplest possible tube-based gain stage. In addition, the active tube-biasing system automatically adjusts to changing battery conditions and is said to significantly reduce distortion.

Surprisingly, the LS-1 provides only one L/R balanced XLR input—the other five inputs are unbalanced RCA jacks. I guess Veloce thought that most sources are unbalanced, but audiophiles tend to use more balanced sources than the average music lover. Outputs include one balanced pair, one unbalanced pair, and one unbalanced output for recording.

The cost of innovation is usually high, and the LS-1 is no exception—$15,000 is a lot to pay for a 2-channel preamp. But removing any possibility of AC noise is worth a lot to those who want the ultimate sound quality, so perhaps the price is not so steep after all.