atelier 13 audio
Soulnote P-3 Reference Preamplifier
" Natural and lively, delicate and vivid ... a true masterclass in musical expression! "
Type-R circuits are used inside the non-NFB balance amplifier
The output line amplifier uses Type-R discrete non-NFB balance circuits that have been finely tuned for preamplifier use.
It also includes the newly-developed super high-quality naked foil resistors. With 1ohm emitter resistors and 3.9ohm output resistance, it delivers astonishing information detail and S/N presence for superior power preamplifier drive capabilities.
High-end resistance switching method audio volume control circuit
The best possible methods and the highest-quality parts create the best audio volume control. All the resistors in this unit are ultra high-quality, naked foil resistors. The switching relays also use the newly developed RSR-2-12D (Reference SOULNOTE Relay) ultralow loss custom relay. Volume control is configured with 144 steps in 0.5 dB intervals. Vibrancy and sound quality remain unaffected, even when lowering the volume.
GND switching input selector
One major factor affecting sound quality deterioration in preamplifiers is GND loops and noise intrusion when connecting multiple sound sources. One way to eliminate this problem is to adopt a switching method on the GND and signal end so that unselected devices are held in a state where their connectors are unplugged. And to avoid any interference from the relay connection, the selectors in this unit all use the RSR-2-12D.
Other Technical Features
Complete dual monaural construction
This unit utilizes a dual monaural construction that employs two identical and dedicated sets of I/O terminals, circuit boards, power supply circuits, power transformers, relay drive circuitry, and relay power supplies for the left and right channels. The microcomputer power supply, including the transformer, is also completely separate. A photocoupler keeps control signals completely separate from the relay, the only point of contact with the signal system.
Completely separate GND
The left channel, right channel, and control systems each have a ceramic-insulated chassis to achieve complete separation of the left, right and control GND. Each GND can be connected through the rear switch settings, but because each GND is completely separate, the listening experience offers an incredible expansive three-dimensional sound field with expressive, natural sound.
Extremely powerful power transformer
Each side of the analog power transformer uses a 280 VA large-scale non-epoxy resin filling toroidal transformer. Including the control transformer, this unit can reach a total 600 VA, equivalent to the A-2 and the strongest capacity in SOULNOTE history. The transformer's audible drive capacity improves in proportion to better regulation made possible by the larger capacity. The P-3's high drive capabilities will change the grade of the power amplifier and the speakers.
Vertical transformer mounting
The transformer is mounted vertically on the circuit board, so any harmful leakage flux is oriented parallel to the circuit board, to prevent possible circuit ingress.
Optical rotary encoder with double bearings and flywheel
The flywheel effect from the large, solid aluminum volume knob and the two large-scale bearings used to eliminate mechanical backlash combine to create a solid and extremely precise volume control.
3-point spike grounding
The spike connected directly to each of the three power transformer bases (three spikes total) eliminate harmful vibrations from the transformers before they can propagate to the chassis.
Unfixed AC inlet base
The AC inlet uses the Jodelica ETP-600CU. By not mechanically fixing the aluminium AC inlet base, rear panel dumping is prevented, resulting in more expansive sound quality.
Audiovisual source bypass function
Each XLR and RCA circuit has an audiovisual source bypass setting that can fix volume and output with zero gain.
The Type-R circuit board and top cover are mounted in a floating construction without mechanical fixing. Freeing the P-3 from mechanical stress and the harmful effects of air dumps creates a natural sound quality and soundscape similar to removing the top cover.
The left and right side metals are isolated from the main chassis by ceramic washers and are directly connected to separate left and right GND. This amplifies the benefits (more expansive soundscape and clearer feeling) of the left and right GND floating construction.
Multiple device connection system
Multiple devices can be connected using UART signals. Master and slave settings allow all slave settings to follow those of the master. This allows duplicating differences in the master volume to the slaves. This feature enables, for example, multi-amplifier volume control via a digital channel divider following DA conversion. And, of course, these connections completely avoid GND loops or other issues thanks to the floating GND control system.
RSR-2-12D (Reference SOULNOTE Relay)
An ultra-low loss glass tube sealed reed relay that performs similar to a mercury relay as a base has been further customized. This is an original custom relay created by SOULNOTE that can reach sound quality levels comparable to that of wire. Each P-3 contains 94 of these relays.
Ultra high-quality naked foil resistors
We have applied artificial satellite grade ultra-high precision foil resistors with exceptional temperature properties and have made additional customizations with an emphasis on sound quality. These ultra-high sound quality resistors were developed in-house and employ a naked foil design to eliminate dumps with mold resin. Each P-3 contains 156 naked foil resistors.
XLR x 4, RCA x 4
XLR x 3, RCA x 1 (selectable XLR or RCA)
2Hz ～ 1MHz (±3.0dB)
13μV (20kHz L.P.F.)
Dimensions (W x D x H)
454mm x 430mm x 170mm
55 lbs (25 kg)
Spike board, spikes, remote, power cable
Soulnote S-3 / D-3
What they say ...
“… reminiscent of the colors of the best tube preamps ... This is a truly great high-end device ... at a great price ! ”
" No matter whether with classical music, vocals, or repertoires that focus on sound effects ... they all show a fairly comprehensive musical performance. It is a very complete and mature performance to integrate the excellent performance of audio equipment into the music...for instance on 'In between Dreams' the position of each instrument is clear and the focus is clear. The timbre is easy to recognize. The low frequency of the jazz drum has penetrating power. The powerful sound is processed through this system system, and the sound is a little softer. The sound is not only pure and vigorous, but the energy release is also more natural through the P-3 processing ... the guitar shows the flexibility of the music, the resonance of the guitar is obvious, the sound quality of the human voice is warm and delicate, the image is three-dimensional, the overall musicality sounds 'at ease' and comfortable.
On to Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 with all its full dramatic tension. The opening of the horns manifests the magnificent sound field immediately. The roaring atmosphere of dissatisfaction, and the melody of the prelude heard at the beginning is the main core of this piece. The same melody is played through different instruments and continues at an Andante speed. The motivation of this piece is similar to Beethoven’s Symphony of Destiny, which uses the sound of musical instruments to simulate the continuous transformation of life in the real world, and where the sense of happiness will emerge anytime and anywhere.
This is exactly the true mood of Tchaikovsky when he created this symphony, and the P-3 showed its timbre to the fullest, and this timbre constantly appeared in the movement through the performance of other instruments ... and the mood it carried was even more mysterious and tense. At the end of the prelude, the clarinet -- a woodwind instrument -- heralds the melody of the first theme. In this movement, and in addition to the roaring timbre of the brass instrument, you can also hear the sometimes gentle timbre of the woodwind, and the grandeur of the strings in unison. This piece has added a wealth of brilliant layers ... pushed the tension to the maximum ... and the P-3 completely released the full extent of this energy of the orchestra. During the listening process, you cannot only feel the minute changes in nuance of the instruments, but also the impact of different voices. Putting it mildly, the dramatic tension created by the Soulnote components is shockingly good during the entire listening process.”
My-HIEND Review / July 2021
"The P-3 Special Edition is one of the best-built audio devices I know, both in terms of mechanics and electronics. Its chassis has been constructed in such a way as to control vibrations as much as possible. It is made of stiff, aluminum elements fastened with thick beams. The sides are double-layered and the bottom is made of thinner sheet metal. On the other hand, the top cover is also double-layered and it is not bolted on, but rests on three cones. And there are also spikes on the bottom, with the middle one supporting the aluminum structure directly, with one of the transformers bolted to it.
The longer I listed to the SoulNote preamplifier, the more sure I was that the P-3 SE sounded like a pure tube preamp. It had all the features of a smooth, fluid, color-rich tube. Its space was excellent, but it did not lead the sound far into the stage, but rather widened and stretched it around me. The dynamics was fantastic and gave the taste of being close to live instruments.
The Japanese preamplifier is specific in this presentation, which means it will be easy to identify its features and decide if this is what we are looking for. If I tried to compare it to CDs, I would say that it sounds like remasters on Platinum SHM-CDs.
Which is deep and incredibly addictive. The reference preamplifier would, in turn, be closer to XRCD and SACD discs.
After all, the P-3 Special Edition is a top preamplifier belonging to a group of few devices of this type that really are the "heart" of the system and feel good about it. It does not cover anything, it is resolving, but also has beautiful colors, reminiscent of the colors of the best tube preamplifiers. Its design is unusual in the pursuit of "perfecting" every detail, and its appearance is really very cool. This is a high-end device at a great price.!"
Positive Feedback Review / August 2022