After enjoying my original CAT SL1 Signature for about 2o years, I decided to buy the new CAT Renaissance Black Path Edition model. Recently, I visited CAT to have my mono blocks refurbished and upgraded to accept KT120 tubes, the results were stunning. It got me to thinking what 20 years of evolution for the preamp would sound like. I called Ken Stevens and ordered the new preamp. It took about a month for delivery. It took me about four hours to remove the old unit, pack it, unpack the new unit and install it into my system. I have a tuner, two disc players and a TT plugged into the preamp. I had to reconnect power cables, ground cables and interconnects. When I finally pushed the on button, I held my breath hoping everything worked and no funny popping sounds or whisps of smoke appeared. It worked, but I noticed it took a lot of gain to get good sound. I remembered when Ken told me that there was a line stage gain selection switch inside the unit that could be selected HIGH-25 DB or LOW 15 DB of gain. I put the switch to HIGH, and the gain selection was what I was used to, however, the low gain selection would be great for sources that are too hot like my tuner. I would like to play around with these settings more. I set the phono select switches inside to MM high output for the Zephyr II. The preamp also has a switch for MC, a separate built in step up transformer. I let the unit warmup for about 20 minutes. I put on a cd and my jaw dropped. The noise floor so much than lower than I was used to. The instruments were precisely placed, the tone was accurate and the soundstage wrapped around the room. The Renaissance Black Path made every other component much better. My Esoteric proved to be much better than I thought and that goes for my TT, tuner, and disc players, as well. Ken Stevens told me that this preamp can compete with everything out there, and I can see no reason to disagree. Here is a picture, probably one of the first online. The Renaissance Black Path was released a couple of months ago. This ain't your fathers volume control, the optional 46 point VC. Ten tubes are in there.