PLEASE CHECK THE NEWEST VERSION, DOGE 8 CLARITY 2019 Edition.
Click here to go directly to the 2019 Edition page.
Every 3 to 4 years we review our products performance and where possible we make improvements. In 2017 we reviewed the performance of the DOGE 8. The “DOGE 8 LP” replaced the DOGE 8 in early 2014 and in 2017 the DOGE 8 CLARITY replaced the DOGE 8 LP. All previous versions are discontinued.
The Doge 8 LP was a great preamp so it would have been foolish of us to attempt a ‘revolutionary’ change. In the “Clarity 8” we concentrated on making three improvements that our customers asked for:
- to use higher performance coupling capacitors (the ones that are directly in the signal path and which can significantly affect sound quality),
- to provide the capability to have lower gain when using the Clarity 8 with high sensitivity power amplifiers so as to avoid always having to keep the volume control in the 7 O’clock to 10 O’clock range, and finally
- to bring back the dual MM-MC phono inputs, as it appears that although 80% of DOGE 8 owners use MM (Moving magnet) cartridges, 20% of you use MC (Moving Coil) cartridges. We have fulfilled this request which required some time working out revised PCB schematics and we now offer again a MM or MC input with a choice of:
> low sensitivity MC
> and high sensitivity MC
The first request was the most difficult for us. Using higher performance coupling capacitors often means using “bigger” capacitors (although legend says “size doesn’t always matter :-)). In fact, there was insufficient space on the PCB for us to fit these higher performance coupling caps, so we had to redesign the whole PCB! …
One part of DOGE 8 PCB of the previous version, the DOGE 8 LP, was used for the balanced outputs (XLR). However, the DOGE 8 design is unbalanced and in order to offer XLR outputs, we had to balance the signal “artificially” before it appeared at the XLR output sockets. To do this we were using two solid state chips surrounded by other components which were taking up about 10% of the space of the total PCB.
In analyzing this problem we realized that :
1) only a very limited number of DOGE 8’s owners (around 2%) were using XLR outputs, and
2) when the XLR circuitry was used with XLR cables the DOGE 8 became a kind of hybrid preamp and many email discussions revealed that our customers were not aware of this. Also, we thought that the Doge 8 XLR outputs slightly degraded the sound performance compared to the RCA outputs.
3) the small PCB containing the OP amp chips and other components for the XLR outputs were taking up space that could be used to make space on the PCB for the coupling capacitors.
We decided that as the XLR outputs degraded sound performance slightly and were inappropriate in an unbalanced preamp design and, as the demand for higher performance coupling capacitors was much greater than the demand for XLR outputs, we would remove the XLR circuitry. Of course, this is not to make cost savings from the removal of the XLR circuitry. In fact, the cost of the higher performance coupling capacitors is significantly higher than the savings from XLR removal.
So, the solution to finding space for the higher performance coupling capacitors had been found. Now ‘all’ we had to do was rearrange the copper tracks on the main PCB so everything would fit. That took one month of research.
Finally, we also listened to our customers demand for a capability to reduce the gain. We added a switch on back panel called “gain reduction”, with two positions: 0dB (normal mode) and -8dB mode ( that’s around 50% reduction of gain).
In summary then, we chose as the new coupling capacitors the UK ClarityCap ESA model that is, in our opinion, the best cost:performance choice, added MM/MC phono capability, removed the unnecessary XLR output circuitry and added adjustable gain to improve matching with a wider range of power amplifiers and all for a very small increase in price. As a matter of fact, the DOGE 8 CLARITY costs $1,439 including delivery to your front door, just $59 more than the $1,390 DOGE 8 LP.
We have chosen the name ‘Clarity’ for the latest version of the DOGE 8 as a reference to the ClarityCap brand and also because this nickname reflects very well the DOGE 8’s main qualities of transparency and neutrality.
There are many testimonies in forums and blogs reporting that the DOGE 8 is the best preamp in the world at this price range. We won’t make that claim as we haven’t listened to all the other preamps in the world, but we are proud of this feedback. We also received customer’s feedbacks that it has no competitors below $5,000.
Arthur Salvatore, an independent reviewer managing the website high-endaudio.com .
One of our customers recently compared our Doge 8 Clarity to an Audio Research LS27 he owned. Finally, after having compared the sound performances, he was so impressed by our Doge 8 Clarity that he decided to sell his LS27 and to buy us the Doge 8 Clarity.
In addition to offering a fabulous sound performance, the DOGE 8 Clarity also includes a high-end full tube built-in Phono stage that can compare to stand-alone Phono preamps around the same price.
This preamp is incredibly neutral and transparent and provides all that you expect from a high-end preamp. You will be delighted by the silky sound of Doge 8 Clarity. It has this little warmth you can expect from a tube device, but not an exaggerated warmth compared to many other tube preamps. Those of our clientele that own solid state power amplifiers will like this transparency and subtlety.
The schematics (circuit design) of the Doge 8 Clarity is at the same time both simple and sophisticated. It allows perfect matching with all power amps as it has a sophisticated buffer impedance stage driven by a current generator. In addition, it has a high/low gain switch and a low impedance output both of which guarantee good matching with power amps.
The Doge 8 Clarity uses 2 transformers and a choke (a choke is a power supply filtering device which has similar electrical properties to a transformer).
One transformer is for main power and the second one is for standby mode and digital functions of the remote controller. This separates the digital and analog functions.
All components are either imported brands or Chinese high-end brands. The electrolytic capacitors are Japanese Nippon Chemicon, while film capacitors are French SCR or German WIMA and for the most sensitive ones, the coupling caps which the signal passes through, we now use the ESA model of the UK brand ClarityCap.
The chassis is particularly stiff and luxurious due to the use of 6mm thick aluminum for all panels. The front panel is made of brushed aluminum with a black anodized finish.
The connectors are highest grade, sourced from Taiwan, with 5µm gold plating.
The Doge 8 Clarity has an output socket designed for a proprietary cable to connect the Doge 8 Clarity with the Doge 9 PAB mono-blocks. It allows the Doge 8 to automatically turn-on the Doge 9s if you use them as a complete set.
PLEASE NOTE :
Chassis height, length and width are the same as Doge 8 LP and overall appearance is the same except some new switches on the back panel. The silk printing, of course, is “DOGE 8 CLARITY”.
The Doge 8 LP has an output socket designed for a proprietary cable to connect the Doge 8 LP with the Doge 9 PAB mono-blocks. It allows the Doge 8 to turn-on automatically the Doge 9 if you use them as a whole set.
> Read here the review in the Hifi blog Stereomojo.com (please note that the price listed in this article was in 2007 and Chinese Yuan currency got 20% stronger versus USD since that time).
> Estimated retail price in shops : $1,990 (excluding VAT)
> Factory-direct price: $1,439 including delivery to your front door, Paypal or CC fees and one year warranty served in your country.
From December 2017, we do the same prices worldwide except for South-East Asia, India, Russia, South-America, Africa and small islands.
Due to the cost of shipping fees included in the price displayed above, Asia will be cheaper, while laters will have a higher price.
VACUUM TUBES UPGRADE OPTIONS
All our Doge 8 are supplied with tubes printed with a Doge logo. They are first grade Shuguang origin with Doge additionnal QC.
However since many customer asked some upgrade choices, we now offer these ones :
- Optional Psvane 12AT7-TII grade A for line stage : $114 (set of 4)
- Optional Psvane 12AX7-TII grade A for Phono stage : $122 (set of 4)
Please note that for safety reason according to international air freight regulations, remote controllers are supplied without batteries. They use traditional AA type.