The best tube preamp on the market below $5,000
DOGE_8_CLARITY_BLACK_FRONT_CARREDOGE_8_CLARITY_BLACK_BACK_CARREDOGE_8_CLARITY_BLACK_BACK_INSIDE_CARREDOGE8-YKQ1-1024×1024DOGE8-YKQ2DOGE 8 LP BLACK

DOGE 8 CLARITY (2017 Edition)

5.00 out of 5 based on 8 customer ratings
(7 customer reviews)

DOGE 8 Clarity is our newest and most achieved version of Doge 8. It is a pure tube preamp with a built-in 100% tube phono stage. It has 5 Line inputs and one phono input.

Description

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:

      > MM

      > 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.   

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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”. 

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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).

> Read here the review in the Hifi blog TNT-Audio.com

 

PRICE POLICY

> 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.

  • Vacuum tubes : 12AT7 x 4 for line stage, 12AX7 x 4 for Phono stage
  • RCA Line inputs : 5
  • RCA Phono inputs : 1 input compliant for MC & MM cartridges
  • RCA outputs : 2
  • XLR ouputs: No
  • Remote controller : yes
  • Stand-by function : yes
  • Remote controller material: Luxury black aluminium
  • Bandwidth :12Hz to 30KHz
  • Signal to noise ratio :>101db
  • THD : <0.05%
  • Input impedance : 50K ohms
  • Input sensitivity : 200mV
  • MM input sensitivity: 3mV to 6mV
  • MC input sensitivity: 0.25mV to 0.6mV
  • Max output power : 10V
  • Output impedance : 600 ohms
  • Size in inches : W:17″ x D:14.5″ x H:5.1/4″
  • Size in mm :W:44cm x D:36cm x H:11cm
  • Weight in KG :14kg + packing
  • Voltage :depending your country :120V, 220V, 230V, 240V. 100V on special order
  • Warranty :1 year for electronic, 3 months for vacuum tubes

7 reviews for DOGE 8 CLARITY (2017 Edition)

  1. 5 out of 5

    I’ve now put just over 200 hours on this preamp and it is excellent! I, obviously, haven’t’ heard every preamp under $5,000 but I have owned/heard a lot of preamps. I have no reason to doubt no other preamp in this price range is even in the same league. A++

  2. 5 out of 5

    I have owned the “Clarity” version for 8 months now and it is by far the best sounding preamplifier I’ve heard and I have heard quite a few! Plus the remote is heavy enough to ward off intruders! No brainer at twice the price!

  3. 5 out of 5

    I’ve been a major audio enthusiast for the past 40 years, having owned a multitude of various quality audio components during that time. I’ve always favored tube amplification, especially with highly revealing electrostatic speakers (which I also happen to favor). I’d used several tube preamps over the years, and have always enjoyed their sound characteristics, especially when driving a tube amplifier – But, when I recently bought the new Doge 8 Clarity, I am finally hearing what a really high end tube preamp should sound like: Highly nuanced detail, a warm and open mid-band, extended and smooth upper frequencies, an ultra-wide sound stage with deep and tight bass, plus great micro and macro dynamics throughout the spectrum – And, this is with just 50 hours on the unit. The stock Shuguang tubes seem very well matched to the design, which I assume might have been voiced using these very tubes. Finally, as a retired electronics engineer, I can relate with utmost confidence that the stellar build quality of this unit both inside and out is second to none, especially at this price level. In conclusion, I am extremely happy having made the purchase, and look forward to many years of happy listening.

  4. 5 out of 5

    I bought the Doge 8 pre-amp (LP version) almost 3 years ago and it’s been flawless. The Doge 8 is something of a cult amp, with several reviews claiming is betters amps costing several times more. I wholeheartedly agree with this view. I did upgrade the tubes in my amp after a while, which improved the sound quite significantly. The amp is a superb match with the Doge 9 monoblocs, which I purchased at the same time (along with the Doge 6 CD player). For the price, you are getting a top drawer level of performance and build, which I found is not offered anywhere else. There is a lot of brand snobbery in the HiFi world, which is a real shame as it means that products such as Doge are often overlooked. Do yourself a favor and take off your blinkers..these amps are superb and should last a lifetime. Sound quality is superb, with the Doge 8/9 combo, you get a massive 3 dimensional soundstge, with superb instrument separation and overall balance. I have yet to hear anything that really competes, and I have attended many hifi shows with extravagantly priced equipment. I truly think that I’ll keep these amps for life…they are that good.
    I bought my amps direcly from Doge Audio and the service was exceptional, very fast delivery from China to Houston Tx in less than a week….packaging was bullet proof. I love these amps and think Doge Audio have nailed it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    It’s almost 2 years that I happily live with this pre. Just to be clear I gave 5 stars because I find the combination of sonic quality, solid construction and reliability unbeatable for my experience in hifi (almost 30 years by now with very little equipment rotation). Otherwise I never give a max vote to anything because I don’t believe that perfection exists.
    This pre replaced my old Audio Research SP9: with all its limits it was so euphonically pleasant that it was always hard to replace in my audio chain (NOS tubed and heavily tweaked).
    Doge’s pre was a great surprise and the first thing I thought when I heard it the first time in my audio chain (out of the box, no brake-in) was ‘Wow, this pre is really fast!’. Being much more neutral and detailed compared to the AR, sonically is just the opposite whilst is still a tube pre.
    It lacks AR euphonicity that may be hard to live without for some People, all I can say is that when I put back in chain my AR SP9 after few minutes of “magic” all its limits come heavily out and I yearn for going back to Doge.
    I’m so satisfied with this pre that I still didn’t play with tubes, although I have several high quality NOS in house and believe Doge’s statements that Psvane kit would be an interesting improvement.
    What else to say, I really appreciate the philosophy behind Mr. Liu’s designs and how he leads his company: he made the sky a little bit closer to audiophiles without an infinite budget.
    A special thank to Marc (he passionately takes care of international customers) that actively helped me into making the order for a pair of Doge’s monoblocks.

  6. 5 out of 5

    After purchasing and then spending some time listening to my new Doge 8 Clarity preamp, I was enamored enough with the sound and build quality of this single-ended class-A design that my interest turned to the Doge 7 DAC as a potential successor to my then current DAC. I’ve owned several DACs over the years of varying designs, but never an all-tube unit (and single-ended class-A, at that) with an ESS Sabre processor. So, after a few email exchanges with Marc who answered each of my questions quickly and completely, I decided to order a Doge 7 based on its promising specs.

    I received the Doge 7 directly from the factory in a few business days (triple-boxed surrounded by a wooden crate!), and upon first listen, I knew something special had just arrived – I then allowed full break-in to occur over the following weeks, and all I can say is that wow, this DAC really conveys music with heart – Abundant detail and spacious sound stage, along with a nice dose of holographic presentation, without treble glare or other frequency spectrum artifacts (the bass region also being tuneful and deep) – All of this producing a convincing “musicians in the room” effect, which other listeners have also noted – This DAC is a keeper!

    Build quality matches that of the Doge 8 in every way, meaning a lot of excellent hardware especially for the price paid (for example it as well utilizes Clarity coupling caps), and is simply a great match for the preamp. I also own all-tube amplification driving electrostatic speakers, and the system as a whole is wonderfully involving and satisfying – Thank you again, Doge, for another excellent product.

  7. 5 out of 5

    The Doge 8 Clarity is one awesome, compact preamp – an incredible price performer. Right out of the gate using the stock Shugang hi-fi tubes, the Doge 8 performed something like a hi-priced solid-state preamp. But when mated with GE NOS tubes or better yet, the Sylvania black triple 5751s, it becomes a very rare breed of preamp (I have not listened to the Doge with the upgraded Psvane tubes). In fact, I rate it way above an Audible Illusions M3B and very different but roughly equal to my CAT SL-1 in overall sound quality. In my opinion, the the Doge has a better line stage while the CAT has a better phono stage. The Doge 8 has the rare unique combination of warmth and pace that effectively mimics a real live performance. The CAT’s soundstage is larger and just a touch airier, but the Doge is better balanced, being more linear, analytical, aggressive and coherent, without losing the warmth factor. The Doge is right at home in high-end systems. Mine consists of: Benz Micro LP-S, Ear MC-4, VPI TNT, Vibraplane, Coincident Dragon amps and Von Schweikert speakers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    I have been using both the Doge 8LP preamp and Doge 6 CD player for the past 3 years or so and they have never missed a beat. Neither have I , as the music they produce is so detailed and beautifully transparent with great rhythm and drive. I have stopped searching for more as I regularly hear fresh details on old recordings that can still bring a smile to my face, or a small tear to my eye. I am now content to simply listen to the music – it has taken quite a while to reach that point. If Mr. Liu and Marc set out to bring a little more beauty and happiness into the world, they have suceeded brilliantly.

    I am delighted with the build quality and design, the superb sound, and the excellent service I have always had from Marc who supports overseas buyer extremely well (I have never had any faults or problems, but have always appreciated his patient and helpful advice).

    I have been building and listening to hifi amps and equipment since the early seventies – it was probably true then that you could build better than commercial for far less money. I’m not so sure now as I doubt I could build anything near the quality of the Doge products for the price, and I certainly couldn’t produce the excellent cabinets and finish Doge offers.

    Both products are excellent and well worth their relatively modest cost – they compete comfortably with far more expensive offerings and make an excellent base for an affordable high end system. Highly recommended on all counts.

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