Let me start by saying that it is really easy to give this preamp 5 stars, as it is, by a VERY large margin, the BEST VALUE comprehensive preamp I have EVER heard!
Incredible sound quality.
Beautifully laid out.
Exceptionally well built.
Terrific remote control. Includes mute/unmute, volume control and on/off as well as source selection.
Two variable outputs. I use one for my headphone amp.
One fixed output for recording. When on phono, this actually fully bypasses the line stage – WOW that’s probably unique and an incredibly smart way to get as close to recording perfection from phono as possible.
5 inputs inbuilt MM/MC phono.
Variable capacitance and impedance on phono.
You can raise the line output by 8dB, at the flick of a switch, if required.
You can INDEPENDENTLY raise the phono output by 8dB. WOW. Fantastic if you have an ultra-low-output MC. Or a medium-output MC you want to run as if it were a MM with a 47KΩ impedance. Or simply to raise the output level by 8dB if you are recording and bypassing the line amplification altogether.
SOUND QUALITY: There are line-only preamps out there which cost TEN TIMES as much and do not sound as good.
And there are phono-only preamps out there which cost far more than this unit, and are spectacularly beaten in sound quality by the Doge 8 Clarity’s phono stage.
But let me assure you that the Doge 8 Clarity (2019) is NOT perfect. If money was no object, with the ingenuity that has gone into this phenomenal preamp, I’m certain Mr Liu could have built an even MORE AMAZING preamp. But I could NEVER afford it and many of you couldn’t either. What he has done for the money is beyond amazing!
We have here, a truly incredible preamp, which could EASILY justify a price tag 3 or 4 times what Doge is charging. I cannot shout loudly enough: BUY IT!
An important caveat:
The Chinese 12AT7 and 12AX7 tubes which come standard with the Doge 8 Clarity do NOT do it justice. I know these tubes well – they are quiet and “nice” but far from spectacular. The Doge 8 Clarity deserves FAR better!
I use (still moderately priced) Siemens NOS 1982 (Munich) ECC801S (12AT7) tubes in the line stage, which, after say 200 hours settling in, allow the line stage to absolutely excel with a deep wide holographic soundstage and exquisite vocals and truly lifelike realism!
In the phono stage, I have four Russian copy (gold pinned) Genalex Gold Lion B759 tubes which cost less than US$60 per tube. Once they have settled in (again say 200 hours), they transform this excellent phono stage into a giant killer that puts many $3000 phono preamps to shame.