It's late and I've been comparing the many permutations available with the Freya + and Freya S preamps for the last several hours. This is going to have to be a stream of consciousness kind of thing as I will expect you to ask me specific questions or go back to do specific comparisons. First off, both the Freya + (x4 6SN7 tube) and Freya S (Nexus) are legit. As usual, I will be succinct and get to the pertinent points without cutting and pasting specs or parroting (with a clue) what the manufacturer may have told me (in this case, it was nothing). The Freya + is an incremental improvement over the OG Freya. The gain in tube gain mode has been reduced down to 12db (x4). Noise and microphonics seem much lower. I was worried that the ~100db efficient JBLs with the Aegir monoblocks being fed a differential signal would have too much gain, resulting in audible hiss or lack of usable range on the volume control, but this was not the case. The speakers get plenty loud near 11-12 o'clock, but there is more than enough granularity between that and the 7 o'clock position which is full counterclockwise on the knob. The resistor relay volume control has no issues with channel imbalance that many cheap pots have. Bottom line: the Freya + is usable with super high-efficiency speakers and power amps with a decent amount of gain. Freya tubes turn off when passive or JFET buffer is being used. The gear in this setup (Yggdrasil A2, Aegir x2, JBL 4698b) really does not need active preamplification. I've been running a cheap $70 JBL Nano Patch balanced passive controller for the time being. (I am overdue writing a blog article of about preamps and why they are needed.) However, I do have several strong use cases for a preamp: my phonostage only has single-ended outputs while my amps need balanced inputs; I now am running two sources regularly with the Yggdrasil A2 now in the mix on a regular basis; wife wants a remote. The fact that I don't need an active preamp, but can get away with a cheap pot is good IMO because the system will a good test for how transparent these preamps really are. Now in terms of transparency, there are two aspects: sins of omission and sins of commission. Every time we add something into the mix, there are going to be these sins. The question is how much of each. With the JBL 4698Bs, which are not the most resolving speakers in the house (I do have another more resolving system), I could not reliably tell the difference between the Freya + passive mode and JFET buffer mode. I would appear that either the JFET buffer got improved since the OG Freya, of the circumstances are different. I would be damned if Jason told me that he didn't change shit. But I've been getting the sense by now that he reads what is said here and when the opportunity arises goes to work addressing shortcomings. The tube mode on the Freya OG committed both sins of commission (notably bloomer and deeper more diffuse stage) and sins of omission (discernably less plankton). The Freya + seems to back off a little bit on the bloom. The soundstage isn't quite as deep as the OG Freya, but it's still significantly pushed back compared to passive mode. OG Freya tube is we are sitting at row 31, passive is row 7, Freya + tube is row 18. The twist with the Freya + is that the soundstage has a little bit of a wraparound effect where the edges of the stage are slightly closer to us than the center. The effect is slight and there is no excess widening or pushing of instruments to the edges like on the Convert-2 DAC which I found slightly unsettling. As for sins of omission, I'm still not quite sure. I want to say that there is some plankton missing, but it seems more like the macrodetail is being smoothed out with the bit of bloom while the plankton is being retained. Maybe a small step back in terms of plankton and even smaller step back in microdynamics, but I'm having a hard time being sure. I'm way too fatigued at this point comparing things back and forth. However, I can confidently say that Freya +'s sins of omission are less than that of the OG Freya, and that the tube mode does sound good. The sins of commission that it commits are neato: deeper placed stage, slight curvature to the stage, euphonic timbre, a dose of bloom and inherent warmth). These enhancements might be worth the small penalty in transparency. Next up is the real surprise for me: the Freya S.