Need advice relating to tube pre

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Need advice relating to tube pre
« on: 12 Nov 2022, 06:10 pm »
Hi folks, seriously considering dabbling in a tube preamp to mate with a pair of 7B's and Maggie 1.7i's.  Unfortunately funds are rather tight so  I've narrowed it down to two units due to price. 

For better or worse, I've been looking at the vintage VTL's.  A 2.5 line-stage is going for just under $2k CAD which seems rather steep for it's age.  Searching online I've seen them for about 1/2 that or a little better.  A Deluxe is going for < $1k and will require a new power cable.  The one I'm seriously considering is a Super Deluxe.  After doing some searching I found out there were two versions.  This one is an original and NOT the PR-1 with dual selectors.  No idea what a fair price would be on one of these. Prices seem to be all over the board on this one.

Not sure whether I'll be safe with this one.  I'm thinking maybe and seek advice for those of you in the know on imp. matching.  Here's what I obtained from another online forum:  Its low impedance (300 Ohm) output, as I said, can drive practically any amp.
It also has a high impedance output that was specifically designed for driving
short lengths of cable and tube amplifiers of at least 50kOhms output impedance.
It has no cathode follower buffer stage and thus should sound better, but its
output impedance of 10kOhms cannot drive solid state amplifiers (or long lengths
of cable) correctly.

My other option would be a Shiit Freya+.  I like the idea of having balanced outputs but I'm willing to go without providing there would be a benefit going with the VTL SD.  I have an outboard phono section on hand if ever I can get my table up and running.  Though I've read the VTL had a nice phono section in that particular unit.

So, for those of you in the know, which would you go with?  Any of the upper preamps aren't in the cards right now, unfortunately, given most are in the $3k+ for anything I'd be interested in.  Thanks!


Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #1 on: 12 Nov 2022, 08:26 pm »
Schiit makes nice equipment, but from my experience, it’s entry level equipment that I had replaced down the road..

My recommendation would be a small boutique company like Odyssey, Decware, Aric, MapleShade, preamp..

Aric Kimball can make it to your specifications needed to match the amp/system you intend to use it with. Yes, you can speak to the man whom will build your preamp. And negotiate a price accordingly.


Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #2 on: 12 Nov 2022, 10:41 pm »
There are 3 tube preamps for sale in the AC Trading Post, 2 are within your budget


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #4 on: 12 Nov 2022, 10:52 pm »
I've never owned a VTL preamp but never heard anyone say anything bad about them, either.
I like their amps.


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #5 on: 13 Nov 2022, 02:22 am »
Audio Research preamps are a perfect match with Bryston amps. 


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #6 on: 13 Nov 2022, 03:32 pm »
A few things to consider, the size of the output caps in the preamp need to be large enough for the lowish impedance ss amps, otherwise it can sound a little light in the bass.  Any Output impedance less than 2K should be fine though.
For direct coupled amps, it is better to get a preamp with an output muting relay for startup/shut down.  Some amps, like an Emotiva I had, did not play nice with my tube preamps, passed DC with the amp off and popped the speakers.   I imagine your Brystons would have better speaker protection.
Between the 2 you were considering, the Freya would be my pick because I prefer 6sn7 to 12at7. 


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #7 on: 13 Nov 2022, 05:05 pm »

I had van alstine stuff for years. Extremely reliable, decent sounding, and good resale market.

Frank usually answers the phone there.

Happy listening!


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #8 on: 14 Nov 2022, 01:04 pm »
+1 on the Van Alstine T10-RB and Odyssey Candela mentioned by others above, both of which I own and am very happy with.

Both Frank and Klaus can be reached by phone (Klaus later in the day), and they will discuss your system and proper matching with your amps before they build your preamp.

Both companies are factory-direct, so you can expect a very good bang for your buck.

Not trying to gum up the thread, just offering confirmation from someone with a modest system that in your price range, there are some great options that you may not have been aware of.

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #9 on: 14 Nov 2022, 09:48 pm »
Look at the LTA Microzotl 3 or possibly the Preamp. Super low output impedance, can drive anything. I used to drive 2 solid state amplifiers with mine (bi-amp) and still had excellent dynamics. Very flexible, you can vary the gain with input/driver tube selection, and it can use either 6sn7 or 12sn7 output tubes. A used 3 is probably at the top of your budget but it's a game changing piece.


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #10 on: 18 Nov 2022, 06:09 am »
I have owned a couple of tube preamps myself, so no disrespect intended whatsoever, but I would recommend a current Bryston unit over anything else. I couldn't be happier with my BP-17 Cubed but please note that rotten recordings of excellent bands do sound truly rotten through it! Subjective listening tests have that very large pitfall which will catch all of us at times, expecting better sound without having any way of knowing what the recording actually is like.

Anyway, have fun and enjoy music. :)


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Re: Need advice relating to tube pre
« Reply #11 on: 19 Nov 2022, 03:56 am »
Thank you all for your replies.

Just as an update, the VTL SD had been sold. Also replied to an ad for an ARC SP9 but I received a reply this morning saying it too was sold. I'm awaiting a reply on a Blue Circle BC21.  So the search continues.   I've thought about switching to a different ss pre but would prefer a tubed unit.  So I'll take my time and hopefully get to scrape a few more pennies in the process.  If worse come to worse, I'll either go for a new AVA or a D Sachs unit.  Read many a good thing about both.