The Saga has a tube in it, but it's a buffer that doesn't add gain to the signal. The Candela definitely adds gain to the signal (as will the Freya) which might be a louder = better illusion. Did you get a chance to A/B directly, Delta77?
Seems that all three of us have speakers that are around 95db efficient (Spatial M2 Turbos, Pendragons, Lores) which means when using a Kismet or Stratos amp, you would not need the extra gain. With a Candela in the mix it might get very loud at 9 o clock on the volume dial. With a preamp that adds no gain I've found gets you to about 12 o clock until very loud, which yields better dynamics and stereo balance. YMMV though?
Yea, I had both preamps at the same time. ( auditions)
I thought the Saga sounded Okay & it was not as "HOT" as the Candela,, But...
I didn't like the cheesy remote control, or the funky clicking noise it made when the volume was adjusted,
And the On/Off switch in the back was not easy for me to access ( TV Cabinet)..
You hit the nail on the head ( 95 db ) Speakers & the Candela/Startos combo was very " hot" ...
Got too loud too fast ( not good for talking to wife , we had to kind of yell at each other).No low level listening.
I sent the Sega back .. It was okay but couldn't do as much " magic " as the Candela & the funkiness of the clicking just seemed cheap for some reason..
So .. I still needed a way to tame the Voltage Output of the Candela ,
At this time I had the GUNGNIR DAC from Schiit, with no way to adjust the DACs output either..What do I do?.
I bit the bullet and bought a DAC with Volume adjustment, the OPPO 205 ... I also needed to upgrade my CDP as well so a (2) for (1) $1400 ..
Now I can adjust the Volume to any level I want , from Very Low to Pretty F'ing loud.. works and sounds Very Nice..
So it was hard to swallow, ($900 loss) by taking the GUNGNIR out of the system..But I really didn't like the way the GUNGNIR made clicking noises either.. The GUNGNIR seems to be a solid buy though,, decent quality looks, and solid sounding DAC..
So I would take the Candela over the Schiit products if it were me..