Looking for recommendations for TUBE preamp (<$3000) to pair with big SS amp

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TJ-Sully

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Hi folks - my first post here on the Tube-o-phile circle...

First off....I have absolutely zero experience handling, listening, or choosing tube amplification - and I am looking for some help or advice.

I have a 300 wpc SS amp - and 4-5 sets of floor standers I swap in and out (Thiel, ATC, Bryston, etc). I have a good DAC and streamer and listen to all digital files (i know...sorry!).

My electronics are all solid state.  I would like to purchase a tube pre-amp for under $3000 - probably on the used market.

My musical inclinations are mostly acoustic (Bluegrass, Jazz, Dylan) - but often sway to Allman Brothers, SRV, Grateful Dead, etc.

I've been looking online at some Audio Research stuff -  but really don't have a clue what they will sound like! And i live in a fairly remote area and not able to listen in person.

I need some help! :) Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

Cheers, TJ

FullRangeMan

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I dont like how Audio Research are built, instead I could look Prima Luna, Mystere or an alternative Chinese brand as these:
Omo Audio M3

http://www.divertech.com/antiquesl.html#PRE

http://www.mei-xing.com/english/English/Products3.html

My favorite is the Mystere due the output transformers 200Khz audio range and the 6SN7 tubes, otoh the ASL at the low cost range.

Elizabeth

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The newer ARC gear is too expensive, even used. The older ARC gear is overpriced compared to all the other offerings. Plus ARC company changed hands, and they are not so friendly to their own older gear (compared to the previous ownership)
There are big names, and little names in tube preamps Big names lots of them used, Little names fewer used, and some out of business. Some small great service, some not so great.
Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, BAT, Rogue Audio.. The golden price range is right around your amount. $1500 to $3000 (and newer stuff up to $6000)

Different tube preamps use different tubes. The classics are 12AX7 paired with 12AU7, also 6DJ8, and then 6SN7GT is a cult favorite. More modern preamps may use other tubes. Some getting scarce..
So KNOWING what sort of tube is used in a tube preamp MATTERS. For easy tube playground antics the 12AX7/12AU7 combo preamp is killer. More exotic tubed preamps may or may not be so kind. Then the masses of under $1000 small company small form odd 'kit'-like preamps. If they are what you want? otherwise avoid.

Prices. 50% of retail is the max, 40% for older gear. Folks who are dealers ask more money than private folks. Folks who flip gear for a living also ask more money.

(one brand I suggest not buying is Audible Illusions. Lost of them refurbished with warranty (LOL) floating around used. Problem is service is still a crapshoot and not gonna happen this year sort of problem. So even though I recently bought one, and it sounds nice, I would NEVER recommend one to someone else except as a spare toy, like mine. 'nough said) Plus the rare tubes used are getting rarer every day.

If you are looking for used.. You have to look a LOT, several times a day, maybe for weeks... AudioMart. Audiogon. Register at both. The items folks want, get sold in the FIRST HOUR(S) LISTED. then they vanish. So if you look casually... , all you see are all the things no one wants.
You also must have a PayPal account. All you HAVE to use is a CC, I suggest not linking your bank account in any way. PayPal really does protect the buyer when a transaction goes bad.
And you can fall back on your credit card company is PayPal fails. Paying by check or some other means leaves you with no recourse. (and if the seller insists on cash transfer, unless in person! run away) Also Audiogon has moved to/will be moving to a CC required sort of system. Sellers can sign up to require it, even if you do use PayPal, you have to give Audiogon your CC info FIRST for some transactions (though they do not charge your card) or no go.

I recently bought an original owner (31 years) Threshold FET10 with separate phono box. Custom PS by Jon Soderberg, $900 in the first ten minutes it was listed. I know someone else asked the seller why it had vanished as they wanted to buy it (too).
A newly listed phono box was gone as I waffled looking at the new listing. Another same brand preamp was up for about four hours and is now gone from AudioMart. So I suggest you read up on various ones you are interested in. Not just one or two, say a half dozen. And the minute it shows up at a good price, buy it...
If you do not buy it, you may never see one again. For years.... Trust me, I have had it happen more than once. (Or there may be three listed the next day, Never ever know.)

Rusty Jefferson

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Whenever this question comes up I recommend this preamp. It utilizes interchangeable circuit boards that allows you to change tube types of most of the major preamp tube families.  6sn7, 6dj8/6922, 5687, 12au7, 12b4, 6h30, etc.  The circuit boards are also available in different configurations also, cathode follower, SRPP, etc. that effects the sound and varies gain. You can also use it with no feedback,  or add global feedback, and/or depending on the board, local feedback. 

As you change speakers or other components in your system, you can retune things by changing tube type in the preamp. And of course you can still tube roll within each family of tubes. Amazing versatility, and great sound. The builder can endlessly update it or upgrade it as you like. You're no longer stuck with just one family of tubes. Good luck.

http://www.musicaldesign.com/MC_Cham.html

There are many more interchangeable board options than what currently shows on the webpage. He hasn't updated it.

Elizabeth

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Whenever this question comes up I recommend this preamp. It utilizes interchangeable circuit boards that allows you to change tube types of most of the major preamp tube families.  6sn7, 6dj8/6922, 5687, 12au7, 12b4, 6h30, etc.  The circuit boards are also available in different configurations also, cathode follower, SRPP, etc. that effects the sound and varies gain. You can also use it with no feedback,  or add global feedback, and/or depending on the board, local feedback. 

As you change speakers or other components in your system, you can retune things by changing tube type in the preamp. And of course you can still tube roll within each family of tubes. Amazing versatility, and great sound. The builder can endlessly update it or upgrade it as you like. You're no longer stuck with just one family of tubes. Good luck.

http://www.musicaldesign.com/MC_Cham.html

There are many more interchangeable board options than what currently shows on the webpage. He hasn't updated it.

WOW. double wow. I have to remember that link. For anyone who might want to play around with various tube types and architecture in a preamp. All in one.
I just blew my spare pennies, but maybe soon. Looks very interesting.

avta

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You could give this a try for $700. I have one and think it sounds fine. If you don’t like it I’m sure you could sell it. American made with easily found tubes.   http://www.schiit.com/products/freya

johnnybravo

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Joule Electra LA-100 or 150
Don Sachs SP14
deHavilland Ultraverve 3

mresseguie

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  • D Sachs amp/pre + Daedalus Audio Speakers = HEAVEN
My first choice: Don Sachs Model 2 6SN7   http://www.dsachsconsulting.com/custom%20line%20stage.html

If you want close to the Model 2 for less money, try Tubes4hifi.com [not nearly as pretty]   http://tubes4hifi.com/SP14.htm

I've read many good posts about the deHavilland gear, but I have not heard any myself. Based upon what I've read, I'd bet it's close to the Tubes4hifi gear.

My first tube preamp was a used AVA T8 preamp. It was my intro to tubes. I kept it for about a year until I got to hear the Model 2 by Don Sachs.

There's a gentleman named Radu Tarta who builds amps and preamps. His website is  https://simplepleasuretubeamps.wordpress.com  He built my Folsom's Little Chip Amp for me and did an excellent job. He's very easy to work with.

It wasn't until I put the Model 2 in my system that I 'got it' about why tubes are so loved. Now I get it. Whenever I take my Model 2 out of my system, there's a difference...a lessening....a reduction....a loss...a little less magic. I seldom remove my Model 2 from my system for this reason.

Michael

JakeJ

One might also consider Valve Amplification Company or Audible Illusions if looking at used.  Don't forget to pay attention to input/output impedances of amp and preamp.

That Musical Concepts Chameleon preamp looks very interesting.  Heard good things about Musical Designs/Musical Concepts.

witchdoctor

Hi folks - my first post here on the Tube-o-phile circle...

First off....I have absolutely zero experience handling, listening, or choosing tube amplification - and I am looking for some help or advice.

I have a 300 wpc SS amp - and 4-5 sets of floor standers I swap in and out (Thiel, ATC, Bryston, etc). I have a good DAC and streamer and listen to all digital files (i know...sorry!).

My electronics are all solid state.  I would like to purchase a tube pre-amp for under $3000 - probably on the used market.

My musical inclinations are mostly acoustic (Bluegrass, Jazz, Dylan) - but often sway to Allman Brothers, SRV, Grateful Dead, etc.

I've been looking online at some Audio Research stuff -  but really don't have a clue what they will sound like! And i live in a fairly remote area and not able to listen in person.

I need some help! :) Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

Cheers, TJ

Before dropping $$$ checkout the iFi iTube2. You can use it as a pre-amp or as a buffer.
The other idea is to get a Sunfire Classic Tube Pre off ebay, around $1000 or so seems to be the going rate.

RPM123

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Backert Labs is selling their Model 1.2 for $2900 on Audiogon. It's being replaced by the 1.3 at $3500.

RPM123

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Also, Linear Tube Audio Microzotl MZ2 will come in well under your budget, even fully loaded.

I.Greyhound Fan

Hi folks - my first post here on the Tube-o-phile circle...

First off....I have absolutely zero experience handling, listening, or choosing tube amplification - and I am looking for some help or advice.

I have a 300 wpc SS amp - and 4-5 sets of floor standers I swap in and out (Thiel, ATC, Bryston, etc). I have a good DAC and streamer and listen to all digital files (i know...sorry!).

My electronics are all solid state.  I would like to purchase a tube pre-amp for under $3000 - probably on the used market.

My musical inclinations are mostly acoustic (Bluegrass, Jazz, Dylan) - but often sway to Allman Brothers, SRV, Grateful Dead, etc.

I've been looking online at some Audio Research stuff -  but really don't have a clue what they will sound like! And i live in a fairly remote area and not able to listen in person.

I need some help! :) Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

Cheers, TJ

I would look for a used ARC LS 27 or even the cheaper LS 26.  There is a guy selling his recently purchased AVA FET Vlve CFR pre here on AC.  It is a very good sounding preamp and performs way above its price point.  at $1900 practically brand new it is a bargain. 


https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=160669.msg1713617;topicseen#new

https://avahifi.com/collections/preamplifiers/products/fet-valve-cf-slr-preamplifier?variant=5706110992414

However, I can't argue with the Don Sachs.  I have never heard one but I almost had one built with all the bell's and whistles last year to replace my BAT VK-51se preamp.  I will probably buy one in the next year or 2 if I don't ditch all my gear and go with a high end Integrated.

Happy Hunting!

mick wolfe

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You could give this a try for $700. I have one and think it sounds fine. If you don’t like it I’m sure you could sell it. American made with easily found tubes.   http://www.schiit.com/products/freya

Or better yet, ( if you don't like it) ship it back to Schitt within the 14 day audition period. I have the Saga and I kept it. I'm not sure you could do any better than either at their respective price points.

gab

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Or better yet, ( if you don't like it) ship it back to Schitt within the 14 day audition period. I have the Saga and I kept it. I'm not sure you could do any better than either at their respective price points.

Be aware of some issues reported on some of the Schiit products (Saga preamp) as discussed on this ASR thread:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/schiit-saga-grounding-and-hum-issues.4737/


luckyguy

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Great sounds emanate from my MFA  Luminescence.  This is a quite rare octel pre amp that provides a huge soundstage and very palpable voice/midrange.  Goes great with my Bryston amps and my musical tastes approximate yours.  I've done copper foil V-caps in my unit with astonishing results.

Emil

No affiliation

http://www.audioasylumtrader.com/ca/listing/Preamplifier-Tube/deHavilland/Ultraverve-3/with-remote/194614

Uses a single 6SN7. Tube roll galore!

Overwhelmed and confused yet? :icon_lol:

mick wolfe

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Be aware of some issues reported on some of the Schiit products (Saga preamp) as discussed on this ASR thread:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/schiit-saga-grounding-and-hum-issues.4737/

No hum issues here and it's used in conjunction with my HT setup. I have a few other friends using the Saga without issue either. I think the odds are pretty good and the risk (considering the return option) minimal.

Bob2

Take a look here:http://www.erhard-audio.com/ Formerly know as Tube Nirvana.

I had Holger build an "Aretha" preamp. Uses 6SN7 tubes. Excellent build quality.
It has been trouble free for the three years I have had it. It now is available with remote.
I have used this with my MKIII mono blocks as well as my Stratos Extreme.
Sound is Excellent.
Welcome to give it a listen if you are in the area.








Well within the price range. I would rate this as comparable to the Sachs unit.

sunnydaze

According to your linked website, the Aretha model uses 6sl7 tubes, not 6sn7.

As per the same website, the Ella model uses 6sn7.