1. Time for some upgrades in server hardware and software to enhance security and take AK to the next level. Please contribute what you can to sales@audiokarma.org at PayPal.com - Thanks from the AK Team
    Dismiss Notice

Preamp recommendations?

Discussion in 'New Gear - Performance' started by Hawkeye83, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    Possibly needing to replace my Peachtree Decco. Ideally need a solid state preamp with remote (built in DAC a plus). I like a very lush sound, yet airy, if that makes sense! Tube-like but preferably without the tubes. Very musical above all else. Any recommendations? Could go up to $1k but the less the better. Was considering a Bel Canto DAC 2.5 or 3 but worried they may sound too "digital." Anyone have experience with the Bel Canto units?

    I may just end up having to sacrifice with no remote and/or go with tubes. There is a Transcendent Sound Grounded Grid and Juicy Music Merlin that are intriguing, but this system will get lots of hours with music, TV, and movies...so really want low maintenance.

    Any input welcome.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. xero-D-hero

    xero-D-hero Super Member

    Messages:
    2,161
    I'd probably go with the NAD C165BEE preamp with that budget.
    Comes w/a remote,no internal DAC though,but I personally prefer external DACs myself anyways.
    I also like that this preamp has a fully functional tape monitor loop as well...
    Decent phono stages in these too.

    JM2¢ ~ FWIW

    Bret P.
     
    pskaudio likes this.
  3. Danddd

    Danddd AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    Wheaton, IL
  4. Jailtime

    Jailtime Standin' on a corner Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,378
    Location:
    Velva ND
    The JFET buffer in the Schiit Freya is impressive, you can also go passive or 6SN7 gain stage with it. Has a remote, but no built in DAC, $700. You can put Schiit's solid state 6SN7 replacements in the tube sockets, then it's a fully SS preamp.
     
    mjw21a and stish like this.
  5. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    Thanks for recommendations so far! I'll keep these in mind if/when I decide to pull the trigger. I really want to be sure I "get it right" if possible. First step is having my amp repaired or sold off for parts. After that is done, I will know more (it's an Audire Forte, if you're curious). My Peachtree is working fine, it just has a hum that can be heard through the speakers, but only if you put your ear up to them. Not ideal, but I may be able to live with it for awhile. Sometimes I wish I could simplify and use an integrated amp, but my speakers prevent that (they use a sort of "EQ" that is inserted between the preamp and amp). It's probably ideal for me to use separates anyway...these speakers like a lot of power.

    Anyway, sidetracked...thanks for recommendations so far and keep them coming!

    This could really go in any direction. I've seen several units already that looked interesting...those mentioned above, along with an older Mcintosh C32, Bel Canto 2.5, Juicy Music Merlin/Peach/Blueberry (owned a Blueberry in the past), PS Audio, Marantz AV8801...so many options out there. Ideally I'll be able to check all my boxes. At this time, sonics, remote, cosmetics, and reliability are all important. This system is nearly 50/50 music and home theater/TV watching. It will get a lot of hours. Nearly 8 hours per day (I work from home).
     
  6. Silentnet

    Silentnet AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    758
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    I'm going to sound like a crazy person, but consider the Emotiva PT-100. At $300 with their return policy, though? You've nothing to lose.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  7. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,125
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Another vote for the Schiit Freya
     
  8. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    I like Emotiva stuff...I've owned lots of it over the past few years. Good stuff, especially for the price! I usually recommend Emotiva to anyone wanting modern "bang for the buck." I'd likely take this suggestion, but you know...gotta try new stuff...lol.
     
  9. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    Never heard any Schiit...still on my list.
     
  10. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    Well to update this thread, I had someone pretty interested in the Peachtree Decco I have. I think they're going to buy it, and as sad as I am to see it go, I think I'm going to try a Bel Canto DAC 2.5 as both a DAC/preamp. Here's to hoping I like it. I don't hear much Bel Canto talk around here...or really all that much anywhere...am I missing something? Do they not sell many units? Wondering why I don't hear more about them. Sure, there are a handful of Audiogon threads. I saw only 20 or so mentions of Bel Canto around these parts (when doing a Forum search). What gives? I hear their "virtual battery" series of DAC's is really something. Out of my budget at this time, but I'll get a taste anyway with the DAC 2.5. I know @cubdog uses this DAC. Anyone else here a Bel Canto user (any model)?

    Edit - nevermind, there are like 20 pages of Bel Canto references. Maybe 20 total references of the 2.5 DAC...must have had a brain-fart.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  11. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,125
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Got to have a listen to a Schiit Saga feeding a Quad 405 copy yesterday. What a fantastic sounding combination that was.

    I had previously decided that I didn't like the sound of passive preamps having tried a Khozmo Akustyk however the Schiit Saga gave up nothing vs an active pre and is perhaps the most transparent sounding pre I've heard to date. Just beautiful. I didn't find the clicks changing volume to be at all off-putting either
     
    stish, fredgarvin and Hawkeye83 like this.

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  12. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    Bel Canto 2.5 has arrived and installed. Sounds very nice! Also found out my Peachtree "hum" was not related to the Peachtree at all...since the Bel Canto still has the hum through the system as well. The only preamp that does not have the hum is a $37 Sainsmart 6N3 unit. Go figure, lol!

    I'm sure more thoughts to come in the Bel Canto. Initial opinion is very positive. The sound just has a nice "naturalness" to it. Nothing forced, timbre is very good (which is important to me). Now I have to get my Audire amp fixed so I can try the balanced interconnects.
     
    fredgarvin likes this.
  13. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,062
    Location:
    west Texas
    The secret to selecting your electronics is picking something that complements your speakers. If you have bright edgy speakers your last choice would be Krell or Ayre. Maybe a NAD or a tube unit from Quad or Mac. Other tube units have to much distortion for me. The the speakers are to warm maybe you need a threshold crown or boulder amp. Brystons like Maccan be more faithful and middle of the road. Accuphase can be swing from one way to the other depending on the age. Pioneer Elite and some Nads and I get along quite well. Some older Sansui's were very nice. Bozaks electronics were rather nice and neutral. I liked Urei electronics and the first generation of amps. Crown could swing the extremes from very cold and dry to rather neutral. Their Reference series was rather special I thought.
     
    pskaudio, Hawkeye83 and awillia6 like this.
  14. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    I am finding this out, for sure. My KEF 107's are already strong in the midrange, excellent timbre of instruments, maybe just a touch rolled off on the high end (compared to modern speakers)...and this Bel Canto seems to have those same attributes! Which definitely has its pros and cons. The midrange timbre now sounds even better...but, from memory anyway, the highs may be a little more rolled off than they were with "brighter" gear, like Emotiva and Peachtree...not that I found that gear excessively bright, just brighter than the Bel Canto that replaced them. Definitely some synergy at play here.

    Anyway, my ears are still adjusting to my new set up, but I'm quite happy with it. Despite losing a touch of high end sparkle, the midrange is better than ever, and that suits my preferences.

    I'd likely run a tube preamp if I didn't put so many hours on this system, but I don't think it's practical for me right now...the system gets around 8 hours per day of use if not more! (I work from home so listen at work, then after work if I'm watching TV or a movie or listening to more music, it gets more use!)

    Happy with my setup, until I can afford that Pass Labs X250 amp I've been wanting, haha. Although the amp I'm using now is much friendlier on my electric bill.
     
  15. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    As much as I liked this Bel Canto 2.5 DAC/preamp...or maybe BECAUSE I liked it so much, I sought out and found something in the Bel Canto VB series. It was a DAC 3VB, upgraded with 3.5 board, making it a "3.3VB"...purchased from an AK'er here. It's supposed to deliver even more of the "goods" that the non-VB series delivers. Can't wait to try it out!

    Although this is making my system a bit more complicated again (aka - more cables). I'll need to bring in the input-switcher and the $37 Sainsmart preamp to run my vinyl, while the Bel Canto 3.3VB handles the digital duties.

    I lose the headphone output and the analog input by switching from the 2.5 to the 3.3VB, but hopefully the sonic gains are worth it.
     
  16. Danddd

    Danddd AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    Wheaton, IL
    With S/S amp I prefer a tube pre. I wouldn't worry about it being on too much. I've had my VTL since 2002 and the only thing is replacing tubes every 5 years or so.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  17. kbuzz

    kbuzz AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    304
    I’ll be a contrarian and say if you want the sound of tubes...probably best to go tubes. In your case buying something used that has known reliability and proven record of tube hassle....personally I’d look for a used joule Electra, rouge,or maybe a prima Luna....or sas labs
     
    pskaudio likes this.
  18. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,253
    Just a heads up - he made his decision five months ago!
     
  19. kbuzz

    kbuzz AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    304
    duh!!!
     
  20. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    East-Central Iowa
    And I'm pretty happy right now. Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing anything by not having a "real" preamp (more gain/drive maybe?)...but it sure sounds pretty good right now with the Bel Canto 3.3VB going directly into the McCormack DNA amp! this handles all digital duties...CD player, blu-ray, streaming. I have a separate circuit with a cheap tube preamp and phono stage and turntable, also feeding into the McCormack amp. the system is a little more complicated than I'd like, but it sounds great!

    Still needs a little work (a few cables to fix and need to get my iPad/apple airport express back in the mix and/or figure out how to get USB audio out of my Nvidia Shield) but I enjoy this system very much, every day.
     

Share This Page