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The best bang for the buck preamp?

Discussion in 'Dollars and Sense' started by Oneoff, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Oneoff

    Oneoff AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    77
    What would you advise as the best purchase? Vintage or new...
    Preferably a tube pre that can work nicely with solid state amps but also some decent SS pre’s.
    (A good phono stage is a bonus but not a must )
    Thanks!
     

     

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  2. trinhsman

    trinhsman AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,314
    Location:
    On a lake in Georgia
    For a tube preamp, Rogue Audio. AK member Gordonw knows these preamps and speaks very highly of them. I have heard them also, and they are quite nice. IMHO
     
    Oneoff likes this.
  3. yurka77

    yurka77 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    880
    Location:
    Bethel, CT
    for solid state, i really think Yamaha preamps are great as a lower cost option....but Mcintosh preamp sounds better to me
     
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  4. fredgarvin

    fredgarvin AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  5. gogofast

    gogofast AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,977
    Location:
    Seattle
    Dynaco tube pre's are pretty good for how much they go for. Some of 90's and early 2000's SS pre's from Adcom, Yamaha, Denon, Carver, B&K, and etc. are super bargains. Specifically, B&K Sonata pre with separate power supply box sounds really great.
     
    JH Magnecord likes this.
  6. MATT0404

    MATT0404 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    592
    Location:
    NW PA
    What's your budget? All good options above. The Schiit Freya is an extremely versatile unit for the price considering it can be used as a passive, solid state, or tube preamp.

    For solid state, the Parasound P5 is hard to beat at it's current used market price. Lots of inputs, built in bass management and DAC, balanced in/out connections, MM and MC phono capability, HT bypass, fixed output, remote control, etc....
     
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  7. Oneoff

    Oneoff AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    77
    I think my budget will be around 500-600$ ,
    The Freya looks good but I wish it had a phono Included... I will definitely look at the other options above.
    How will the Dynaco PAS-3X or the Van Alstine
    Super pass will pair up with a SS amp?
     
  8. bberkom

    bberkom AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I have a Van Alstine tube mosfet hybrid preamp that is killer for the money and does well with SS amps. I also really love the Yamaha C70 I recently picked up on eBay for super cheap.
     
    Oneoff likes this.
  9. Drugolf

    Drugolf AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,442
    Location:
    Boise
    I have a Xiang Sheng 728A with up grade tubes that is really really good. Particularly good for the money.
     
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  10. slowpat

    slowpat Slowly but surely.... Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,947
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, CA
    I bought an Audio Research SP-9 a few years back from around $650. You can roll the 6922s in there, and has good phono.

    I also have a VTL TL2.5 line stage, and I like that very much, especially for vocals.
     
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  11. gogofast

    gogofast AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,977
    Location:
    Seattle
    I also enjoy SP9 MKII a lot. Nothing but good thing to say about it. I don't think you can easily find one for that amount anymore.
     
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  12. Oneoff

    Oneoff AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Looks like another Chinese marantz 7 variation? I always wondered how these sounds with the right tubes...
    but isn’t the 600 ohms output gonna make some problems with solid state amps?
    What amp are you using with it?
     
    Drugolf likes this.
  13. Fleischer

    Fleischer Active Member

    Messages:
    368
    The rock bottom value alternative is tha Advent 300. Has Tom Holman's first phono pre-amp design, and makes a dandy pre-amp and tuner (a Henry Kloss design) for about $100. Doubt there is better bang for the buck anywhere.
     
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  14. Drugolf

    Drugolf AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,442
    Location:
    Boise
    I use it with a White Oak phase Linear solid state. More than 200/ch.
    There are two outputs. one is low impedance, the other high. No issue.
     
  15. StimpyWan

    StimpyWan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,084
    Location:
    Blue Ridge Mountains!
    For SS, I've used and liked very much, Acurus preamps. Very open and transparent.

    For tube, I've also used the Chinese Xiang Sheng preamps. Very dependable and musical. I use a Xiang DAC-Preamp at work, on a daily basis, and it's been a great purchase. I wouldn't hesitate to buy Acurus or Xiand Sheng preamps again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  16. pauldrewry

    pauldrewry Super Member

    Messages:
    1,899
    Location:
    Ithaca NY
    Van Alstine would be my first choice. sometimes Counterpoint pops up on the Bay. Unlike their amps, the pre doesn't have issues, lovely tubed phono, unless you use MC carts.
     
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  17. Oneoff

    Oneoff AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    77
    As for the xiang sheng 728a I’ve read some previous posts and most say that it sounds great but I’m not sure how good it’s on the technical side... here’s what the user Raindance wrote on a post about the 728a from 2014:


    “I had one. It worked OK out of the box, but had very bloated bass. Turns out it uses a center tapped volume control that drives a loudness circuit that gives about 18dB bass boost. In addition, the circuit is wired strangely; the schematic makes sense (although there are WAYYY too many gain stages and the tone circuitry is missing), but in the actual unit it is using a White cathode follower to drive a 100K pot before exiting the RCA's to your amp. So, even though the specs say "600 ohm" output impedance it is actually very high indeed (should not be able to drive any solid state amps without significant frequency response loss). It would probably meet the specs if the volume control was in front of the preamp rather than on the output, but I suspect they changed that because of hum. Too much gain.

    Also, the smoothing caps are WAYYYYY too large for use with tube rectifiers (which, incidentally, are wired in hybrid mode - the tube does a half cycle and the diodes do the other half). You will find that the rectifier tubes arc when you switch the unit on sometimes and they won't last.

    In true China tube preamp fashion, the last stage should have elevated heater voltage, but does not. It will eat 12AU7 tubes as the heater-cathode voltage is exceeded (plus this causes hum or buzz).

    The tone in/out circuitry has no gain matching, so it is much louder out of circuit.

    Lastly, the unit is wired for 110V. You will find thatthe tube heaters are running at about 7.6 volts and the HT is way higher than it should be. Thismeans all the operating points are out of whack.

    In short, this is a poorly designed preamp and no amount of boutique parts will rescue it fromabsolute mediocrity.

    I tried rebuilding mine, but gave up and builtsomething else in the case work.”


    I wonder if the manufacturer improved it since 2014. Maybe there are other people who actually tested tthis unit on a bench lately?
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  18. Tube Sound

    Tube Sound Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    The Xiang Sheng 728A looks amazing for the money. I'm using a modified and updated PAS-3X (bought from Tim on BT, iirc) and when thinking of upgrading I usually look at AR. When I listen to the 3X I always back away, it sounds so good. I have only used the 3X with tube amps. I would consider the 3X, although they have climbed in price, or follow Drugolf to the Xiang Sheng 728A. They practically give those away.

    TS
     
  19. Oneoff

    Oneoff AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    77
    How about dynavox tpr-3 preamp?
    It looks more simple electronically with just two tubes,but it has a MM MC inputs as well as line inputs and it’s under 300$ shipped.
    Any users here?
     
  20. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Super Member

    Messages:
    3,559
    Location:
    Iowa
    Another Yamaha pre advocate. My recapped C2a has knocked Spec 1, Accuphase C200, Hornshop The Truth, and a number of others from the top perch.
     
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