so -- yeah -- active (minimalist) two-channel preamps: what do you guyses like?

Since the topic came up elsewhere :) and I remain eternally curious to find a two-channel active line-level preamp that I like... what do you all use and like?

The complicating factor is I need a front end that's compatible with (and empathetic to) a single-ended direct-heated triode power amplifier. No global NFB, single voltage-amplifier (one section of a 6SL7 or 6SN7, etc.) driving a cathode-biased 2A3. Bare bones.

The amp could use more drive for the signal feeding the voltage amp.

Tried a variety of things -- nothing really high end (other than a couple of McIntosh products, which didn't float my boat), but have yet to find one I really liked the sound of relative to a passive TVC attenuator and source selector switch front end.

All that's needed is some gain/drive (more the latter), source switching and a good volume control (attenuator). Balance control would be nice, too.

Don't need any sissy remote, tone controls, etc. ;)

What do any of youse guyses like for such an application?
Thanks!

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Comments

  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    My favorites, in ranking order.

    Solid State - PS Audio GCP 200 - Pros: Invisible in chain (solid state or tube powered) to my ears, Balanced and SE inputs/outputs, remote, individual output gain settings, external PS, sub output. Cons: On the large size.

    May be able to pick one up for a nice price from PS Audio in their trade-up program?

    Tube based - Joule Electra LA-100MkIII. Pros: Uncolored gain with internally switchable level, remote, stand-by. Cons: Limited inputs/outputs (3/3) all SE.


  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,768
    I'll second the Joule, since I have one, but it's no slacker on drive....and sound, that's for sure.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    Tad 803 bookies
    Polk 500 surrounds
    Polk s35 center
    SVS SB-2000
    Sonos

    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1430 amp
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    ERA D5 bookies

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    This is good... thanks, folks!
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 2,530
    Not to threadjack, but, I've been very happy with my Joule and it will probably be on the market soon.
    Main System:
    Joule-Electra LA 100 MKIII
    Pass Labs Aleph 30, McCormack DNA-125, Parasound A21
    Marantz SA-14S1
    Usher CP-6311/Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, LSA-1
    Dual SVS SB2000
    Wireworld Equinox 7 bi-wire, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 IC

    Secondary Rig:
    Parasound P5, Audio Electronics by Cary Constellation
    Marsh a200s, Audio Elecrtonics by Cary Hercules
    Pioneer Elite DV-45a, Denon DVD-2910
    Klipsch Epic CF-1, Vandersteen 3CE sig
    Analysus Plus Oval

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    I beg your pardon?!?

    ;)

    In seriousness, I'll keep an eye peeled (isn't that an awful mental image??).
    Not sure I can afford it -- but lookin's free :)
  • hochpt21hochpt21 Posts: 5,043
    I thought I remember the Adcom GFP-750 being a pretty hot item on this forum a few years back...
    __________________________________________________
    2 Channel
    Turntable - VPI Scout 1.1/Ortofon 2M Blue
    Integrated Amplifier - Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II
    Speakers - GoldenEar Triton 2
    __________________________________________________
    7.1 Home Theater
    Denon AVR-X3300W; Rotel RMB-1066; Polk CS350ls, LS90's, FXi3's, RC60i; SVS PC Ultra; BenQ W1070; Elite Screens 120"
    __________________________________________________
    Man Cave
    Turntable - 1) Pro-Ject 2.9 Wood/Grado Gold; 2) Sony PS LX410/Grado Green
    Phono Stage - PS Audio GCPH, Parks Audio Budgie; CD - Marantz DV4001
    Preamp - Dared SL2000a, Luminous Audio Axiom II; Amplifier - Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers - SDA 2A (x-overs etc...); Epos Epic 2; Polk Audio Monitor 70 (my first)
    __________________________________________________
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,725
    edited November 2017
    They seem to be quite rare on the used market, can't find any for sale. I guess everyone who has one is holding onto it!
    hochpt21 wrote: »
    I thought I remember the Adcom GFP-750 being a pretty hot item on this forum a few years back...

    Got Dayens?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    Got to play with one of these for a bit last winter... it seemed pretty good, actually, but I didn't get to "live" with it, so my initial impression may not have held up.

    32650125070_3866df6a74_b.jpgDSC_7135 (2) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

    http://www.tubes4hifi.com/SP14.htm

    They're kind of not outrageously priced, but I don't know how good of an investment one would be.

  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    edited November 2017
    Mark,

    I built, and enjoyed, one of these a few years back. May have sold it here? Can't remember.

    TranscendentGGfront01.jpg


    Highly regarded, nice early winter project, not big money, no fancy remote. Investment? You so funny!

    Transcendent Sound Grounded Grid Preamp

    Edit: I have the plans for this in his book "Audio Reality" also.


  • voltzvoltz Posts: 4,984
    edited November 2017
    I really grown to love my Vincent hybrid preamp. The SA-31MK and until it went side by side with Marvin's deHavilland UltraVerve 3 Preamplifier it was as good as I remember a preamp being. and is about half the price of the Ulraverve 3.
    hmiz48hq434a.jpg
    zi7viyn09uvb.jpg

    2 ch- Polk CRS+ * Vincent SA-31MK Preamp * Vincent Sp-331 Amp * Marantz SA8005 SACD * Project Xperience Classic TT * Sumiko Blue Point #2 MC cartridge

    HT - Polk 703's * NAD T-758 * Adcom 5503 * Oppo 103 * Samsung 60" series 8 LCD
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,887
    Belles makes good preamps. For new and cheap, the Dayens Ampino preamp isn't bad either. I can't speak to its abilities against other preamps as I simply haven't had enough of them in to comment on, but I do know its got some good waves coming out of it.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    This is very helpful information -- do any of you have experience with any of these preamps and a single ended DHT power amp?
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 18,237
    edited November 2017
    Does the Pass X1 count as minimalist? I have had one in my rig for some time now and have zero desire to replace it. It performs very well with my tube amps.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with PS Audio NuWave Phono converter, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Stradivari v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X1 two channel preamplifier Signed by Poppa himself, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Krell Evolution 525a CD Player, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo UDP-205 Blu-ray , Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    I cannot imagine that there's a Pass product I could actually afford, unfortunately. I'll bet it is excellent.
  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 791
    I run a custom 6H30 with 2A3 amplification that is absolutely superb.

    setsystem.jpg

    While you can't buy this pre, you can buy the NOSValves NBS version that the circuit is taken from. Email [email protected] for information. Google NOSvalves NBS preamp for pictures.

    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    edited November 2017
    Thanks. I shall look into that -- I am not (at all) averse to DIY, although I know that preamps are hard to get quiet.
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 18,237
    edited November 2017
    https://www.audiogon.com/listings/solid-state-preamplifier-2017-10-28-preamplifiers

    Don't know why, but they seem to have bounced up in value recently. They were in the 1800 range not that long ago. I seem to remember paying 1600 when I got mine 5 years ago...
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with PS Audio NuWave Phono converter, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Stradivari v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X1 two channel preamplifier Signed by Poppa himself, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Krell Evolution 525a CD Player, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo UDP-205 Blu-ray , Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    I think that's about double what I'd prefer to spend.

    Ok, I'd prefer to find one at the dump, but, failing that...

    ;)

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    edited November 2017
    I actually do have an interesting soiled state stereo preamp that I found at the good ol' Harvard town dump. Somebody's DIY project, but quite nicely done.

    It is an interesting piece. I cannot say it's good -- but it is interesting.
    I used it for years in the basement with a Maggotbox (umm, I mean Magnavox) PP EL84 power amplifier and a variety of sources. It sits atop a Sony CDP and a Sony dual cassette deck in the photo below.

    10652425536_eb9ab10828_z.jpgEL84PPstereoconsole by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

    (driving the world's ugliest AR-3 loudspeakers; they sounded fine, though)

    I actually have a fairly nice GAS Thoebe that I've never actually tried with the SE 2A3 amp... it might be interesting to try...

    10091422313_dd0abaf0a4_b.jpgthoebe by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 791
    Great American Sound Thoebe. A James Bongiorno original. I haven't seen one of those in a while.
    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    The GAS preamps are surprisingly common in -- certain circles -- here in northern New England. They... weren't bad. :)
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    Of course, these are, regrettably, common around these parts, too ;)

    pgv7ppf3zgtb.png


    ;)
  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    Mark,

    I have a pristine PAS 3X in the closet that I've never gotten around to refreshing. What's regrettable about the PAT-4? Solid state?


  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    edited November 2017
    Not that it (the PAT-4, that is) is solid state per se --it is that it sounds pretty terrible. There are many well-documented improvements, but, all in all, it ain't a great piece.

    The PAT-5 was/is reputed to be better, but I cannot recall that I've ever heard one.

    FWIW: Opinions are very mixed on the PAS-3 family; I have rehabbed identically one in my life (a basic rehab -- for someone else); I thought it was OK when I was finished, but not everyone would agree.

    ddaw2krbhwla.png


  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    Do a search on eBay for Grounded Grid Preamp, Mark. Some very inexpensive DIY kits and fully populated driver/power supply board (sans power transformer) for cheap (from "Chi na" of course). Might be fun to play with?


  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    edited November 2017
    I have long been intrigued by the original GG preamp from Rozenblit, but have never heard one. The price is/was right. Does he still offer the kit? I haven't looked in a long time.

    I am aware of the third party iterations of Rozenblit's work, but they're not of much interest due to the abuse of his IP; thanks though.
  • deronb1deronb1 Posts: 4,296
    Parasound P\LD 1100 had very strong gain. Couldn't get mine past 9:00 without being too loud for me. Can be had for around $200.00 I'm guessing.
  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    I have long been intrigued by the original GG preamp from Rozenblit, but have never heard one. The price is/was right. Does he still offer the kit? I haven't looked in a long time.

    See my second post in this thread for link.
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    I am aware of the third party iterations of Rozenblit's work, but they're not of much interest due to the abuse of his IP; thanks though.

    IIRC, the plans for the GG were released to the public domain. Several of the ads I mentioned give recognition to Bruce.



  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,065
    THat's good -- I know early on he and I swapped a few e-mails about the ones on eBAY. He was irked about them but didn't have much enthusiasm about doing anything about it. Not sure if he could do much about it. Things may have changed (it was a number of years ago).

    I will go and look at the earlier link (which, I'll confess, I missed -- we've been fairly busy this week... and next week, of course, is "worse" in that regard).

    Thanks.
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