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!

"Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

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Comments

  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,600
    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.

    Main 2CH: Wadia 301 CDP | MacBook Air | PS Audio Digital Link III DAC with Cullen Level IV mods | Bluenote Bellavista turntable with Boston Audio Design "The Mat 1", B5 Signature Arm and DV-20X2H | The Clamp | PS Audio GCPH phono preamp | PS Audio GCP-200 preamp with external PS | Innersound active crossover/bass amp | Sanders Sound ESL panel amp | SVS PB12-Ultra/2 sub | Innersound Eros MK III Hybrid ESL speakers horizontally bi-amped | PS Audio PerfectWave P3 Power Plant | All cabling MIT Shotgun S1 | GIK acoustic treatments

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 27,812
    I'll second the Joule, since I have one, but it's no slacker on drive....and sound, that's for sure.
    legacy Focus 20/20
    Butler tdb 2250
    Cary Xciter dac
    Joule LA-100
    Pioneer BDP 320
    Sony 4k 55 850c
    FX 500 surround
    Acoustic zen Satori SC's
    Pioneer elite vsx21
    Sonos-Cullen mod.
    Audio Metallurgy GA-0 digital
    PS Audio Quintet
    Analysis Plus crystal ovals
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2's IC
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 587
    Bedroom 2 channel: NAD C316BEE, Marantz cd6004, Rotel RCD-1072, Sony SCD-CE595, Polk Audio LSiM 703, Audioquest Bedrock & King Cobra, Kimber Kable Tonik
    HT: Onkyo HT-RC360, Athena Micra 6
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    This is good... thanks, folks!
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 1,548
    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: 15,296
    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 :)
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • hochpt21hochpt21 Posts: 4,900
    I thought I remember the Adcom GFP-750 being a pretty hot item on this forum a few years back...
    __________________________________________________
    2 Channel
    Turntable - Pro-Ject 2.9 Wood/Grado Gold Cartridge
    Phono Stage - PS Audio GCPH
    Preamplifier - Dared SL-2000A
    Amplifier - McCormack DNA 0.5 Deluxe
    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 - Sony PS-LX410/Grado Green Cartridge
    Phono Stage - Parks Audio Budgie
    CD - Marantz DV4001
    Passive Pre - 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: 587
    edited November 17
    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...

    Bedroom 2 channel: NAD C316BEE, Marantz cd6004, Rotel RCD-1072, Sony SCD-CE595, Polk Audio LSiM 703, Audioquest Bedrock & King Cobra, Kimber Kable Tonik
    HT: Onkyo HT-RC360, Athena Micra 6
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    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.

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,600
    edited November 17
    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.

    Main 2CH: Wadia 301 CDP | MacBook Air | PS Audio Digital Link III DAC with Cullen Level IV mods | Bluenote Bellavista turntable with Boston Audio Design "The Mat 1", B5 Signature Arm and DV-20X2H | The Clamp | PS Audio GCPH phono preamp | PS Audio GCP-200 preamp with external PS | Innersound active crossover/bass amp | Sanders Sound ESL panel amp | SVS PB12-Ultra/2 sub | Innersound Eros MK III Hybrid ESL speakers horizontally bi-amped | PS Audio PerfectWave P3 Power Plant | All cabling MIT Shotgun S1 | GIK acoustic treatments

  • voltzvoltz Posts: 4,681
    edited November 17
    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: 13,648
    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: P3ESR, 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: CP-6311, Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S60, S55, S35, S30, S20, S15, RTA 15tl, Sonner Audio Allegro Unum
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Dayens Ampino, Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, AURALiC Altair, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    This is very helpful information -- do any of you have experience with any of these preamps and a single ended DHT power amp?
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 16,602
    edited November 17
    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 Pass Labs Xono twin chassis phono preamplifier, 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, Pioneer PDD 9MkII SACD Player, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo BDP-95 Bluray, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    I cannot imagine that there's a Pass product I could actually afford, unfortunately. I'll bet it is excellent.
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 759
    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 craig@nosvalves.com for information. Google NOSvalves NBS preamp for pictures.

    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, Lounge phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Aries Mini DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY "ST70" amplifier, Olive3 server, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns
    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: 15,296
    edited November 17
    Thanks. I shall look into that -- I am not (at all) averse to DIY, although I know that preamps are hard to get quiet.
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 16,602
    edited November 17
    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 Pass Labs Xono twin chassis phono preamplifier, 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, Pioneer PDD 9MkII SACD Player, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo BDP-95 Bluray, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    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...

    ;)

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    edited November 17
    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
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 759
    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, Lounge phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Aries Mini DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY "ST70" amplifier, Olive3 server, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns
    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: 15,296
    The GAS preamps are surprisingly common in -- certain circles -- here in northern New England. They... weren't bad. :)
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    Of course, these are, regrettably, common around these parts, too ;)

    pgv7ppf3zgtb.png


    ;)
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,600
    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?

    Main 2CH: Wadia 301 CDP | MacBook Air | PS Audio Digital Link III DAC with Cullen Level IV mods | Bluenote Bellavista turntable with Boston Audio Design "The Mat 1", B5 Signature Arm and DV-20X2H | The Clamp | PS Audio GCPH phono preamp | PS Audio GCP-200 preamp with external PS | Innersound active crossover/bass amp | Sanders Sound ESL panel amp | SVS PB12-Ultra/2 sub | Innersound Eros MK III Hybrid ESL speakers horizontally bi-amped | PS Audio PerfectWave P3 Power Plant | All cabling MIT Shotgun S1 | GIK acoustic treatments

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    edited November 18
    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


    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,600
    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?

    Main 2CH: Wadia 301 CDP | MacBook Air | PS Audio Digital Link III DAC with Cullen Level IV mods | Bluenote Bellavista turntable with Boston Audio Design "The Mat 1", B5 Signature Arm and DV-20X2H | The Clamp | PS Audio GCPH phono preamp | PS Audio GCP-200 preamp with external PS | Innersound active crossover/bass amp | Sanders Sound ESL panel amp | SVS PB12-Ultra/2 sub | Innersound Eros MK III Hybrid ESL speakers horizontally bi-amped | PS Audio PerfectWave P3 Power Plant | All cabling MIT Shotgun S1 | GIK acoustic treatments

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    edited November 18
    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.
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • deronb1deronb1 Posts: 3,958
    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: 6,600
    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.


    Main 2CH: Wadia 301 CDP | MacBook Air | PS Audio Digital Link III DAC with Cullen Level IV mods | Bluenote Bellavista turntable with Boston Audio Design "The Mat 1", B5 Signature Arm and DV-20X2H | The Clamp | PS Audio GCPH phono preamp | PS Audio GCP-200 preamp with external PS | Innersound active crossover/bass amp | Sanders Sound ESL panel amp | SVS PB12-Ultra/2 sub | Innersound Eros MK III Hybrid ESL speakers horizontally bi-amped | PS Audio PerfectWave P3 Power Plant | All cabling MIT Shotgun S1 | GIK acoustic treatments

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,296
    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.
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

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