Looking for a new preamp

So you rotten enabling basteges are making me think I need to look into upgrading my old B&K Reference 50 Pre/Pro with a dedicated 2 ch. pre. Not sure if I want to go solid state or tube. What I do want is balanced outputs (and preferably inputs) and a remote. Also not over 10 years old as I don't want something that needs rebuilt. Hoping what I find will be my end game pre as I'm not looking for unobtainium. Let's say budget is in the $800 range.

Thoughts on brands/models?
One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
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Comments

  • motorstereomotorstereo Posts: 1,493
    A 10 year old end game pre for $800???? I've never seen or heard of such a thing but I wish you good luck.
    With St. Patty's day approaching perhaps finding a bouquet of 4 leaf clovers first might help :)
  • tophatjohnnytophatjohnny Posts: 2,965
    The end game part killed me! 😂
    "if it's not fun, it's not worth it & remember folks, "It's All About The Music"!!
    *****************************
  • motorhead43026motorhead43026 Posts: 3,668
    There is a Parasound P5 for sale in the FM for 7 Benjamins.
    2 channel: Anthem 225 Integrated amp; Parasound Ztuner; TechnicsTT SL1350; Vincent PHO-8 phono pre; Marantz CD6005 spinner; Polk SDA2BTL's; LAT International speaker cables, ZU Mission IC's and power cables all into a PS Audio Dectet Power center.

    Other; S60'S, M10 series II, M7C's, Hafler XL600 amp, RB-980BX, Parasound HCA-1500 amp , P5 preamp, all in storage. All vintage Polk have had crossover rebuilds and tweeter upgrades.

    There are three things that give a man a false sense of courage, a keyboard, alcohol and a firearm.
    Motorhead, 4.12.20

    tonyb said " but even socialists can do a good thing here and there

    Social media makes dumb people dumber and smart people dumb and dumber.
  • Mikey081057Mikey081057 Posts: 7,195
    My New Year's resolution is 3840 × 2160

    Family Room| Marantz AV7704| Usher Dancer Mini - 2 DMD Mains |Usher Dancer Mini-x DMD's Surrounds | Usher BE-616 DMD Center | SVS Ultra Rear Surrounds | Parasound Halo A21 | Parsound Halo A52+ | MIT Shotgun S3's | Dual SVS SB 4000 Ultras | Oppo UDP 203 | Directv Genie HD DVR | Samsung 75" Q8 QLED | PSAudio Stellar GCD | Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ | Lumin U1 Mini | HP Elite Slice PC | ROON'd for life |

    ManCave: HT:Polk LSiM 706VR3 LSiM 703's LSiM 702's|| Marantz AV7002 AV PrePro Sunfire TGA-7401| Sony PS4 Pro| Sony PS4 Pro|SVS PB13 Ultra| Oppo UDP 203 | Music Hall MMF 5.3se TT w/ Soundsmith Carmen | Samsung 55" SUHD TV | Sony PS4

    Patio | Polk Atrium 8's | Yamaha R-N303BL |

    Office BlueSound Node| KEF LS50 | Peactree Nova 125SE |

    Bedroom | Focal 905's | Chromecast Audio |

    Garage | Polk Monitor 5B's

    Closet Yamaha M80 | 2 Polk MP3K subs| Yaqin MC100B with Shuguang Treasures KT 88's & CV181Z's | Tesla E83CC's | Marantz 2252B | Marantz 2385 |Polk SDA SRS 2.3 | LSiM 705's |
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,403
    Yep....perfect.
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: PSB Imagine T2
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,454
    In that price range, your not going to get everything you want. The P-5 for sale in the FM is about the best your going to do to match what you want. I wouldn't call it an end game piece though.

    If your looking for just better sound than what the B&k offers, on the cheap, there's a MF 3cr pre for 600 on US Audiomart.

    BTW, what speakers are you running ? I ask because of your request for balanced connections. Usually the higher sensitive speakers require balanced connections because the noise floor in your system is more easily heard.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,604
    Although the Parasound is a great deal, I am not sure it is much of an improvement in analog sound quality over the Reference 50. Seems like a lateral move with more up to date features including some that may not be needed. I had a Reference 50 and it was pretty good for two channel itself. It was an expensive and well designed piece of gear when it first came out.

    I would recommend a bare bones tube preamp for something truly different. Trouble with that is balanced connections usually come with a bigger price tag and getting a good set of tubes can cost a significant amount too.
    1. Polk LSiM707, 704C, 703; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz SR7011 receiver; Parasound A31 amp; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S2 cables
    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Sonic Frontiers Line 3 Preamp; Classe Model 25 amp; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Oppo 105D; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio Power Director; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Parasound JC2BP and A23; Sony 48" 4K TV; Wyred4Sound DAC 2; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; MIT S3 cables
  • Mr_HzMr_Hz Posts: 176
    Not listed anywhere, but I have a new/'never used' Parasound Halo JC-2 BP in black. Long story why I never used it. Fantastic solid state 2ch pre. But I'd be looking to get in the ~2500 range. PM me if interested.
    2.3TL's - Living Room
    CRS+'s (4.1 TL's) - Office
    SDA1C's - Famdamly Rm
    SDA1C's - Master Bedroom
  • motorhead43026motorhead43026 Posts: 3,668
    edited March 2019
    ^^long way from $800.00. But this would be end game for someone.
    2 channel: Anthem 225 Integrated amp; Parasound Ztuner; TechnicsTT SL1350; Vincent PHO-8 phono pre; Marantz CD6005 spinner; Polk SDA2BTL's; LAT International speaker cables, ZU Mission IC's and power cables all into a PS Audio Dectet Power center.

    Other; S60'S, M10 series II, M7C's, Hafler XL600 amp, RB-980BX, Parasound HCA-1500 amp , P5 preamp, all in storage. All vintage Polk have had crossover rebuilds and tweeter upgrades.

    There are three things that give a man a false sense of courage, a keyboard, alcohol and a firearm.
    Motorhead, 4.12.20

    tonyb said " but even socialists can do a good thing here and there

    Social media makes dumb people dumber and smart people dumb and dumber.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 8,126
    PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp $1,100 if you can stretch the budget.
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,284
    Thanks guys. Sounds like I just need to save up some more coin.
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • verbverb Posts: 10,203
    edited March 2019
    At about the $1000 range you can go tubes. I did on the VTL 2.5 and also the EAR 834L. To me, the improvement was stunning.

    Although not balanced connections.
    Basement: Polk SDA SRS,Cary SLP-05 Pre,Enlightened Audio Designs CD Transport,Northstar Designs Excelsio DAC,Cambridge 851N streamer,Marantz SA-14 SACD,McIntosh MC300 Amp,Silnote Morpheus Ref2 Digital Cable,Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner,Pangea Power Cables,Wireworld Oasis 8 RCA IC's,MIT Shotgun S3 IC's,MIT Shotgun S1 Bi-Wire speaker cables
    Office: PC,EAR Acute CD Player,EAR 834L Pre,Northstar Designs Intenso DAC,PASS ACA Monoblocks,Denon UDR-F10 Cassette,Acoustic Technologies Classic FR Speakers,SVS SB12 Plus sub,MIT AVt2 speaker cables,IFI Purifier2,AQ Cinnamon USB cable,Groneberg Quatro Reference IC's
    Spare Room: Antique Sound Labs Wave AV-8 Monoblocks,Tisbury Mini Passive Pre,Tjoeb 99 tube CD player (modified Marantz CD-38),Analysis Plus Oval 9's,Zu Jumpers,AudioEngine B1 Streamer,Klipsch RB-61 v2,SVS PB1000 sub,Blue Jeans RCA IC's
    Living Room: Peachtree Nova Integrated,Cambridge CXN v2 Streamer,Rotel RCD-1072 CD player,Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner,Polk RT265 In Wall Speakers,Polk DSW Pro 660wi sub
  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 14,617
    I have a Cary CPA-1 in your price range that fits all of your criteria with the exception of "end game". That's a tough one to get at the price point you suggested. It does not have your preferred balanced inputs but it does have balanced outputs.

    Someone else has dibs on it but if it falls through, it can be yours if you want it. FWIW.

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    ~ The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction ~

    ~ Not all things that can be measured can be heard and not all things heard can be measured ~

    ~ When the law ends, tyranny begins ~
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 22,749
    edited March 2019
    audioluvr wrote: »
    So you rotten enabling basteges are making me think I need to look into upgrading my old B&K Reference 50 Pre/Pro with a dedicated 2 ch. pre. Not sure if I want to go solid state or tube. What I do want is balanced outputs (and preferably inputs) and a remote. Also not over 10 years old as I don't want something that needs rebuilt. Hoping what I find will be my end game pre as I'm not looking for unobtainium. Let's say budget is in the $800 range.

    Thoughts on brands/models?
    Save your coin for a while and look for a Pass Labs X2.5...... Endgame for 1800 or so...

    https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649504579-pass-labs-x25/

    According to his ad, he seems eager to deal on it.. I would offer 1250 on it and see how eager he is. Pass Labs service is exceptional, so I would have it sent there first before coming to you and have them give it a look before it comes to you. When they ship it to you, you will think you bought a brand new one.

    http://www.enjoythemusic.com/superioraudio/equipment/0905/passlabsalephx25.htm
    Post edited by nooshinjohn on
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with Pass Labs Xono Phono Preamp, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Goldfinger Diamond v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X0.2 three chassis preamp, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Krell Evolution 505 SACD Player, Pioneer Elite SC-LX701, Oppo UDP-205 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB800 "in-wall" surrounds.

    I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” .

    “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
  • tlainharttlainhart Posts: 66
    Don't know about "end game", but I recently purchased a Schiit Freya that I'm happy with. Balanced ins/outs, tube, JFET or passive.

    https://www.schiit.com/products/freya
  • dragon1952dragon1952 Posts: 4,736
    Eastern Electric Minimax preamp, if you can find one with the Tom Tutay mods, would be a great choice in that price range. Many people think you'd have to spend upwards of $3-4K to do better.
    ____________________________
    2 channel - PS Audio Stellar S300 amp, PS Audio DirectStream DAC, audio optimized NUC7i5 running Windows 10 Pro/JRiver MC24, Matrix X-SPDIF 2 USB interface, Blackbird SSD dock with 500 GB Samsung 860 EVO, Tom Tutay modded EE Minimax preamp, Furman Elite 15 Pfi power conditioner, Martin Logan Electromotion ESL speakers, Rythmik F12SE subwoofer, Kimber 4TC speaker wire, Gabriel Gold Reflection V2 IC's, VH Audio power cords, Wireworld USB and HDMI/I2S cables
    Computer - Windows 7/JRiver, Topping D10 DAC, Fostex PMO.4n monitors
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,284
    edited March 2019
    My end game expectations are probably different than some of yours...

    Good ideas so far! Thanks everyone!
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • delkaldelkal Posts: 679
    edited March 2019
    Aric Audio Unlimited tube pre? Pretty much bare bones and only RCA but custom hand made in the US. He lists the model with a phono pre for more on his website but has been listing a linestage one for $800 on Ebay (Not currently though).

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Aric-Audio-Unlimited-Stereo-Tube-Line-Preamp-phono-stage-not-INCLUDED-/153363421375?_trksid=p2047675.m43663.l10137&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true

  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,284
    So looks like I'm leaning towards the Cary line of pre's.
    treitz3 wrote: »
    I have a Cary CPA-1 in your price range that fits all of your criteria with the exception of "end game". That's a tough one to get at the price point you suggested. It does not have your preferred balanced inputs but it does have balanced outputs.

    Someone else has dibs on it but if it falls through, it can be yours if you want it. FWIW.

    Tom

    Tom, Thanks for the offer! It would be a good step up for me I believe. Hifiengine says it does have both XLR inputs and outputs. You sure?

    I was also looking at the Cary SL-100's if I chose to stay with solid state. Not 100% sure I want to go SS or tube yet. Just seems tubes require a lot of tweaking to get the sound you like and I'm not a big tinkerer. I just like to sit down with a drink and enjoy the music.

    Ultimately I want to replace my B&K pre with something I can enjoy for the next 15-20 years. I have reached out to @acmf74 who has a Cary SLP-03 for sale.
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,454
    Tweeking with tubes is easy, as opposed to having to buy/sell SS gear you don't like the sound of. I see that as a benefit, not a fault.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • pglbookpglbook Posts: 1,862
    dragon1952 wrote: »
    Eastern Electric Minimax preamp, if you can find one with the Tom Tutay mods, would be a great choice in that price range. Many people think you'd have to spend upwards of $3-4K to do better.[/quote}

    I can second the Eastern Electric MiniMax suggestion. I bought one a few weeks ago from a PF member and absolutely love it (the one I have does not have the mods which dragon1952 mentioned). It is a great pre and a great value at its price point and would be within your budget. Plus it is a great way for a tube newbie (as I still am) to get into tubes as the MiniMax only has 3 (very accessible) tubes. You have to be patient looking for one though as they do not routinely come up for sale.
  • pglbookpglbook Posts: 1,862
    dragon1952 wrote: »
    Eastern Electric Minimax preamp, if you can find one with the Tom Tutay mods, would be a great choice in that price range. Many people think you'd have to spend upwards of $3-4K to do better.

    I can second the Eastern Electric MiniMax suggestion. I bought one a few weeks ago from a PF member and absolutely love it (the one I have does not have the mods which dragon1952 mentioned). It is a great pre and a great value at its price point and would be within your budget. Plus it is a great way for a tube newbie (as I still am) to get into tubes as the MiniMax only has 3 (very accessible) tubes. You have to be patient looking for one though as they do not routinely come up for sale.
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,284
    edited March 2019
    tonyb wrote: »
    Tweeking with tubes is easy, as opposed to having to buy/sell SS gear you don't like the sound of. I see that as a benefit, not a fault.

    Good point.

    The EEM's don't have XLR or remote. Since I've already invested heavily (to me) in this for what I have I wanted to stick with that. Also no remote no go. I'm lazy...

    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • verbverb Posts: 10,203
    audioluvr wrote: »
    So looks like I'm leaning towards the Cary line of pre's.
    treitz3 wrote: »
    I have a Cary CPA-1 in your price range that fits all of your criteria with the exception of "end game". That's a tough one to get at the price point you suggested. It does not have your preferred balanced inputs but it does have balanced outputs.

    Someone else has dibs on it but if it falls through, it can be yours if you want it. FWIW.

    Tom

    Tom, Thanks for the offer! It would be a good step up for me I believe. Hifiengine says it does have both XLR inputs and outputs. You sure?

    I was also looking at the Cary SL-100's if I chose to stay with solid state. Not 100% sure I want to go SS or tube yet. Just seems tubes require a lot of tweaking to get the sound you like and I'm not a big tinkerer. I just like to sit down with a drink and enjoy the music.

    Ultimately I want to replace my B&K pre with something I can enjoy for the next 15-20 years. I have reached out to @acmf74 who has a Cary SLP-03 for sale.

    TOOBS dude! :smile:
    Basement: Polk SDA SRS,Cary SLP-05 Pre,Enlightened Audio Designs CD Transport,Northstar Designs Excelsio DAC,Cambridge 851N streamer,Marantz SA-14 SACD,McIntosh MC300 Amp,Silnote Morpheus Ref2 Digital Cable,Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner,Pangea Power Cables,Wireworld Oasis 8 RCA IC's,MIT Shotgun S3 IC's,MIT Shotgun S1 Bi-Wire speaker cables
    Office: PC,EAR Acute CD Player,EAR 834L Pre,Northstar Designs Intenso DAC,PASS ACA Monoblocks,Denon UDR-F10 Cassette,Acoustic Technologies Classic FR Speakers,SVS SB12 Plus sub,MIT AVt2 speaker cables,IFI Purifier2,AQ Cinnamon USB cable,Groneberg Quatro Reference IC's
    Spare Room: Antique Sound Labs Wave AV-8 Monoblocks,Tisbury Mini Passive Pre,Tjoeb 99 tube CD player (modified Marantz CD-38),Analysis Plus Oval 9's,Zu Jumpers,AudioEngine B1 Streamer,Klipsch RB-61 v2,SVS PB1000 sub,Blue Jeans RCA IC's
    Living Room: Peachtree Nova Integrated,Cambridge CXN v2 Streamer,Rotel RCD-1072 CD player,Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner,Polk RT265 In Wall Speakers,Polk DSW Pro 660wi sub
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 24,137
    Tubes add soul!

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Plus DAC | MIT Shotgun S3 | MIT Z P/C's | updated SDA 1C| SQ Box Touch/Welbourne Labs P/S- Tubes add soul!
  • Schiit Freya tubed, it’s new great service and <$700. Seems to fit the bill.

    ray
    Ray Campbell
    Bucyrus, Ohio
    Carver Research Lightstar.....words fail me
  • ALL212ALL212 Posts: 1,194
    tlainhart wrote: »
    Don't know about "end game", but I recently purchased a Schiit Freya that I'm happy with. Balanced ins/outs, tube, JFET or passive.

    https://www.schiit.com/products/freya

    Yep... fills your bill and easily resold if you hate it. I've got the Saga and it's very impressive.
    Aaron
    Enabler Extraordinaire
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 24,137
    Schitt is getting real!
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Plus DAC | MIT Shotgun S3 | MIT Z P/C's | updated SDA 1C| SQ Box Touch/Welbourne Labs P/S- Tubes add soul!
  • Mikey081057Mikey081057 Posts: 7,195
    Where do you sell Schitt ?
    My New Year's resolution is 3840 × 2160

    Family Room| Marantz AV7704| Usher Dancer Mini - 2 DMD Mains |Usher Dancer Mini-x DMD's Surrounds | Usher BE-616 DMD Center | SVS Ultra Rear Surrounds | Parasound Halo A21 | Parsound Halo A52+ | MIT Shotgun S3's | Dual SVS SB 4000 Ultras | Oppo UDP 203 | Directv Genie HD DVR | Samsung 75" Q8 QLED | PSAudio Stellar GCD | Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ | Lumin U1 Mini | HP Elite Slice PC | ROON'd for life |

    ManCave: HT:Polk LSiM 706VR3 LSiM 703's LSiM 702's|| Marantz AV7002 AV PrePro Sunfire TGA-7401| Sony PS4 Pro| Sony PS4 Pro|SVS PB13 Ultra| Oppo UDP 203 | Music Hall MMF 5.3se TT w/ Soundsmith Carmen | Samsung 55" SUHD TV | Sony PS4

    Patio | Polk Atrium 8's | Yamaha R-N303BL |

    Office BlueSound Node| KEF LS50 | Peactree Nova 125SE |

    Bedroom | Focal 905's | Chromecast Audio |

    Garage | Polk Monitor 5B's

    Closet Yamaha M80 | 2 Polk MP3K subs| Yaqin MC100B with Shuguang Treasures KT 88's & CV181Z's | Tesla E83CC's | Marantz 2252B | Marantz 2385 |Polk SDA SRS 2.3 | LSiM 705's |
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,284
    In the long run, would I be better off with Schitt or Cary?
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
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