Jump to content

Looking for a New Preamp-- What Preamp Are You Using? Especially Interested in Tube Pre's Thanks!


Recommended Posts

*Updated title hoping to spur more input what are you guys using for Preamps?* 


As the title states I've been looking at updating my Sunfire Preamp it's old and I'm sure the weak link in my system right now. I was originally thinking about a Tube preamp but most don't have the features I want. What I'd like bare minimum is remote control and tone controls, loudness button would be nice so would sub controls but I could live without those.


 I have a nice Topping DAC so built in isn't needed but if like the Parasound it comes with a quality built in DAC I can move my Topping to a different system. I can't find too many reviews on the P6 so curious if anyone here has or has had one that would care to comment? Also any suggestions on a good Preamp are welcome as well, will be paired with my Carver Tube amp. My concern with the Parasound is that it may not be much different than my Sunfire Topping combo? thanks!


*Edit:  I do have a mini-DSP and Mic so my thoughts have been just ordering a 10 Octave tube Pre and adding PEQ's if needed to get the sound I like but would rather not need that extra step or equipment if it can be helped. 


Preamps that have been on my radar:


Carver RPM V12 not out yet, $2950 with 12 tubes 7 of which are dedicated to phono stage which I will never use but does have a remote and loudness button:




10 Octave LP1R $1299 remote but no tone controls or anything else for that matter:




Parasound P6 $1599 remote, tone controls, sub controls and a nice DAC: 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, Schu said:

what about a passive with remote?


 I'm not sure what the difference is if I run my DAC with remote straight to my amp I get almost no bass for some reason I'm sure at least partially due to the fact my speakers are "hot" from the factory for behind screen use. Kind of looking for something a bit warmer sounding but tone controls or loudness function are almost a must have or like I said I can add the mini-DSP and try to EQ the sound after the fact. If I'm going to do that though I should probably try it out with what I already have now. 


 One of the reasons I'm curious about trying a new Pre is I've had the Sunfire Tube Pre before and thought it easily bested my TG-IV just wasn't practical at the time so I figure there has to be other gear out there that can easily best a 20 year old processor and I'm on a tube kick that's why I'm a little hesitant about the Parasound. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • jjptkd changed the title to Looking for a New Preamp-- What Preamp Are You Using? Especially Interested in Tube Pre's Thanks!

Currently using Emotiva basx PT-100 on 2 systems. Good bang for buck, but the remote and changing settings irritate me. Not sure what they offer currently on the higher end, but might be worth a look. On a third system I’m using an Audio Research LS3… Dead silent pushing Polk SDA2 through a Carver TFM-35. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, jjptkd said:

what you guys are using for preamps? Thanks.

I've never had a "high-end" preamp, but throughout my audio years I have listened to more equipment than I can remember. One of the main reasons for learning how to design and build my own gear was because I could not afford the "audiophile high-end" gear. I remember listening to a Perreaux preamp decades ago and it did not sound worth a fraction of what it cost. 


I have two main preamps that I use for listening, testing and evaluation purposes, an NAD 1240 (also have a NAD 1130, which is nearly Identical) and a Kenwood C1. These units are op-amp based and have allowed me swap out just about every op-amp made for comparison purposes. The NAD and Kenwood have very different designs, which is one reason I have these two units. The NAD has a discrete transistor fully regulated power supply, the Kenwood has a full-wave voltage doubler Zener regulated power supply. 


These units have been refurbished with fresh electrolytic caps and resistors matched to within 1% in critical areas such as tone control circuits. I prefer bi-polar input type op-amps vs Bi-FET's. The bi-polar's are much quieter usually. 


Despite their relatively low cost, these preamps add almost zero coloration when placed in the system. I have tested a high output CD player with a passive control into my system and A-B'd the difference inserting the NAD/Kenwood preamps into the system; I can't tell a difference. I have to guess what is or is not in the system. 


I gravitate toward using the NAD more because it has an excellent low frequency EQ function as well as a very nice loudness function that boosts low & high frequencies. 


I also have a tube preamp I made based on a 6V6GT with cathode follower. I also have a Phase Linear Series 1 4000 preamp, that I restored and use occasionally. It is mainly for nostalgic purposes. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you really like the sound of your system, the suggestion of a passive pre is a good one. You likely don’t like the sound of your DAC directly into the amp because it utilizes a volume control in the digital domain, so you are throwing away bits and resolution as you attenuate. A good passive using an excellent attenuator is the Hattor Audio preamp. The volume control of any preamp is the heart of it, and even some very expensive active preamps use cheap ALPs pots for this duty. Read up on this preamp and I think you’ll be impressed. After all, using horns and a tube amp assures you have the stars aligned for a passive device.



  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking at a few different preamps and tone control options for my system; Shiit Freya + and RME ADI-2 FS are at the top of my list right now. Others I have looked at are the Quicksilver Line Stage and the Rogue Audio RP-1. I've also been looking at the stand alone tone controls from Shiit and Bellari to compliment a pre without adjustments that's when I stumbled across another Preamp thread I had forgotten about, reading through it made me look a little closer at @Westcoastdrums RME DAC with built in DSP. 


 Searching eBay for Shiit products ran across a couple odd / funny listings:








  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not saying DAC to amp will work for everyone, but I guess if your amp and DAC shake hands electronically, I have found my DAC to pair well with plenty of amps I have tried.  The owners manual describes their digital algorithm for how they keep the sound optimized regardless of the trim level.   Peq, tone controls, balance and many other features are nice to have on the fly as well remote controlled. Price point is nice also. Are there better units?  Certainly. Very high bang for the buck this unit offers for me. Good luck on your search. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...