Preamp Suggestions

JimmyS

Well-Known Member
Sep 1, 2013
143
21
70
Chicago, IL
#1
So I've been kicking around the idea in my head of a new preamp, and with Axpona just around the corner I figured it would be a good time to get some idea's of what to look into. I'm hoping you all can help fill in some candidates for me to have a look at :).

Current preamp is a Pass XP20, which is between my Pass XA100.5's and a ARC Ref2SE for analog and dCS Rossini for digital. Speakers are Magico S3's

I don't think there is anything "wrong" with the XP20, as its been in my system while everything else was upgraded around it.

Requirements are:
1. must have at least 2 sets of XLR inputs and 1 set of XLR outputs
2. budget is ~$15K (yes, will consider used options in budget)
3. Sound preference is "Neutral" for the preamp. Tubes are OK.

So far the list I have started is:
Pass XP30
ARC Ref 6

Any additional recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Jimmy
 

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,454
31
225
Mass
#2
So I've been kicking around the idea in my head of a new preamp, and with Axpona just around the corner I figured it would be a good time to get some idea's of what to look into. I'm hoping you all can help fill in some candidates for me to have a look at :).

Current preamp is a Pass XP20, which is between my Pass XA100.5's and a ARC Ref2SE for analog and dCS Rossini for digital. Speakers are Magico S3's

I don't think there is anything "wrong" with the XP20, as its been in my system while everything else was upgraded around it.

Requirements are:
1. must have at least 2 sets of XLR inputs and 1 set of XLR outputs
2. budget is ~$15K (yes, will consider used options in budget)
3. Sound preference is "Neutral" for the preamp. Tubes are OK.

So far the list I have started is:
Pass XP30
ARC Ref 6

Any additional recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Jimmy
Preamps! One of my fave topics. How much are you looking to improve the sound vs change the sound? For example, going up the chain in Pass will retain the same 'flavor' of your overall sound while going to the Ref 6 will change it to a different flavor.
 
#5
So I've been kicking around the idea in my head of a new preamp, and with Axpona just around the corner I figured it would be a good time to get some idea's of what to look into. I'm hoping you all can help fill in some candidates for me to have a look at :).

Current preamp is a Pass XP20, which is between my Pass XA100.5's and a ARC Ref2SE for analog and dCS Rossini for digital. Speakers are Magico S3's

I don't think there is anything "wrong" with the XP20, as its been in my system while everything else was upgraded around it.

Requirements are:
1. must have at least 2 sets of XLR inputs and 1 set of XLR outputs
2. budget is ~$15K (yes, will consider used options in budget)
3. Sound preference is "Neutral" for the preamp. Tubes are OK.

So far the list I have started is:
Pass XP30
ARC Ref 6

Any additional recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Jimmy
Audio Note M8, or Audio Note Kit The Mentor if budget tighter. Or look to Areas Cerat.
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,801
193
280
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#6
I'd definitely go with the XP-30. I've been using one for a few years and wouldn't trade it for anything.. (except maybe the newer XS.. ). It's old enough now you could probably get it for $8-9k..

Just looked on A-gon. Madfloyd has his XS forsale at $17k now. If you can stretch your budget, I'd certainly go for that one!!!
 
Jul 9, 2011
817
1
16
Chicago, IL
#7
I had an XP30, an Xs Pre and now have an ARC Ref10. My first choice would be the Ref 10 and there is one listed for $17K on Audiogon, but unfortunately it's in Amsterdam. I wouldn't touch it for that reason but that's me. The other great choice is Mad Floyd's Xs at an incredible price. You'd be foolish not to jump on it. I like the XP30 but the Xs is far superior. Again, my opinion.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
13,371
2,799
460
London
#8
So I've been kicking around the idea in my head of a new preamp, and with Axpona just around the corner I figured it would be a good time to get some idea's of what to look into. I'm hoping you all can help fill in some candidates for me to have a look at :).

Current preamp is a Pass XP20, which is between my Pass XA100.5's and a ARC Ref2SE for analog and dCS Rossini for digital. Speakers are Magico S3's

I don't think there is anything "wrong" with the XP20, as its been in my system while everything else was upgraded around it.

Requirements are:
1. must have at least 2 sets of XLR inputs and 1 set of XLR outputs
2. budget is ~$15K (yes, will consider used options in budget)
3. Sound preference is "Neutral" for the preamp. Tubes are OK.

So far the list I have started is:
Pass XP30
ARC Ref 6

Any additional recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Jimmy
These are very different sound of preamps. There could easily be a few audiophiles who like one and not the other, as they are dissimilar. So advise would mean little, except for synergy, which points to Pass. Check with Madfloyd, he knows this amp and preamps well.
 

JimmyS

Well-Known Member
Sep 1, 2013
143
21
70
Chicago, IL
#10
Preamps! One of my fave topics. How much are you looking to improve the sound vs change the sound? For example, going up the chain in Pass will retain the same 'flavor' of your overall sound while going to the Ref 6 will change it to a different flavor.
Good question..... The XP20 has seen 3 sets of speakers, 3 DACs, two turntable setups, and the xa30.5 and xa60.5's. So the original thought was to determine if an improvement can be made over the current preamp.
 

JimmyS

Well-Known Member
Sep 1, 2013
143
21
70
Chicago, IL
#11
These are very different sound of preamps. There could easily be a few audiophiles who like one and not the other, as they are dissimilar. So advise would mean little, except for synergy, which points to Pass. Check with Madfloyd, he knows this amp and preamps well.
Thanks. I will be able to home audition the Pass and ARC offerings, which will help learn of the differences in my own system.

The original question was intended to ask for help to form a list of possibilities to explore during Axpona (I can't keep up with all the options out there). This way I can get an initial listen and speak with the local dealer about a possible home audition if I like what I hear.
 
Jan 29, 2012
1,597
730
210
#12
Highly recommend Mark at Reno High-fi if you are in the market for used Pass amps/preamps. I've had nothing but stellar interactions for everything Pass/First Watt.
 

iaxel

Active Member
Oct 25, 2016
151
15
33
#13
Subscribing! (as I have the same speakers)

What about that Bespoke passive? Is it worth its price, or is it just like the ones from Music First/Townshend?
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
13,371
2,799
460
London
#14
I had an XP30, an Xs Pre and now have an ARC Ref10. My first choice would be the Ref 10 and there is one listed for $17K on Audiogon, but unfortunately it's in Amsterdam. I wouldn't touch it for that reason but that's me. The other great choice is Mad Floyd's Xs at an incredible price. You'd be foolish not to jump on it. I like the XP30 but the Xs is far superior. Again, my opinion.
+1 on this.

Having compared the Ref 10 with the older Dartzeel model and Ypsilon PST mk 1, into the constellation insipid amp, the Ref 10 was clearly ahead. The Ypsilon and Dart were equal into the dart amp and Ypsilon edged ahead on the constellation, but the ARC was another league. With the external power supply and whatever they have done, it is now more resolving unlike the lower models. And like Roy Gregory says on his review, it is muscle, loud, big. The orchestra expands and rises and falls much better. Speakers were Alexias and source was the Lampi.

So now this is my favorite pre even with the stock tubes. I can imagine it will only get better with Harlequin's tube rolls.

The one thing was that some vocals were sounding hard, no idea why, and maybe that can be treated by cables etc or amp matching.

Bottom end and slam was fantastic. Soundstage was way larger.

So AR ref 40 used is the way to go

Based on Roy Gregory's report will like to compare to VTL 7.5 Mk II. I have no experience with the Audionote M6+ series which is considered pretty good.
 

Brucemck2

Member Sponsor
May 10, 2010
270
12
163
Houston area
#16
The newer VTL 7.5 series is very nice. It's got a lot of the slam and speed of solid state with just a touch of the image space of tubes.
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
13,371
2,799
460
London
#18
What was insipid about the Constellation amp? And if it was insipid, why were you using it for comparison purposes?
Ah. Autocorrect. I meant inspiration
 

Harlequin

New Member
Jul 30, 2013
741
1
0
N/A
#19
+1 on this.

So now this is my favorite pre even with the stock tubes. I can imagine it will only get better with Harlequin's tube rolls.

The one thing was that some vocals were sounding hard, no idea why, and maybe that can be treated by cables etc or amp matching.

Bottom end and slam was fantastic. Soundstage was way larger..

;)
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
13,371
2,799
460
London
#20

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