Tube pre amplifiers

retired farmer

Active Member
Oct 18, 2022
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I am wondering about switching my pre amplifier on my main system. I have a tube based front end going into an Ayre k1xe then to a set of recapped mark levinson 33h monos. I was thinking about going to a tube preamplifier. I am wanting the tube beauty and the bigger sound stage may be nice as well. Anyhow I want both a balanced in and a balanced out. Wondering about a pathos synapse, audio reseach reference preamplifier or a canary 1800 or the newest version of the four box preamplifier they make. Open to other ideas as well. I want both balanced in and single ended in as well.

Regards
 
I am wondering about switching my pre amplifier on my main system. I have a tube based front end going into an Ayre k1xe then to a set of recapped mark levinson 33h monos. I was thinking about going to a tube preamplifier. I am wanting the tube beauty and the bigger sound stage may be nice as well. Anyhow I want both a balanced in and a balanced out. Wondering about a pathos synapse, audio reseach reference preamplifier or a canary 1800 or the newest version of the four box preamplifier they make. Open to other ideas as well. I want both balanced in and single ended in as well.

Regards
Current model ARC preamps have balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs. Of current models, I have owned the LS28 SE and the Ref 6 SE. Both were very enjoyable. A used Ref 6 SE might be the bargain of the century right now.
 
Current model ARC preamps have balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs. Of current models, I have owned the LS28 SE and the Ref 6 SE. Both were very enjoyable. A used Ref 6 SE might be the bargain of the century right now.
The very thing out of the three brands I like about audio reseach is I maybe able to sell it if I don't like it. I also agree with the thought that they are at a discount with what is going on at the company. Also how would you stack the 6 up compared to some of the earlier ones. I found a reference 3 at my favorite dealers store a one only owner and not much money. Cheap enough that I could buy unheard and not worry much if I didn't like it. That being said I don't want to cheap out either.

Regards
 
what is 'tube beauty' ? the glow of the tubes in a dark room perhaps ?
Lol there is a difference over solid state a fullness not as artificial sounding much like the difference between digital and vinyl playback. Or live broadcasts on a good fm station. That doesn't really exist around here anymore.
 
You may want to consider VAC Master preamp. XLR and RCA in and out. Two tubes. Very full, coherent, "musical" presentation with a very deep and a wide soundstage. The detail is there, but not analytical, i.e. if you want to "listen" for detail you will hear, but if not, then a very "holistic" presentation. Excellent bass. I am currently using the preamp with a D'Agostino Momentum MxV stereo amp with excellent synergy. Of course, using the VAC with a tube amp(s) will obviously work as well.
 
You may want to consider VAC Master preamp. XLR and RCA in and out. Two tubes. Very full, coherent, "musical" presentation with a very deep and a wide soundstage. The detail is there, but not analytical, i.e. if you want to "listen" for detail you will hear, but if not, then a very "holistic" presentation. Excellent bass. I am currently using the preamp with a D'Agostino Momentum MxV stereo amp with excellent synergy. Of course, using the VAC with a tube amp(s) will obviously work as well.
Thank you one more on the list. I like your amplifier heard one of those a very wonderful choice.

Regards
 
Aesthetix Calypso and VTL TL-5.5 Series II also are good all-tube candidates.
 
You may want to consider VAC Master preamp. XLR and RCA in and out. Two tubes. Very full, coherent, "musical" presentation with a very deep and a wide soundstage. The detail is there, but not analytical, i.e. if you want to "listen" for detail you will hear, but if not, then a very "holistic" presentation. Excellent bass. I am currently using the preamp with a D'Agostino Momentum MxV stereo amp with excellent synergy. Of course, using the VAC with a tube amp(s) will obviously work as well.
+1
New in tube gear, after SS ones or direct MSB output, all my life. IIRC once had a BAT and a Thorens that didn't impressed me much.
Not this time. Dived into a VAC Master. Absolutely wonderful. I'm engaged into the music as never before and the source is only a 1996 CD player, in the meantime.
Can it be, also, a perfect sinergy with the Avantgarde iTron amps? I believe so but the VAC Masters credits are worthy for themselves.
 
If you are looking for more "tube sound" then balanced, or at least differential, connections may not be the best choice. Unless you have very long interconnect runs, and noise or ground loop problems, my opinion is that unbalanced would better provide the sound you desire. The structure of harmonics and noise from a single-ended design is IMO more likely to please you if you are looking for a more "tube" sound.

Of course, if you get one that has XLR and RCA outputs, you can try them both. That said, I have not kept up with tube designs, but in the past many balanced outputs were not differential drivers so XLR and RCA outputs had the same sound signature, with the XLR outputs offering better common-mode noise rejection. Hopefully someone more familiar with the circuit topology of the preamps can provide guidance about that.
 
If you are looking for more "tube sound" then balanced, or at least differential, connections may not be the best choice. Unless you have very long interconnect runs, and noise or ground loop problems, my opinion is that unbalanced would better provide the sound you desire. The structure of harmonics and noise from a single-ended design is IMO more likely to please you if you are looking for a more "tube" sound.

Of course, if you get one that has XLR and RCA outputs, you can try them both. That said, I have not kept up with tube designs, but in the past many balanced outputs were not differential drivers so XLR and RCA outputs had the same sound signature, with the XLR outputs offering better common-mode noise rejection. Hopefully someone more familiar with the circuit topology of the preamps can provide guidance about that.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
The thing is that the iTron amps only have XLR inputs. So I need a preamp with balanced outputs. Not sure if the topology circuit of the VAC Master outputs are true balanced ones or made from single ended internal components, maybe someone can enlighten me about that.
Anyway the VAC has both RCA and XLR inputs and outputs. I played a bit on testing the inputs from this very very old CD player outputs, which have both and, in my system, I preferred the balanced. Maybe it’s just because I’m more used to live with fully balanced systems. And, maybe I’ll change my mind bias cause in the near future I’ll be listening from a single ended only source.
Cheers.
 
Thank you for sharing your experience.
The thing is that the iTron amps only have XLR inputs. So I need a preamp with balanced outputs. Not sure if the topology circuit of the VAC Master outputs are true balanced ones or made from single ended internal components, maybe someone can enlighten me about that.
Anyway the VAC has both RCA and XLR inputs and outputs. I played a bit on testing the inputs from this very very old CD player outputs, which have both and, in my system, I preferred the balanced. Maybe it’s just because I’m more used to live with fully balanced systems. And, maybe I’ll change my mind bias cause in the near future I’ll be listening from a single ended only source.
Cheers.
Sorry, I have no idea the internal circuits without looking at a schematic, so your best bet is to ask them. Balanced does not always mean fully differential, which requires more devices for tube preamplifiers (and SS, but the extra devices are usually buried inside ICs).

You can always get a transformer from Jensen or someplace to convert single-ended RCA to balanced XLR and vice-versa, or use an adapter cable (or build one).

It is hard to say why you might have preferred balanced outputs in that one scenario; lower distortion, lower noise, higher noise rejection, or it could just be the balanced outputs were a little louder. But if you like fully-balanced systems forget what I said about their sound signature; differential circuits suppress even-order distortion terms that some folk say they prefer, and are the main distortion terms in single-ended circuits.
 
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I used to own ML 333 and listened 33Hs thousands of hours. I matched mine with Nagra tube pre after Gryphon 4 pieces line stage. 33H sounded also very good with Nagra and certainly better than many tube preamps I couldn’t remember now. It was more than 10 years ago. I would stay away from 6H30 or similar kind of tube, but that’s just me.
 
Shindo Monbrison or Vosne-Romanee
 
OK, I don't want to get in trouble, so I will state right up front that Lynn Olson and I designed a sort of cost no object set of 300b push pull monos (prototype in my signature block there) AND a matching preamp. They are now being made by Spatial Audio Lab in Utah. The preamp is pretty much exactly what you are looking for. Transformer coupled with custom wound iron from Cinemag, fully balanced and has 2 XLR inputs, 2 RCA inputs, and XLR and RCA outputs. Circuit is fully balanced, all tube and main line stage tube is the 6SN7. If you are interested, send me a note as I don't think it appropriate to link to the manufacturer site on this forum.

If this is not appropriate, the mods are free to remove the post!
cheers,
Don
 
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OK, I don't want to get in trouble, so I will state right up front that Lynn Olson and I designed a sort of cost no object set of 300b push pull monos (prototype in my signature block there) AND a matching preamp. They are now being made by Spatial Audio Lab in Utah. The preamp is pretty much exactly what you are looking for. Transformer coupled with custom wound iron from Cinemag, fully balanced and has 2 XLR inputs, 2 RCA inputs, and XLR and RCA outputs. Circuit is fully balanced, all tube and main line stage tube is the 6SN7. If you are interested, send me a note as I don't think it appropriate to link to the manufacturer site on this forum.

If this is not appropriate, the mods are free to remove the post!
cheers,
Don

I think if you state in your profile and signature that you are an "Industry Expert" and specify your industry affiliation you should be fine. You can take a look at similar member profiles.
 

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