Mark Levinson 326S. Absolutely fantastic.
34 responses Add your response
I've been struggling with the same question for years! I go from SS to tube,balanced to single ended,digital display(convenient user interface)to simple controls(no display).I've used a BAT 50 SE,Consonance Cyber 50 and Cyber 222,Sonic Frontiers Pre 1 SE,Conrad Johnson Premier 17&18 LS, and Muse Model 3 to name a few.
At this time I seem to have settled on the Bel Canto Pre 2 and a Rogue 99 Magnum.They have different strengths,and I go back and forth between the two.The Bel Canto is very quiet,provides balanced ins and outs,and has the best user interface I have encountered.It is very musical and stays "out of the way." The Rogue is marvelously dynamic(perhaps even powerful).
Good luck in your quest.
"8k...is a lot of $ for a preamp"
Yes it is!!! But,in life,you usually get what you pay for.It may well be worth it.
On the other hand,the Bel canto Pre 2 was a $3500 over-achiever from 2004 until recently retired.I purchased a mint unit here on A-Gon with box,manual and two remotes for less than $1000.I can't say that I have owned a finer preamp(I have owned Krell,BAT,AR,Sonic Frontiers,Cary,Muse,Plinius...)
I agree with those who suggested the Pass Labs XP-20. I have one and love it. As you own the XA160 already, it would be an excellent match. It has XLR inputs and output and there are two for sale now for around $6,000. It is a very good preamp. Neutral, detailed, very quiet and transparent with a good selection of features.
Dude does NOT offer a remote option so it is NOT relevant to the gentleman who started this post.
i use my matisse reference tube pre amp for so many yr, and sold all my cello suite.. and got a Linn CD12 24bits (not too bad in the area of resolution even compared with some players today, and indeed musical)
cello is excellent, not exactly quiet for today standard, strength : the layering of sound stage...really quite amazing
Do BAT pre-amps get really hot?
I've heard some nice systems at the NY shows over the years using BAT preamps (not a controlled experiment of course) but they sure weren't doing anything wrong.
I just don't want something as hot as a power amp.
Normal preamp heat is fine (like 12ax7/6ns7 heat, which I am used to).
Do you want to change your system tonality? Want more or less of any system attributes?
A Purity Audio Basis preamp should be near neutral with low noise and nice dynamics.
I have their Silver Reference preamp and am wowed by the preamp's low noise due to the great power supply. Low noise design allows gains in many attributes and supports the characteristics of any tubes in the circuit. Certainly not sterile.
I purchased a Allnic L3000 about a month ago and couldn't be happier. Coupled with my lowly Oppo BDP83SE driven through the Pass X350.5 I'm hearing the most musical presentation I've ever heard. Even a concert volumes and above, it no longer hurts but destroys just the same :)
and, I don't even think about tube rolling...
Less than 5K used, but I think I scored a great deal.
Oh and a nice remote too.