Advice on a preamp


I am looking to replace my preamp as part of my next upgrade(itis). I am currently using an Opera Consonance Reference50MkII tube pre into a Sanders Magtech Amp to drive Monitor Audio PL300 speakers (3 way, 4 ohm). Does anyone here have any good experiences with a particular preamp with the Magtech? I listen mainly to Classical, Jazz, Blues & Rock. Cheers
shamus2211
What is your budget? Want to stay with tube or go to SS?
Up to say USD $5000. I am not sure which way I want to go but probably prefer SS. However sound is everything :-)
Your Monitor Audio speakers are a fairly benign load on paper (90db @4 ohms) and sound transparent and quite resolving, so you don’t need a massively powerful amp, but the PL300’s need some tube-like liquidity & musicality. So i’m going to throw a curve ball at you and suggest you would get a bigger gain by selling your current amps & upgrading to a high end integrated amp such as a Pass Labs INT-250 or a 2nd hand Vitus SIA-025. Though good 2nd hand examples of the Vitus are rare on the used market.

The upshot is with one less component, you could use the savings to invest elsewhere in your system such as better cables or isolation.
What are you expecting from the upgrade?
Great question. A cleaner more detailed sound, better bass control, more refined treble and improved soundstage. An all around more 'live' or natural sound. I did originally have an Opera 100w tube amp but felt it was lacking in power and a bit too warm.
Thanks for your post Melbguy1. I agree with your observations re my current gear and have to say you have recommended some serious kit. I have never come across Vitus in NZ but we have some Pass Labs dealers so will look into this. Not sure my budget (wife) will stretch that far though!!!
YW Shamus. The Pass INT-250 is $12kUS. I crunched some numbers & reckon if you sold your current amps & used up your max budget you would be close. I think the Pass will give you all the qualities you’re looking for & would be a killer amp. The Vitus would have a more refined/transparent top end, but the INT-250 would have a bit more power/control.
Thanks for that Melbguy. I will have a chat with the NZ importer today and see if he can arrange a home demo via one of his dealers (they only carry amps and pre's here in shaky Wellington, no integrated. I appreciate your, and everyone elses input.
I have an Aesthetix Calypso Signature with the Sanders Magtech running Magnepan 3.7i's.  It sounds pretty good.  I was upgrading from an Odyssey Candela.  It definitely yielded some gains.
I liked the Aesthetix Calypso very much. It is easy to roll different tubes as well.

Happy Listening!
" Great question. A cleaner more detailed sound, better bass control, more refined treble and improved soundstage. An all around more 'live' or natural sound. I did originally have an Opera 100w tube amp but felt it was lacking in power and a bit too warm."

That's some good info. I would demo an Ayre K-5 for SS, and for tubes I'll be the 3rd to recommend the Calipso. You can't go wrong with either. 

Your amps are fine.  Unless you're not happy with them for some reason, I would keep them.
If you can find one used, a TRL DUDE tube preamp will give you powerful, defined bass with the rest of the range beautiful with great clarity and a large, deep soundstage and tremendous dynamics everywhere.  The unit is large as in 75 lbs. but the sound is all you could ever want.  Used price will be about $3200-3800 depending on the amount of extras and custom parts.  All of the DUDES are very fine sounding.
It's a bit above your budget, but if you can stretch a little, it might be interesting to try a Herron VTSP-3A in that system.  I haven't heard anything better. 
Used Aesthetix Calypso Signature, if you can find one.  I started with the Calypso, mistakenly strayed... found a used Calypso Signature about 3 years ago and have no intentions of trying anything different.
Any one knows how much does it cost to upgrade from Calypso to Calypso Signature.  From what I read, Aesthetix provided such a service.
No one suggested a McIntosh or an Audio Research preamp. Is that because of the price or incompatibility? Just curious.
@shamus2211
Your Sanders Magtech Amp has 100kohm input impedance, a perfect candidate for a passive preamp.
You could try the Schiit Sys for only $49 and it’s returnable, it also has 2 inputs.
This should give you more transparency/dynamics and a tighter/controlled bass than what you have now.
http://schiit.com/products/sys

Cheers George



Any one knows how much does it cost to upgrade from Calypso to Calypso Signature. From what I read, Aesthetix provided such a service.

According to an email from Glenn back in June of ’16. It’s usually $2500 to upgrade from a Standard to Signature, but I think it depends on when the Standard was made. It’s $3500 to go from Signature to Eclipse and $5500 to go from Standard to Eclipse.

I thought about being the guinea pig for the Calypso Eclipse but decided just to get an ARC Ref5SE instead.
Your Sanders Magtech Amp has 100kohm input impedance, a perfect candidate for a passive preamp.

So the specs on Sanders' site are incorrect for the Magtech.  According to an email from Roger, these are the correct specs:

"I designed the Magtech using a FET input stage so that it has a very high input impedance (100K) when used in single-ended mode. When used in balanced mode, its input impedance is only 1K, which is too low for many tube preamps."
No one suggested a McIntosh or an Audio Research preamp. Is that because of the price or incompatibility? Just curious.

I just got an ARC Ref5SE this week and am running it with a Sanders Magtech. My initial impressions are that it's quite a step up from my Aesthetix Calypso Signature (weightier and purer sounding), but I'll need to do further testing.
Limniscate, does your Aesthetix has noise issue.  From time to time, I heard people talking about importance of tube matching, and the consequence off mismatch.  I am considering to get one.