See if you can find a Conrad Johnson Permier 3 preamp,I would defintly go for the 802 series 3,I have a pair,and I had the C-J too and they went well together.I used Solid state power ,cheers.
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Go with the B&W if you like thier sound, Check older peices from Krell, Classe and ML....the 38 comes to mind for close to your price range, perhaps a tad more...but worth it.
For tubes look at some of the Audio Research and Bat equipment.....very good stuff!
as always, good luck................Vader.
Any thoughts,comparisons or recommendations regarding;
Mark Levinson 38
Conrad Johson PFR
I'm considering these 3 used units as well as a new Adcom GFP-750.(is this like throughing in a Chevy against a bunch of Mercedes or is the Adcom a worthy opponent to these?) All I really care about is sound quality and reliability. Aesthetics and name brand recognition are totally secondary.
I have been considering the Adcom GFP-750 due to it's high praises, low cost and Stereophile "Class A" rating. I do however have some concerns.
1) Is this unit really as good as some make it out to be...The reviewer at Stereophile said he couldn't hear much difference between the 750 and a $6,000.00 Mark Levinson. Is this just concern about generating advertisment revenue or are Stereophile's opinions to be taken seriously? How much weight should be given to Stereophiles "Class A" rating?
2) Would the Adcom be a good match for one of my leading speaker candidates; Thiel 3.6 ?
I'd really like to get a pre-amp that I'm not going to be itching to upgrade in a few months or a year. My main concerns in searching for a pre (other than sound) are;
3)Home theater integration(pass through desireable)
I brought the Adcom home about a year ago for an extensive in-house trial (a week), and compared it to several other units at the same time.
It is indeed "incredibly transparent". The soundstage and clarity is amazing, especially in passive mode. It also has a great array of features, too often missing in high-end "less is more" equipment. I really like the full-featured mono switch, the home theatre pass-through, the full-function remote (not just volume) with motorized volume control, etc.
I found it, in the end, *too* transparent. I was afraid it would be too harsh for extended listening (it was bright in my system). Poorly-recorded CDs (re-issues of old rock 'n roll) sounded truly awful (this is what people mean when they say you will start listening to different music when you upgrade your system!) And many recordings seemed to be a little less "musical" ("rythmic"?) -- less "sway your hips" effect.
I ended up with the Classe CP-35. While not as well-regarded, in my system it is a little warmer and more musical. Regarding your requirements, it has a full-featured remote and is solid state, but has nothing in the way of home theatre pass-through. An optional internal phono stage is available (a good thing for me). It lacks a headphone jack; I plan to add a headphone amp in the future.
Obviously, your listening room and the rest of your equipment will have a big effect. I have a mass-market CD player (due for upgrade), British speakers, and a somewhat bright, large room (I'm working on carpets lately). So your mileage may vary!
I personally believe the speakers, room (including speaker placement, carpeting, etc), and pre-amp are the most important components. You're in a tough position because you're looking to replace more than one of these, which makes in-home demos tougher.
This is a case where working with a good dealer makes sense (if you aren't already). The ideal scenario would be to take your amps and music in to the dealer, and work with them to find a pre-amp and speaker combo that you like. Then ask to demo the winners in your home. Try again if things don't sound as good in your home as they did in the store. Buy the pre-amp now, and the speakers later (from the helpful dealer, of course). Listen to CD players while you are it.
No dealer has everything you are considering, but a good dealer will carry several lines of pre-amps and speakers that you are interested in, and that will likely be enough. The opportunity to really evaluate the equipment is more important than getting what has been reviewed as the "best" but doesn't actually sound that great in your house.
This sounds like a lot to ask from a dealer, but the one I bought my pre-amp and amp from did all this for me (I hauled my speakers in), and sold me demo unit (pre-amp) and last years model (amp) at a discount. I actually demoed gear from three dealers in my home ("my" dealer didn't sell the Adcom or any integrateds, and I wanted to hear those).
Well, this is probably information you have already thought about. In any case, I wish you the best. Take the time to enjoy the looking!
I owned a GFP-750 and it is indeed an outstanding preamp.... But it didn't seem to "separate" the instruments as well as my Audio Research LS16 tube preamp. In comparison, the GFP-750 sounded a little "cluttered" and bright. I know you're not interested in a tube preamp but thought this would be an interesting observation for you.
Like Eric's post above, I too have owned the Classe CP-35 (and CP-45) preamps. Keep in mind there were actually THREE different versions of the entry CP-35 preamp. You can find CP-35's for about $500 to $700 used. The recent versions have full-funtion remotes while the early version controlled only the volume and mute. You might also try their higher up model CP-47.5 for about $1200 to $1400 used. I found the Classe preamps to be a little less "bright" compared to the Adcom GFP-750 and over all more enjoyable.