Affordable Decent Preamp & thoughts on Emotiva XSP-1 vs PS Audio Stellar Gain Stage

Shopping for / Researching a good, solid, Pre-Amp for my system.

Currently using the Pre-Amp stage of a "classic" NAC 7220PE Receiver
AMP = Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 3 (has both Balanced & Unbal Inputs)
Speakers = ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 on stands / Goldenear Amplified Sub
Sources = Bluesound Node 2i / CD / Occasional Phono

System is in my Living Room (NOT Dedicated "listening room"), so speaker placement etc is less than optimal and subject to approval of Wife - so, want something decent but "bleeding edge" would be of little benefit...

Current "Front-Runners" for Pre-Amp (up to around $1500 budget)

  • Fully Balanced (consumer design for low-noise)
  • HAS Phono Stage
  • Plenty of Inputs and Outputs
  • Sub Management
  • Remote
  • Kinda’ BIG
  • Aesthetics - a bit too much Blue LED
  • US-Owned company, but made in China
  • Sleek, Simple design (slimmer / less "gaudy" than EMO)
  • PS Audio reputation for Sound Quality tuned by extensive LISTENING
  • I can get it at a substantial discount from MSRP
  • Appears to have a quality DACT built-in (but, I’m an admitted DACT Noob...)
  • Remote
  • No built-in Phono (but currently not using it a lot - know I can get affordable external phono stage)
  • Wish it had one or two more balanced Inputs for future flexibility
  • Seems like "Less for More $$"
  • No dedicated / managed output to run my sub (but my sub has Speaker-Level I/O and built-in controls)
I KNOW that most of the units that Audio people "in the know" RAVE about / trend towards TUBE types - but I’m really not ready to jump on that particular bandwagon yet; but may consider a used Audio Research or similar if I can get one in my price range (Also looked at used Bryston BP16 if I could find one at a reasonable price)


Showing 2 responses by tedag

I'm looking at the emotiva right now myself. It has everything i'm looking for. If it wasn't built in China I would probably have already got it. That being said it has a nice warranty and from everything I can find their customer service is top notch. 
I thought they had moved much of their building to the US. Not sure where the parts are made

I think they build the top shelf models here,I. THE USA. The rest looks like it's built in China per my interpretation of the info on their website. Please correct me if I'm wrong that's the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on one tonight.