I was happy to see @hilde45’s thread on Tube Pre-Amps since I am in a similar situation. https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/seriously-considering-tube-preamp-opinions
I also have some additional questions, but didn’t want to hi-jack the @hilde45 thread with a bunch of questions that may not be of interest to him or others. So, I’m calling this an "Amicus Addendum" in order to incorporate everything already answered in Hilde45’s thread so that no one feels obligated to re-write their previous answers or cross-post (let’s keep it simple!). Assume everything there was already written here. Also, the same parameters apply as far as price range, etc. As for my requirements, power isn’t a concern because I’ll be using it with my Klipsch Chorus II speakers (with 101 db sensitivity and new Crites crossovers and Crites titanium tweeters). I have an ELAC ss integrated amp and the Monoprice Pure Tube integrated amp and, even though it is a "starter" amp, the Klipsch sound so good with tubes, I want to continue down that road. (For those not familiar with the Chorus, they are from the same line as the Forte - the Chorus replaced the Cornwall (when it was discontinued and before it was reissued as "Heritage") and the fortes were the Chorus’ little brother. So, they look like a larger forte, but perform similar to a Cornwall, with similar drivers.)
If you happened upon this thread first, you may want to start by reading @Hilde45’s thread: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/seriously-considering-tube-preamp-opinions
1.) Can anyone narrow recommendations to pre-amps that do not have a headphone amp or phono pre? I don’t need either of those functions, so my thought is why pay for them? On the other hand if a pre-amp mfr. acknowledges just throwing in a $2 part leftover from knock-off walkman stock for the headphone amp, or something similar where I know I’m not paying for an expensive feature, I guess I’m fine with it. Or, if it’s such an amazing deal that it doesn’t matter.... Speaking of inputs, I primarily listen from my PC, streaming, and CD player.
2) Integrated vs. Individual Components? I have integrated amps that I want to upgrade from and thought it was time for components, but some integrateds look pretty good. I like the new PrimaLuna’s for example (especially comparing cost of the integrated vs. pre). I know this has been discussed before, but integrateds have been getting a lot better in the past few years and this discussion is within fixed parameters, so we don’t need to discuss the topic from the beginning. Though primarily seeking components, I’m still looking at integrateds in this price range because 1) there is good stuff out now, 2) I think it is the way the industry is headed in the sub-$5k range, and 3) I wonder if some of the benefits of an integrated outweigh the negatives. Benefits: a) the pre- and the power amps are expertly matched and dialed in together (no concerns about synergy of different brands or product lines or impedance matching or gain concerns). b) Eliminates 2 sets of In/Out connections and a cable run c) eliminates one power supply/connections/cable. Thoughts on benefits vs. negatives?
3) Opinions on balanced/XLR connects at this price level? Worth it or jewelry? I am also very tempted by the Schiit Freya+ pre and schiit amp, as recommended in the @hilde45 thread. Saw a few Dan Modwright suggestions in that thread, but I had checked out his website a few weeks ago and had the impression his stuff was a bit higher than this price range. Prices are listed for some of his modifications, but I had to go to reviews to dig some up for his products because they aren’t on the site. I hate when msrp isn’t listed on a mfr. website... If anyone knows where I can see a pricelist without needing to contact them, please show me!
4) Is it time to stop focusing on pre-amps and spend the money on a good DAC/streamer with lots of inputs? I currently use a Topping D30 DAC and, despite it’s low price, it has great numbers and low distortion and improved sound from my PC immensely. Anyone have a good tube DAC to recommend instead?
I am open to suggestions for used products, as well as new. Thanks in advance!