How about a Bottlehead Foreplay kit or a Transendent Sound pre kit. There is a EAR 534L pre for sale now for 595. A used Quicksilver line stage, or ? I think these are all better than most new $700. chinese preamps. Lots of nice used preamps out there.
Chinese origins aside, a used Eastern Electric Min-Max (line stage only) tubed preamp with its rather elegant and simple circuit, can be had on Audiogon for about $600 or less. Per the (6 moons etc) reviews and many owners comments, this seems to be an exceptionally musical preamp.
Dared SL2000a. You should be able to find one used for ~$300. The one limitation is 2 inputs line stage only. OTOH it has remote volume control.
Eastern Electric Minimax used, very nice pre.
I would second the minimax, I had one a few years ago, have since moved way up scale (price wise anyhow), minimax was a great preamp for the money.
I will also vote for the Eastern Electric MiniMax Preamp. It is small and elegant. Only three tubes surface mounted. Three inputs. Two outputs. Sits on three feet and sounds like a lot more size and price than what you see on your shelf. Easily a best buy. I'm keeping mine. Your biggest problem will be finding a used one because they are over budget new and smart people don't sell them.
I have faced the same situation some time back and I went for the Conrad Johnson PV10A at one time and the Audio Research SP9II at another time. I still have both as they have met my expectations and cannot be replaced except with very much more expensive equipment. These preamps have different sound qualities and I interchange them ouce in awhile to enjoy their particular qualities. Then, I also interchange my preamps with a solid state Forte 2 or other preamp, sometime solid state, sometime tube, again for a different but equally satisfying flavor. Isn't this what this hobby if all about? That's why they make vanilla as well as chocolate ice cream.
I've read nice things about Minimax as well.Another China company to check out is Cayin (great integrated tube unit-Harry Wesfeld from VPI gave it a great boost and he is not some hack looking for ad dollars).Depends on absolute budget and what you want.Really "tubey" very euphonic but at cost a bit of noiseZ) would be PV10 or PV12 from Conrad Johnson.Entry level BAT VK3i.Thinkl two companies that price new sanely (gret values used) are Rogue 66 (who just cameout with budget line worth checking out if you want new .Great backl up from small company.VTL is another sanely priced company buit have heard back up can be troublesome and slow but still good product.and Quicksilver.Also line from Parts connection-small bare bones and it's just sound qualit from AES from Parts connection very akin to Bottelneck which you can get new in kit for if comfotable with soldering or a new or used built model.Hit this posting again if you can tell folks new or used and what you'd like to spend and will tell you more specfically or if you are being resonable in expectation plus what you have thought about as potential contenders.
$700 is the most i can go and that is going a little farther than I am ready to.
Take a look at the Audio Experience Symphonies Plus. I've owned mine over 4 years and have been very happy with the performance. I believe, new or used, it's well within your price range, and, it's an overachiever.
I've had good experience running an Audible Illusions M3 with a Stratos Extreme. The AI seems to mate well with the Odyssey, providing detail and air while benefitting from the Odyssey's deep bass. You can routinely find an M3 or L-1 if you don't need a phono stage for less than $700 on Agon. Good luck!
I auditioned one of the Dodd basic pre-amps and it was very good. At the time, they were $450 direct from Dodd Audio. I don't know if Gary is still building them, but you occassionally see one used here on the 'goN.
Good call on the Dodd basic. I am going to order his battery preamp, but the basic should be an excellent value for a budget preamp. I'd also recommend AES and a used EE Minimax appears to go for under $700.
For $700, a first generation Blue Circle BC21 which uses 6SN7 tubes has a beautiful and distinctive midrange tone, and creates an expansive, dynamic soundfield.
Maple Tree Audio Design 4A or 6SE. Godspeed.
Dave Davenport's line stage kits available through K&K Audio. Transformer coupled front and back with Lundahl amorphous core transformers; differential parafeed topology; very linear operation of the dual triode by using MOSFET CCS for plate loads. When coupled with the low reactance PS kit makes for a very quiet line stage that isolates all your sources from amps. No ground currents on your interconnects. That may not seem important until you hear the difference in your own system! This line stage improved the sound of my Cary SLI-80 integrated when connected in front of it. How could adding another device and set of interconnects "improve" something? I think "isolation" probably has something to do with this. It's too bad Dave and Kevin withdrew the Mood Indigo kit due to lack of interest. It had a nicely finished chassis and 5 relay switched inputs and two outputs, RCA and balanced. A newer kit version of the basic boards and parts are available if you want to "roll your own".
Raleigh Audio line stage kit distributed by K and K audio. I have assembled the latest version few months back and all I can say, its one of the best preamps I have had in my system. After trying numerous preamps I have finally settled down on this one. My Audio Aero Capitol mk2 cdp drives the Raleigh Audio preamp which in turn drives the Audio Aero Capitol amplifier driving Tannoy Prestige spks.
The preamp is fully balanced from input to output, provides a moderate 6.5 db gain and its dead quite. Its has a sophisticated tube rectified + tube regulated power supply and the line stage uses 6N1P in parafeed design. The component are top rated with Lundhal trfs, Caddok, Kiwami and Mills resistors amd BG PS caps. The drawback is that you have to provide the chassis, drill holes mount the PCBS and do all the assembly. if you are good at it, its one of the best you can have. The sound is dynamic, smooth, grain free and tremendous impact.
For more info and a picture of my preamp please visit this link , mine is the last link on the page.
Have a good day!
Transcendent Grounded Grid
A used Tube Audio Design 150 sells for around $700. You have to grab them fast because they do not last long on A-gon.
try checking out http://www.space-tech-lab.com/
There are some very very affordable preamps. And some people here have had some very positive things to say.
Right here is your answer