Balanced tube preamp for Class D amps

Need a balanced tube preamp for Class D monoblocks - specifically NuForce Ref9V2. Have too many XLR ICs to consider change to RCAs. Limited to $3k max (new or used). What preamps have worked well for you? Thanks.

Best regards,

The pre-amp I'm using is a little over your budget but I have been using an ARC LS26 with my V2 SE's with outstanding results.

I have also heard wonderful things about the Aesthetix Calypso which is a perfect fit for your budget.

I think a tube pre with the NuForce amps are a phenomenal combination. You may need to do some auditioning to figure out which one you like best however.

Good luck with the search!
John, tomorrow I will have at home a Rowland Capri to evaluate. Capri is a fully balanced linestage voiced for operation on the current JRDG class D amps. I will have the opportunity to connect it to a pair of NuForce monos among other amps. I will report my findings here in the next few days. Unless I am mistaken the Capri retails $2795 new in black livery. Guido
John Audio Horizon 2.1 balanced is working very well in my system. A great match for my Ref 9 SE V2s.

Guidocorona i know you have been interested in Nuforce amps from posts i have read from you. Please let us know what your thoughts and findings are.
Guido - is the Capri a SMPS or SS? Look forward to your assessment.

Jim - thanks for the info. One constraint in my search is that my small room can't tolerate much heat in the summer (rarely listen to my tube integrated then). How much heat do the tubed preamps give off? Are some cooler running than others - tube dependent???

Siltrains - I'll investigate the AH also. Thanks.

I'll second the Audio Horizons TP 2.0, it sounded ultra liquid and dynamic with the NuForce.
John -

My ARC puts out very little heat as there are only 2 tubes, the Calypso has 4 total I think.

I wouldn't worry about heat with a tubed pre-amp... now a power amp is a different beast entirely. My Levinson SS amp put out much more heat than my ARC pre does.

Can you add a quiet fan to your room? :)

Take care

really interested in your take on the Capri. I own one and am now getting the Synergy 2i. I will post my findings about the Capri and Synergy at a later date.

Seeing that some of my peers from the Audio Horizons club have commented I'll throw my 2 cents in.The AH will be an excellent choice,it out performs the Calypso,can say that coz I had one,and its price point for performance makes it one of the best values in audio.
I use the Audio Horizons TP 2.0 (with XLR) to a Spectron Musician Class-D amp.

Love it.
Here's what may seem at first glance to be a bit of a wild-card, but matches up GREAT with the V2SE's -- Antique Sound Labs 'Flora EX DT' autoformer preamp. Incredible bass, dynamics, soundstage, etc. I previously owned a BAT VK-31, VK3ixSE and a Reference Line passive before getting to the Flora and the Flora wipes the floor with these other pcs.

The Flora seems to possess all of the best attributes of passive and great tube active stages with NONE of the drawbacks.

Another member, Teajay, also uses the Flora preamp with his V2SE's with same positive results.

I would definitely do some research on this pc. before buying anything else as I feel it is a true sleeper/giant-killer. Also see the review at

Good luck in your hunt!
John, pardon the ignorance. . . I do not know what SMPS may be.

On the subject of tube preamps running hot. . . it depends what's in the power supply. . . my Audio Research has both a 6550C and a 6H30 in the power supply and runs quite hot, particularly in summertime.

the Capri is SMPS (switch mode power supply).

I'm pretty sure your New Force amps have XLR inputs. THIS IS THE WAY TO GO. The difference between RCA and XLR is very much like tubes. To take advantage you obviously need a balanced preamp. Not many tubed pras are balanced, maybe none in your budget. There is a PS Audio GCP 200/GCPS for sale on Audio Asylum. It is a differentially balanced pre
I auditioned the JRDG Capri driving a JRDG 312 on my system yesterday. The system was fully balanced using Audioquest Sky XLR ICs. I have posted my findings at: