Beginners Pre-amp

I'm in midst of changing things in my system and the next thing I want to try is a tubed pre-amp. I do plan to change my speakers to Paradigm S4 and would like to know which pre-amps would work. As for music it varies from Jazz(mostly) to live theater,dance,pop, etc...

My budget is at most 2500.00 new or used. I figured at that price point I can come away with something that I can live with for awhile and totally outclass the Pre-amp section of my receiver.

At that price point new I can come away with a BC21.1 as it allows me the options of the Shallco and a processor loop.

My questions are: What do the members here think of the BC?Will it work in my system. Is it a quite unit and and does it respond well to both tube rolling and PC upgrades.

Finally are there any others I should consider besides the VTL2.5/5.5. I know there's more but I drawing a blank.

For around $2K used you could probably find a Herron VTSP-1a, I have one and love it. It's reliable, low maintenance, fantastic sounding, and the quietest tubed preamp I've ever owned. You could do a lot worse, and you would have to spend a lot more to do much better. I will say that I've also heard rave reviews about the deHavilland UltraVerve, but I've never heard one. Good luck and happy listening!
Try one of Kavents preamps, sound as good as most that are two to three times there cost.. They are very impressive for the cost... If you end up spending over $2000.00 , go for the Modwright SWL 9.0SE for $2200.00..
Thanks guys for the suggestions. I'll look into the Herron and deHavilland see if I can use a HT processor with it.

The Modwright SWL9.0SE has what I need HT bypass so it's a contender.

As I was looking into the BlueCircle 21.1 how does that compare.

If i was going to pic,i would go with Modwright over BlueCircle..
Goodluck and lets us know what you do?
VTL Ultimate...a great preamp with two phono inputs; one high output and one low output. Has a tape loop/moniter out, two pre outs and is a true dual monaural down to having two power supplies.
Can't go wrong with any of Dan Wright's product's. Not only great products but service and support to match.

I would highly recommend a CAT SL-1 MK 3 tube pre-amp. Price for a used piece will be around $2300 for line-stage only. It features out-board power supply, stepped attenuators, balance control and has a high resale value. Phono units are available but will be a little more.

The sound of this piece leans more on the bright/forward side but that will vary from tube choice. There is no hookup for home theatre/bypass and is strictly for 2-channel setups.
First Sound Presence Deluxe MKII.

Thanks guys,

The SWL9.0SE seems to be the front runner for me. I just read a review on AA comparing it to a CJ Act2.

Hi, in the first place: what is a beginners pre-amp? I think there are two options regarding preamps and audio gear in general: a bad and a good sounding one. Currently there aren't actually any bad sounding units (otherwise they are defective). With your budget there are nummerous possibilities to choose from. Acoustic Reality has also a preamp that can be had for far less than the price you've mentioned.
This is my first venture into putting together a system. Right now I can't afford the likes of BAT, Aesthetix and the like. So I'm looking for something to start me off on a good foot.

I owned a BC 21.1 and thought it was great for the price. It is superbly constructed and looks cool too. You can coax excellent sound out of it with some nicer tubes and I had great results using a Stealth Cloude nine power cord with it. It has a ton of gain. I put a couple of Tantalums in one of the inputs to pad down the gain a bit.
Based solely on my own reading, and personal experience with the designers, I'd second the First Sound Presence Deluxe II ($2500 used, and you won't have the urge to upgrade any time soon), and I'd second the Modwright SWL 9.0SE. Finally, based only on user comments and price, I'd look into the aforementioned Herron VTSP-1A.

Between these three, you have a sure winner.
Beware of Convergent Audio Technology preamps. The owner/designer is very clear about wanting to service his own products and does not encourage upgrades. The capacitors are all very securely epoxied (or some type of glue like a rock) to the PCB. My tech called up CAT and was told there is a solution to reduce this glue but we could not have it; ie, send it back to CAT if you want work done on it.

I sold mine immediately. I kept it for about three weeks. I want to be able to upgrade capacitors and so on as required.
I would look for a Blue Circle BC3. Very nice with lots of gain.
I do not know if I can contribute more than confirm what has already been said. IMO the best value for money and sound right now is the Modwright 9.0SE. I spent a lot of time with the beta unit and compared the production unit to other active and passive preamps in the $2500-5500 price range (CJ, BC, BAT, SF and Herron on the active side; Placette and Channel Island on the passive side). The Herron was lovely but the Modwright may have been my system. Go with the Modwright and then work on a new front end. The stock tubes are very good and retubing costs nothing.
for 2500 used - A Sonic Frontiers line-3se. Totally neutral, killer soundstage and a ton of features
supratek preamp. There is a Syrah available now on Audiogon. Wonderful preamp.
If you are patient, a brand new Supratek will be the best audio decision of your life.
There's a beta version of the Modwright SWL9.0 up for auction right now. Consider contacting Dan Wright to ask him about this unit. It might be the best preamp value available right now.