Best 6NS7 Preamp for a Pass Labs XA25 amp


Will need a remote.
No SCHITT Kit.
There must be a couple happy XA25 Amp owners out there?
gadios
Hi Gadios. Nice amp. I have not heard this preamp myself and it does not use the tubes you are looking for, but Herb Reichart wrote a glowing review on the Rougue Audio RP-7. If you did not know, the XA25 has been Herbs reference amplifier for many years now.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/rogue-audio-rp-7-line-preamplifier
Post removed 
I recently purchased an Aric Audio Special all tube preamp. I am very pleased with it. I am considering the XA25 as a SS amp to replace my BEL1001 when the time comes.

Aric's preamps are all tube rectified, regulated, with 6sn7 output stage. They have variable gain, low output impedance (300 ohms), and high input impedance (100K ohms).
The Aric gear looks really choice. 
Of course,  I also nominate Supratek.
Agree Aric gear is amazing. I have an Aric Transcend 6SN7 Preamp with upgraded caps, HT bypass and ALPs volume control, up for grabs if interested.
IMO/IME the 6SN7 is one of the best tubes you can use in a line stage of a preamp!
Another recommendation for Aric Audio! I have a pair of XA60.8 and use the very first Motherlode preamp from Aric. It bests any piece I had in the system prior! Call him.
Another recommendation for Aric Audio! I have a pair of XA60.8 and use the very first Motherlode preamp from Aric. It bests any piece I had in the system prior! Call him.
>> Cary SLP-98 tube preamplifier with good 6SN7s << is also a "fairly popular" combination according to Nelson himself in an email I received from him last summer. He indicating having several customers with this combo, fwiw.   

A good friend who bought my former tube amp was comparing over 30 days with his buddies loaner Pass XA-25 using his personal Cary Audio SLP-98 (with good vintage 6SN7s, and really good coupling caps) indicating he really liked the synergy with some of the Pass amps.  I plan to try it this year too just to test it to see how good it really is. 
Don Sachs 6SN7 Line Stage...  you can't do better and only <$2k.  Perfect pairing with the XA25.
It depends on your price range and what sound quality you want.  Not to insult anyone but to me the Rogue is OK sounding - basic design cheap parts - Cary a slight step above - the Aric looks like a bang for the buck design.

If you are looking for something that is reference quality - point to point wired - custom transformers - V-Caps - Shinkoh resistors - Khozmo Acoustics volume control - toroidal transformer in separate chassis, tube regulation - tube rectification, etc.  then send a message to me.

Happy Listening.

Don Sachs makes a excellent 6 sn7 pre 
with premium parts options for around $3500 which is a very good deal 
with a Khozmo   Shunt resistor ladder 
attenuator which cost over $400 with remote it’s a true bargain  for this grade of quality.
deHavilland ultraverve 3
Great, thank you all very much. Just what I am looking for.
One advantage of buying a product marketed for 3 years now.
ARIC 1,650
DON 2,650
DEHAVI 2,995
SUPRATEK 2,300

I heard from a guy with the xa25 who has both the supra
and a s.s. diy kit designed by wayne coburn. cost 200 for parts.
He likes the clarity of the ss more, 
I may do the diy for now and when i miss the remote
too much, buy a solution model.

There are plenty of used low cost solid state preamps that offer “clarity”, if that’s what your looking for. The original post reads “Best 6SN7 Preamp...”

Few or none of those SS kits will match the musicality of a really good 6SN7 tube based preamplifier worthy to match up well to a Pass Labs XA-25 amplifier.
I agree with mboldda1

The Ultraverve never fails to amaze me.  I use mine with a vintage 5692 6sn7 military tube.  It also sounds great with the usual suspects: Tung sol round plate GT, Raytheon vt-231, Sylvania W,  Kara, the designer of the Ultraverve is very responsive to questions, upgrades, etc. She recently upgraded mine with Dueland caps. I run it through my Bryston 14bsst.  Highly recommended!
I have a Supratek Sauvignon that uses the 6SN7. Sounds really good.
I also have had a chance to listen to "The Dodd" battery preamp hooked up to my XA-25. Incredible. would have loved to had a longer listen. I think it uses a 6922. I'm going to roll a few through the Supratek in the next few months and see if I can get a little more air. 
pfeiffer - May I ask you which Dueland caps she used and did you send your unit to Kara herself to do the upgrade?  Also, how would you describe the sonic change from the original caps which I assume you were using before the upgrade. Thanks!
@gadios Can you report on the ss kit you referenced?

For people who don't know, Wayne Coburn is the designer of the pass labs preamps. I'd like to give it a shot to compare against my Don Sachs pre (I have first watt f4 mono blocks).
Just curious what it's called...
Don Sachs custom pre.  A stunning 3D, holographic unit with the right speakers.  Uses those killer Miflex caps and the new WE Plus series Shuguang 6sn7's.  In the past I wouldn't have given you a nickel for a chinese tube, but this new Dawning series is a concerted effort by the top chinese techs to build the best current production tubes.  I've had mine for a couple months now and I just live it with Spatial Audio OB speakers.  The music just surrounds you.  That suggestion of the lightly used one from someone above is a great suggestion.
@gkr7007 Just a tip that you may consider trying some alternative caps on your secondary output.  I've got Duelund tinned copper CAST and love them, but have also tried Mundorf and gotten a significant leap up in 3-dimensionality over the Miflex's.  Another member (@wig) replaced his with V-CAP Odams and absolutely loved the change.  I also love my DS pre, and did so both before cap changes and after...
I’m wondering if anyone here remembers Aric Audio selling on ebay more than a couple years back? Let me rephrase a bit. I think it was Aric Audio from what I recall. Now, Im not at all taking issue with his product. There are people here who have positive impressions and that certainly counts for something.

First, I’m just trying to ascertain whether that Aric Audio from ebay is one and the same builder as current product. Aric Audio--(if I am recalling the correct name) back then sold very small 1 or 2 tube units that I cant even quite remember what they were. Possibly phono stage or buffer or something of that nature. If it is the same person he has come quite a long way from what he was building about 10 yrs ago. These were small DIY units --maybe only 8x6 inches. Don’t recall anything else about the units and not on ebay these days.


I have had a Modwright LS100 in here and it represented very much the 6sn7 sound and on some level surprised myself by selling it. My complaint is the huge chassis which would need the feet moved inward in order to fit on my standard size rack shelf.  Moving the feet not a biggie so not sure that was really much of an issue.   Not particularly happy with the remote volume control. Could not get the incremental decrease on volume that I preferred . In all fairness could also have been an issue with the motor as an Alps Blue would perform better I think.  The way to go would be with a Khozmo .

Could not ask for better volume control than what I am getting on my SF Line1 with .5db increments . And its full featured remote of which is not offered generally in the 2-3k price range for many of the pre’s mentioned here. But,, while the line1 is a full featured robustly built preamp that sounds good and these days would cost 5-7k it just doesnt quite have that tube flavor. Not that its disagreeable or missing something. I have had 2 of them It is a hybrid design with tube input and s/s output from what I have gathered.

Im thinking of going for the LS100 again with a phono stage and selling my Hagerman Coronet to downsize system a bit. And then of course I would let go of the Line1.

I think Supratek is well worth checking out as well. Another one though that I have not seen with more than a remote volume control. So options would likely take it up to 3k or so. And, what about service should it be needed? Ship to the AU? The Cary as well --watching out for that one.
Schiit Freya +...I understand it's too inexpensive for many to take seriously but that's a mistake. 6SN7GTB-centric extremely well designed preamps, and supposedly an improvement of my original version that performs magnificently. Nothing like 'em.
@skiroe  Greetings! I was notified that my name had popped up and wanted to chime in briefly. Yes, I am the same Aric Audio that was selling tube buffers on eBay a little over ten years ago. I was a solid state guy back then and used very low efficiency DIY speakers. Believe it or not, I used to use QSC pro sound amplification upwards of 500 watts per channel in my rig and hence my first tube buffer stage was just what the system needed to add a "touch of soul" to the music. Amazingly now I find that 20 "well done" watts, with the right speakers is a much more satisfying combo (IMHO). Prior to and during that time, I worked in commercial AV installation in government facilities as a subcontractor for one of the largest AV firms in Boston, MA. Essentially I've been involved in absolutely anything and everything audio related since I was about 7 years old. Once my daughter became an adult and moved out on her own I moved away from the field work and decided to focus exclusively on learning, tweaking and building tube gear. Now close to 50 I love what I do, and  I do it everyday. Keeping in contact with clients and hearing their impressions of the gear I build is the icing on the cake. I'm not sure if there was another question, but I wanted to address that it is one and the same Aric Audio. Best regards, Aric
@aricaudio   thanks for checking in.     Well,  it helps my aging brain to jump start memory recall to hear you are one and the same.     I will have to check out your web page some more.  
@skiroe thank you, Aric
I'm finding this to be a very interesting thread; thanks to you all for the helpful posts. I too have a Pass amp, and X150 in my case, and am considering a new tube line stage preamp. I'm now using an early Conrad Johnson preamp, a PV4, and very much appreciate it's sound characteristics, but would like to have xlr connection options and a remote would be pretty nice, too.
The OP mentioned something like "...no Schitt kit", and I'm curious as to why so? I have not heard one, but from specs, the few but positive reviews available, and very reasonable price, I agree with wolf_garcia that it is an attractive option. So, I'd be interested to hear any specifics as to why the other options mentioned above, especially those say under $2k, would be preferable.
Thanks.
p.s. rest of my system includes a Pass Labs Aleph Ono phono stage, Thorens TD160 w/Soundsmith Boheme, Cambridge CD transport, Schiit Bifrost multibit DAC, Vandersteen 2Ce Sigs.
I also have the Aric Audio Motherload preamp with phono stage and Dueland caps. I have been very happy with it.
+1 for Aric Audio.  I have the xa25 with an Aric Audio Unlimited preamp.
Atma-sphere MP1. Any version. Balanced or rca option. Both excellent.
Linear Tube Audio manufacture 3 magnificent preamps that can use 6N7. They are delivered with 12N7's but by moving a jumper on the pcb you can change the heater powersupply to 6 volt and then use the mores expensive but cool sounding 6N7 tubes. The MZ2 with our without your remote should be within your budget? www.lineartubeaudio.com
You're not going to find a better 6SN7 preamp than the SP14 from VTA.  You can buy it either as a kit, or preassembled and fully tested.  You can even get custom builds for a bit more cash.

Complete kit is $950
Fully assembled & tested is $1450

http://www.tubes4hifi.com/pre11.htm#SP14

The base SP14 looks pretty plain, but some of really don't care.    Don Sachs will do a custom build for you of this preamp.  Pricing will depend on just what you're asking for.   
@coachpoconnor   can you elaborate a bit on your Supratek as in upgrades ,  what it cost you,   how many inputs ,  how long have you had it and by chance if it needed service would your only option be to send to AU?  Have a remote and if not any info about the remote and if more functions are available for the remote?     I could simply email the builder I suppose although at this point in time would like to hear of others experience with Supratek. 

+1 on the Atma-sphere.  Surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet.  I’m slumming it with an MP3 (kidding) but had tried the MP1 and was outstanding.  That’s what sold me instantly and went on a search for a MP3.  
Works great with my XA monos


You can't go wrong with a Supratek preamp. I have a Supratek Sauvignon (highly modded) mated with a FW SIT-3 amp and the pairing is wonderful!
The Supratek is the only component that I have not changed over the years. It's a keeper!
Aric Audio is great stuff, also Linear Tube Audio Preamp, MZ3 or even the MZ2 would be great.
Dehavilland Ultraverve, I used one for a few years. Excellent open, airy sounding preamplifier.
Another vote for the LTA preamp options. I started with the MZ2 with an XA30.8. Very good combination. Moving up to the Microzotl Preamp resulted in a meaningful improvement. Now this preamp is by far the most affordable piece in my system. I’ve never considered it the weak link. Real dimensionality, not just tube generated staging anomalies. Dynamics, harmonic completeness, and black see the Big Bang type of noiseless background. An absolute bargain.
This is a little off topic,  but I  run a Modwright LS 36.5DM preamp with vintage Tubes with a Pass Labs XA100.5 driving Sonus Faber Speakers with outstanding results, the Modwright preamps work great with SS power Amplifiers I highly recommend this kind of pairing,  happy listening out there and stay healthy!