Best Preamp for under $1750.00

Seeking recommendations for a preamp in the $750 to $1750 range. Balance of system consists of Aerial 8's, Bryston 7B's, and CAL CL-15. Room acoustics and speakers would favour lean over lush; I'm looking for something musical without being on the "warm" side. Music preferences include acoustic, jazz, and rock. Will re-cable according to final selections
I just listed a Theta Casablanca on Auction for $2800. That is a tremendous price on a unit that retails for over $8000. I know it is a little out of your listed range, but the unit is perfect and I'm totally legit. Check out the Auction and e-mail me back with questions. It is a Surround Processor with high great stereo playback as well.

If you are looking for strictly a stereo amp, I also have an Audio Research LS-3. That is an audiophile amp, built like a tank, and will last for a long time. It sounds great and I will sell it for a great price, $800 and I'll pay shipping for you alone. Check my current ads/auctions, feedback and other listings.

Get back to me with any questions you may have and I'll try to answer them.

Good luck.


Jason D. Wine
Given the characteristics described a Sonic Frontiers Line 1 or 2 might be a good fit. The SF preamps are more analytic than lush. The price for a new Line 2 is just about the specified budget, albeit at the high end. The Line 1 is several hundred dollars more.
I will opt for BAT VK3i if you are looking for stereo tube pre amp, Audio Research LS 3 is a good match for Bryston amp too. The New McCormack RLD 1 and the Conrad Johnson PV 12 or 14 are not bad choice at all, depends on if you need the remote control.
Give the Blue Circle BC-21 a listen.
The best inexpensive pre-amp on the market? Most of the audio reviewers would say the Adcom GFP-750. "Class A" rated by Stereophile, and a true bargain at $1250 MSRP.
On the used market you might be able to locate a Presence Audio preamp. They are all good, some of the models just sound better.
It has to be Morrison ELAD!
Please see the reviews at
Rogue 66 or 99.
After you are finished auditioning preamps, try the CAT Signature MKllor MKlll. I think you will quickly make your decision. However, I would hear all the others first
Audio Analogue 's Bellini Remote. 1/5 of CAT's price & almost as good.
Good Luck. Bob.
Try Joule Electra LA 100 Mark III also.
Sounds like SS. Perhaps a BP-20 or 25 to match your 7B, or Musical Fidelity A3CR. Or a Counterpoint with the updates/mods?
Conrad Johnson Premier 14 is very musical! remote controlled too! Words cannot describe how good this piece sounds !
Hi Emmett,

I've been using an Audible Illusions L-1 linestage with several different amps (including a Bryston 3B) for about
5 years now. It has worked well with all of them. It has been 100% reliable and tubes (6922) are readily available from many sources. The 3A is the same thing with a phono stage. These are very available on audiogon and would be within your budget.
You might be able to find a used Pass Aleph P. I would describe it as a well built, neutral sounding preamp. The only downside is that it doesn't have a true tape monitor loop. Typically priced between $1,400 and $1,600.
What is the name of the popular passive preamp that sells for around $1500.00?
I agree with Rogerroger, I have had an Audible Illusions M3A in my system for the last 4 years and I have absolutely no desire to replace it. It is a wonderful sounding preamp and has a very neutral sound, not tubey. I have used it with a Bryston 4B NRB amp with great results.
The best preamp is no preamp. If you can arrange your system around it a passive preamp is the way to go, but there are giant sacrifices to be made along the line to get there.
Placette is the manufacturer that I was thinking of in my above post. I have no experience with them, but have been curious as to how one would pair with an SET amp (only to add switching capability). I have read that they add very little sonic character of their own (which might be a good thing if you have a good source and power amp).
I second the Pass Aleph P option: transparent, ultraquiet, very 3D, detailed, and perhaps a bit lean...sounds like you might like it. I paid $1850 with remote used a year ago.
Extraordinary build quality, too. Good Luck. Ern
I'm happy with my BAT VK3i for <1k line only used, up to about 1500+ w/phono and remote. Uses the ever popular 6922s (4) and 6V6 (2). Awesome customer service.
everybody knows melos is yunk, unreliable, poor service, etc. yust ask leafs! ;~) but, of all the pre's mentioned here, only the joule electra la 100 mklll wood be of any interest to me, to audition it against my melos music director. i'd be innerested in the cat, but no remote-control wolume makes it a non-starter for me...

doug s.

I got my AR LS2 used for $765. If you prefer a brighter sound, just use Telefunken tube in it. The best part, it only need one tube.

Dekay, I have talked with two people that have great things to say about Placette preamps. Could be a good way to go with SET amp.
VTL TL-2.5...only $1,500 new, with remote.
I ve just bought a Sunfire theater grand dts preamp use for
$1300.00. This is a great sounding Preamp. Great price

Most manufacturers don't like to hear this, but the hands down winner in this category is the Sony TA-E90ES. It's
an older unit, but audiophile in every way. Extremely well built. Absolutely stone quiet at full volume. If you find one here or on eBay or, snatch it up. They are
marvelous units. I got a refurbished one for $750. Best
money I ever spent. Good luck !

I'd second the Blue Circle, you can get a used BC3 for about $1600 and you'll be hard-pressed to find better near that price point..if it's too lush for you, then look at Audio Research.
The best Preamp for $1750? No Preamp at all!. get an amp with Volume control. One less elctronic device which could color the sound (and they all do).
kasboot, how wood i hook up my turntable, tuna, & cd w/no preamp? and, besides, when it comes to cd, i'd much rather have it go thru a pre then be run straight-in to an amp. my experience was that a great pre leveled the playing field between cd-players from $500 to $3k. and yes, the spendy player (which was *designed* to be run straight-in to an amp) still sounded better thru a pre...

ymmv, doug s.

Your post and another thread that is currently running got me thinking about the solid state Bel Canto preamp, the PRE-1, that was built to go along with the EVo 200.2. This is a very transparent, musical preamp that doesn't get in the way of the signal. It doesn't have a solid state or tube signature, really, at least not that I can hear. Very transparent, without being too lean or too lush. Sounds great with the Evo, but I imagine it would also do well with the Bryston. My friend was running it with the California Audio Labs CL-20 with great success. The slight warmth and fullness of the CAL gear seems to match well with the transparency of the Bel Canto solid state. I haven't checked recently, but there have been a couple of PRe-1 for sale here on Audiogon, so even though the unit is over your budget new ($2300, I think) you should be able to find one in your price range used. Good luck!!!
There are many great preamps listed here. The two I have tried lately that I like a lot are the ARC LS-16 and the Aloia with the inductive power supply. With the Aloia, after the smoke cleared, the price came way down. It is now available in the range of your top dollar as is the LS-16. I still own both and am selling the LS-16. Good Luck in your quest!!! Roger
I like the Musical Design SP-2b very musical and good tonal balance. I think it goes for around a grand. Plant hifi did a review on it a while back.
cat, cat under $1750 its difficult but used MkII or MkI Signature may be within reach. I will join advice given to you above: first audition all available preamps and only then listen to CAT and then you will know. Good luck. Simon
Try the Placette passive risk free for 30 days and see what you think. I haven't heard it yet but everything I've read indicates this thing excels at adding nothing to the sound and provides an extraordinarily accurate volume control with remote. I'm going to try it myself since they give you 30 days--I have nothing to lose and at $1500 this could be an incredible bargain. If you're truly interested in a preamp that just passes the signal I'd say this unit is a must audition. Take a look at Best of luck.

Tuff question! If I were in your position I would audition the Plaxette Passive, Marsh P200T and Rogue 99. These are the preamps in your price range that I have heard and would recommend, but some of the previous posters have made some darn good suggestions also. Listen to as many as you can and good luck with your purchase.
i would like to know the best preamp new or used on under 2500.00, thank's greg.
Classe DR6, For years this baby was the Absolute Sounds reference preamp. Some come with a remote, DR6R I believe. This is a great sounding preamp that does everything right. It has a separate power supply and an excellent phono stage. They can be bought for $700-$1200 on Audiogon. You won't regret the purchase!
The best would be BVaudio P10 preamp, no doubt.
Plinius SA100 mark III.
My apology on the above post, I am thinking amp, Anyway I will put my vote Art audio mark II, used.Thanks
Wright Sound Company WPL20. Pure, unadorned beauty. My overall favorite regardless of $$$$.
my god, i was thinking the same question as this thread, and i'm starting to wonder, after all these different recommendations, if there isnt a best, only lots of very very good!
Just like shoes, the one that fits YOU is the best.
Another preamp to look at is the Adcom GFP-750. It retails new for well under $1750 and can be found for much less used. For the money it is a very good preamp which offers both passive and active operation.
Ditto needit2day. I love my DR6.
I have done a very complete search for a great preamp and I have found the New Consonance Cyber-222Mk-2 to be excellent and better than some at double the price the 6sn7 tube is a classic tube , as well as the 5ar4 rectifier tube.This preamplifier weighs in at over 32 lbs
and has a seperate outboard power supply, with better parts quality such as Auricap capacitors and 1% metalfilm resistors. From top to bottom it is very well balanced and superb in the heart of the midband as well as Thunderous bass
I used $2500 as a price point and considering they even lowered the price to $1500 , this is a no brainer for any
smart buyer. To up the ante even more I put a quality VooDoo Silver dragon power cord, Hifi tuning Silver fuses
and all 1950 Sylvania Chrome dome tubes and the Mullard 5ar4 Recitier tube .I can honesty say this preamp now sounds glorious and one of the best finds I have even made.
I agree on the joule electra la 100. I have also never seen anyone post saying anything bad about a blue circle product. I have not heard one but would like to...

Well, I don't know about the "best" preamp, but two you might consider are the Juicy Music peach which has no phono, or SAS Labs 10A. The 10A for years was a major mainstay among audio mags. Now, one aI have heard of lately is the YS audio Symphony Plus or the Minimax Tube preamp. None of them you can go wrong with. That Minimax with the 200 dollar mod, is supposed to be a major giant killer. Anyway, there are a few suggestions to look at.
Where can you find a Consonance Cyber 222 Mk II for $1500?
Does anyone know how the 6SN7s are wired (SRPP? parallel?)

Got a Ming Da MC2A3 myself and it seems to be a pretty good deal.
Bass is a bit loose though.