Best Preamp to Pair with Acurus A-250 and Vandersteen 3 Signature Speakers

I am told this Acurus amp is a bit dark or dry.  I was running it with an old Carver pre-amp/tuner with some Vandersteen 2A signature speakers.  It sounded good to me.  The Carver broke and I upgraded to larger Vanersteens.  Any recommendations on a good preamp for it?  Would like to stay under $5,000.  I don't have a turntable, so I am digital.  Listen to everything from jazz to classic rock.  





My brother gets fantastic sound in his Vandersteen 3A -Signature digital system w an Audio Research SP -17 Tube preamp into a Threshold SS power amp.

I like tube preamps but Ayre makes a fantastic SS preamp . You might consider posting your ? on the owners forum at Vandy website. lots of owners…. experience…

Best to you !

Reach out if i can help you in any way.


in my recollection (i had both an acurus dia100 as well as an a250 power amp back in the day) acurus is classic early-gen solid state... raw power without any finesse... shrill lean sizzly gritty - i had totem 1 speakers at the time and the combo made my ears bleed

op - i am assuming your speakers are the vandy 3a signatures, right?

i would suggest getting a used odyssey or van alstine solid state amplifier ... for not too much more money they will sound much much better than the old acurus - or get a modern integrated with roughly 100 wpc if that can fit in your budget

Let’s start with this — what improvements are you looking for and what sound characteristics are most important to you, and are you open to maybe selling the Acurus and go with an integrated stereo amp?  Personally, I’d be hesitant to pair a $5000 preamp with your amp whereas a $5000 integrated may well give you significant improvements in both areas.  Food for thought.  

I owned 3A-SIG for ten years…. there are many competently engineered amplifiers that drive them well. The Odyssey is certainly one and an excellent value. Anything Nelson Pass made in 100 wpc range. I used a Mac, Ayre, Quicksilvers, Aesthetix…and Threshold. The Ayre and Aesthetix are zero or low NFB designs which pair well w Vandersteens. My buddy in Atlanta runs his with a hybrid Music Reference amp. 

The 3 is really a beast, while it’s very full range, it rewards an amp with grip and control. 

For $5K you can get excellent amp and preamp…both….

If I were you, hold off on selling that Acurus amp.

Team it up with a tubed preamp, that has a low output impedance.

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If I were you, hold off on selling that Acurus amp.

i disagree in this case

i would get whatever money you can from selling the acurus and put that towards something better sounding

the tubed preamp idea into the acurus, driving vandy 3a’s, is bad advice in my opinion.... you can spend alot of money on a tube preamp (good ones aren’t cheap) trying to feed the acurus and be worse off sonically and money-wise -- than going with a decent modern ss integrated

the vandy sig 3a is a smooth sounding speaker needing power and bass control, there are many fairly powerful, decent modern ss amps or integrated (ones without old school solid state sonic nasties) that will do very well and are more moderately priced than a good tubed linestage

Thank you for all of the good feedback.  To the one who asked, yes, they are 3a signatures.  They need a ton of power to control the bass.  The 2a signatures didn't sound bright with the A250.  They are just such a smooth speaker.  That is why I was hoping a tube pre-amp might do the trick.

I have 3a Signatures and run them with a pair of Belles Aria monoblocks and a Schiit Freya + preamp.  I agree with the recommendations to sell the Acurus and spend the $5K on a quality integrated or new separates.  Honestly, 2 Schiit Vidars (new model) as monoblocks with a Freya + tube preamp would be much better than a system built on that Acurus and would run you about $3K. Or you can also get a Belles Aria dual mono integrated with that budget.  But don’t spend $5K to get better sound from a (now) $600 vintage amp.  I bought my 3a’s used last year and continue to dial them in.  Great speakers.

To piggyback off @nymarty Johnny R is an incredible resource for both Vandy and Belles.  By all means give him a call, and especially if you’re on the east coast go to Audio Connection and have a good listen.  He won’t steer you wrong.  Best of luck.