I wish I had known this before I made my investments.... Rowland has the concentra integrated amp for about $5600. This is a steal, because it houses the last 20 years of his experience into one box. The amp alone in the box would retail for over 10, so you're getting the synergy pre-amp plus the amp(what he is known for) for less than 6. Simply outrageous.... Others to look at: for home theatre or 5 - 7 channel systems, Lexicon MC-1 can be had for $3800 (on ebay) - $6000(new). Simply rocks for home theatre. I have been told the proceed handles music much better, and does very well for home theatre - but you would have to investigate. The real questions are: What kind of system do you have, and/or what are you looking at? What exactly is it you want out of your system? That makes all the difference. My advice comes from countless hours trying to find a high end blend of home theatre and stereo with electrostatic speakers, and plasma TV. Someone looking for a pure stereo system would have much different advice. Or are you simply taking a pole? All the best - Echotalk
I heard many preamps and owned a few. I now have the Mark Levinson 380S and agree, they are the best!
Get some modern design tubes going. Space....liquidity.....full imagery... not cardboard cut-outs. My vote is a very obscure Encore Electronics DL2010.2 Can be found occasionally!!! for $1300 used. Killer!!! If you can't afford a Cat, this is it.
Listen to Lamm L1. Then compare it to the best Mark Levinson, Krell, Audio Research, etc. including the CAT. I promise you will be amazed how much better Lamm is.
Atma-sphere tube MP-1. Most musical.
Cello Palette in Solid State, Atma-Sphere MP-1 in Tubes.
The Jeff Rowland Concentra Integrated Amplifier is very good. After months of listening, I ordered the Rowland Concentra for its great sound and all in one package. The key is to listen to your favorite CD's and pick the one that sounds the best. Good luck..
Yamamura-Churchill Apollo line stage or Perseus Phono Monoblock Equalised Pre-amplifier. The question is: If you can afford it and get it work in your system.
The Hovland HP100: transparent, liquid, palpable, articulate and open. Neutral across the audio spectrum. OR the Joule Electra LA100 Mk 3...warmer, fuller midrange than the Hovland...not as neutral or open.
Nice to hear so many good comments. I think the best sonic value at there is Jim White's Aesthetic's Line stage and or Phono Satge with volume controls. OK, I've owned the Phono product for over a 1 1/2 years, but it I would strongly recommended it to others. Home demo if you can. My biggest disappintment was the Nagra, given how sexy it looks and all the great reviews. In my system it wasn't even as good as an older CAT or not the same league as the Aesthetix at all.
If you need an affordable phono stage, the Mike Yee Musical Surroundings "Phonomena" is killer! I don't know what the best linestage under 10k would be, but I would audition the CAT Ultimate, Sonic Frontiers Line 3, ARC Reference 1 or 2, Levinson 380s, Krell KCT, and even a used Conrad Johnson ART...PERHAPS ALL AT ONCE. That would be the only way to know for sure which one you like best. Probably not a realistic task, I guess. IF YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO LISTEN TO CD, THEN FORGET A LINESTAGE unless you get upsampling DACS like the dCS combo. I THINK THE WADIA "POWER DAC 790" would be interesting to hear, since it accepts a 192 kHz digital signal. That's more than $10k, though... AND IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO VINYL, I doubt the Aesthetix "IO" can be beaten, perhaps driving the power amp directly. The Jeff Rowland "Cadence" phono is THE quietest phono stage...
Had solid state preamps, but a tubed linestage with ss amp combines the speed, tightness and bottom-end punch of ss with the mid-range liquidity and smoothness (read "lack of grain") and treble sweetness of tubes. Currently running a c-j 16LS with new MF-2500 amp in an Avalon Arcus/Harmonic Tech system. Musical, gentlemen, musical.
I have to agree with Tri....it is the Hovland HP100. I have compared it to the BAT, MLevinson, Pass Labs, CAT etc. They are the most neutral, and musical pre-amp I have heard.
Best value: Blue Circle BC 3, competes with CAT Best preamps: BC 3.1 ($4650) and BC 3000 ($6250)
CONRAD JOHNSON 16ls + JOULE ELECTRA LA200MK3.
Hi, To me the Bat 50se is "better sounding" than pre-amps costing over ten grand never mind under.
Without question, the Levinson380S.
I agree with Gerrym5, and his comments about the Aesthetix. I've owned the Aesthetix IO (phono stage) for a good while, and just recently purchased the Callisto (line stage). the Aesthetix line stage is the best preamp I have ever heard, and I have owned or auditioned most of what is listed on this posting. Please give it a listen for yourself. The bass, dynamics, phase accuracy and contrast is undeniable, it truly makes the music a more believable experience.
the VIVA from Italy. $8000
Hey Albert, You haven't tried the Tube Research ... Your friend, Brian
hey albert, have ewe ever listened to a melos ma-333 or music-director? it's given me the same sensations ewe describe about the aesthetics callisto. don't tell me that i'm not done upgrading my preamp yet! ;~) doug
Direct-connect a good CD player with volume control (Mark Levinson 39, Wadias, Metronome, etc.) to your amp. Cost $0.
Hi Brian, your right. I have not heard the Tube Research Preamp, you know I've had the amps. Sedond, I have zero experience with the Melos preamp, so I will not compare. As far as the comments about the Viva by Aaudio@home.com, the Viva is what I sold to buy the Callisto. After some of my friends heard the change, their Viva Linea is for sale too. Please see Audiogon Classified if you want a Viva Linea in excellent condition at great price.
I am suprised that no one has suggested the cassablanca II SURELY IT IS A GREAT a/v UNIT THAT HAS RECEIVED WAVE REVIEWS BY PROFESSIONAL AND ENTHUSIAST ALIKE. I WILL BE WAITING FOR ANY RESPONSE ON THE THETA CASSABLANCA II.
Try the Musical Design SP-2B. It costs $1000. and sounds wonderful. Take the balance of the $10,000. and buy a good front- end or speakers. This unit isn't as well known, but it definately will embarass many units costing much more. Good luck. Musical Design PH.# 636-447-0400.
Lamm LL2 Better than classe Audio research and levinson body dynamics and real harmonic accuracy!! and plenty of bass punch great for digital front ends!
General Electric mono phono $12.95! Circa 1957. Single 6sc7. Beats any phono up to $65,000!
First Sound, lots of quality and extreme performance for the money. I would put MKIII (current entry level-retail $5400) against any pre-amp up to $10K.
Another factor is the synergy of the other components in your system.
The First Sound pre-amps are awesome. The MKIII (current entry level model @ retail $5400)will perform with any pre-amp up to $10K easily.
A lot of good recommendations in this thread. My short list is VAC Renaissance and Ayre K-1xe. Others that I am intrigued by:
Burmester 035 (or 011)
Hovland HP 200
Conrad Johnson ET-5
The Hovland, CJ, and Wyetech do not have balanced outputs so I am more reluctant to pursue those...
Supratek Cabernet Dual in a minute
For better or worse; one of the Bryston preamps. All 3 are under $10k.
Another vote for TRL "The Dude". Single ended or balanced. Fantastic all tube pre-amp. I also happen to like Joule and Wyetech...
Can't believe Ayre wasn't mentioned
Throess with 3 phono inputs all tube.
My McCormack TLC-1 that was completely rebuilt by Steve McCormack at SMc Audio (see pics in my virtual system) is easily the best I have heard out of around 20 top contenders in the $4-$10K price range.
McCormack strikes me as a "sleeper" product. Not too much fanfare about them, but they deliver the goods.
I think things have changed since the thread was started in 1999...in today's dollar $10,000 would be $14,324.97.