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
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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 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.
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 [email protected], 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.
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...