Best Value Line Stage Tube Preamps?


Given they are all multi-input, multi-output, balanced line stage tube preamps, what are sonic benefits of a serious Rogue RP-7 or Prima Luna EVO 400 vs. the $899 Schiit Freya Plus? Currently these would feed a Parasound Halo A21 into Legacy Signature SEs, with all cables and speaker placement constant. I know the relevant mfrs/dealers all offer trial and/or return policies, but living far from any source and disliking return hassles, I'm soliciting expert opinions before (preferably, in lieu of) undertaking in-home experiments.
I know that much depends on one's own listening habits and sonic signature preferences, but surely differences in power supply, output impedances, etc. might be objective benefits to spending the 5x more coin for a bigger, badder device?
hickamore
I have the Schiit Freya Plus and was happy at first, but take precaution with any tube rolling. The inserts for the tubes seem pretty cheap to me. I know nothing about Prima-Luna, and have only heard positive about Rogue Audio products being well built. 
rickytickytwo, thanks. How much tube rolling have you done with the Freya Plus, and what did you think of the original stock tubes? Build quality would certainly be a key for the long haul, and I too have read that the big boys are built like farm tractors. On the other hand, at my age, how many Freyas or equivalent could I possibly wear out?
I find the Freya+ quite sturdy.  It is said that the circuit board was made thicker compared to the original Freya.  I believe it.  The sockets seem to grip like any others I have had.

In any event, if the sockets are a concern you can use socket extenders and avoid the issue entirely.

As for tubes, the Freya+ used to ship with Tung-Sol tubes (which is what they were reviewed with) but now ships with cheaper JJ tubes.   

I have rolled and find the SQ to respond very well.  Currently using Sylvania chrome domes in the gain positions with excellent results.  Especially if you prefer (or like me must have) balanced outs the Freyas do very well at 1/5 the cost of the Rogue, for ex.  But you will probably have to roll to see exactly what it can do.
I’m listening to Eva Cassidy Best of....and saying to myself, I don’t want to change anything to mess this up. Tung Sols...Freya Plus. Thinking everything is well settled in after about 300 hours. I can’t give an expert opinion because what works in my system and in my room may not be good for anyone else and I will always consider myself a student. I have a temporary housemate who just walked in sat down and said "omg, I can feel her emotions" (Aint no Sunshine) Guess it passes the test.
Very helpful, melm, much appreciated. Especially the news that Freya+ no longer gets Tung-Sols, yet tube rolling is easy. Having heard nothing to the contrary so far, any reason not to start with Schiit and if displeased, trade up for big boys? 
 As far as tube sockets are concerned, it does matter if they are mounted directly to the circuit board or not. If so, then it is a matter of how much flexing will that circuit board take before trouble starts. In the case of the Prima Luna, I believe that first off there are no circuit boards to worry about in the first place, and the tube sockets are mounted directly to the steel chassis. Somebody please correct me if I am wrong. Point stands that there are certainly different levels of quality and engineering that should be taken into account.
Inspire by Dennis Had
MODEL LP-3.1 LINE STAGE PREAMP

https://www.ebay.com/itm/STEREO-TUBE-PREAMPLIFIER-INSPIRE-by-DENNIS-HAD-MODEL-LP-3-1-LINE-STAGE-PREA...

This should be a very good preamp if you can live RCAs; and frankly, I don't think one needs balanced for home audio.
Your are correct 4krowme.  Tube sockets are mounted directly to case and no circuit boards and sounds super....I have one
Ahhh. The plot thickens and always more to consider. Thanks all.
The best value in line stage tube preamps is a tie between Raven and Prima Luna. Both come with their own dedicated power amp included at no extra charge.
I've ordered a Freya+, but they're backordered for now.  I've heard one with a few different speakers and was blown away, especially with the tubes on ;)
Another to consider, a little pricier but very well built, top notch...is the Finalé Prelude.  It is hybrid...but I'm planning on auditioning one. Will only buy if it blows the Schiit out of the water. http://www.finaleaudio.com/prelude
Will do!Won't be for about a month for the Freya...the Prelude I'm not sure, the guy who builds them said he'll let me audition one once he's got one made up.  He's been busy making other stuff lately.
VTL
ARC ( used SP series )
Quicicksilver
Backert

you have lots of great options

if you want the free amp route, Aestmakes an awesome Integrated
Don't need integrated these days, but the product info is good to hold for the dreaded day when the component footprint must shrink along with its owner. Checking out the rest except ARC, which I already know, and whose company, like the few geniuses of my acquaintance still living, I will never deserve.
I, too, listen to Eva Cassidy via a new Audible Illusions line stage and it sounds GREAT. AI is an old line preamp, still made in Fla. They make as they sell ‘em. But a # are available used. When I first installed my first one used, some 15 years ago, I was blown away with the sound. I recently upgraded to a new one, it’s great‼️
@rongold...do you have the new L3B?  Art is a good friend of mine.  I heard the new line stage and it is indeed wonderful.  I like the new faceplate and the rounded buttons.  Nice updated look.
"The best value in line stage tube preamps is a tie between Raven and Prima Luna. Both come with their own dedicated power amp included at no extra charge."

No Millercarbon. The Pima Luna Evo 400 is strictly a preamp and does not include a power amp stage. 
The Pima Luna Evo 400 is strictly a preamp and does not include a power amp stage.

Primaluna has a number of integrateds if that's the route someone wanted to take.

No Millercarbon. The Pima Luna Evo 400 is strictly a preamp and does not include a power amp stage.

Actually the new PrimaLuna line has all the gear named EVO XXX. There is an EVO 400, Amp, Preamp and Int. Amp. Kinda confusing.

https://www.primaluna-usa.com/integrated-amplifiers
https://www.primaluna-usa.com/preamplifiers
https://www.primaluna-usa.com/power-amplifiers

Even the DAC is an EVO 100.
I own an original series Freya (landed on NOS GEs as my preferred tubes) for a few years and have had no issues with the sockets as anybody with a modicum of tube experience should know how to wiggle tubes out of an amp. Easy peasy. Mine has been dragged around to try in friend's systems including ones with some very pricey preamps, and it matched or bettered each and every one of 'em. Made in USA, a brilliant balanced preamp with multiple balanced and single ended ins and outs, and 3 operating modes...I don't know of anybody who makes a better sounding line stage preamp.
Without comparatively rating any of the preamps mentioned, anyone who talks about "high value" or "best value" MUST include the Freya+.
Mofimadness,

Of course PL's new line has the prescript EVO which includes amps, preamps, integrateds, etc but the OP's question was specifically in reference to the PL EVO 400 preamp which does not, as Millercarbon claimed, have a dedicated power amp included.  
FWIW, I own a PL Dialogue Premium preamp. It has been back twice for repairs.

Had a bad capacitor within 90 days of purchasing it and some sort of a "circuit problem" about a year later. Both covered under warranty by Upscale but just the same....

In my setup, I can tube roll with the PM and hear the differences. Its sound is bold with upfront vocals. Sees to lack texture and nuance to me; is analytical.

Thanks for listening,  

Dsper
dsper, thanks for sharing. I gather that PL may not be the quite the workhorse as Rogue, and that tube rolling is needed to get the desired qualities. At least this should be easy (if costly!) with PL. I don't mind a bit of warmth in the mids and frankly expect it from tubes. There is always some point where analytical = unmusical, but different ears draw those lines in different places. Or even the same ears in different rooms or times of day/night. In my experience, almost any system can sound magical after 10pm on a non-holiday Sunday evening. Maybe it's time for a new thread on power supplies.
@ hickamore, 

Sorry about the late response The tubes that came with the Freya Plus were Tung-Sol 6SN7 as someone noted before. There were two options and I chose the Tung-Sol. I replaced them with General Electric GTB's from Canada. The Tung Sol sounded (in my system in my current very small room) like there were less dynamics, and there was less separation in the instruments. 

I have only changed the tubes approx 3 times.
Best Value Line Stage Tube Preamps?
For me without a doubt, the Schiit Freya or if you handy the Elekit TU-8500
 https://www.schiit.com/products/freya-1

https://cheaptubeaudio.blogspot.com/2015/03/review-elekit-tu-8500-full-function.html  5 pages to this one.

Cheers George
Sounding better all the time. Thx!
Mofimadness: I DO have a new AI L3B. I am ecstatic about it. Check my other posts for assoc. equip. I had an older line stage ~ 25 years old. It developed a problem not able to be fixed. AI made me an offer to good to refuse for a new one & I bit because of my 20 year great experience. Only problem is they don’t make ‘em ‘til they sell ‘em, I had to wait 12 weeks to get it, but when it arrived.....WOW! Looks & sound. The outside appearance, w/lights is cool but the inside is almost beautiful, all point-to-point boards. I am a happy camper!
Dadbehsh
Audible Illusion Line-stage 3-B. Check out Audible Illusions websight
Want to stay of the Merry go round then have a look at the MP-3 Atma-Sphere.
Given they are all multi-input, multi-output, balanced line stage tube preamps, what are sonic benefits of a serious Rogue RP-7 or Prima Luna EVO 400 vs. the $899 Schiit Freya Plus?

FWIW none of these here support the balanced line standard. The standard was created to eliminate problems with ground loops and artifacts with interconnect cables. Not supporting the standard defeats this purpose!
The standard is fairly simple:
1) pin 1 ground, pins 2 and 3 carry the signal
2) Ground is ignored and not used for anything but shielding!
3) the balanced device will be able to drive a low impedance load- typically 1000 ohms or so.
These last two items are the meat of the standard. One myth about balanced operation is there is only a benefit with longer cables. While it is true that running balanced you can easily go 100 feet, you still get a benefit even if the cable is only six inches.


Once you hear what a properly set up balanced system brings to the table you won't want to go back.

atmasphere

Given that very helpful clarification, what would be your optimal components for a balanced line electronic chain (source - preamp - amp)?
Check out "Space Tech Labs". They have many different components and can even build custom if you want. The owner will answer any and all questions you have, even give you recommendations.  Tube rolling is great because some of his preamps can take hundreds of different combinations. The one tube that make the biggest sonic difference in his design is the rectifier. Changing a single tube for rolling a totally different sound is nice. Another thing you notice with his design, he uses output tubes in his pre...el34 up to kt100. This give a big open sound. I run one of his balanced preamps into active ATC speakers. 
Active speakers not an option in my main system. Nor tube preamps in my secondary system. But I do get the idea, also why it could work for those otherwise situated. Very interesting about Space Tech. Need to read up on that, thanks.
Given that very helpful clarification, what would be your optimal components for a balanced line electronic chain (source - preamp - amp)?
Optimal? The sky is the limit...

I prefer analog, and since all cartridges are balanced sources, I would probably choose a Technics turntable with a custom plinth, equipped with a Triplanar tonearm...

Do you plan to replace the amplifier as well? 
Sorry about open-ended "optimal." I should have said "example."
And yes, on this prescription a different amp would be needed.
Such as .  .  .?
Thanks.
My favorite line stage over the last couple decades has been the Herron Audio. I consider it the best value in the higher price category. In the moderate to low price category Black Ice Audio, the new line of products by Jolida, offer tremendous value and are worth checking out.
Used Croft Acoustics preamps typically go pretty cheaply, good value, great sound. I find them very good, and even like their rather spartan, utility looks.


By the way, new, Gene Rubin is your man now for all Croft, and I believe he can order about anything Glen makes, just might be a little waiting period for it.