9 responses Add your response
I agree w/ Marakanetz in principle, but you must be sure that your source has high enuf output and your amp has high gain. If your source output is over 2v and your amps sensitivity is less than 1v, and you use short cables, you should have no problems at all using the OBH12, and you would have to pay some big bucks to get a SS preamp that neutral.
even if the conditions that you've listed do not have such ideal situation i.e. output under 2v or slightly larger than input sencitivity of the amplifier or cables are 1.5m instead of 1 it still does make a sence to get passive COMPARED to nearly any Bryston preamp.
the problem of wire length can be eliminated if you'll get transformer based passive preamp www.bentaudio.com.
Okay, a bit more info on my system:
Mac amp has input sensitivity of .5V, does anyone know output voltage of the Music Hall CD 25? I can't find it.
Signal Cable's Analog 2 interconnects are 10 ft between CD and pre and 2 ft between pre and power. But these cables have only 17.3 PF/FT of capacitance, so even at 10 ft that's only 173 PF (that's still an acceptibly low capacitance, yes?). If people think I would get much better sound by shortening the 10 ft cable, I could try shorter cables (would have to move things around).
In your situation less-likely you have problems running long interconnects from your CD-player. 2ft between pre and power is ideal and the input sencitivity is ideal. There is no CD-player that I know of has an output less than 1V which is in your case ideal as well.
So you'll best with passive preamp and even with upgrades toward different more higher quality passive preamps.
matt, you're in great shape on your amp sensitivity and pre to amp cables. I don't think the length of the cable between the CDP and the preamp will be a problem. The only question is whether or not your CDP can drive the Mac. With the Mac's gain at .5v my guess is that this would not be a problem. And once again i agree with Marakanez re a small loss due to the CDP output would be preferable to a cheap SS preamp (of any manufacture).
Good set up so far. By all means DO NOT use a cheap Bryston. I know you can get them in your price range, but if you stick to that ceiling, you will need to try passive. I use a pre amp that offers both active and passive. I normally use the passive mode as do friends of mine. I know one who goes directly from Wadia to a 100 watt Coda amp with great results. I'm not familiar with all your gear, but it appears to me a passive will work.
The Creek sounds awful relative to good actives that you can buy for under a grand used, it's flat, lifeless, constrained, grainy, boring. Sure, for $200 you can't be it, but truth be told it deserves its Stereopile class C rating....well, maybe a C- or D+, given what's available today on the used market pretty cheap. It will be the weakest link in your system. If you are intrigued by the passive preamp, try the Adcom 750, the one with a switch to choose active/passive modes, designed by Nelson Pass, highly praised in the print, found used for maybe $650(?).
I bought a bentaudio passive preamp to try in my system. I have only had a chance to listen for a couple of hours so far but I can tell you this, it is much more of an improvement to my system than I had dreamed it would be. I am useing two meter XLR's to my amp and it seems to be fine with those. Tomorrow I am going to switch some cables around and also hook up my ribbon speakers and give that a listen. I am going to do a post on what I think in a few days.