I would recommend a BAT VK 31 or the 31SE/51SE. I like the flexibility of rolling the tubes in the 31. I think the BAT would be a good match with your monoblocks. If buying new, the 31SE/51SE are closing out and the pricing is favorable and you would get the 5 year warranty. Used prices are getting better as well. Let us know what you finally decide.
I used to own this great pre. By far, it has the slickest user interface and best build quality of any component I have ever owned. The extra user features are also quite good. I still miss these aspects of the CP-700. As for the sound, I would characterize it as pure Classe...smooth and easy, with not a hint of glare or etchiness on the top and a very nice controlled bottom end. This is not the fastest, most dynamic pre out there but it is an outstandingly neutral unit. What speakers and amps do you plan on using?
My system consists of: Verity's "Fidelio" speakers, Audio Research "CD-3" CD player, Classe "CAM-200" mono amps and Classe "CDP-47.5" pre-amp.
I weas also looking at a used Audio Research "Reference MKII" pre.
Sally, I used to own a Audio Research Ref 3 preamp as well and preferred the Classe. Keep in mind that most Audio Research preamps have a high-ish output impedance so you may want to make sure your amps input impedance is a good match.
What pre did you end up going with?
I've heard great things about the old Classe gear..but, since B&W bought them....the reviews and comments haven't been very good.
I appreciate your info.
Sally, I now have the MBL 5011 preamp. I think MBL makes some great sounding electronics. The classe CP-700 is my second favorite pre I have owned (with the MBL being my favorite). I find your comment about the post B&W acquisition interesting. I have read good things and have had nothing but good experiences with the Cp-700. As I said before, the build quality is excellent, the user features very handy, and the sound is smooth, controlled, and neutral. I have no complaints. In fact, I was thinking very seriously about getting another CP-700 before I got my MBL.
I have not heard a CP 700 but I did own a CP 500 before I upgraded to a BAT VK 51SE. Tboooe described the Classe house sound very well - smooth, easy, without digital glare. The BAT VK 51se stands out for different reasons. The BAT has better dynamics/more PRAT and more precise stereo imaging. Tubes also added even more realism to vocals (the Classe is no slouch either on vocals though). So I suppose it all depends on what you are looking for. If you want a more exciting sound the BAT may work very well, if you want to maintain the smooth house sound of Classe, you may be better off sticking with Classe. To my ears BAT is generally brighter sounding than Classe but at the same time more forgiving on the highs with poorly recorded music (tube magic I suppose?). Lastly, the BAT is slightly darker sounding while the Classe is more neutral. You may or may not like this. I would audition both preamps before making a decision. Listening impressions can vary a great deal depending on listening room characteristics and system synergy. Good luck!
Thanks to both of you.
My only problem is that we don't have an ARC dealer in town..only a BAT dealer. The nearest ARC dealer is 4 hrs away. I've heard good things on the BAT VK-31SE and 51.
MBL is great gear..but, no dealer is within 10 hrs to take a listen.
I was also looking at SIM Audio's intergrated Moon i-7 and their Super Nova CD player.
I hear it's a 'killer' combo.
Have you heard any comments?
Sally, it would be very helpful if you could describe the sound you are getting now, and the sound you want to achieve.
SIM gear is very neutral and transparent. I find it a bit too clinical. I think RAZA described BAT gear well. It definitely does not sound tubey at all, in fact I thought it sounded very solid state, with an incredible bottom end.
"I've heard great things about the old Classe gear..but, since B&W bought them....the reviews and comments haven't been very good."
Where have you been reading these reviews and comments ? There are a number of great reviews of Classé Delta Series components in mainstream audio publications. Check out the Classé Club at HT Guide Forum. Lots of Delta owners and lively discussion there.
I just got the new 2008 version of the SimAudio i-7. It is very neutral and transparent and a little bit dry (but I like it that way). But the midrange is very smooth, organic and velvety. The highs have plenty of air for my taste and the bass is tight and controlled. There were some changes made in the newest version to make it sound more musical. Contact SimAudio for more details and also see the past review in Stereophile. I thought about pairing it up with the Super Nova but decided to upgrade my ver. 2 to a Krell SACD Standard ver 3 instead. I did not get it yet.
Thanks for the inputs.
I,too, have read great reviews on the i-7 and will be buying one in the next month. I have also heard that the Super Nova can sound a bit bright...therefore, I'll probably upgrade my ARC CD-3 or get another killer tube CD player.
A used CD-7 might work.
I really like that the i-7 has a 10 yr. warranty.
good luck. The Sim gear is good and supposedly built like a tank!
the 700 is a very neutral smooth sounding piece of gear very musical ,and have yet to hear or read any negative comments on any of the classe delta gear ,,i do own one along with b/w 803d and ca m400 monos ...but if you like your sound a little tilted toward the treble look elsewhere,,,again there are some fine preamps out there it comes down to personal choice,,,
I own CAM-200 mono's. You really can't beat Classe.
I've enjoyed these mono amps for 4 yrs. now.
Thanks for your thoughts. Sally