Eastern Electric Mini Max vs AE-3 DJH preamps

I've been looking around for a good tube preamp for some time. I've looked at new and used on Audiogon and on E-bay and wanted to keep the price around $1000. I keep coming back to these two, Eastern Electric Mini Max and AE-3 DJH. Their price new is about $1100 and I've read some good reviews on both. Any opinions about these two preamps? I need some help making up my mind.

I will also be looking for a 200 w/ch SS amp to go with one of them, if anyone has any suggestions.

The DJH preamp is a giant killer! It is dead quiet, has a smooth top end that goes on forever and a bottom end you have to experience to believe. I can honestly think of nothing negative to say about this little gem. Do yourself a favor and buy one!!

Visit UpscaleAudio.com for comprehensive info on this preamp. My comments are taken from their website because they are spot on!
I have owned the Eastern Electric Minimax preamp & one of the ss power amps that it sounded best on was the Odyssey Stratos. A superb combination!
i would avoid both preamps. i had the minimax and the ae preamp. i heard the special edition at a dealer.

i found the sound of both placing too much emphasis upon the treble region.
I have previously owned a AE-3 ( non DJH ) & have now upgraded to a Supratek. Yes the Supratek is in another league. BUT I still cannot beleive how good this low priced pre sounds. I would highly recommend that you take a listen!
If you really need that much power and would like an awesome SS amp, try Frank Van Alstine's OmegaStar 440 EX (220 wpc - $1499). Seriously. And if you decide you don't like it within 30 days you can return it for a full refund, less shipping ($38). IMO you cannot get a better SS amp for $2,000 or less. Not just my opinion, but obviously other well respected audio manufacturers, such as Dave Ellis ( ... "I feel VERY comfortable recommending the VanAlstine gear to anyone thinking about new gear. Frank does very good work for very little $. The vast majority of the $ spent on Frank's gear arrives where it matters the most - under the hood. Frank's cases aren't fancy, but the guts of his products are extremely well built." )


And for a real treat, if you do not absolutely require SS, then check out Frank's Fet Valve Ultra 550. A few more bucks than your budget, but IMO the most musical 250 wpc amp for around $2,000 out there.
i found the sound of both placing too much emphasis upon the treble region.

Mrtennis, there must have been other issues with system when you heard the AE-3 DJH. It is not at all bright, terrific buy actually.
i heard the ae-3 djh with the cary six pacs and vandersteen model 2( don't remember what version) at a very reputable audio dealer, Audio Connection in New Jersey.

it was only after changing the 6sn7 tubes in the preamp to a nos ge 6sn7 that the sound seemed more spectrally balanced.

i have owned a cary preamp and a tube cd player. i don't find cary products particulary spectrally balanced.
I loved my time with the EE MiniMax - very detailed, nice presence but not syrupy, lots of fun to tube roll. I've now moved on and up to the Hovland 1000 pre, but really liked the Minimax - mated to the Nuforce Reference 9s, a great and very musical combo!
FYI, I'll be putting my Minimax up for sale today or tomorow - watch for it and get yourself a great deal.
Enjoy the music!
While I can't speak for the MiniMax, I have read many great things about it.

I can speak for the AES AE-3 DJH. It's a great pre-amp. Dead quiet. Tube rolling does make this pre even better (even EH 6SN7s are an improvement over the stock Chinese tubes). A friend of mine is considering selling his (much) more expensive (and quite respected) pre-amp to acquire an AES AE-3 DJH. My only issue with this pre is their selection of capacitors in this model. I'll soon swap mine out for some Auricaps (which shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes). Oh, the silkscreening on the faceplate is awful but can be removed with some acetone.

We all hear things differently, and my experience with an AES AE-3 DJH / AES Sixpacs / Vandersteen 2ce Sigs combination was not imbalanced at all. Matter of fact, this may be the first posting ever to imply a system with Vandersteen speakers was bright. To each, his own.

Bottom line is that that as along as the pre-amp output / amp input impedance ratios are within an acceptable range, you'll be happy with either choice.
Hey....I have a heavenly combination of the AE-3 DJH and the brand new PS Audio GCA 100 amp. The analytical quality of the Gain Cell technology in the PS Audio is beautifully balanced by the tubes (including rectifier) of the AE-3. It allows me to dramatically hear the difference in tubes. Changed my life. I can finally hear the difference in an old Sylvania "Bad Boy" and a CBS Hytron. My speakers are the new Signature Totem Mani-2. The AE-3 loves Silver Sonic Air Matrix cable, by the way.

I think I can speak to this issue as I have owned both. I recently sold the MiniMax. I actually had both at the same time for about 6 months, and I preferred the AES by a wide margin. The Minimax offered more detail, but the AES offered more tone. I think the bigger 6SN7 tube is betteer in a preamp. I sold the MiniMax because I wasn't listening to it.
I had an audiophile friend over several times (he's retired, just turned 65 and has owned a LOT of gear [compulsively discerning]) and he thought the MiniMax was nothing special. He ended up buying a DJH with remote after hearing mine.
What are AE-3 DJH owners using for amps? What works well and what doesn't??
Mingles, with the djh you want an amp that has a fuller sound, stay away from Bryston and such. As you may know, the only weakness of the pre is that it is a bit lean in the deep bass area.
Mrtennis, referring to Cary gear as bright in general is one of the oddest comments I've seen around here in a spell.

I don't think I need to elaborate on that comment for anyone who's ever heard any premap or amp made by Cary...
Paul, I strongly agree.

Though I import Opera Audio/Consonance equipment, I personally use an AES AE-3 DJH preamplifier in my system. It thoroughly outclasses anything I represent. It's a rich sounding preamplifier with a lot of dynamics. If there's one thing it's not (especially with the stock tubes), it's bright, as that is the last thing I want in my system.

Mingles, I've found that the AES preamplifier does very well with tube power amplifiers. In my system, I have had some real good results with both my Atma Sphere M60 and Consonance Cyber 800, though I'd say its effects are far more synergetic with the Atmas, as they combine to produce outstanding dynamics while striking the right balance of resolving and romantic (moreso than typical for this amplifier) at the same time. That being the case, I would certainly encourage anyone with a pair of Atma Sphere amps in the market for a suitable preamplifier to put this one on your short list.
I've had the DJH for a few days and absolutely love the sound. I was expecting to hear some bloat (like I did with a standard AE-3), but I've heard nothing of the sort. Apparently, they have different circuit designs. The DJH is direct coupled rather than capacitor coupled. The presentation is sweet without being overly warm.

I'm concerned about the 20 dB of gain. My ASL amps have a sensitivity of 1.0v which will probably limit my volume control to under 9 or 10 o'clock. The amps are being rebuilt right now, so I haven't had a chance to verify this. Has anyone else had a problem with the high gain? If so, what did you do?

I'm having a brain fart! I just got a DJH pre also,
and since it inverts phase, do I just make a switch
at the speaker end only + for - or at the speaker "AND" amp
+ for -??

Never mind, I found out.
There is a relatively non upgraded for sale now. No I am not the owner.
I also own an AE-3 paid 300- 350 for it turned my system into a nirvana broadcaster to put it mildly and wouldn't sell it. I have spent more on a few tubes. I guess in truth it would seriously take about ten K to get anywhere close to this miraculous little pre.
I had a buddy stuff it with the exact same parts as a DJH signature and he agreed that the sound didn't change that much and called it "scary good".
It is the biggest giant killer in this industry as long as you roll the 2 tubes it only has.
I am lucky because I have some of the best 6SN7s around numbering over 100. This pre will sound good with just about any decent old stock tube. IMHO it likes the bottom getter Sylvanias like the famous for good reasons " W "for instance. Bad BOYs or other early JAN or VT231 will do the trick. Obviously the biggest sound that this pre is capable of is to use the tube du Jour the Tung Sol Round Plate GT. I bought mine before the tube insanity hit.
I used the DJH pre w/ the Pass Labs Aleph 30 power amp. This combo still is one of the most enjoyable I've heard in my years of tinkering. The warm 3D tube sound w/ beautiful airiness of the DJH pre and the very articulate, non edgy sonics of the Aleph 30 was a perfect match. The 20 db of gain the DJH produces can be lowered with a simple mod. Call Cary Audio. Without it the volume maxed out at the 11 o'clock setting.
Mjcmt, thanks for that testimony. The more I hear about Pass amps, the more I'm inclined to check one out. Diehard tube fans swear they sound smooth. The thought of not fussing with power tubes is appealing.

I really love the DJH. I bought it as a stop-gap measure, but discovered how nice it sounds. It's definitely a keeper. I dealt with the gain issue by using Rothwell in-line attenuators. Thanks again. -Mark

Yes I loved that combo. I now have a benchmark DAC which I understand is a good match run directly into the Aleph 30 so I'm thinking of getting another one, or the Aleph J would be better.

Remember the Aleph series needs speakers in the 89-91 db range for loud volume, but I was satisfied with my 87 db speakers on all except the most driving rock music.

The Aleph J is an improvement over the Aleph 30 which improves upon the Aleph 3. But some like the 3 because it is more tube-like but with a lighter bass. The J has the lowest distortion of them all for better use with very high efficiency speakers. But I never had any issues with the 30 and it can be bought cheaper on the used market ($800-900).