First Tube Preamp

I am strongly considering upgrading my preamp from a solid state B&K 10MC Pro to a tube preamp. It will be my first journey into glass and I was looking for some recommendations that will not break the bank and also give me a chance to get my feet wet without having to tinker all the time.
The other system components are a Parasound HCA800 amp, NAD
CD player, Snell EIII speakers and a Sonographe SG-3 turntable with Grace 707 arm and Micro Benz cartridge. I have a large vinyl collection and most listening involves LP's.
I would appreciate any input while I'm trying to decide which way to go.
Grado, you don’t mention the size of your bank ... but there are a number of tube pre’s out there that have excellent phono stages that see now and again on Audiogon. Have a look at for some ideas.

If you can find one a Conrad-Johnson PV11 is a great tube preamp. It is usually around 700 on the Gon. I used one for years with my Sonagraph SG-3 turntable with a Sumiko LMT arm. Still use the turntable and see no reason to change. Anything else C-J makes I can also recomend, right now I am using their Premier 16.
BTW the PV11 comes with a very nice phono stage
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I did the same thing recently after being a SS guy since the purchase of my first system. I was curious about all the fuss around tubes but at the same time didn't know what to expect or what to look for. After careful thought and many reviews, I've decided to go for a Conrad Johnson. One of the best decisions I've made with audio. Mainly because of the value, reputation and general availability of their gear.

CJ offer preamps in different price levels. A lot are available on the used market. I think it is mainly because you can upgrade your CJ for a better CJ without taking a new mortgage or divorcing your wife eveytime. A lot of people do this without changing for another brand.

Whatever the model, there is always somebody, somewhere who is going to come out with a better preamp for the same amount of bucks. This is called competition. But as a first experiment with tubes, a CJ will not let you down being simply for your listening pleasure and/or the possibility of trading it quickly for an upgrade.

Good luck !
Find an AES 3 made by Cary under the name Audio Electric Supply. I've had one for at least a couple of years now and I just love it. Watch for a used one here on Audiogon and be sure to get a couple good NOS (new old stock) tubes. I bought a few Sylvanias. It has three inputs and one out plus a volume control. No remote, nothing fancy, but I do believe you'll like it. Good luck and happy listening.
2nd the advice on a C-J preamp. I have a PV-5 and I wouldn't part with it. Sounds glorious. Keep in mind though that the vintage C-J stuff is getting up there in age (even the PV11) and may need some work. But IMHO after you replace (upgrade) various parts they sound great.
Be sure to consider an Audible Illusions Modulus 3 at around $600 or 3A if you can spend closer to $1000. Someone has a 3 on auction here at present. Easily one of the best and most reliable tube designs around and they have a really great phono stage. Also, like CJ, very easy to sell if you want to try something different.
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ARC SP-8 is my vote. This was THE most impressive experience for me when I heard this back in 1983. I was so ready to buy it but the dealer was not ready to let it go so fast. I ended up with the SP-10 soon after, and then the more refined PH2/LS5, then onto the BAT P10/31SE and now Aesthetix Io/Callisto. But the SP-8 was absolutely beautiful music then and it would still be today. With a little bit of parts upgrades by Steve Huntley at GNSC, you would have one heck of a preamp to drive MM cartridges.
I second the Audible Illusions Modulus 3A. You can find one used for around $1000.00 and will get your money back if you decide to try something else. It was listed as one of the best for a number of years. Another good choice is the Audio Research SP9. It's a hybrid (SS with tube output) and has a great phono stage. The MKiii was the final version and should sell used for $800.00-$1000.00. My experience with tubes has been great! No problems at all. The best part is tube rolling, trying different brands to get the sound you want. Happy listening.
Use the bypass in the MC10 preamp, and use the MC10 phono section. The MC10pro is a pretty good phono section.

If you need more gain, the direction of an older CJ pre-amp is pretty much dead on. OR ----

Look for a used EAR unit, Cary with phono stage, not the 98 too much money, although very nice. VTL, Manley, ARC, etc. I suggest staying with known names, tube reliability and circuit reliability are known items with them.

Good luck and be prepared, the ends are slightly softened, midranged plushed out and all the tooby artifacts. It will sound like a step back in detail, ---- at first, but then try and go back, and you'll find ahhh all the bass, all the detail, and then ARGGGG all that grain, and pain.

Good luck and choose wisely, and I still like the MC10PRO, darn sorry I sold mine years ago.

i had several conrad johnson preamps, including the pv5, the pv8, the premier 2, the premier 3, and others.

currently, i have a premier 3. i would sell it in a heart beat.

my favorite preamp is the nobis proteus. it takes 2 6fq7(6cg7) tubes for the line stage and 2 12ax7 or 12ay7 or other suitable 12 volt tubes in the phono stage.

occasionally, you see one for sale for around $550. it is a good investment.