good preamp for dynaco mk3 monoblocks with maggies

Im new to HI-FI world and would appreaciate any advise. I need a good preamp while my Dynaco MK3's are being upgraded with new VTA boards and capacitors etc By Roy Mottram at

I have Magnepan SMGa's which i will be Gunning soon(bought the wood already:)) and I have Event20/20 studio monitors.
my room is not big about 12X14 and I dont listen to my music too loud..i like classical, vocal, instrumental.

I need a good preamp for around 1000$... I will be listening to digital source cds or from dac.

im looking at Audio research sp11 mk2 for sale for 1000$
parasound halo p3 for about 500$

what im using as a preamp now is a little dot mk2 headphone amp that has pre outs..i know its not the best but like i said im new to this..i love magnepan sound and i like tube sound..

remote is preffered but not critical..i would rather have better sound....

I'd suggest you think about the Promethius Signature TVC that is for sale now. This is a superb passive- if you don't need gain. I don't think you can come close to this level of transparency for anything close to the price. Also, being a passive, it is just dead quiet. No relationship with the seller.
I used one of these in a Magnepan based system with good results, and although it is sitting on my living room floor unused right now (having been replaced with a $5.5 K Coincident), I'm holding it until I'm sure I won't have use for it in a second system.
You could always find a used Dynaco PAS-3 and pay to have someone refurbish it.

With some simple mods that preamp is a giant killer...
I use a McIntosh C-28 and am pleased with it. It's in your proce range and can usually find them here.
Thanks guys for your input. Ill definately look into those listed.
I would take Brownsfan's suggestion VERY seriously. Your existing gear and your listening habits make you a very good candidate for a passive preamp.
Im am looking at the promitheus signature tvc on their web site and I do not see price.
couldnt find it on audiogon for some reason.

how would it compare with reference TVC4? is it the same thing just in one box and shared input selector?

Also Im a bit confused...Signature TVC is Dual mono design and that means I would have to adjust input and volume separately for right and left channels right?..

It has one xlr input and 2 rca per I can have a balanced source, a cdp and a turntable with phono pre(or other source)

That is a very interesting recomendation. I see where it might benefit me using it with monoblock amps as it will be great separation between channels..
Zvovchik, It looks like the Promethius statement that was listed must have sold. I owned and used the TVC4 for about 4 years prior to buying the statement. As far as comparing the TVC4 and Statement, I would say the top end is more extended and airy in the statement. Cymbals, woodwinds etc are much more natural. Also, I seem to recall better localization of instruments and certainly more air around the instruments. The TVC reference 4 is a very good piece, and an excellent value. The statement pretty much gives you a bit more of everything, but they are cut from the same cloth.

I also used the Signature with Monoblock amps, and yes, you have a separate volume control on each channel. The volume controls and input selectors are top notch.
The Promethius website does not list the price of the signature. Nicholas used to make these special order only for repeat customers, so I was a little surprised to see it show up there at all.
I think I'm the guy who bought the Promethius that was listed on A-gon. This one has one volume pot, though as Brownsfan states I believe there is a model with two (they are stepped attenuators, so you can play with balance by counting the clicks, not a hard thing at all). I quite frankly bought it as a back-up for my Shindo preamp, in case anything were to go wrong with it, which did for a while when one of the output jacks in the Shindo lost contact, a common problem. I would echo everything Brownsfan said about it, particularly with respect to transparency. The Shindo is more dynamic and has a certain harmonic and timbral rightness about it (probably a coloration!) that the Promethius can't quite match, but for something that lists for way less than a tenth of the price of the Shindo I have been very impressed with the P:romethius, and don't feel I'm missing much at all when I use it in the system. An added bonus is that it works very well with long runs of interconnects, as I had used a friend's in my old system and it drove a 40 foot pair of unbalanced ICs with no problems. That both Brownsfan and I are keeping our units despite owning highly-regarded and much more expensive units should speak volumes as to how good this thing is. The price for a new one is, in my view, a bargain; just be prepared to wait a while to receive it if you order it new.
I dont agree with the TVC solution suggested for the following reasons :
The Dynacos do not have a very sensitive input stage and sound much better driven from an active preamp with good voltage drive. I own a pair.
Secondly, TVC volume pots have phase shifts at different volume settings.
TVC's to my ears can be very transparent, but they sound thin and lack timing due to the lack of drive and phase shifts at different volume settings.
The best preamps I have heard with the Dynacos are tube preamps with lots of drive.
I appreciate everyones input. I have received my mk3's from Roy, and I will say they sound great. they are my first tube amps and I am sure not the last. I have been seriously looking into Promitheus Audio and I appreciate your honest advise.
They work with Vinyl right? with phono pre.. I want to get into vinyl..maybe a technics sl1200 mk2 for starters...but thats later.
again thanks.
Zvovchik, You can plug a phono pre into one of the RCA inputs on any of the Promitheus TVCs.

Rcprince, thanks for the comparison with the Shindo. The Promithius Signatures are just a crazy good value proposition. Nicholas really needs to establish a US distributor and give them an inventory to work with. These things would sell like hot cakes at 3x the price with a bit more exposure and easier access.

Not having a good preamp and I can only compare to ky little dot mk2 as preamp versus no amp from my dacmagic I can say that with just dacmagic to mk3s sound a bit thick and more forward vs when I use my LD MK2 as pre I hear a bit more clearer and thinner sound..but that could also be that my mk3s are brand new and have only like 4hrs on them and sound was changing due to everything breaking least in part. Any good recomendations for a tube preamp within my budget maybe a little more if its a better pre. I am trying to find out what is a good way to go and dont want to rush things if I can wait or look for a good Value
up to $1k I would suggest Audio Research SP9mkII ( about $8-900) or SP16L ( about 1k) as being good value and good bang for the buck. The SP9 is a hybrid design and has lots of drive in the line stage. The SP16 is very musical. The SP11 you mention is very cheap, but if anything goes wrong will be expensive to repair as it is more complex.
Dover, It is always essential when considering use of a passive pre to consider both the amp and the sources. One must be very careful about system matching, although TVCs in some ways can be more forgiving than other passive designs.

In the 1K price range for preamps, there are necessarily going to be tradeoffs. The Promitheus TVCs can be a steal if the rest of the system lines up. I don't know the Dyanaco amps. The OP should consider your experience with those amps carefully.
Dover is quite right about the Dynacos' input sensitivity. It is rated at 1.6V for 60 watts output. I am surprised about this after looking it up, so I have to agree with his comments. I get excellent results with a non-TVC passive preamp (Audio Synthesis) in great part due to my Manley mono's .6V input sensitivity, with sound that is anything but thin and certainly not lacking in drive.
I myself would most definitely go with Atmasphere's suggestion.
You would then have a made for each other set-up, and very hard to beat.
Frank Van Alstine has a great mod for the Dynaco Pas 2 & 3.
If it don't glow....out it goes.

Try to find a used Doge 8.
I own a pair of the Dyna’s and have owned both the Promethius TVC and the ARC SP11. Given the choice, I would take the ARC in a heartbeat. The ARC is high gain and has a very good phono stage in it should you ever choose to use it. I’ve driven the Dyna’s passively with my Placette + phono stage without any issues but then again, that phono stage is a bit of an animal.
Zvovchik, since you are thinking of getting vinyl, you really owe it to yourself to get a tube preamp.

If you run an outboard phono section you have two problems- one is the audible effect of the additional connections (interconnect cable and the like). The other is the output level of the phono section. It may not be high enough.

A decent phono section may well set you back the same as a full function preamp.

A good active linestage can keep up with any TVC or PVC with ease. It does not have to be expensive but it does have to be built right. We started business almost 4 decades ago doing modifications on the old Dyna PAS 3 and we have continued to do so to this day. I'll just put it this way: Its possible to put a very simple circuit in the PAS 3 that will keep up with most preamps made and often for a fraction of the cost. There are tons of DIY circuits and articles out there if you want to do it yourself and have the skills.

Another preamp you can find inexpensively is the MFA Magus. Its not been around for a long time but they were a simple circuit that worked quite well.
Zvovchik, I happen to think Ralph's (Atmasphere) advice makes a lot if sense. Although I agree with Sbrown's comment about the ARC SP11, frankly, I am dubious you can pick up a SP11 in good condition for $1000. I've seen used ones listed on A'gon for multiples of that figure. Plus, ... given the SP11's age, it might need some "freshening up," e.g., new caps, tubes, etc.

So ... going back to Ralph's comment about picking up a refurbed Dynaco PAS 2 or 3 kinda makes a lot of sense. Being that your OP says you are new to the Hi-Fi world, let me introduce you to Ralph Karsten, aka Atmasphere. Ralph is the owner and chief designer of Atmasphere electronics. Ralph and his company are highly respected members of the audiophile community.

I suggest you directly contact Ralph and ask about the cost of acquiring a Dynaco preamp and inquiring how much Ralph would charge to drag it into the 21st Century. Given your stated budget of "1000$" (sic), that's a path I would seriously consider.

Let us know what you decide.

Cheers, BIF
For me there would be no other option except to do exactly as Bifwynne suggests. Ralph has been doing this for forty years... I'm sure he's got it down pat:)
Even if the the SP11 needed work, it has more potential than the PAS3. The 11 is not particulary fussy about tubes and they can be had cheap. Caps and what ever else it needs can be done over time.
Sbrown, If you are going to refurbish an older ARC preamp, the SP-10 is a better choice.
As always, there are tradeoffs between the two. I think the 10 is the better sounding of the two with the following two caveats. First, the 10 is far picker about tubes than the 11 and uses a lot more of them. That’s the reason why I sold mine. I decided that I didn’t want to feed it. The other issue with the 10 it’s harder to clean up its line level inputs. With the 11, you can use the bypass switch with both the line and phono sections while with the 10, that only works with the phono. As a result, the 10 doesn’t sound so hot through line level in stock form. You have to go through and disconnect a bunch of the front panel clap trap. I believe that’s what GNS did in when they modified those.
Could well be. But the 11 had troubles of its own. I think you are better off getting an old Citation 1 and getting it refurbished, or going the route I suggested with updating a PAS-3. Either way you wind up with a better sounding preamp if the work is done properly.
Thanks for all of your input. I looked into what has been offered. Was tempted by that SP11 for 1100...but given its age and more likely needing refurbishing, I realized I cant afford it. I was looking at PAS3 also. I read good things about updated PAS3's. Given that 80% of my music is in digital form on laptop, I came to a conclusion that I dislike wires in my living room, and having to connect and disconnect everytime I wanted to listen to music. All this time I was also researching about network players. I went to stereotypes hifi audio store here in portland OR and auditioned the Naim na-172xs. Its a preamp and networkplayer in one unit. It sounded great! ok they had $4k dollar nordost valhalla flat speaker cables connected to ProAc D20R through Audio Research VT100MKIII amp. I liked the ability to use digital media through network and also the preamp capability. BUT ofcourse I cant possibly afford $2700 for the NAC 172xs. (I know Im way in the weeds now, far from my Original post, but bear with me, Im still in search of preamp) soo...I began looking around and Viola! I stumbled on Music Fidelity M1clic. Its similar in capability to Nac 172XS. I know M1clic is not Naims Nac 172XS BUT it was $500.00 at music Direct! Originally M1clic is 2000$ Retail. Ok I know retail prices are inflated at times but i looked online and here on Agon and found M1clic for sale for $600.
so In my mind this looked like a good deal. I thought about it a good I go with tube pre and deal with wires in my living room everytime( I put my laptop on coffee table and run usb to dacmagic then to my Dynaco MK3 amps) or get a streamer that uses Musical Fidelity dac and preamp?(and get a remote) it was decided by me to buy the M1clic and I used the remaining money to invest in better speaker cables and interconnects. I was using 12ga rocketfish(ok dont laugh) speaker cables and I dont know what brand interconnects.( ok laugh) I bought Kimber Hero Interconnects and Kimber 4TC Speaker cables. Given my budget limit It was best deal for me. all in all the total was $964.00. no shipping fees from musicdirect. Cables were bought at my localy.
well let me tell you that I couldnt be happier. Yes I know I originally wanted Tube preamp but I couldnt pass up a deal like that and not to mention the convenience. If some paid $2k for the m1clic and Im sure Im not the only one that owns it, I thought it would be worth 500 dollars. also the fact that m1clic went up in price 200$ after i bought it from MusicDirect, makes me feel better. so far I really like what I hear and I have been listening to much more music without cable connecting hassle and people not tripping over them and sending my dacmagic or laptop flying across the room. on a side note the dacmagic is very sturdy. well thats my story and i appreciate all that contributed really.