Sonic Frontiers Line 3SE+ ?
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The VAC Standard LE would be an excellent choice. I have used mine with both SS and Tube amps and found it to perform extremely well. The Remote controls volume and mute, but does not change input source. It has a HT pass through and possibly an excellent phono section depending on which one you find avaliable. VAC service is excellent also.
The SF 3 will probably have the lowest output impedance you'll find in a tube pre, it's DC coupled, so DC offset isn't as likely to damage the amp, it has true differential balanced outputs to match the true differential balanced inputs of the McCormack DNA 500. Oh yeah, it also has compartmentalized separate power suppl(ies), balanced and SE inputs/outputs, tape loops, remote control, headphone amp output, and most importantly is one of the most neutral sounding tube pres your likely to find.
Hello Shoff -
I hope you enjoy your time with the DNA-500. It is a fine amplifier, and happens to be an extremely good match for your Aerial 10-T speakers. Don't worry too much about finding the lowest-possible output impedance preamp. You do need to keep an eye on this spec, and I suggest you stay below 800 Ohms for best matching. But once you are under that value you should be fine, so look for the preamp that otherwise best suits your sonic and feature requirements.
Thanks to all of you who have posted so far. You have given me more options to consider as well as confirming a few of my original thoughts. When I invited comments from those who had "vast knowledge and experience in these matters" I had no idea that I would hear from the Master Designer himself Steve McCormack! Thank you so much Mr. McCormack for sharing your insight and for the reassuring words regarding the synergy between the DNA 500 and the Aerial 10-T's. That is exactly what I wanted to achieve.
As you know, it is virtually impossible to listen to all of these products before purchasing. That's why forums such as these are inspensible to music lovers. I have not made up my mind yet, but until I do, please keep your suggestions and comments coming! I'll post when I have made my decision.
I used the Cary SLP-05 with 10T's with excellent results. I wasn't using the DNA-500 but am sure they would sound wonderful together.
The 10T's need help keeping the bottom end under control. The SLP-05 was one of the best tubed preamps I have used in bass performance. The rest of the performance is also very, very good.
If you can audition one I would seriously consider the SLP-05 if it works with your budget. It's not excessively "warm" per se, but does have the midrange magic which you may be referring to. The extension top and bottom are outstanding for a tubed product in my experience.
Good luck with your search!
I just posted on another thread about my new Musical Concepts Chameleon preamp, so sorry to anyone following both.
It utilizes interchangeable "daughter boards" to allow users the option of quite a variety of different tubes, hence to be able to tailor the sound of the preamp. Why have just "A" sound, when you can change boards/tubes and have several. Quite an impressive idea. Also, the output impedance is variable by board/tube selection.
I have to disagree with the advice Jimswantko gave you. I own the SLP 05. I doubt you'd get the best out of it or the DNA 500 if they were paired toghether. The output impedance of the SLP 05 gets pretty high at lower frequencies. I wouldn't pair it with an amp that has a 10k ohm input impedance like the DNA 500. I think the result would be lean bass.
Well, I made my decision. I went with a new Conrad-Johnson ET3-SE. The other two finalists were the Manley Jumbo Shrimp and the VAC Standard LE. I'll let the CJ burn in and see how I like it.
Thanks to all of you for your input. It caused me to do some research that I might not otherwise have done. One of the things I learned is that the customer service of VAC is absolutely fantastic. Kevin Hayes of VAC emailed me from his i-phone late one evening from CES because he learned second hand from one of his customers that I had some questions about purchasing a used model. WOW!
I also had a great experience with a CJ dealer. I give him the highest possible marks for his passion for music, integrity and professionalism. I will provide his contact info to anyone who wants it.
I'll second the service level (and build quality) of VAC. I have a VAC preamp and amp and not only do they sound amazingly beautiful, Kevin has gone out of his way to answer my questions even when I had issues with a subwoofer giving feedback...he helped me trouble shoot it, whereas the subwoofer manufacturer watched on the sidelines.
I use a Marantz SC-7S1with my DNA500 driving B&W 803D speakers. I was looking for a tube pre at the time but could not find what I wanted in my price range of about $3000. I found a good deal on a JC-2 but the seller would not ship to Canada. I bought the Marantz thinking if I didn't like it I have a friend who would want it because he loves their products. Long story short I am very pleased with this combination. Prior to the Marantz I was running directly off the variable out of my Wadia player but found the top end somewhat thin and overbearing. I found a warmth and lushness that I only thought I would find in a tube preamp. Level of detail is great as is the soundstage.