Help me complete my system with a tube preamp (w/phono?)
I hope that 2016 is off to a great start for you. As always, I'm very appreciative of the guidance you've given me on various topics. I've decided to try separates in my analog-only system, and a preamp is what I'm lacking. I have been using an integrated with an external phono stage. However, I'm going to have my McCormack DNA-125 (which has been sitting in storage since the right channel dropped out) repaired and upgraded by SMc Audio. My speakers are Harbeth C7es3 - they fit the room beautifully and sound fantastic. So, they often say start with the speaker and find an amp that will drive them. Done!
Now, I need a preamp, and I'm leaning towards tubes but not opposed to solid state - recently read a couple of very impressive reviews on the Wyred 4 Sound STP SE, for example. My system will be analog only, so I don't need or want to pay for most of the gizmos on many preamps (HT bypass, DAC, lots of inputs, bass management, etc.). Don't even care if it has a remote.
I guess my question is how to maximize my budget ($2,500) for both a preamp and phono stage. Am I better off getting a preamp with a built-in phono? Saves money on cables and effort in matching phono amp to pre. Or, should I get a basic tube pre (like something from Mapletree audio or Quicksilver) and then add an external phono stage? I like the idea of one piece of equipment, but is that a significant sacrifice in sound quality? Or is there a phono stage with a volume control that can drive the McCormack well?
Any and all thoughts welcome!