Help! Need tube preamp to finish system.

I've been working on putting together a good stereo system for about 2+ years now and would like opinions/advice on what I consider to be maybe THE MOST important part of a good rig; the preamp. My system consists of the following starting with the front ends: Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1, Ah! Tjoeb 99', Sim Audio P-4001 class A linestage w/external power supply, Marchand XM126-2AA vacuum tube crossover w/external power supply, McIntosh MC275 for bass duties, Mesa Baron for the stats, Kinergetics SW800 subs and Martin Logan CLS II's. Discovery powercords (where able) and DH Labs interconnects and speaker cables throughout. I don't need any suggestions of pre's with processor loops as I already have a decent rig for the HT thing. All advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, March
Hi Marchman, I must agree that the MOST important component in a system is the PREAMP. Over the past few months, I have been auditioning a number of top quality pre-amps in my home including: Pass Labs XO , ML 380s (solid state) CAT SLIII Ultimate, BAT, Hovland HP100 (tube) I feel I had a good representation from tube and SS. Anyway, my recommendation is for you to check out the little known HOVLAND HP100 which to my ears is the most neutral and musical of the lot.
Hi march, Don't forget about a phono stage.If you are going to get into analog like we discussed you may want to get a pramp with phono.I had a Lehmann Black Cube which retails for $700.00 This has been a rage for a while and is a Stereophile Class B in the recommended componant list.When I got my Rogue 99 my dealer sent me the 99 with phono.I wanted to compare the Black Cube and Rogue Phono.The Rogue won but not by much.BUT since then I have purchased NOS Telefunkins and Radiotechniques and this has made this phono stage a killer.If the cube is a Class B then I now have a solid class A phono stage.And for less cost of a new cube.That said I would buy a Rogue 99 with phono and add NOS when you can.This preamp is the best there is for under 4 grand.Call Mario,The dealer I have spoken to you about.He will give you the best price.The Rogue blows away the Audible Illusions 3A and most other Preamps out there.E=mail me or call me if you want more info.about the Rogue.Don't buy till you check out the Rogue!!
It doesn't sound to me if you're playing LP's, and if not, I'd use a PASSIVE preamp. I have an SFCD-1 like yours and a CAT SL-1 III, with factory-simplified signal path (switches taken out of circuit), and my homemade passive preamp built around Shallco "true ladder" attenuators, beats the CAT very clearly in transparency, detail, background silence. It helps to use good wire in the passive; I can advise on that. If you do play LP's, I'm selling an Anthem Pre-1. Its designer ABed it against the Audible Illusions Modulas 3 and reported to me that it won hands down on every sonic count.
Check out the Cary SLP-94 that I have listed on the site. It has wonderful sound and got great reviews. For the ultimate, take the money you saved by not spending $3000 on a preamp and buy a PS Audio Power plant (no I don't have one of those listed) for $1000 and take your entire system up a notch. The SLP94 running on the power plant will best any preamp costing less than $3K new running through a standard power conditioner (IMHO). The unit includes a line stage phono which bested my Lehmann Black cube in terms of focus and space.
I have nothing to sell you, but I love the AtmaSphere MP-3. The Atma MP-1 is certainly more detailed, but a chunk more money new. The MP-3 gets it right.
The Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 Signature hybrid linestage is an all time favorite of mine and can be found for around $750. used.I replaced the SFL-1 with an Audible Illusions M3A.
Check out Bruce Moore Companion. It is a rare tube line stage but sound as good as the CAT signature at $2k retail!
Look at the Sonic Frontiers used market. The Line2 is still a stereophile class A component and you can pick one up for around $1800-2000. If you are able look at the Line 3 going for $2500-2700. I just replaced a ARC LS2B with a Line 3 and am still in shock over the improvement. Used BAT, Levinson, and Krell Pres are also worth considering.
I have used a VTL 2.5 with the phono stage and it was very nice in the 1500-2000 range. I now have a Thor TA-1000 and it is beyond belief. Highly recomend if 6000-7000 price doesn't empty the wallet:-)) You might e mail as they have both the Atma-Sphere and Thor... Good luck, Harry
Sonic Frontiers Line 2. Excellent value. I disagree that preamp is most important component, however. ALL components are important, even cables. I have found that SOURCE components make the most difference. Spend money on cartridge, for example. Also, upgrade to a Wadia CD player!!
The Roge is the 0only way to go kills all others under 5k.Dont buy till you listen to a Rogue.
I've listened to the rogue,It sounded great. But did not sound any different than running straight from my DAC. Some would say that is what you want, some call that neutral.I say the reason for adding a preamp in the first place is to get a sonic signature( oh no coloration!) that you as an individual likes, among other things,such as switching. I personally have been on a preamp quest,have tried the rogue,blue circle BC 3, audio electronic supply AE-3,& the BAT vk-30se. So far i'm in love with the BAT at first I thought it had a strong emphasias on the upper mids,but after carefull listening, I realized this preamp just simply brings music to life it is the most revealing I've tried, very clean & accurate will not make bad recording sound good ( as with some heavy euphonic tubes will do) I know BAT has made a lot of enemies out there, being only 5 or 6 yrs old & making sterophile class A ( which really ain't that big of a deal) but all of the show awards do say something.This preamp uses the exclusive russian tube 6h30,but I would say it's really a hybrid design, I only have one more preamp to try & that is the First sound or presence deluxe. If it sounds like all the other all tube designs it will be sold. I myself don't mind the coloration if it's what I'm looking,the whole idea behind a preamp.Try the BAT they are upgrading many of there preamps to the 6h30 tube (which is what you want) You will never beleive the music can sound so natural, so alive,so musical.After playing the BAT in my system a while, I went back to a another before mentioned preamp just for a/b sake and instantly the music just died. Sounded as if I put towels over my speakers. Unbelievable!!! My system( for all you that are saying the rest of my gear must really be bad)includes: Merlin vsm-se's, Camlot uther v2.0 DAC,camelot merlin transport,Blue circle BC 2 mono's,all jps lab wiring. Thanks for the thread.
philifreak,Which Rogue are you referring to, the 66 or the 99?
The 99,and it was a very good preamp,just did not have the sonic characteristic's I was looking for,& probablly will never completetly be satisfied. The BAT is allthough very close indeed.
Whats the price of the BAT? I bet if you had the 99 and experimented with tubes it would blow away the BAT.I replaced the supplied tubes with GE's in the linestage and Radiotechniques and Telefunkens in the phonostage.This Rogue 99 is KILLER with good NOS tubes.I would put it up against anything in the $5000.00 range.
i'm reading this rogue stuff w/baited breath - i yust purchased a demo 99 from a dealer w/o auditioning; it's on its way to rogue for them to install an additional set of rca tape outs & rca main outs. mark said they're also almost done w/a *magnum* upgrade, so i told 'em to tweek mine before shipping. i hope it's as nice as what's being said here. this is my 1st serious toob adwenture, & i'm looking forward to it, but i'm still not ready to advertise for sale my linn kairn/brilliant, until i have time to do a thorough audition. the linn is *excellent* solid-state gear, imho...
I would like to here your comments after listening a while
philefreak, i shall post my feelings about the rogue after i listen for awhile, but it mite be a couple weeks before i get the unit.
I have been really enjoying my Welborne Labs Reveille Tube Linestage since purchasing in early June. Seems to have the transparency of passives while still breathing some life into the music, including deeper bass. Horns sound fabulous. God bless.
tube pre-amp plus solid-state amp? (rogue 99 update!) i was also hoping that would be the ticket. years ago, i auditioned an ar sp9-mkll - it was so dull & slow, i passed. i really *wanted* to like it - it was so cool-looking! ;~) this was w/an adcom 555 amp & thiel 3.5's, both known for their tendencies to be bright, so ya'd think the ar would have balanced it - no such luck. i can't comment about any other ar stuff, or any other tube preamps - *except* the brand-gnu rogue audio 99, deluxe *magnum* version, that i just got this past thursday nite. well, it's a *lot* better than that sp9 was - great soundstage depth, airy highs, * very* detailed - from the midrange on up. the bass, however, is totally awol, and what little there is, it's very inarticulate. perhaps this will improve when it's broken-in? i don't think so - i've never heard of this aspect of a pre-amp changing much during break-in. and, i'm not talking about head-banger-electronic-type bass, either. listen to the bass on patricia barbour's *inchworm* & *ode to billie joe* on her "cafe blue" album - the bass was *fantastic* w/my linn kairn preamp. in all fairness, tho, my system's lo-end is a pair of bridged adcom gfa555's driving a pair of vmps larger subs, x'd over at 60hz. monitors are meret re's, bi-amped w/a pair of electtrocompaniet amps. maybe other less full-range systems wouldn't even be aware of this preamp's bass deficiencies, but for me, it's a sho-stopper. regretably, this is going up for sale, less than a week old... see audiogon classifieds for specifics. anyone know af a nice tube preamp with *accurate* bass response?
Sedond, Try the BAT, any w/ the SE upgrade. You will never go back to another preamp.
Your problem is with the Adcom Midfi at best.I suggest you get a HI FI amp and then you might get some of what your looking for.The Rogue would be just fine if it had an amp to feed its signle to.Get yourself a new amp yu will later regret the selling of the Rogue.I have a Rouge 66 and i get lots of bass out of it.I also have apair of Rogue 120 Monoblocks.
My response was geared at sedond.Marchman pop in a rouge you have a real system not a toy like Sedond has.This guys an idiot.He has adcom for amps and is spending 2500.00 on a pre.Go figure
hi, idiot here! tm12, let me tell you a few things about the bass response of my system. two adcom gfa555's, bridged, are *more* than adequate to drive a pair of vmps larger subs, below 60hz - anything more is overkill - money that would be better spent elsewhere, imho. and above 60hz, i think my two electrocompaniet amps are more than adequate to drive my monitors in a bi-amped configuration. but, of course, i'm an idiot, so take my opinions w/a grain of salt. fwiw, prior to the rogue, the bass response was *real*, w/my linn kairn preamp. and, as i said before, i'm not talking head-banger music. the rogue does synth-bass, like nusrat fateh ali khan, just fine, tho still not as well as w/the kairn. it's on acoustic upright bass, as on patricia barbour's cafe blue album, where the rogue does not shine. it goes deep, yust doesn't have all the texture. and, as acoustic bass only goes down to 44hz, i don't think the adcom subwoofer amps are really at issue. but, again, as said previously, i *am* an idiot, so take my observations at your own peril. as far as the rogue 99's *other* performance aspects, i must say they are beyond reproach, i only hope the bass response improves - it *has* gotten better over the past couple days, but still not where i'd like it. regards, doug *the idiot* sedon
Sedond- As I have said before,I get KILLER bass with my 99.Instead of selling a perfectly fine peamp and one of the best in a list of 10,maybe you should dump the Adcoms.Sounds lke a synergy problem to me.But then again someone will get a steal on your 99 and know what to do with it.Happy listening!!
Hi March, Second, 99; As stated futher up in the thread the BATse pre-amps are world class performers. I've compared the VK50se to CJart, ARCref, and the ML32ref. For my system and taste the 50se outperformed the other pre-amps costing up to and over twice the price of the BAT. It truly is a world reference product. While I haven't heard the Rogue and respect others right to voice an opinion I can assure you nothing is going to blow the BAT away. I can appreciate ones enthusiasm for a product and can understand them wanting to express it such a way but you have to live with the componet and decide what your taste are. It's your hard earned money that's being spent so don't just listen to the "hype" listen and decide for yourself what's right for your taste and system. Good Luck, Tom
I apologize to Sedond for the (c). Tom
hi all, re: my adcoms, i really don't think there's a synergy problem here - bass was outstanding before, and while adcom stuff takes a beating in the hi-end press (mebbe too much value for money?), i've never heard anyone knock its bass response. only comments about its bass i've heard is that ya have to spend mega-bucks on something like a big krell/levinson/etc, to get marginally improved bass response. what i think is going on here is i early-called it in complaining about the rogue 99's bass response. it *has* improved markedly in the week since i've hooked it up, and while i hope it improves more, even if it doesn't, its *other* virtues are exemplary enough to satisfy me until i can consider the funds required to try something like a bat 50se, which is beyond my budget, even used. and, besides, the wife has already forbidden me to sell it & re-hook up my linn kairn! she *loves* it! ;~) so, i have pulled the ad, and shall place an ad to sell the linn. regards all, doug
hi tom, no problem about the typo, i'm an idiot anyway, remember - i dint even *see* it 'til ya pointed it out to me! ;~) regards, doug
Doug- Do you have some killer tubes in the 99? I replaced my factory NOS which I paid extra for with some better NOS.Kevin Deal @ Upscale Audio is up on whats good for Rogue gear.I got better bass with better NOS.3 Black Diamond Racing cones under my 99 really tightened things up too.You are not an "idiot" You made a wise decision.Give the Rogue some time and I think you will be glad you didnt dump it.I found the Harmonic Tech.Pro-Silway MK 2 interconnects really was a great match for the 99 and my Dyana. Tell your wife she has good ears and to keep you in line!!
hi david, rogue installed nos phillips tubes w/their *magnum* upgrade. i'd be curious as to what other tubes might give tighter bass response in thte rogue 99. thanks, doug
doug-My 99 came with Penta's in the linestage.In the phonostage they came with (2) Sovtek LPS 12AX7 and (2) Jan Phillips 12AU7.As I had ordered what I thought was ALL NOS tubes I investigated.I called Penta Labs.They claim they "DONT KNOW" what their tubes are(?) and dont even try to help the curious! In fact they are a bit rude.I called Mark and he said he thought the Pentas are Jan Phillips,but he assured me they are NOS.ANYWAY!! I kept the Penta's in the linestage but replaced the Sovteks in the phonostage with Telefunkens,the Jan Phillips with Radiotechniques.These have a similar sound to Bugle Boys.My deeper and tighter bass came from the better NOS phono tubes.If you dont have a phono stage all you have to worry about is the linestage tubes.Again,I feel you should call Kevin Deal @ Upscale Audio. He is a tube expert and Knows a good "Bass" tube for you.Wait a bit longer for your 99 to fully burn in before you spend more money.My 99 took 200-300 hours to level off and show what it can do.Be patient,you may find you dont need better tubes.