Herron VTSP 2 or First Sound PreAmps

I am considering going towards a tube pre-amp and the two pre-amps that i am considering to match my McCormack DNA 225 Mono blocks (upgraded by Steve) are the Herron's and First Sound.

I am looking towards getting more separation among players and instruments as well good overall tonal balance with more body.

my current set-up gives me quite a bit of all this at the moment but it is on the lean side.

I am traditionally a SS person but after hearing a friend's set up with tubes...i am now thinking of a tube pre.

I have heard the Herron at CES but not the First Sound...has anyone paired either of the units to McCormack gear...are both these brands at the same level of sound quality...

Also in terms of maintenance of these tube units...which is a better bet.

the rest of my system may be seen when you click on system.

Thanks for sharing...
FYI, Herron has a new 3 that he showed at CES.

Also, although I can't say I have much experience w/First Sound, I am very impressed with my Herron 1/166. In my rig, it has bettered many other preamps, some costing a fair amount more. It has very little sonic signature of its own and can produce subtle dynamic swings, a huge soundstage and most importantly natural timbre, if these things are on your recording.

Maintainence-wise, there's nothing to it. Probably same w/the FS. Cheers,
Thanks Sbank for your information. How about the heat factor of the Herron. Does it run hot?

I was at CES and did stop by the Herron room, i thought it was one the better set up rooms.

Any other comments??
No, not hot at all.

One tweak I'm liking, is placing it on Rollerblock2's. Cheers,

While the FS Presence Deluxe II is an excellent preamp (I owned one), I'm not sure I would associate it with having more body than a solid state preamp. It's a pretty neutral piece of gear.

Tube maintenance is simple as long as you have easy access to the cover from the top and sides. Mine was installed in a cabinet, so replacing tubes was more trouble, but it still took only about half an hour.

It helps to have a FS Presence Deluxe II with detachable umbilical cord to the power supply.
Hi Spencer / Tvad,

THank you for your responses.

Where i am, there is a Herron but no First Sound dealer and chances are i have to buy new....since voltage here is 240v. I would like to test any of these in my system first before making a decision...

If i could simplify the description of the sound of these two pre-amps, and compare it to the thread Reference DAC's (Teajay's thread) where there is a Flavor 1 or 2. How would the FS and Herron sound like?

For example, I find that the Herron VTSP 3 that i heard at CES, sounded more like a Flavor 2 with a good dose of Flavor 1. Recently too, a buddy of mine who is testing for a new pre-amp tried the Lamm LL2 Reference and Wavac....

Wow what a difference in presentation for both of them...I felt the Wavac was really a Flavor 1 (not tubish at all) and the Lamm was more Flavor 2 (lush and full mids)...

Sorry if i am rambling here, but i am a newbie to tubes and apart from the great sound i am looking forward to, i would also like to know the "difficulties" of using tube gear in terms of heat, replacement, etc....

First Sound Presence Deluxe II is Flavor 1.
The Herron has little character of its own. Its flavor is "none of the above". It will allow you to hear the flavor of your other gear.
Joule LA150 MKII - Flav 2. Will flesh out the tonality of an SS amp; which sound like what you are looking for. Also love the Lamm LL2, but did not like dual pots and no remote.
thanks to all....i will go test what is available...
If you are open to dual volume controls and lack of a remote, which I suspect you are given your question about the First Sound preamp, then I highly recommend the Lamm LL2 Deluxe. If I did not presently require balanced operation, I'd own another LL2 Deluxe without hesitation.

Highly musical while also having excellent resolution.
If you consider the LL2, I seriously recommend trying one in your rig before buying it. Of course, that's always good general advice, but here's what happened w/a friend of mine.
I'd like the LL2 when I heard it numerous times in show systems w/Lamm amps and other gear that the manufacturer thought was a good match.
My friend tried it with his Classe Omega amp/Wadia861/Eggleston Andra rig, and it faired poorly vs. 4-5 other preamps all equal or lower priced. A number of listeners all agreed that the Lamm was horrid in that system. I was very surprised. Can't say I have any idea how it might mate w/your McCormacks, but lesson learned: synergy is everything...Cheers,
I'm going to withdraw the LL2 Deluxe recommendation based on the McCormack amps. I auditioned a DNA500 with the LL2 Deluxe, and I did not think it was a good match.
thanks guys....

i did hear the LL2 with Goldmund Telos 400 monoblocks...it worked well and you could hear and almost feel the texture of the music.

LL2 is good but i agree it has that you have to hear it in system....the power supply did run hot though...
...the power supply did run hot though...
Teck5 (System | Threads | Answers)
Mine did not run hot.
I'm going to agree that the LL2 is probably very system dependent; I heard in one system that I was not familiar with and couldn't get out of the room fast enough; in another it was OK, but clearly outclassed by Aesthetix Calypso (and 2 other much more expensive pre-amps). Lots of folks like them, so there must be some synergistic amps/speakers/sources out there. The First Sound, in my system was very clean, crisp, neutral. Never heard a Herron.
I have a First Sound preamp - I love tubes, and it's the last component that I own that's leaving my system. It delivers the body of tubes (an oboe sounds like an oboe, as opposed to a generic instrument) but at the same time provides the detail of SS. It's hard to split that difference, but Emmanuel has done it.
I have had a Herron VTSP-2 for the past two years. I sent it back to Herron 3 weeks ago and had it upgraded to the 3 and got it back several days ago. It is one of the best pre-amps that I have ever heard or used, either tube or solid state. The ambience retreval, tonal balance, and bass and mid-bass dynamics are all improved over the 2 and the 2 was no slouch in that area.I have had no problems with the 2 during the course the of two years.
It does not put out any heat and just gets warm to the touch but not hot.I have it paired with a set of Parasound Halo JC-1 mono amps and the sound is fantastic.
Also, there is no one in this business any better to deal with than Keith Herron. He is a true gentleman and is totally devoted to the accurate reproduction of music in musical terms.I do not think that you could ever go wrong in choosing a Herron pre-amp.
Teck5, do you feel any closer to choosing between the two? I get the feeling that you are not going to get a definitive answer; there proabably isn't one, as they both seem to be very well thought of.
Hi Guys,
Thanks for all the feedback....I am putting this on hold for the moment as i have put my system in storage..

I amp moving apartments and my new place will be ready in June....I will be building a dedicated room 20' x 17' x 9' (estimated)....

Once this room is ready, then i will continue with the chase for a tube pre....also, where i am at, there is a Herron dealer but no First Sound dealer...

I do come to the US often, especially to Seattle so i may pay First Sound a visit to get a possible voicing...I dont think they will offer an overseas trial...sigh...

I heard the Herron VSTP 3 at CES 08 and thought that the Herron room was really good...so i am hopeful for the Herron...but as you all know...there is that itch and what if...with the First Sound..
Teck5, what did you end up buying?

I owned both the First Sound Presence Deluxe MkII and the Herron, and frankly, the FS, as excellent as it is, was just not my cuppa tea.

I absolutely LOVED my Herron VTSP 1a-166 and the 3 is even better! If I could afford it I'd have a 3 and Herron mono amps and never look around again.
hi Rackon,

I bought the FM Acoustics 155 pre-amp.

The headroom, transient speed, space between players amongst others is just great.

When funds permit, will be moving up the ladder.
Congrats! Enjoy.