Hi end tube preamps, it’s all about functionality!!


So most preamps over $10 grand all sound very good.  But functionality varies widely and a challenge to readily figure out.


some remotes don’t turn on unit,  some leave tubes on while watching tv/movies assuming they have ht bypass functionality,  some turn off avr when change is made to stereo listening (McIntosh), some use 3 tubes and some use 8 tubes, volume control process differences, power supply being external or internal, and many more feature variations.


it is a mess.  The marketplace over time will make a buying decision abit easier as brands soon learn that the avr/stereo integration is a very important market and ease of use along with running costs need to be considered more carefully.
emergingsoul
Few people with "high end tube preamps" want a noisy TV/Cable system hooked to their 2-channel audio system used for listening to music. And, no, it’s all about "sound" quality first for audiophiles. Functionality is secondary.

Circuit boards and all the processing and switching used in AVR integrated units is something most folks here will avoid at all costs. Less in the circuit is more for music audiophiles. More is just more for audio-video fans who love gadgets, and remote controls with 100 button functions.

You’d have better luck and get sympathy over on the avsforum, better to go here instead: https://www.avsforum.com/forums/


Weird thread topic. 2nd odd topic.

The OP perhaps needs some basic audio electronics 101 knowledge to understand why some things are just the way are.

Save your money and commission a designer to make a box to do exactly what you want.
Most of the very best tube linestages, like the Audio Note (uk), Kondo and Shindo units have hardly any convenience or other flexible features (e.g., no remote control of volume).  Some don't even offer balance control, or if balance can be adjusted, it is by way of the volume control being two separate pots (really inconvenient).  

I have a custom-made linestage that I had to persuade the designer/builder to include remote control of volume and to include balance control.  It took him a long time to find the parts that met his requirements.

With most high-end linestages, the priority is on quality parts and build quality and not convenience features.  Such features may be included, but, only if they don't compromise sound quality.  I liked the incredible features and flexibility of my Levinson No. 32 preamp, but, it does not come close to the sound quality of the two tube-based linestages I got from custom builders.
Hi end tube preamps, it’s all about functionality!!
This statement is false; this thread is based on a false assumption. Maybe we can disabuse that.


In high end audio, the goal is getting the music to sound real. Many preamps have that as a goal. Certainly 2-channel reproduction is what most of them are designed for. Some accommodate home theater but it should not be a foregone conclusion that they all do, since home theater often involves a processor and other hardware that is often not welcome in an audio system whose main goal is to get the music to sound real.

Clearly in a previous life emergingsoul was a terrier.  He just won't let go.
Have a tube preamp being built for me right now.  Has 1 tube (6BL7GT), one knob (volume) and 2 toggle switches (on/off and input 1/2).  Bet it will sound better than any "high end" preamp.
Bet it will sound better than any "high end" preamp.
The value of the bet being how much you paid for this... The 6BL7 is a nice tube, but with only one the circuit possibilities are limited. But in the right situation it should sound quite nice.
Right.  Don't know the price yet, but I'll pay more than I am asked to pay for it in order to compensate the builder for the ridiculously low price of the awesome two 2x6BL7 & 4xKT77 monoblocks that he built for me.

Agreed about the single tube.  I talked to the builder (Charlie Cocci) about using two, one for each channel...possibly even using just one triode per tube per channel like the Dodd Battery Powered Preamp (my current preamp) does, but he says that in this circuit nothing would be gained by doing that.  Based on how impressive his amps are, I'm inclined to let the builder build the thing the way he thinks it's best to build it.

Truth is he's actually building two preamps for me; the other one being a modified (less circuitry) version of Eric Barbour's Brute Force linestage (https://headwizememorial.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/brute-force-in-a-line-stage/).  I get to keep whichever one I like most.  Should be fun!
There is a important market for stereo listening at a high quality level and home theater in a combined system.

‘all’ it takes is passing a signal thru the preamp painlessly to allow sharing of mains between stereo and home theatre.  Options, sadly are very limited. Brilliant minds will be able to achieve this outcome.

soon, I hear audio research will be working on a feature to do a direct pass thru (ie. bypass tube circuitry) and thereby keep the tubes off.  This will no doubt improve their $6 mil revenue and they can probably do this in a transparent way.

will gladly pay extra for this outcome.


How many different titles to threads regarding preamps has the OP written?  Personally, I don't think this person will buy another preamp, seems like wishful thinking.  
Emerging- the marketplace for people with high quality home theater systems AND high performance 2 channel stereo systems is quite small.  Most in that arena have home theater Rooms and if they are really into music, also have a listening room for both the system and the library of ()take your choice of format) music.  Sure there are a few that combine both, but now you are throwing in a tube pre into the mix, which makes it even smaller and you want the tube pre to have a full function remote.  You already have your answer - the Backert Labs Rhythm 1.3 does all that and does it extremely well, but now you would like to put an Audio Research badge on it.  Either wait until ARC builds it the way you want or buy the Backert Labs, but PLEASE stop complaining about your plight.

These two types of consumers are a contradiction to each other.

One wants low noise, the other adds noise and ruins the music.

Been there and done that with expensive high end integrated preamp-processors used for two channel audio and hi-fi home theater. Adding a "direct" bypass button just adds more junk in the circuitry, noise. A well known audio company who started with 2ch audio eventually went out of business trying to keep both types of customers happy, software and firmware upgrades, bleh.  

Buy a sound bar, be done. 


Warning — we’re dealing with about 258MB of RAM here.  Might be kenjit’s roommate.  Participate at your own risk.  Peace out. 
Do you really wanna bet?
Integration of high end sound system with  tv-video equipment will negatively affect SQ.  Extra functionality futures calls for extra circuitry which add interference and lowering SQ.  Solution is to have two separate systems and even better solution is to have those systems in different rooms. 
I regard having separate volume controls for left and right channels as added functionality!
I have a system for music (my top priority) and a totally separate system for movies and sports in the same room. Been this way since the beginning and works great.  I would never have even tried to have one system do both. Too many compromises. Check it out.
"Circuit boards and all the processing and switching used in AVR integrated units is something most folks here will avoid at all costs. Less in the circuit is more for music audiophiles."

For that very reason, you might wonder why you want a dedicated preamp at all. If you need a separate DAC/streamer anyway, some of them apparently are starting to have very good volume control and input switching. A selling point of some of the best-measured preamps is that they add nothing to the sound signature. So, why bother? This is not a rhetorical question. I suppose excellent volume control is one reason, assuming there is a measurable difference between what you get in a high-end preamp and what you get in some of the best DACs/streamers (like the Mola Mola Tambaqui, maybe). 
Because it sounds better.  
Relatively new to the site but it seems like there are two threads rolled into one here.  With regard to what I’d like to call the “highest of the high end” those involved in it, IMHO, are correct.  Separate systems for HT and two channel audio are a given but there are many of us who enjoy our music reproduced with quality sound who are happy (at least temporarily) with “higher” end sound.  So if one has only one space for both music and movies the HT Bypass option is an acceptable solution. In looking to upgrade to separates with tube preamplification and a solid state amp I came across the Rogue Audio RP-1 which looks like it will operate in bypass mode when the preamp is off thus expanding tube life.  Am I correct?  
Also, I’ve listened to $100k and $500k system so I understand what the goal is but it’s just not my goal.