SS or HS PREAMP to get the BEst....
Only you can answer that one. Either can, or will, GET YOU great SOUNDS per se. The deciding factor could wind up being a mix of tastes and prerequisite functionality... remote, phase inversion, HT by pass... ETC., AND BUDGET.
..... DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU CONSIDER 'BEST' as being, in fact. My - 'our' best may differ from your own.
Around here, 'best' is simply too too ambiguous a word and carries a vast and varied assortment of definitions. it often too is just a wry inside joke.
For me, best is usuaally tube oriented power, with SS front ends.
Preamps in no real order:
... all tube pre's.
Cabling is even more indistinct ground to cover. A solidly good choice straight away would be the Cardas Neutral ref without spending too much money. Moving up further, the HT magic, SR Resolution Ref x2 active, (from pre to amps)... IMO. It will let you know just what you have on hand... and until a preamp is decided upon. Thereafter the sky's the limit.
I've tried and liked MIT Magnum, SR Resolution Ref, Cardas Neutral Ref, HT Magic II, Nirvana SX Ltd., and others... depending upon what pre with what amp (s).
Either go the A'gon shuffle, (buy & try) or rent some from the Cable co. and try em out that way.
go with BAT balanced and quiet. interconnects wouldn't matter. you can get $20/pr Mogamy XLR and try them against Nirvana or Cardas NR etc...
I agree with Blindjim's mention of cable upgrade so you can hear what you currently have equipment wise. First I'd pull the Monster Power Center and hear what happens, my experience was a big improvement when I pulled mine!!! If there isn't a big improvement upgrade cables than try again.
BlackZimbo, you will find as much tonal variability on tube gear as you will find with SS. Rather then deciding a priori on tubes or SS because of any form of external said-so, it is worth while making a hypothesis on what kind of sound you may be after, then make some listening experiments and determine if the results match more or less your hypothesis.
I have owned tubed pres from 1992 to 2008 and truly enjoyed them. In March 2008 I switched to a Rowland Capri, not because it's SS, but simply because I enjoyed it more than my tubed ARC Ref 3 for a variety of reasons, on which I waxed poetic in too many places around here. I tend to enjoy sound that is neither stereotypically tuby, nor it sounds SSish. I love loads of harmonics, good extension, linearity, good but not unnaturally magnified transient speed, quiet operation, and little/no maintenance/upkeep. I am after a musical experience that lets me sink into my sofa and get lost in the music, and not sit on the edge to feel adrenalin and anxiety. My listening prefs are classical with a smidjin of female vocals.
The bottom line is that only a lot of auditioning of both SS and tubes will let you discover what may be right for you.
I'd say think about replacing the monster interconnects. Even Nordost Blue Heavens for maybe $100 used I've had great luck with.
A tube preamp? Do you want new or used? If used, $1K can get you a very good tube preamp. $1800-$2000 can get you a very, very, very good tube preamp. Cary, or C-J would be at the top of my list, but also VTL, ARC, you can't go too far wrong......
Try to "have fun" with the search!
Give this Sonic Flare article
a read and see if it doesn't help you better understand what kind of sound you are after. Tubes and solid state have naturally different qualities, but there is wide variety and even crossover between them.
Start with the overall sound you are after, then dig in from there. It's a lot easier to create a shortlist when you know if the component works with or against your preferred sonic qualities.
Thanks a lot to all of you. The Sonic Flare Article was a good read .I will start with the cables and go from there.
With due respect to 'Marakanetz' mention of using xlr connections, and bargain basement cabling, ($20)... if the power train is truly balanced topology front to back, that alone will enlist another level of quiet, or blacker background... That was my exp using an all BAT power line... and I did use some $35 xlr cabling. AT FIRST.
Someone mentioned I should see for myself how cabling can raise performance, and I did just that going to the Cardas Neutral Ref xlr's. The Diff was night and day. Following having a decent pair of ICs inline, I began trying power cords... Whoa! Things got even better!
The thing is, philosophiess and opinions around here are a dime a dozen... or less... so the decisive factor will be your own ears... ALWAYS. If ya hear a diff and like it, and are willing or able to pay for it, do it. If not? Well... yayy you.
I can not afford to pay for sheer egotisim. I pay only for what I percieve as sheer improvement. Now and then, there is a sideways step, but not too often.... again, I simply can't afford that luxury.
A severe lack of open mindedness and the subsequent lack of attention to cabling in my first rig was indeed the issue... not the components, by and large. That turned out to be a quite costly undertaking.
The above note on the Monster plc also has some weight. Via the CAble Co. you can try some plc's as well. PS Audio, Running Springs, Audio Magic, Pure power, are all good items with good technology built in.
Very good luck to you.
Thanks for all your help so far. I quick update- I pulled the monster power center and noticed a slight change in the sound ,I will say for the better. but I also switched the monster cables with the Nordost Blue Heaven and immediately noticed I couldn't listen at the same volume as before -,I had to tone it way down-not sure whether its a good thing or bad.The bass however seemed a bit tamed. The highs became more cleaner,each instrument sounded more distinct.Poor recordings sounded very bad. Will see what happens in a couple of days. thanks
You need to place the value of cabling,power cords and conditioners in perspective.Yes they have value,some offer improved fidelity,many just change the sonic character, but at the end of the day their merits are limited to about 2 to 3% of the equation.
Cabling, such as anything else in terms of noticeable infulence, impact or improvment will depend upon the systems ability to reveal such changes, and the ears of the owner..... and maybe their pockets.
Keeping open your mind, and using your ears, you'll know what is best for you. Different is always differrent... sometimes it's better... sometimes it is not. You are the judge.
Not me or anyone else.
After reviewing a few pre-amps I took the plunge and went with the Musical Fidelity A3.2 cr pre-amp. I recently acquired a Luxman PD 264 turntable and thought the A3.2cr with its phono stage which allows for MM/MC was a better option.I think am going to enjoy this for many days to come. Waiting on my shunyata Venom power cables. Thanks for all the inputs from everyone.
Markwatkiss thanks for your advice of placing a value on cabling ,power cords and conditioners. As a beginner things can get intimidating and confusing but that put things into perspective. After all that's just 2-3% of the whole equation. Not sure what value the other components have .
Blackzimbo, much higher values than 2...3%