It’s time to upgrade my pre-amp

A strange thing happened to me at the start of Covid.  I could not bare to listen to most music other than jazz, primarily post 50‘s jazz.  I’m not asking for psychological assistance, but …this journey has led me down the never tiring, wonder filled analog road and that has caused my close family and friends to wonder.   

I built and own a Dynaco ST-70, Dynaco ST-35 and an Elekit TU-8600S with all of the upgrades including the Lindahl transformers.  The Elekit is my amp of choice. My thinking was, what better way to learn to listen to jazz than on the equipment it was designed to be listened to when originally recorded.

Today I am in need of a pre-amplifier that will support my current amplifiers, as well as, higher wattage tube and possibly digital amps in the future. For the time being, I’m sticking with highly efficient speakers.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my turntable is an Acoustic Signature Tornado Neo with a Hana ML cartridge and GoldNote PS10+PSU10 phono stage and separate power supply.  

My listening space is rather large 22 x 40 and my goal is to listen at low to moderate sound levels while maintaining clarity, detail and the experience of being inside the music space.

Thank you ahead of time.


@goodnightpaul Nice setup.  A few comments:

1) You need to know what is ( and how this varies between your amps ) the input sensitivity of your amp(s). For old school amps this was expressed as x voltage to drive amp to max output ( usually between .775 and 2 volts ).  Anyhoo this will help you know what gain you may need after the Goldnote combo. Note: Gain alone does not tell the full story of ' how good it sounds ' but it is an important thing to get right.

2) Do you have a lot of original monos? Reissue monos? Thought about a mono cart?

3) low level detail is great to have tough to get. Room artifacts, noise level,  and all the system elements play here. Nice to have that spacious room!

4) Not trying to make this an upgrade list....but there are better carts out there...

@goodnightpaul I'm Glad you made two things known.

One being, "I built and own a Dynaco ST-70, Dynaco ST-35 and an Elekit TU-8600S". 

Two being, "while maintaining clarity, detail and the experience of being inside the music space". 

I can't recommend enough, the Nelson Pass Korg Nutube B1 Pre-Amp'.

It has been in use within my local HiFi Group for many years now.

For the money to build the working model, there is not much out there that can offer a lucidity and insight into a recording.

If the design is built modular in a nice aesthetic casing, the basic cost will creep upwards. 

Within the local HiFi Group, it has been selected over other Pre-Amps numerous times more expensive to purchase, when entered into comparison demonstrations.

One Group Member took one over a very expensive EAR Pre-Amp.

It does carry a little extra injection of gain as a basic model, but this is easily resolved if wanted to have more control.

Well worth an investigation and there is endless build support available through the forum whare it was conceived as a design. 

Thank you for the recommendation.  I am quite new to high quality “listening” apparatus and have much to learn.  The good thing is that I have a pretty good ear.


To answer SolyPsa’s questions about input sensitivity:  ST70 - 1.3v, ST35 - 1.0v, and Elekit TU-8600S - 320mV rms.  I’m not sure what this determines, but please do explain.

@goodnightpaul as an aside, I did not listen to too much Jazz or CD prior to being loaned one of a friends built versions (they have four versions in total).

Jazz was used on Vinyl at a few demonstrations on other systems owned within the Group. I now have approx' 20 Albums purchased over a reasonably short periods, with the last one being a Crowd Funded one I discovered on this forum and only arrived at my address very recently.

As for CD's I went from a small batch of in car CD's to a collection of a few hundred in a similar timeline.

I am having a Four Chassis Monoblock Balanced Korg B1 built for myself, the Parts list is now complete and purchases have started. The Volume controls are Bespoke Built to meet the requirements of this design (not cheap), but I am hoping such accuracy is the attention to design that sets it apart.

This will most likely be out on loan for a while, as I am without a set up system, it is ready to go into storage.

A friend is slowly going Balanced from Bespoke Built Tonearm > Head Amp' > Phon' > Pre - Amp > Power Amp', my Balanced version will fit in nicely in this system for a period of time, along side their own Balanced version, the A/B comparison will be looked forward to. 




it means the elukit needs far less signal to reach 'full output' than the ST70, like 1/4 as much. There is more to it of course but lets just say a preamp with 0 db gain might be just fine with the Elukit but maybe not so great with the far as gain goes anyways

Thank you for the explanation of the signal stength.  Perhaps it’s wise to consider purchasing a pre-amp that will suit several different amp styles.  You never know, I might find myself with a S/S amp in my future, as well as the tubes.

Just researched the Elekit myself and most of their forums recommend running it without a preamp (contrary to the general consensus in other general threads here). As mentioned you don’t need gain so maybe a passive switch box is all you need? Either way, recommend trying before you buy. 

Yes, it is possible to run the Elekit without a pre-amp.  I believe the volume control was built in so headphones could be used.  Your recommendation about trying before buying is great advice.  

If you want a good, modestly priced, passive preamp look at Khozmo. Otherwise you could diy one. 


If you get an active preamp I would say at least 6 db gain, low output impedance and most of all sounds good :)

A bout a year ago I bought a Topping A90, which was a replacement for a Conrad Johnson tube pre.  It resulted in a very obvious major improvement in sound.  The A 90's chief virtue is its astonishing low noise.  It is also very low "dinero," I think I paid about 600 sovereigns for it.

I own and have heard the DACT Stepped Volume Control, I have also heard a range of Stepped Volume Controls along with a Khozmo.

When comparing Stepped Volume Controls, it was the introduction to the different take on a design being the Slagle AVC, that was what I preferred over the others.

Today within the Hi Fi Group, I have the Korg Nutube with a Khozmo Volume Control and a Prometheus TVC as a Korg Nutube Volume Control.

The use of these devices as a Volume Control with the Nutube, surpasses their performance as a standalone control by far.

The real attraction of the Korg Nutube B1 Pre-Amp' is that it really sings with a much cheaper VC, the added luxury can be considered as a later add on, as in the cases above.

My design will have the option to have the Slagle AVC attached, but as said, I have Bespoke produced VC's for my build version.