Line Stage Preamps that blew you away $2500 Edition

Passive, tubes, solid state, jewel encrusted moon rocks, whatever. 

tell us what line stages blew you Away in the $2500 ish price catagory.




I made the thread open ended so future people’s will find it and read the wealth of info here. It’s true the thread was to help me find MY new preamp but this way it will continue to benefit others for the foreseeable future.


that said I purchased a used preamp and while it’s been 3 hours now since I got it up and running I am really enjoying it. The sound is different than anything I’ve heard before so my ears are adjusting. The Denafrips Athena is something! Clocking at 35ish pounds it’s pretty…..over built. I read and reread the reviews at 6 Moons and Audio Beatnik repeatedly so felt I had a really good idea what to expect and I’d say their thoughts on the sound are spot on. That’s all I wanted to add but don’t let it stop anyone from adding their opinions.

This is drop dead gorgeous, an a active zero (unity) gain preamp to boot. I think I’m going to cry...Let us know how loud or the level of loudness you can get with this unit, and the quality of sound. Enquiring minds want to know...And all that for $2000...You got any hair left? Thanks



@tyray yes my system has had way too much gain (99db speakers) so I didn’t need any more. The unity gain works great and is dead quiet. That’s a first for me. The 12db attenuators are out of the system. It goes louder than I can play it so I’m good with that. The sound is very much like 6 Moons described, it doesn’t emphasize the attack but rather the sustain which gives it a more natural, analog sound vs the more common attack focused sound. It takes getting used to for sure. It reminds me of when I moved on from my then current interconnects and went to Audio Envy Studio Prestige. My first thought was they were rolled off, but listening more reveals they aren’t , they just don’t accentuate them.


Still early days but it sounds the way I thought it would, which is full bodied, fast, detailed but with a more natural feel. It’s also smooth and to be honest I never wanted a smooth sound but I have to admit that the rest of the system is “in your face” so it works. Last night after my post I sat up for a few hours spinning some new discs (Johnny Marr’s The Messenger, Cool World OST, Dave Stewart & The Spiritual Cowboys, Pylon’s Gyrate, The Ocean Blue’s Cerulean and Iggy Pop’s Free) and it’s a sound I like. I can see the sound not being a favorite around here so I waited for a used one knowing it’s a polarizing piece.

it goes good with the Odyssey power amp and it’s muscular tone and I suspect it would also be good with more midrange centric amps as well.

For reference my system is as follows:

Schiit Modius (balanced)

technics SL1200GR (w/KAB fluid damper) + Nagaoka MP-150 w/200 stylus

Sutherland 20/20 MKI (single ended)

Denafrips Athena

Odyssey Khartago (w/many upgrades)

Klipsch Heresy 4’s

Rythmik L-12 Subs (2)

single ended cables are Audio Envy Studio Prestige

balanced cable is Amazon (temp until O’Nestians arrive)

Morrow SP-4 speaker cables (will be replaced with AE in a few months)