Looking for an used, inexpensive pre amp

Currently using a cheap but fairly nice sounding Dayton T120 D class amp.  Not enough inputs.  I would like to find a pre amp to use with this amp and perhaps at some point, if I can find the money, I can buy a power amplifier to replace the Dayton.

Figure my budget to be under $200 right now.  Looks like plenty of older inexpensive Solid State pre amps are available on Ebay.  

Any ideas what I should look for when buying a preamp?  I've only used Integrated amplifiers up to this point.  
good circuit design


adequate control facility to meet your needs
How many inputs do you need? What sources will you be using?

Schiit Audio makes the SYS 2-input passive and it's $49. However, if all of your sources are digital, you could also possibly use the Schitt MODI 2 DAC that has USB, Optical and coax inputs. The MODI 2 is $99.

I've never hear or used either, but they get good reviews.
It's really hard to find a good used preamp in the $200 range.  You won't find anything substantial until you get to the $300-400 area.  That being said, if you are on a tight budget, maybe an Adcom GTP-450?  Or there's an NAD C160 for sale, but it seems to have mixed reviews.
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A Sumo Athena can be had for $200 to $300.  It is better than any Adcom other than the GFP-750... You could find an Old B&K for that price or as mentioned above,  a decent passive could be found in that price range.

I suspect,  this sounds pretty good.  I'm familiar with this volume controller.
I did not like the SYS 2-input passive and returned it.  To be fair I auditioned it against a tube pre-amp 
$200 will not buy much unless you find a desperate  or ignorant seller. An Amber FF-17 is a decent vintage preamp (owned one in the mid 80's) that might go for $200? A Yamaha CX-1 , Sony E80/90ES or Proceed PRE are very nice newer preamps that could go for around $500.
email me.
dansaldivar at g mail dot com 
I did not like the SYS 2-input passive and returned it

Did you make sure first it was an impedance match with your source and poweramp?
What is the output impedance of your source and input impedance of your poweramp.
As those that did, love it, and there's always the $349 Saga which has active tube output if the impedance's aren't right.
Cheers George
if you only need more sources a switch box maybe all you need.  second the Saga from Shiit. lastly try some vintage audio shops and regular audio shops that have used items.
Maybe an older Van Alstine pre in that price range. 
I have an Adcom GTP-400 that I bought new many moons ago and barely used and its been sitting in a closet next to my other "vintage" gear. Decent unit. Ping me if you want it.
As I always say, find a Counteproint SA-2000 and have it upgraded, caps, a few resistors, etc. and be done with it.  I can add tube rectification to it for an even better sound.  Will probably have better sound that most preamps up to $4K.

\Happy Listening.
@will62 - Are you looking for a match to your Dayton T-class amp, or something that you can keep and use with a future power amp upgrade? I've heard the Dayton DTA-120 is a good sounding amp, for the price. But in the end, it is a $78 amplifier and it already has a volume control, 2 inputs and a headphone amp output. Are you really just looking for additional inputs, or do you want a pre-amp you can build on down the road? If you just need inputs, a simple switcher would get you by until you are ready to upgrade.

Your're going to need to determine what features are necessities, what are not necessities, but are desirable, and what you are willing to pay for that. Considering you've given no additional feedback to the folks who have already posted, we can only guess and speculate regarding what you need/want.

OK, all that said, here's my blind recommendation, considering your mention of buying off eBay. I saw a NAD C-160 for sale there and it currently has no bids at $150 starting price and a $200 BIN price. It has a remote, plenty of inputs and even has a built-in switchable MM/MC phono stage. It has enough features that you could probably live with it for years to come unless you plan to spend a lot more money on upgrades.

Good luck in your search. When you have a moment, provide a little feedback so we know if you're still searching or have dropped the conversation due to blissful satisfaction with your system.......

Yamaha c70 preamp. It features an excellent phono stage also. 
Acurus RL-11 in the $300 - $400 range.
Look for a Hafler DH110.  It'll be in your budget and will do a most excellent job.  I like them much better than anything Adcom ever made, but that's just me.
  •   Hi , how about the Schiit Jotenheim ? $ 399 , I know it’s twice $200. Add a DAC for a hundred . It sounds great and really shines when you add a balanced cable to your headphones . My point is this , Great little pre , Good DAC and Outstanding balanced headphone amp ( maybe the best ), at its price point . When you move on , as we all do , it’s a great little headphone DAC/amp to pair with your laptop in the bedroom or the hotel room ! Food for thought . Stay hungry my friend . Mike .
Older Rotel RC preamps can be found on Ebay for ~$200+.  I have owned the 1070 series and they are pretty solid for the money.  There Power amps are on there as well.

How about a Rotel RC-1070 Preamplifier.

It has a good MM phono stage, five high-level inputs, two pair of preamp outputs along with two sets of tape outputs.

It includes a remote control, and has a very nice headphone amplifier circuit.

You can find a nice one second-hand for about $200 if you're patient.


I'm currently selling my Hafler preamp here on Audiogon.  I would take the pepsi challenge with anything around it's price range.  

Any of the chip amps totally benefit by having a tube preamp in front of them to warm up the sound.

Having said that I might have a tube preamp for you under $100.  It is an Aric Audio preamp and has 3 line stage inputs.  Is that enough for you?  If not, I would add a switchbox as mentioned above.  My friend used this preamp with his Fleawatt chip amp and it solidly improved the Fleawatt's already great sound.  I think it may just need new tubes (2-12au7's).  Once I get new tubes, I'll test to make sure its working.  Price will be $50+cost of tubes.  By far, this is the best deal or sonic improvement you'll ever find for the price.

Downside, is that I'm very busy right now with lots of projects to get done this month.  If you are able to be patient, this would be a excellent deal for you.  Thanks,
Hi Will 
I have a Counterpoint SA2000 with upgrades. Listed on eBay
You can sometimes find Emotiva UMC-1 or UMC-2 pre/pros for 200-300.  They have some bugs but they sound great and accept many inputs.
Nad C160 is a fine preamp, I have the C162 and like it.  In 100-200 price range, you can probably get a decent vintage unit.  Look at Nikko or Yamaha preamps from the 80's.
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Great thread, the OP has only posted once and not come back ever!!

Cheers George
Classe SSP30-mkii For $300 on another forum.  Nice. 
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I've been very busy with work and that is why I have not checked back in a while.  Gone from home an average of 14 hours a day and sometimes longer.  

Bought something on Ebay to tide me over for a while.  Got a working Yamaha RX 596 receiver which gets very good reviews.  Have now Bi Wired it to my Castle Conway 3 Tower speakers and I can't believe the detail and increased space around most of the instruments.  Hearing things I never heard with the Cambridge Audio amp I had for many years and it is a bit of an improvement over the Dayton.

Will still plan to upgrade though in a year or two when I have a little more money to spend.  Will likely look for a integrated amp instead of a pre amp and power amp now.  Ease of use and installation.
Have found the Dayton does not play nice with my Tuners.  Too much noise in the audio.  Will keep that for the future when I hope to have a small rural property for recreation and can use it there with a  CD player.
Question about the Rotel amps people have mentioned.  Are they pretty neutral sounding or perhaps lean a bit warm?  I don't want something that sounds bright or too sterile if you know what I mean.
For some reason I can't send an email.  It may be that the new user interface which is completely unfamiliar is the problem.  I have not been on this site for almost a year now and it has been redesigned.

Lou Setriodes.  Thanks for the offer.  Having learned the Dayton can't work properly with the Tuner I had to change my goal of buying a separate pre amp.  Will stick with the Yamaha for now until I can decide further down the road if an integrated is the way to go (would allow me to use my Carver TX11a again or the Onkyo T4310 too) or if I can swing separates.

ReubenT.  Thanks for your suggestions too.  I had a NAD about 15 years ago prior to buying a Cambridge Audio Integrated.  Stopped working right after the warranty expired.  Heard the build quality was not all that great AFTER I bought it.  Has NAD improved the build quality of their amps these days?