In that price range, I would definitely audition the Ayre C-5xeMP and if you want to start in tube warmth, then the Conrad Johnson Classic 2 SE, make sure you try the SE version, a few hundred more, but well worth the money. After you have heard these, then you can dabble down the road with a ARC or Asthetix gear if you desire. It all depends on how your system comes together.
Many nice preamps mentioned above but not sure you're going really know how good they are. Sure they're going to make your NAD sound the best it probably can but those pre's aren't going to be their best on your current amp. No disrespect for NAD; owned some and it's great value but it has its limitations. Have you thought of looking for an integrated? For $3K you can find a great used Integrated I bet can outperform a preamp you add to your amp; plus add what you get out of your amp and add it to your budget.
If you're married to the NAD I'd recommend stepping my budget around $1500 or so. Ton of great preamps in that range that will make your NAD GO. The original MW SWL 9.0SE, SF SFL 1 or Line 1, CJ PV12, ARC LS15 and etc. Tons of great preamps out there. I agree in this range on your amp I would look at tube based pre's and avoid solid state unless you're spending much more then a Pass, Ayre and others are fine. Know all the tube pre's I listed and all are very good. The ModWright by far beats them on the PRAT; so if you want a pre that has drive that's the one. The Conrad Johnson sounds wonderful and has the bigger tub sound but will not have the speed of say the MW or the others. Sonic Frontiers SFL1 is good but the Line 1 is cleaner and more extended with remote. ARC LS15 is a fine pre and probably more like the Sonic Frontiers; more neutral and maybe some will say sound like a better solid state preamp which nothing wrong with that but might make your NAD sound a little bright maybe. I'd look at a MidWright or Conrad Johnson to add a little bloom to your amp. I just wouldn't spend $3K as I really don't think you're going to hear it unless you step up your amp and not knowing the rest of your system you might be spending more to upgrade elsewhere as well.
I have no experience with Quicksilver preamps but I have a pair of their Mid Mono amps....they are such a huge bang for the buck it's silly.....built like a tank, super reliable, fantastic sound. Mike is a great guy to deal with too. I can't say enough good things about them. I bought them after my Classic 2SE but I would put the QS preamp on your short list, they build great components.
No one says you would have to stay put on an arrangement. Quite the opposite. Although there are some very nice and able integrated amps and some excellent paths ways to venture down Im not always so quick to go that way for a list of benefits separates offer.
It would also be an enjoyable learning experience when it came time to upgrade the NAD power amp with something that will shine more life into whatever preamp is chosen, and visa versa. It would be a fun learning experience not to mention practical for some listeners.
I’m a former NAD owner, so know that house sound somewhat. They’ve generally got good dynamic range but with mediocre transparency using a lot of feedback. A tube preamp is not a bad idea running with lower tiered Solid State AB amps to inject some friendly 2nd harmonics to help override the 1st harmonic noise of less expensive components. It’s sort of like adding cream to acrid coffee but does help. I’d recommend a used Rogue Metis or the upgraded Metis Magnum ($700-1400). Then, I’d get a pair of 6f8g to 6sn7 adapters off eBay (~$20) and some NOS or lightly used Tung Sol vt99’s (~$150-250pr.. not the fabled 6SN7gt/vt231 round plate, which are highly overrated for asking prices today). Tung Sol Vt99s, esp in this preamp are quieter, more revealing and more dynamic than their 6sn7gt variant which for some ungodly reason are getting $500+pr on eBay. I have both as well as many others. On the VT99, round plate, flat plate.. doesn’t matter. Both sound good. Another decent vt99/6f8g option are the Sylvanias sold by Buenos Aries Radio on eBay, but not quite as good as the TS VT99’s. 85-90% as good.
Disclaimer: I haven’t yet listened to the stock shuguang 6sn7gt’s that come with this preamp, but my general impression is that while most non-adapted smaller bottle 6sn7gts are ’safer’ (in terms of microphonics), they can’t approach the level of transparency and dynamics of a good adapted 6f8g/vt99 such as the Tung Sol or B/A Radio Sylvannias.
I think that the integrated route here can't be beat..
have bought the last few Micromega AS-400 integrated amps from the US importer. The $4,995.00 AS-400 is a very good 200 watts/ch integrated amp with 400 watts/ch into 4 ohms. It is Class B rated in Stereophile at its $4995.00 original; retail price. It is very full featured with, Streaming DAC, Remote Control, a nice MM phono stage, 4 analog inputs, full tape loop, processor input, low noise preamplifier, preamp/subwoofer output, dual mono amp design with 1000VA transformers, a resistor ladder volume control and nice headphone amplifier. All input switching is done by relays. I have new silver amps. They are a steal at only $1,499.00. Save $3500.00 for a new silver amp. Quantity is limited. TEN Year Factory Warr
It sounds like you really like your NAD, so it doesn't matter what anyone else says, your opinion is all that counts, I agree with the ones recommending you spend less, buy a older pre "worth" 5-6 grand new, and there are a lot out there, try USAUDIOMART, or CANUCKAUDIOMART, along with AUDIOGON of course. Some really good ones can be had.
I've had a Conrad Johnson PV10A for over 20 years, matched with SS power amps and the sound is great. I find the valve preamp softens the SS amps without losing soundstage and clarity. Bass is warm, but tight and controlled, and the highs are smooth and clean.
If you don't need a phono preamp stage, consider the PV10AL.
I'll be the fifth person in this thread to recommend a PrimaLuna preamp. I was able to find a gently used, excellent condition PrimaLuna dialogue three tube preamp for well under your $3k budget.
I would agree with the others that say that a $3k pre-amp would likely be overkill for your NAD C275, however a solid pre-amp can be the "foundation" that the rest of your system is built around.
I wouldn't get a preamp at all. I would get a used Berkeley DAC, version 1 and feed the CD digital out into the Berkeley DAC then the output of the DAC directly to your amp. The Berkeley has a volume control. The Berkeley DAC will have a better DAC than your CD player, and you will not loose any detail or dynamics. I had a Bryston DAC feeding into a PrimaLuna Dialog Premium preamp, then into my amps. When I replaced the Bryston/PrimaLuna combo with the Berkeley DAC (saved money too) I gained more clarity and dynamics.
Since you say you love the sound of your NAD with the CD player connected directly but need a way to control volume, I strongly recommend you try a passive preamp. In all likelihood, it will preserve that sound you love better than any active preamp unless you spend obscene money. I'd look at this:
30 day in-home trial with full refund if not satisfied. Don't listen to the passive pre naysayers, just give it a try and see what you think.
Hello NAD C275,
I do not believe that you are being dissed because of your amp.
Most people have never heard a direct feed from a CD player to
an amp. Many amps deliver more than 10db above the normal
listening volume. That is over twice as loud as you want to hear.
I ran into this problem about 20 years ago and began the search
that you are on. The solution will sound simple but it will require
you to spend some time at it. All active and passive preamps
leave a noise and distortion thumb print. What you need is a way
to divide the voltage between two resistors of the highest quality
you can find. I would use Vishay naked, or Mills, or your Choice.
First you need to find out what the values need to be. You will need
to find a volume control that is about 10-50k( for SS or 50k-500k for tubes)
that does not ad much color or noise. The first one I tried was a
cheep Radio Shack. I now use DACT. They are not cheep but you
get what you pay for. Place it between your CD player and amp.
Adjust the volume to your most used. This will change slightly from
day to day and the CD you are listening to. Remove it (being careful
not to change it at all) and measure the resistances across it. This is
your starting point. Go to a company that carries high quality resistors.
Google Vishay and high end audio parts to find sources. Cut a low price
connector about 55-65% through so that the ground shield is still connected.
Strip the outside down about a one fourth of an inch and twist and ad the
shield wires to the still connected area. Connect the series resistor between
the cut center leads (hot). Connect the other resistor to the amp end of the hot
wire resistor end and the other end to the Ground Shield. This is now a
voltage divider. Make sure the hot and grounds are not touching and are not
able to touch anything. Use electrical tape for this. You can now connect it to
your CD player and amp. You will only hear what the series resistor sounds
like as long as you use the same type to ground. Electrons flow from ground
to +. Not + to ground. Think about it. Good luck! Happy Listening! My Best.
THANK YOU ALL ON YOUR OPINIONS.
I ordered a passive Preamp. from Europe. It will be made by the NAD specs. A Preamp. will have Takman Rex shunt resistors and 48 position shunt type attenuator. The maker of a Pre amplifier guarantee full transparency since he also makes a passive Pre amplifiers for the owners
of the Accuphase gear. So let's see / hear.
Helo Topten(Nad C275)
The info I gave you was general to all. This is for your amp.
I just looked up the input Z of your amp and saw that it is listed as 100k. This is high for a SS. When you buy a volume control to test it you will need to get a 100k pot. I do not have the schematic but I will bet that it has a 100k resistor as the input Z. You can replace it with a volume control of that value as long as the pot is a constant 100k no mater what the position. Not all do. If you are not good with a soldering iron you should take it in to your local repair shop and have them do it for you. You can drill a hole in the top plate that the pot will fit in. Run wires from the pot to board and control the volume with the pot. You will ad the sound of the pot you choose. You could also buy a gold point without resistors and choose your own. Use the type of control that only has one resistor in series with the amp. Good Luck! Happy Listening! My Best
Then get one of these for just $49 and you’ll keep that sound you like so much. Any active preamp will change that sound to maybe something you don’t like.
The Nad C275 has an input impedance of 100kohms so the Shitt Sys passive at worst 5kohms output impedance will NOT be compromised in any way, it will be the closest to what you heard direct, period.
The passive you used was most probably an impedance mismatch if you lost dynamics with it.