My “Dream” system needs a preamp


Ok, this is a recent decision to build a two channel Dream system. Im leaning towards Magnapan 1.7i’s, a Denon DP59L and possibly a Krell type KSA250 solidstate class A........

i really liked a few preamps in the past from GoldenTube, AudibleIllusions, CounterPoint.....but its been years. My guess all these would fetch $2.5K or below on the used market, so align new gear suggestions at this price, my guess an outboard mm/mc preamp

your thoughts to my analog dream
kgveteran
I suggest auditioning both the 1.7i and .7 Maggies. I prefer the latter.


I'd talk to Don Sachs about him building you one of his SP14 preamps.  At your price you could get one new with some nice upgrades I'd think.  Backert also makes nice preamps in that price range.  Best of luck. 
i am thinking tubes,the DonSachs preamp looks like an option.....

that Ayre is sweet, like 4K used, but it does include a mm/mc phono stage, my guess same caliber as the preamp, i really hope i can pull this off :0)
DonSachs or Linear Tube Audio are excellent choices.
I can strongly recommend Supratek.
Look into Backert Labs.
As a recent owner of Don Sachs latest preamp--which fully loaded lands just at the top of your $2.5K price range--I can confirm that it is just tremendous. I think the Backert Labs and Supratek suggestions are also good. I couldn't be more pleased with the Don Sachs preamp, and his KT88 amp is just as good.
Here's another vote for the supratek and or the Don Sachs. I was about to pull the trigger on a Don Sachs when I switched over and decided to get the Supratek. 
Have had Don Sachs preamp since May and it is amazing.  Well worth the build time wait.
Just put a Sach's preamp into my exercise room system last note.  Holy smokes, it is a terrific preamp.  Clean, clear, spacious with nary a hint of solid state etch or grain.  It's a great preamp period.  For the money, it is stupid good.
Disregard my prior post.  I am awaiting my Sachs preamp the prior post is my Schilling the Truth preamp commentary.  Sorry for the heat lagged post.

Buy a nice used Counterpoint SA-2000 or SA-3000 and send it to me for modification.  It will be way under your budget and sound better than most preamps you can purchase on the market.


Happy Listening

Supratek Cabernet.  Just replaced my 2x expensive PS Audio BHK Signature pre with the Supratek and couldn't be happier.  
I would suggest reaching out to Aric Audio. He builds some fantastic tube gear. 
I agree with two already mentioned. Aric Audio and Linear Tube Audio, both excellent.
+1 for Backert. I had a Rhumba 1.2 before upgrading to the 1.3 Extreme. The 1.2 was super in my system and responded very well to tube rolling. Buying used limits your ability to demo so you'll have to proceed with some blind faith if you go that route. Backert has a nice trade in/up program so you might try reaching out to them to see if they have used units for sale or demo.
For now at least an Audible Illusion Mod3a


I am very pleased with my Don Sachs II. Best upgrade in years. Don is very kind, always ready to answer any questions and may set up an ideal output for your amplifier, which seems to have 45 Kohms of input. And a second one can make it ready to fit for example a tube amplifier with 100 khoms.
Yeah, definitely completely disregard the multiple recommendations for Sachs SP10, LTA, or Backert and just go with the Audible Illusions that nobody recommended.  Good call.  Why did you even bother posting here?
I have a Parasound JC2-BP for sale.     
Yeah, definitely completely disregard the multiple recommendations for Sachs SP10, LTA, or Backert and just go with the Audible Illusions that nobody recommended.  Good call.  Why did you
even bother posting here?
Thats very dramatic, but the underlying message is valid, im not sure why i threw that out there.
when i go to Don Sachs website they dont seem to list a sp-10, line level preamp is labeled as the model of a tube upgrade ? My guess the sp-10 is an ala cart type preamp  where are you get to pick the options the preamp offers, which sounds really great for budget minded people who want to cut out the options that don’t necessarily suit them, or their existing system, or a new system. 

Once we iron this out, i can continue......
At this price point I almost went with the Don Sachs preamp but chose the Audio by Van Alstine Fet Valve CFR for its relay-switched inputs. That and I feel you take a larger gamble at getting future service with those one-man operations. 


At this price point I almost went with the Don Sachs preamp but chose the Audio by Van Alstine Fet Valve CFR for its relay-switched inputs. That and I feel you take a larger gamble at getting future service with those one-man operations.


That was quite a review ! More helpful reading

+1 on the Don Sachs preamp. I have been running one for about 6 months now and it is phenomenal. Great detail, PRAT with a deep and wide sound-stage along with everything you want from a great tube component. Don is busy and I would not expect to see him close up shop any time soon. And say 20 years from now when you want to have it serviced, if Don has retired, his circuitry is well laid out and any good tech, with tube gear experience should be more than capable of bringing it back to spec for another 20 or 30 years of service.
Hi tinear123

I saw your post from September of last year stating you switched from the PS Audio BHK pre and replaced it with a Supratek Cabernet. I am considering doing that exact same thing. I've had the BHK pre for almost 2 years now and after changing the factory tubes to a pair of nos 60's Telefunken 12au7's I couldn't believe how much better it got. I've been very happy with the BHK but can't help thinking it's the weak link in my system. The more I read about these Supratek preamps the more intrigued I get. I wish there was a dealer in my area so I could put it in my system and hear it for myself. I understand he only sells them factory direct to keep the cost so affordable which I can appreciate but makes it a little more difficult in deciding.

If you could tell us what other equipment you use it with in your system  that would be very helpful. If you could take some time to answer a few questions I would really appreciate it.

1. Did you use the factory tubes in your BHK?

2. What do you feel are some of the differences between the Supratek Cabernet and the BHK pre.

3. Did you hear one before you bought yours or just bought it based on what you read?

4. Which Vabernet did you get, the 6sn7 or the DHT?

I learned  a long time ago (the hard way) that just because it's more expensive doesn't guarantee that it's better.  Any opinions you can give me would be very helpful and greatly appreciated. 

Best,
Scot
   
Hi kgveteran,

Don't mean to avoid your question on this thread. I noticed your dream system consists of a pair of Magnapan 1.7i's. First let me say that I think Magnapan is a great company who makes wonderful speakers. In the past I've owned and really enjoyed their 3.7i's, fantastic speakers. I now own the Eminent Technology LFT8B's and in my opinion are better than the 3.7i's! They are around the same amount of money as the 1.7i's ($2200.00 vs $2500.00) I would buy the LFT8B's in a heart beat. I can honestly say, after owning both the 3.7i's and the LFT8B's it's no contest. I feel that the LFT8B's are, dollar for dollar, the absolute best value in ALL of high end audio, not just speakers! In the $2500.00 price range I have never heard a speaker that can provide this level of quality. They need and amp with a good power supply that can provide enough high current to the panels (just like the Maggie's) which the Krell you want should have no problem providing. Once they are setup properly, they are simply amazing. Before you buy the Maggie's I would strongly recommend listening to the Eminent Technology LFT8B's. 

Your question regarding the preamp was not 100% clear to me. I think you're asking for new preamps suggestions in the $2500.00 price range. 

The names that seem to keep coming up as great choices in a tube preamp in that price range are DeHavilland, Arci, Don Sachs and Supratek. The Don Sachs and the Supratek are the two I would look into. They are supposed to be really good sounding and very reliable for the money. Good luck. 
Hi scothurwitz...

So... I did purchase a Supratek but in the end decided to stay with the BHK.  The Supratek is nice but a bit to "polite" meaning it rounds off the leading edge of transients.  The version I had was the DHT.  Good balance but not in the same league as the BHK.  The tubes I have settled upon in the BHK are early 60's 7dj8's out of Germany but there are a number of very good tube options out there for reasonable money.  

My system is a 47 labs Pi tracer CD (oldie but goodie), Denafrips terminator and PS Audio DirectStream w/Bridge-II D-A streamers, of course the PS Audio BHK Pre, that's it for the front end.  The main amps are Coincident Frankenstein Mk-II 300B monoblocks driving BD-Design Orphean horns running full range plus a pair of Crown K2 amps bridged mono driving BD-Design 15" Reference Compact base speakers.

Let me know if I can help you further. 
I also own both the BHK and the Supratek Chardonnay and I prefer the Chardonnay which is a straight 6SN7 preamp. In terms of just lack of noise alone the Supratek wins by a mile. I have rolled almost two dozen different pairs of new production and NOS tubes through the BHK including 6,7 and 12 volt tubes. The quietest pair of tubes though certainly not the best sounding were a pair of triode matched Gold Lions 12AU7’s. All of the 6 & 7 volt tubes are noisier than the 12AU7’s the preamp was voiced with. The 6SN7 based preamps just happen to be my preference sound wise. We all hear things differently in our systems so neither one of us is "correct." Also the DHT based preamps sound different than the 6SN7 based one so who knows tinear123 might have preferred that version.
No doubt that the Supratek was dead quiet and yes possibly the 6SN7 could have been a better fit than the DHT version but the synergy between my Coincident amps and the BHK is better than the Supratek… in my very high efficiency system where it is capable of very high dynamics the DHT Supertek was just not quick enough on it's feet.  FYI, the BHK is very sensitive to ICs.  I have a friend that tried the same  7dj8's as me in his BHK and they were noisy.  I put the same exact pair in my BHK and they are dead quiet.  So now I have a 2nd pair for backup.
I have owned the BHK for well over two years and in that time I have used multiple brands and models of IC's so I don't go for that theory.  One of the problems with the BHK preamps from being a member of their forum for many years is that no two of them seem to be exactly alike and there have been more than a few mods of the input boards which have been prone to failure as have the ones in the amps.   So if you received one that is acceptably quiet to you with your particular amps then count yourself lucky because I suspect that there is a chance that if you tried a different one in your system it might not react the same. Mine is even noisy with their own amp.  I have a friend on another forum that has had three different ones in his system and he said each  one had it's own noise related quirks with no two being alike.  Their is no disputing the BHK is a great sounding preamp once the music is playing but when it's not it can be a different story in some systems. Especially those with low input sensitivity amps or high sensitivity speakers. You found the one you like best so enjoy  and I will do the same. 
Well the differences pre to pre would make sense of why mine is quiet with 7DJ8's and my friends has a low level hum..