AES AE3 used. You won't regret it. And if you buy used you should have money for another set of tubes. I love mine. It adds warmth. The first thing I notiticed was that I could hear the wood in accoustic guitars.
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i put an email out to the owner of the counterpoint because it says local pickup only. I would love to get it if he would just ship. Do you guys really think it would be a step up to take the pioneer out and replace it with a good preamp? im just learning what works and what doesnt. hopefully i can hear an improvement over what i have. signal wire where just put in the system and they made a big difference with the golds. thanks for the info.
Do you guys really think it would be a step up to take the pioneer out and replace it with a good preamp?It depends on what you're looking for. If your goal is to add more realism and depth to the picture, a tube preamp will help, but it probably won't be dramatic. If you're looking for a big change, I recommend replacing your amp and preamp with a tube integrated. To my ears, tube amps make everything sound more natural -- especially vocals and stringed instruments. 50 tube watts should be plenty if you play at moderate levels. Jolida JD302b and Cayin A-50 T should be in your price range.
If you play at high volumes and you're looking for more punch and dynamics, I recommend a more powerful amp. Your Sonance is underpowered for that. Stereophile measured your Stratus Gold at 84 dB efficient. They need more power to really rock.