Keep what you have as a pre but get a tube output CD player, like the Raysonic 168 and add cryoed NOS tubes. It is awesome, and tube replacement couldn't be easier- they are on the top
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I have 2 great choices for you.
Audible Illusions Mod3A....commonly available her on the'Gon...well under $2000 sweet sounding, very dynamic, with great bass. Mates wonderfully with solid state amplifiers..... The tube choice is key here. Great pre-amp.
Also, an EAR 834Line stage for CD only or an EAR 864 for line + phono.
Also wonderful sounding and under budget.
Thanks for the responses, great start for me to review these products. The system that was used was Vintage product dating back 40 years! Tubes is new for me and when we plugged the transistor integrated amp it was still nice sound but the tubes were better. Unfortunately many have told me that TUBE amps are not good with Planar speakers which is ideal for me since I want to keep my Bryston Amp to drive the speakers! If I had another question it would be Balance or single ended?
Glad to see opera is appreciated here by a goner.
If I may, I would like to make a suggestion: get the source right first before making changes down the chain. You will not regret it. Hope your source is vinyl, otherwise whatever the source is I would suggest bring it to the highest level you can afford. You will be shocked at how no matter what level your amp and preamp are at, a good source will be more beneficial then upgrading the other components.
When you decide to upgrade the amp and pre later on, you will be doing it knowing your source is to your liking.
An example may help convey the significance of what I am describing. I was considering a few upgrades in the recent past. One of them was to get a better speaker some time in the future. But for the time-being I was upgrading my turntable and phono stage. It was just a matter of time and a number of tweeks that I started to realize that my speakers were much better than I had thought. All this planning to get better speakers was due to not having a source good enough, but now I am only planning on making the source even better!
If in realestate they say location location location, in audiophile it would be source source source!
I want to thank all of you who responded to my query! I am greatful for the information. Most of you here would probably think I am lost in space!!! My main source is...prepare yourselves...An IPOD! Yes I know what you are thinking I am completely nuts!!! For soundstage I am completely with you on the fact that my source is mediocur however having gone through CD's and LP's years pass I find myself looking for simpler things in life and far less clutter. If i would describe me it would be "Salad bar"! I love variety and convenience. HAving to change an album or cd is such a pain. The 160gig Ipod can support over 4000 songs even at a wave file compression. Although not even close to a cd or lp the opera I listen to does have a lesser soundstage. CD reproduction is far better even with my panasonic dvd/cd player! I will look at two things first, CD source perhaps Rega Apollo and Subwoofer maybe Revel, REL or Velodyne. Later on I may invest in a Tube amp and preamp. Bryston lovers out there look out for my stuff being sold soon!!! Thanks
I had an opportunity to have a listen to my friends modified Ipod set up the other day. Wow!! IMOD - redwine audio, Raptor tube headphone amp - Ray Samuel, SH600 headphones - Sennheiser.
I hooked up the Ipod to my main system Pass/Thiel, it sounded good but not WOW, like through the Raptor headphone amp.