Need Tube Preamp Warmth


I’m looking for recommendations for a tube preamp with a warm presentation, good soundstaging and imaging, and low-end extension.
It will replace my Rogue Perseus Magnum, which is a detailed, neutral sounding preamp with a great amount of extension in the highs. Even using Mullard Longplates, I’m not getting the sound I want.

The preamp is paired with a Sunfire 300 which has an input impedance of 42 kOhms and input sensitivity of 1.64V. (Single-ended).

The rest of my system is comprised of:
ARC CD3 mk II
Linn Axis TT
Gallo CL-3 speakers
Purist Audio Aqueous speaker cables
Cardas Parsec ICs
Audience PowerChords

The ideal preamp will reproduce classical music in an organic and natural way. (Not looking for vintage).
My budget is $2000 to $2500 used. Any help is much appreciated.
lowrider57
ARC sp16, just teh sligtest touch of warmth, ah, hard to distinguish as a tube pre-amp from listening, just sounds organic and good. I use mine with a Linn Axis TT as well. I used it with a 60Kohm Musical Fidelity amp for awhile with very good results. 42kohm amp input impedance should work similarly well.
This isn't exactly what you are asking for, but I'll mention it anyway. I have a CJ Premier 18. Goes for about 2k used.

"The ideal preamp will reproduce classical music in an organic and natural way. (Not looking for vintage).
My budget is $2000 to $2500 used."

That's exactly how I would describe how it sounds. But if you must have tubes, I really like the VTL 2.5 and CJ's tube preamps. You can't go wrong with either, but with CJ, the older units like the PV 10 and 12, may be too warm for you.
Thanks so far. And yes, I want a tube amp to pair with the SS ARC CDP. The ARC CD3 mkII does everything well, but there's no mistaking that it is solid state.

A few years back I had a Jolida pre and the sound was wonderful, but it did not have a low enough noise floor.
So I'm staying with a tube pre.

Zd... VTL would be high on my list.
Something with 6922 tubes would be good, then get a set of NOS Mullards from a reliable source like Andy @ Vintage Tube Services. Herron 2, older BAT, or CJ. IMHO, AR preamps are more neutral and like your description of the Rogue.

Please don't take offense, but FWIW, sounds like a short term approach and you might be better off figuring out what other component isn't natural enough sounding and making you feel like extra warmth is needed. As you add more neutral (not dry, analytical) components you will get closer to more musical realistic sound. As you get closer to SOTA, the best gear converges at natural. Just an opinion, but one a number of top manufacturers have shared with me. Cheers,
Spencer
Cheers,
Spencer
A tube AMP is what you will need. Along with a tube pre.
"The ideal preamp will reproduce classical music in an organic and natural way. (Not looking for vintage).
My budget is $2000 to $2500 used. Any help is much appreciated."

I third the CJ choice, it fits the bill of what you're asking especially in that price range used. Don't discount vintage with some upgrades, particularly at your price point. You might be shocked how much improvement can be realized by upgrading passive parts with the right pre choice, I sure was! Only problem is no remote, oh well.
VTL or Manley Jumbo Shrimp.
There is an Emotive Sira listed on here now that fits your budget. I heard my friends- really nice sound.
I forgot to mention one preamp. The Atma-Sphere UV-1. I'm pretty sure you can get one without going over budget.
Thank you, Polk432. A tube amp would provide the most realistic sonics. I ultimately will give tubes a try, but that's for my next generation system.

For now I'm very happy with my Sunfire amp, it's got warmth, excellent dynamics, and it's so smooth that I would call it very non-solid state sounding. Perfect for Classical music.

For the record, I'm not trying to get a tube sound out of my system (of course I'd need a tube amp), I like the timbre and characteristics that a tube preamp can provide.
I had a very nice sound with the Jolida as my preamp, but the damn thing was too noisy.
While not as 'tubey' as the CJ offerings, I'm extremely impressed with the Modwright SWL9.0SE I picked up a few months ago. After some tube rolling, I settled on Amperex 7119 Pinched, which moved things tonally in the 'tubey' direction. Sounds absolutely fantastic to me.
Please don't take offense, but FWIW, sounds like a short term approach and you might be better off figuring out what other component isn't natural enough sounding and making you feel like extra warmth is needed.

Sbank, none taken and I'll look into your suggestions.
I don't feel this is a short term approach, I've chosen wisely with the budget I've had (also spent a lot on power conditioning). The synergy between amp, speaker cables and Gallo speakers have a very natural and realistic image. I've substituted preamps and could hear the realism of a string quartet...it sounds lovely.

To quote you, "what other component isn't natural enough sounding..." It's the preamp; it is analytical with every type of tube. That's it's design and my mistake was during my audition it was paired with a tube amp.

I appreciate your advice and perhaps "warmth" is not the way I should describe it, but there's no doubt that a preamp upgrade is called for.
Lowrider,

BAT VK-5i, perhaps?
Thanks for the heads-up Jackmonster, I've made inquiries to the seller. An all-tube preamp of that pedigree would be ideal.

Reviews state that it does not have classic tube warmth, but makes each recording sound very natural and lifelike.

I also like what I'm reading about the VTL TL-5.5 Preamp. A dual mono design, it's described as as "three dimensional, with precise instrumental images, a top-end which was neither etched or analytical."
I don't like that it uses 12AX7's in the linestage which can be noisy.

As far as CJ, it's hard to figure out which models have their best classic dynamic tube sound (Premier 14/16??), and when they changed to a more detailed design.
Any advice on CJ is welcome, but I'm not looking to buy vintage and have to refurbish it.
Lowrider based on your system and the fact that you don't list a phono stage as being required but don't list the phono stage you are currently using the question would be do you require a pre-amp with a phono stage? Of course if looking for a line stage only I would DEFINITELY consider the Premier 16 over the 14. It's topography is similar to the ART which is considered by many CJ afficionados as their best effort. While I've heard the GAT pre and ART amps in an unfamiliar system I certainly can't comment in any meaningful way that would help you in determining when CJ went to a more "neutral" presentation. To me it was unmistakable CJ sound having owned both a PV7 and PV5 back in the 80's and listening to CJ based systems over the years.

To my ears, CJ has an unmistakable house sound. While they may have followed the road of "neutrality" (whatever it means depending on who you talk to) over the years, the sound is CJ, more detailed and less opaque than their vintage products. My recommendation to possibly consider vintage would be if you require a phono stage and could get the right unit with sufficient power supply which would make it viable option based on my recent experience and having listened to numerous pre-amps in my system and a willingness but reluctance to pay up to 6K new/used to get what I was looking for.

If you require a LS only and want to retain the characteristics of the CJ sound from the 80's - early 90's but improved detail, the Premier 16 should be an excellent choice. Since YOU mentioned CJ at the outset and listen to acoustic/orchestral music I think it would be the safest choice but stay with the Premier line with the bigger power supplies, THIS makes all the difference in the long run for BIG music IME. It's better to go used for a better preamp with greater potential than entry level new or slightly used in your budget range.

Lowrider I have owned a CJ premier 14 for many years, it is currently playing backup to my Dehavilland ultra verve. The UV is slightly more revealing than the 14, just how much depends on the 6SN7 signal tube used. The CJ with Mullard tubes has a more refined sound than the UV and not quite as "open" sounding through the upper regions. It also gives a row M feel and the UV makes you feels like you are closer to the stage. The midrange on both are good, the CJ as I mentioned shows slightly more refinement and is more round and dense in this region. Dense in a good way. I do not like the GE 6gk7's that CJ supplies, much different sound than the Mullards.

I like both preamps and use the both. The CJ has always matched nicely with my Thiels which need a little help in the mid region. Good luck with your choice.
Since YOU mentioned CJ at the outset and listen to acoustic/orchestral music I think it would be the safest choice but stay with the Premier line with the bigger power supplies, THIS makes all the difference in the long run for BIG music IME. It's better to go used for a better preamp with greater potential than entry level new or slightly used in your budget range.

Tubegroover; thank you, this advice really helps. I'm looking for details such as which line has the larger power supplies. And yes, I'm looking at mid-level preamps (not entry level), and I'm finding my budget of $2500 is in the ballpark.
Thanks.

@ Pops...
Thanks for your input and your impression of the UV, I was trying to find a user review. I'll keep searching for a Premier line and BTW, listening in Row M is ideal for me.
The Emotive Audio Sira is a seriously good preamp, and the one listed on Audiogon has the V-Cap upgrade which puts it above any of the Siras described in the reviews.
I recently got a bottlehead beepre and once optimized it is one of the best sounding preamps I haveever heard. I preferred it to vacuum state svp2 I had which is a very good pre as well.
Shindo Aurieges.
The Shindo Aurieges is a good choice for what you want (it has a very low noise floor and is on the warm side of neutral), but it will be hard to fit in your budget. I admit to being seduced by the Shindo Kool-Ade, but it is a special piece.
"Reviews state that it does not have classic tube warmth, but makes each recording sound very natural and lifelike.

I also like what I'm reading about the VTL TL-5.5 Preamp. A dual mono design, it's described as as "three dimensional, with precise instrumental images, a top-end which was neither etched or analytical."

To me, it looks like you're placing way too much trust in reviews. You take on a lot of risk when you do it this way.
Zd, you're right about that, and now that I'm a potential buyer, I've gotten caught up in the hype of Hifi sales. I've started to trust opinion as fact.
Thanks for the reality check; reviews and advise in these forums are the only way to go when a component can't be auditioned.

I am in talks with someone about a preamp...don't want to jinx it. But am still looking for input and I'm going to increase my budget to around $3000.
Has anybody listened to the Blue Circle BC3000 preamp? I've already searched the archives.
It's a very personal thing...but there's an Atma-Sphere pre up for sale right now well within your price range.

I haven't heard the UV-1, but I do own an MP-3. It doesn't do the glassy, sibilance-exaggerating thing other tube preamps do, and yeah, that's a big deal to me. I would have to imagine the UV-1 is similar.

Good luck in your search.
Larkston, the UV-1 looks like a hell of a nice amp for a great price and I like the sound of 6SN7 tubes.

Pops was kind enough to give me his impression of the UV-1 vs. his CJ preamp and I do like the CJ house sound. Although, I find myself periodically googling the UV-1 thinking that I could make the move on that pre and probably be very happy.
Thanks for your input.
Lowrider, Pops was describing the Dehavilland UV, not the Atma-Sphere UV-1.

BTW Dick Olsher has a review of the UV-1 in the latest issue of TAS.
Just to be clear, I was talking about the Atma-Sphere UV-1 in my post. I'd really like to hear one of those myself. Ralph, do you have any dealers in the NYC area? I don't recall ever seeing any of your products. Maybe in Singer a long time ago, but I'm not sure.
We have a dealer in NYC but he does not have the UV-1 in stock. Not many dealers do at this point- Essential Sound in Chicagoland is likely the closest right now.
Atmasphere, thanks for correcting my mistake.
I spoke to USA TUBE AUDIO and they're out of stock, but expecting more UV-1's to arrive.
Sorry about the confusion I caused earlier...I should have said "Ultraviolet" to be more clear.

I haven't heard the Dehavilland UV, but I heard a CJ pre not that long ago (I don't recall the model but it was a little pricey), and I thought it was especially 'dark' sounding...but whatever works....

Ralph's pre could be perceived as 'warm' but is somehow very transparent to the source without scouring your ears out with the details. Not sure how he does that. Sounds very nice with Hitachi 6SN7's....
Thanks, Larkston...I'm the one who was confused; UV, UV-1.
I've only found one online review and it was a rave; a preamp with a natural and realistic sound.

I like Ralph's straightforward designs, and with this little preamp, I wonder how deep and full the bass is; in a normal device you would need a decent sized power supply.
I sent Ralph a PM for specifics.