There’s a Marsh P-2000t available here now for $695 that will provide what you’re looking for and come in well under your price target. I had the 2000b, which is the non-tube version, and it was very smooth and nuanced especially for a solid state pre. The 2000t is supposed to be even better. I don’t think Marsh is still in business so that is a consideration. There’s also a ModWright 9.0SE available for $1500 that may also be a very good choice. Best of luck.
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I’ve posted it several times here that I feel a used ModWright SWL 9.0 SE is hard to beat for what they go for. The only negative thing is it may keep you up late. They don’t show up too often and if you buy it right and don’t like, I’d be surprised if you lose anything. I think there’s one here right now with the upgraded tube rectifier which demands a little more money but worth it. Great preamp.
The Modwright preamp comes w/ phono if you pay for it. There is always buy the line stage now, add the phono section later. Another great choice is the Audible Illusions 3A w/phono. I had a 2A for about 16 years and then a 3A w/ John Curl Gold phono for another 6 years. I had to spend about 4 times more to get a noticeable difference when going to separates. The 2D was the best piece in my system for all of the 18 years--finally started to get other parts that were as good then. The AI preamps are lucid, transparent, with good bass and will also a LONG time. I have had Modwright CD players for the last 11 years. Dan Wright is a true stand up guy and will treat you right even if you both his stuff used. I have nothing but good things to say about him. Haven’t tried his other electronic components, but they have very good reviews, as does the Audible Illusions. The AI 3A was the Best Buy in all of audio brand new and still stacks up very well with most any combo of separates. You can get a 3A used for about $1100-1400 depending on the condition. Add $300 if you want the JC MC phono section rather than the MM. The AI does not have a remote--never as issue to me, but it is for some. I never regretted owning the AI’s. Do buy their recommended tubes as other have a tendency to fail early. I had sets of 4 average over 7 years each. Tubes in my MW CD players have never worn out either in 4 years or more.
I'm not trying to be a fan boy but for the value I'm very impressed with the Schiit Freya Plus I added to my system, and the phono stage (Mani) comes in at 129.00 so all in new your at 1029.00 with the ability to handle both MM and MC cartridges.
The Tubes of the Freya+ coupled with your Parasound 2350 should make the magic happen. You have the advantage of rolling tubes to get it perfect and the Freya + is loaded with input/output options. I spend a lot of time listening to Jazz guitar & Bossa Nova . JMHO
I've owned a Freya "original series" preamp for a couple of years and it's excellent...possibly not expensive enough for some, but so well designed there's really nothing not to like (don't like tubes? turn 'em off...), and nobody makes anything like it. No need to "upgrade," just have some fun trying different tubes.
I have a Anthem pre 1 with separate tube power supply. tube preamp with phono
Made by Sonic Frontiers
The unit has been fully recapped with Mondorf premium capacitors
Fully checked over by Glenn Gillick the original designer of the preamp
All new tubes and in very good condition
Check the reviews on line
One of the best preamps I have heard
Works great with solid state power amps
The MW 9.0 is a very nice sounding phono preamp. The MW errors from neutral in an ear pleasing way, rather than going for all out information retrieval. It is built to sever music first, not do aural gymnastics. The Anniversary Edition most likely will be even better than the regular 9.0. I haven’t heard it though. It is built well and MW (Dan Wright) has an outstanding reputation for customer service. I can vouch for it personally. Dan has treated me with great kindness and care even though I first bought a MW CD player from his original buyer. I will always be a lifetime fan of his and the products he builds. I've owned the MW Sony 5400, which is now an extremely good sounding CD player--as I have all Dan's additions to his Signature Truth mods, plus a couple things I've done that are beyond that even. It will remain with me as long as it continues doing its thing.
Have a think about this, your MF player has 2.14v output and your Parasound amp 66k z in only needs 2 v in for 350w!!! output!!! which you'll never use.
Why add an active preamp with even more gain you won't ever use, not to mention the "extra noise" that that extra gain brings also .
As they said above get a Shiit Freya+ that has three very different flavors, passive, tube and solid state all with no or little gain.
Your very best value in a preamp is the SP14 from VTA.
You buy it either as a kit or fully assembled and tested. They also offer it as a custom build in a wooden cabinet. Price depends on your choice.
kit, w/tubes - $990
fully assembled/tested - $1390
There are a number of optional features that can be had with more money. It's all up to you. I'd put this preamp up against anything.
Conrad Johnson PV5 or PV12
VanAlstine Super PAS-3
Audible Illusions M3A
All are tube. All would add the warmth you seek. All sound wonderful with Jazz and Classical. All have steady resale value should you want to move on.
You should be able to find the first 2 for less than $1500 / leaving extra for a good outboard DAC or Streamer.
I would budget $1k for a preamp- and look for a CJ PV5, then a media streamer such as a Blue Sound NODE2i. Better DAC than your CD player, and can handle all streaming services along with NAS / USB drive stored media.
I need the 12db (or whatever it is) gain from my Freya to get my SEP power amp off the ground (it could be that Dennis Had designed my little tube amp for higher gain preamps...like the ones he makes)...it does work with the other lower gain settings but the tube gain really digs out the mojo of my power amp.
I am learning much valuable information from you all - thank you!
I am seeing a ModWright SWL 9.0 Anniversary Edition Stereo with MM Phono available. I like that it has phono on it, but it is a totally new design over the original. Does anyone have experience with this redesigned model?
Also, can I really plug my musical fidelity x-ray right into the back of the parasound ZM 2350? Maybe I could use the bypass inputs of the Modwright for that? Would that make sense over using the standard CD input?
Another Schiit Freya owner here, with the "+" version. I tried to post earlier, not sure what happened. The Freya+ is the best preamp I've owned and also the cheapest(except for the Schiit Saga). I'm sure that if you've got unlimited funds, you can get a better sounding pre, but for most of us, for $899 this is a bona fide home run.
Anyway, the Freya is worthy of any preamp shortlist, unless you hate tubes. Imaging, staging beyond the speakers, and resolution. The piano sounds so natural, better than my old Parasound Halo gear.
And from what I've read, Schiit went with a subtle touch with the tube effect. In fact, some tube lovers think the Freya+ isn't "tubey" enough. For me, the gear has to be faithful to the music, not adding "tubey" effects or whatever. Adding personality, that's for my speakers...
And if I don't feel like tubes, I simply select one of the other non tube modes. That's right, there are 3 different modes. Passive, jfet buffer and the tube section.
A buddy is selling off his other brand $4000 tube preamp at a loss after picking up a black face $1000 Quicksilver Audio Linestage tube preamp, liking it more. QS LS come up for sale used in Silver face version second hand every once in a while for reasonable prices. Super value, fyi. I sold off some of my higher cost gear and now run other QS products now and really like them. The QS products fly under the radar in the mainstream world.
Sure, cat, I had the Parasound Halo P5 and also the P7. Earlier I owned the Anthem TLP-1 as well. I also used the Emotiva XDA-1 as a pre.
What made me curious enough to try the Freya+ was an audiophile who has a channel on youtube. He owns some very expensive gear, and is regularly bringing in components to review.
He brought in the old generation Freya, and was seriously impressed with it. He estimated that the old Freya was giving him 90% of what his $3500 pre was giving him, and for only $699. The new Freya+ is significantly better, with SNR and crosstalk numbers that are on another level.
He mentions that the volume knob disengages when you use the remote, and the mother board flexes when changing tubes. Schiit improved both for the Freya +. Here's a link to the review:
I schlepped my Freya to a friend's house to compare it to an ARC Reference 5 preamp, and we both though the Freya in its tube mode sounded every bit as good. I use NOS GEs in the thing (tried many others leading to a clogged tube drawer), and although it supposedly has a flexing circuit board, I chalk that up to people who don't know how to remove tubes as gently moving the tube back and forth allows them to easily come right out...never try to remove them with your teeth or with small explosive charges. Covering the top of the tubes with peanut butter and getting the dog to dig them out is also a bad idea, as well as violently shaking the thing upside down (the Freya, not the dog) hoping the tubes just fall out. These tips are provided to help people, and yeah...you're welcome.
If you want perfect Preamp, check this one Gustard P26
Or latest schitt Freya s
Wolf, good to know on the tube removal procedure! On my previous pre, the Saga, I once misaligned the tube when inserting, a rookie mistake. That's also something that those new to tubes need to be aware of.
BTW, you're the guy that made me curious about the Freya, and it's the best preamp I've had by far. It's an end game piece.