New Preamp Suggestion

A friend of mine is running a pair of Revel Salon 2's with a pair of Classe CA-M600 amps. His current preamp (Pass XP-10) is likely going to be traded. He wants to find a preamp that will give him the following:

1. Better instrument separation
2. More air around vocals and instruments
3. Tighter bass control
4. Deeper soundstage

Budget is $8000ish


I was thinking a used ARC REF 5SE, but a better suggestion might be the Cary SLP-05. Obviously there are lots of great preamps out there. BAT, CJ, etc.

Is he looking for tubes? What direction is he interested in moving towards? Speed and resolution OR warmth and musicality? ARC, Aesthetix and VAC are very different sounding than CJ, Cary or BAT. To make a proper recommendation it would help if we knew what direction your friend wishes to go.
He is open to either tube or SS. His wish list is:

1. Better instrument separation
2. More air around vocals and instruments
3. Tighter bass control
4. Deeper soundstage

I asked him about "warmth" and he said he didn't feel his system needed any more warmth.

Well Mike, then I would suggest he consider a preamp from VAC, ARC or Aesthetix. My choice would be to look for a used VAC Renaissance mk III, as I think that would provide the best sense of air around vocals and instruments. Very dimensional

I have also owned a ARC Ref 3, and that was a fine preamp too, so I'm sure he'd be happy with a Ref 5 SE also. The ARC may have a slight edge in bass control over the VAC. Although I haven't owned a Aesthetix Callisto Signature, I have heard one, and I would put it in the mix with VAC and ARC as far as creating a deep, detailed musical stage.

The BAT CJ and Cary models will tend to sound warmer and a bit more musical, but won't have the air and detail in the high's of the VAC, ARC and Aesthetix. The BAT probably has the most powerful bass, though I would not say it has the tightest bass control.

As always, YMMV.
Just be careful when adding a tube preamp. Or even another solid state preamp from a different manufacturer. You don't wanna have impedance mismatching.
An Emotive Audio Epifania with Duelund CAST output capacitor would be really nice.
@Dave_72, his friends Classe CA-M600 amps have an input impedence of 50K ohms, so he should be safe with just about any preamp.
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I have an Epifania with the Teflon caps. Currently, it is my backup linestage (at a friend's house). That friend is a builder/modifier and he has been fiddling with it (changing out the remotely controlled attenuator). I wonder how CAST coupling caps would sound vs. the Teflon. My Epifania is on the leaner/analytical side of what I want.
Larry, I will soon find out about the Duelunds. I have a pair of CAST caps that will replace the V-Caps in my version of the Epifania.
If the Classe has balanced inputs, you might want to consider a preamp with balanced outputs. This works better for the amp and the cables involved.
Coda has a new model 07R... Cut from the same cloth as the Pass... I've use the CL for a couple of years, it is very good.
You have to understand what the properties are of brands like Classe and Pass Labs. I sold Classe for many years but in sound realism it is not the same league as Pass Labs. Classe has not the same level of focus to instruments. Pass is able to let you hear easily the difference between two different acoustic guitars in a recording. Played on a Classe this is a lot more difficult I think wenn you buy a used Pass Labs XA350.5 the end results will be better. I always say to my clients: You need to get the most maximum advance for the money you want to spend.
@Jmcgrogan2. I did not know that. Ok, he'll be fine then. Thanks. Anyway, I was just giving a general warning there.