Given your budget, I think you would be much happier with a passive preamp.
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It appears that the C316BEE integrated amplifier does not provide pre-out jacks, so it could not be used in conjunction with the 214. With the C326BEE, which is also an integrated amplifier but does provide pre-outs, you would be paying for a power amplifier section that you would not be using, so that doesn't seem like a good choice either.
I have no specific knowledge of the C165BEE preamp, but after looking at the documentation on it I'd expect it to be a reasonable match.
If you don't need a phono stage in the preamp, however, in addition to considering passive preamps (which can work well but for good sonics require short lengths of low capacitance interconnect cables), you may want to consider the tube-based Antique Sound Lab Line Two DT.
Some years ago I temporarily used its predecessor model, the Line One, while my much more expensive preamp was down, and based on that experience I suspect it would give you better sonics than most solid state components at or close to its price range. Also, you would be able to tailor the sound by substituting tubes of various makes and vintages for its one tube (a 12AU7). My one slight concern, though, would be that if any of your sources have particularly high output levels (upwards of 2 volts or so), its apparently high gain might limit you to using the volume control in the lower part of its range, especially if your speakers have high sensitivity. That is true of a lot of preamps these days, though, when used with digital sources.
Thank you. I like the idea of a passive preamp and I admit I have only recently become aware of that option. The interconnects I purchased should arrive at my front this afternoon and they are low capacitance LC-1's from Blue Jeans Cable.
My speakers are 4 ohm, 88db, so not real sensitive. I'm not certain about the output voltages of my sources. I'll need to research that. My TT is a Pro-Ject Expression III with Oyster cart and NAD PP 2i phono preamp and the speakers are Polk Audio LSi 15's. CD/DVD player is a Sony DVP-NC685V. I'm using the Pre-amp section of a NAD L40. So as you can see, a very modest, yet nice sounding system. Most, excepting the TT, was purchased between 1998 and 2003. Though the NAD L40 does a respectable job, I'm sure I am missing a lot of potential.
Thanks so much for the advice. I'll put a lot more effort into researching the passive route.
Almarg, I checked out the Antique Sound Lab Line Two DT as you suggested and I will give it serious consideration. Another I have been eye-balling for a while is the Vincent SA-31 tube/ss hybrid pre. It made the Absolute Sound's Editor's Choice list. Owner's commenting on the Audio Advisor web site are quite pleased. It's also $300 dollars more than the Line Two DT but includes, good or bad, more circuitry...tone controls, tone deactivation, loudness, led power light. It uses two 6N16B tubes vs a 12AU7 on the Line Two. The input/output capabilities on the Line Two are perfect for my needs. But what about the sound comparison? Am I lucky enough to find someone out there that has experienced both?
A minor point, Sandspur, but the ASL preamp also has a power indicator LED. It is located just above the logo.
Also, something to consider is that I believe 6N16B's have leads which are probably soldered to the circuit board in the SA-31 and other audio components which utilize them, rather than being socketed. Although IIRC that tube is rated for a very long lifespan, so replacement would presumably be required rarely if ever.
Good luck, however you decide to proceed. Regards,
Almarg, you caught me on the LED :). I started to look it up but decided to go ahead and post. Also, your technical knowledge and advice is much appreciated. I'm not familiar with IIRC but with a few key strokes I can learn a lot. I take it that the 12AU7 is something different?
J135, I have certainly considered what you suggested. The 214 is still a nice little amp. I tried to murder it one night during a partying frenzy. Fortunately, I found a good doctor who brought it back to life. We have had a good relationship since...just can't quite give up on her! As for the L40, it will be a great back-up and good for a bedroom.
Sandspur, I believe that the 6N16B was developed for some specific military applications, which is one reason it is rated to have a very long lifespan, as I mentioned. It is unusual in that it connects via wires which emerge from its bottom, rather than solid pins. I am aware of just a few audio components that use it, although all of them seem to be generally well regarded at their price points.
The 12AU7, which as with most tubes that are used in audio applications is installed by being plugged into a socket, is widely used in audio components at pretty much all price points, even in some cases in components costing well into five figures. And as I mentioned earlier, the sound of a component which uses it can be altered and tailored significantly by substituting tubes of different makes and vintages. Here are some examples most of which are currently manufactured, and here are some mostly vintage examples.
Also, in case it wasn't clear, "IIRC" = "if I recall correctly." I usually try to minimize use of Internet shorthand, but I don't always succeed :-)
"Also, something to consider is that I believe 6N16B's have leads which are probably soldered to the circuit board in the SA-31 and other audio components which utilize them, rather than being socketed. Although IIRC that tube is rated for a very long lifespan, so replacement would presumably be required rarely if ever."
This issue came up a while back about Vincent soldering un-terminated tubes to the circuit board. In some of their sales literature, there were pictures of raw tubes, so there was some concern. You may want to check just to be sure, but if I remember correctly, all the tubes had sockets and were not wired directly to the board.
I found this pic of how the tubes are installed in the SA-31. Although it's hard to tell conclusively, I would have to think that since the tube has wires instead of pins the wires are most likely soldered to the board. Or possibly they are soldered onto terminals on the part which surrounds their base, and that in turn has pins which plug into some kind of receptacle underneath. But looking at the picture I'm doubtful that it's the latter.
Well, the information and suggestions you are all proving to me is exactly what I expected from the members on this website. While I cannot afford the kind of investment into an audio system that I can only dream about, I feel that, with your help, I can build on what I have already and continue to get just a little bit closer to that audio bliss.
Another product I was reading about today is the Jolida JD5T. Any experience or thoughts on that unit or the Jolida products from anyone?
The 162 is one unit that I started seeking out in the beginning on this website. I thought it would be a good match...same company, less money. I have owned NAD since the 80's and so I tend to gravitate to them. A lot of products and technology have come onto the scene since then. The options are endless with few brick and mortar stores to visit and check things out. I appreciate your input, J135.