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Someone is selling a 50wpc Gaincard on Audiogon for $1750.
The Luminous Audio AXIOM passive preamp is tiny. Much smaller than a VHS video cassette. It's so small because it doesn't do any switching. It has inputs and outputs for just one source.
Have a look!
Many of the affordable integrated amps today are actually passive. However, they do have lots of inputs that you don't need for your configuration. A good example is the Plinius 8100/8150/8200. BTW, a used 8100 at around $1000 US is a GREAT unit.
Considering your proposed configuration (CD source only), you have a potentially better option. Buy a killer CD player that has built in volume control and connect it directly to your amp. I have the Cary CD-308 running this way and it is wonderful! Plus it gives you REMOTE volume control so you don't have to get up off of the sofa!!
The nice thing about the CD w/volume control is that it provides flexibility. You can use it with a pre-amp or an integrated amp, but you can also use it with an inexpensive power amp. BTW, I saw a Roksan Caspian power amp on AudiogoN for $495. Add that to a good used Cary CD-308 and you will have a nice affordable system.
BottleHead Paramour SET monoblock amps
or Dodd 8 watt Stereo Tube amp
Reference 3a MM De Capo Monitors
Simple, but very nice!!!
Cheers for the help...
I guess I never realised that many of the newer integrateds w/o a phono stage are actually passive pre's. The Creek really surprised me, in that respect. Slaesmen just arent knowledgeable enough at this end of the market and that's a shame. That's why I count on the 'Gon anyway!
You mentioned brands that do nothing but SS. Are you limited to SS, or open to tubes? If so, remember that there's plenty out there in the way of 'passive integrateds' in the tube world, and if your a one source person, most of these only have one input anyway.
I've owned several integrateds, the only one I still have that I know has a 'passive' front-end is the Myryad MI-120. Great unit, but it does have a headphone jack, and I know you wanted to avoid that.
To create your own passive integrated amp, attach EVS Ultimate attenuators to the amp input RCA jacks. These are $350 new; used price is less when rarely available on Audiogon. Tweakaudio.com has them for either tube or transistor amp and there is a 30 day money back trial period. Since you omit any interconnect between preamp and amp the saved money can go towards price of the attenuators.