I am using a Reference Line 1A with my Atma-Sphere M60 MkII.3's. The result has been very pleasing.
Primary improvements are detail, wide open staging, and neutrality.
My source is a Meridian 508.24, cables to the passive are Zu Warmouths and to the amps are Tekline TL-500's.
I ran my A-S M60's through a Melos SHA 1 line stage (single ended) and the sound was good. Ralph Karsten at A-S strongly recommends a balanced pre-amp design in order to acheive the best that his amps can put out. So, due to cost restraints, I opted for an Audio Experience Balanced line stage. The difference was truely remarkable. As a result of my own experience (as well as the designer's recommendations) I strongly urge you to explore true balanced pre-amp designs, you will be happy you did. Happy Listening,
Disclaimer, I work with Superphon preamps...that said, Superphon preamps by Stan Warren are available with or without gain, active super clean sounding preamp... might want to look in to these here on Audiogon Rev III model is the current and best version now being handmade made after extensive research and testing by Stan Warren. I would check the parameters the amp manufacturer sayd his amps want to see from the preamp to make sure ahead of time you have the correct match. Superphon.com
Best with the music...
The closest I can come to shedding light on your inquiry is to note that a friend of mine used to run M60s via the built-in volume control of his Wadia 861 into Merlins with good results IMHO. Almost all of his repertoire consisted of jazz and small ensemble music. I don't know how electronica or bass heavy music would fare but my impression is that it survive mostly intact. I personally run M60s partnered with an MP-1 and find it transparent enough that I don't have the urge to unplug it. Of course, an MP-1 is a major financial commitment relative to just about any passive. I myself am curious as to what others will share here.
I don't know the answer. I suspect that the Atmasphere's input impedance while not absolutely ideal is more than adequate for a passive. I don't know the sensitivity of the s-30, but I suspect at these low power levels it should be OK too. Of course, your source components and cables will have some bearing. In this regard the Arcam should OK. I'm not personaly familiar with most of the gear you have or are contemplating, but, from what I understand the tube pre's you are considering may sound very different than a passive. Sorry, I can't offer any real concrete advise. Good luck. BTW, Your system appears to have really good potential.
I use the Scott Endler attenuators with my M60s, when I'm using a fixed output CD player.
If your run isn't too long, and your only source is the Arcam, you may well want to try these as well. Even if you decide to use additional sources, such as a tuner, I still think a passive preamp can be a good way to go. When I use the variable output tube section of my CDP, I don't use the attenuators at all.
You do gain a little by going into the Atmas via a balanced cable in terms of a lower noise floor. So, regardless of whether you go with an active or passive preamp, or direct, having XLR connectors on one end of the cable allows you to take advantage of that.
In my experience, I have not tried the AtmaSphere preamps (maybe I should?), but none of the other highly regarded units I tried ever came close to not having a preamp in the system. Worst of all is when a preamp imposes its signature so strongly that much of the OTL magic in the Atmas was hidden to a great degree.
maybe buy a Quad or similar CD player with volume control and save on cables and pre amp etc...
I hadn't heard about those Scott Endler attenuators. I was considering the more expensive, nude ultimate attenuators, but The Endler's seem to get great reviews and at $160/pr. I just about have to try them out.
All responses greatly appreciated. After I receive the new gear, I'll report back with some results.
I don't think you will find an active preamp in your price range that will come close to the nuetrality of a passive. You should check out transformer attenuators (autoformers). In my experience they are more natural than resistor attenuators. See intact audio (http://www.intactaudio.com/)for some very good sounding uniys at reasonable prices.
I received my Endler Attenuators in the mail yesterday, and am awaiting the arrival of my Atma S-30 next week (the wait is killing me!). My question is, do I need anything other than my standard RCA interconnects? It appears that the attenuators mates directly to the amp, and the RCA plugs into the attenuators, is that correct?
These are very nice units. If single ended, choose the 10K ladder or series. For balanced, choose 10K series.
Anything higher than 10K creates an output impedance too high. A high output impedance combines with the capacitance of the interconnect (to amp) and amplifier input. This creates an RC lowpass filter which will attenuate the top end if the capacitance and the output impedance are high.
That is correct. A very simple set-up.
I looked into the Goldpoint passive. I believe during that time the company was suffering from poor customer service (about 6 months ago). I inquired and was ready to buy and the sales person I spoke with never called me back. it appears former management is back in control of the company so maybe the issues are behind them now. I was impressed with the attenuators.
If the Endlers don't work out look into a TVC. Less prone to mismatches and quite excellent sonically. I had mine custom built by K&K Audio using S&B transformers.
That's interesting about Goldpoint. I bought the SA-3 (now SA-4) control about 3 years ago and was very impressed with the quality. The service was excellent then. I read recently on the website that Arn, the head guy, was re-taking control. I never knew he left. The new SMD resister based controls look very nice.
Yes Arn is back and I think it is a god thing for the company. I believe as a good faith measure to the customers they lowered some prices as well.