Pre amp discussion/ recommendations sub $10k

Good day fellow Audio enthusiasts,

After many changes and upgrades this year I'm sitting at a point were i need a preamp. I originally was going to buy a supper integrated but sort of fell into a pair of 2A3 mono amps from triode labs and well the integrated is now shelved. 

I'm now running a VPI prime 21 table, Koetsu Black Gold Line cart, Gold Note PH10 phone stage, as my analogue source. 

Digital is streamer to the Schiit multi bit DAC

Currently still using my restored and upgraded Sansui CA2000 as my preamp. its no slouch. 

That drives my Triode labs 2A3 mono's with RCA gray plates and CV4003's tubes.

and they drive my LaScala's. and or Tannoy Monitor Gold 15's in Lancaster cabs. I have other amps in house for more power when i need it for the Tannoy's. 

- I need a remote! That's not so fast with the volume that it's a single click up and its to laud and single click down and its too low. big issue with hi efficient speakers. this also raises the issue with low count stepped attenuators. 

- The above brings me to an issue with over all gain i'd like to keep it low.  so 30db preamps are a no. sorry audible allusions. 

- I need two outputs ( RCA preferable but i can convert one for the sub's if needed) 

- I need min 4 inputs. 3 RCA 1 balanced is min, but 4 RCA is fine too as my DAC can go both ways. 

So long story.  I've considered a few tube ones but have not heard them yet ( that's proving to be difficult). below is what i've thought of and some like the Pass are out of the running. 


Mcintosh C22 MK5.     I can get a very good deal on a new one from my dealer.

Luxman CL-38uC

Pass labs xp12 (i believe)  i heard one in my system and its not really better than my Sansui granted its got a remote. so its out. maybe the next one up the line? 

Heron Audio; Keith wont sell to Canada so that's out. 

Atmosphere ? 


there are a few from Europe im looing at too but nothing that stands out yet. 

I'd prefer Tube but i wont count out a good SS either ( they are quieter) Also if i can get a good internal phono stage that can replace the Gold Note ph1, bonus maybe desirable. 

So what are all you folks using out there or have you heard any of the pre's I've mentioned?  what's your thoughts?

oh i do not know the input impedance of my amps can not seem to find it anywhere in the manual but i don't suspect any strange values as its acting quite nicely with longish cables. 


I recently acquired a used, but excellent, Herron VTSP 3/A 360 preamp. It's affect was startling in its improvement on how my system sounds.

I also drive Tannoys with tube amps, SET 300B and the 3C24 amp that is amazing in spite of it's supposedly low power rating (around  11 Wpc).

So, that's my story, and I'm happy with it, just to give a little info on what worked for me.




So the real question is whether it is the standard amp or if it is high or low gain.  

  • Options: High gain version (0.5V Input Sensitivity, for use with passive preamps applications) OR Low gain version (1.5V Input Sensitivity at 4W full power - half gain of default /down 6 db, for ultra high efficiency systems such as Avant Garde / Klipsch / TAD ...etc)

Depending on this setting will dictate what preamp you want.  If you have the high gain version, you will over-drive the amp unless you have a preamp with no gain.  A passive circuit will work or an active circuit that changes the impedance is better.  The Art Audio Conductor or Conductor Simply 2 is ideal for this. 

At the opposite end, you still are driving this to full volume with 1.5v.  Many standard preamps are outputting more than that.  The Art Audio DM VPS with has about 8dB of gain is a perfect match for this.  You could use either if you are in the middle though I would lean toward the Cconductor Simply.  

If you aren't familiar, Art Audio is a UK company that is best know for it's SET amps like the Diavolo and Carissa.  They were very popular in the 2000's until the distributor failed rather spectacularly in 2009.  They have had representation in a limited way in the US since then until we picked it up in 2019 and are in process of rebuilding the brand in the US.  It is well established in Europe. 

I am about to relaunch the DM VPS and haven't even loaded it on the website yet.  They are designed for matching with SETs so we do not include XLRs.  They do have remote volume and it is designed to work with highly sensitive amps.  I believe the Simply 2 is $8500 (lacks a headphone amp) and the DM VPS is $8000.  

I would take a strong look at the Backert Labs Rhumba Extreme ($7500).  Excellent tube pre with a green power supply.  Superb micro and macro dynamics, exceptional tonal character, auto biased tubes, remote, dual outputs and meets your input requirement as well.  A truly wonderful product!

I am selling my Allnic L-7000 on USAudiomart to move up to the L-8000 DHT.  It is the SE version with 61 step constant impedance attenuator.  It used DHT tubes for voltage regulation.  It has a remote, 2 balanced and 3 single ended inputs.  Allnic products are phenomenal.


jwpstayman: thanks for the suggestion i totally forgot about Backert Labs.
I've inquired ;-) 
anzaanimalclinic I'll consider it. but I'm also paying in Canadian dollars I have to consider the exchange. $8500 is $10k to me. but its a great pre from what I read. currently three of them listed. I wont buy black lol 

After some time listening and researching I've ordered a McIntosh C2700. It just does everything I need and more. And sound rather nice as well. So I can now sell off my DAC and phono stage to recoup some of the cash as I went over my budget a smidge. 


Thanks for the assistance my friends


Glen N