Any quality tube preamp would be an improvement. I like VAC and Manley but that doesn't mean you have to. There are lots of single ended choices, but if you want true balanced the heard thins down.
21 responses Add your response
I use Audio Research sp16 with my Bel Canto REf 1000m amps and can easily recommend it for top notch sound.
REf1000m amps specifically have high 100kohm unbalanced (higher balanced) input impedance which makes them very compatible with tube pre-amps.
Class D and tube pre-amps in general are a match made in heaven, especially when amp is designed with higher input impedance to optimize the mating.
I agree with a tube preamp suggestion to go along with your Class D type amps. I have a budget system and am finding great synergy between a Xiang Sheng 728A preamp along with Red Dragon Audio M1000 Mk1 monoblocks. I had the 728A modified though to accommodate 6X4 rectifier tubes and the required adapters for them.
Any decent tube preamp or buffer stave would go nicely with Class D amps. As mentioned, tubes are the key to a well balanced system using Class D amplification. We have been designing around Class D for several years.
The Bel Canto's have a high input Impedance, 100K/200K ohms so there are no concerns there. They do have a rather high sensitivity at 3V but again, most preamps will drive them to full power with no problem
I use a cj et3se with first version of bel-canto ref 1000 driving b&w 802d with good results. cj recommends using preamp with amps having min 20k input impedance & older version are 10k unbalanced & 20k balanced so i use cardas adapters with single ended cables on balanced inputs. seems to work good. mike
Class D amps are not nearly as sterile and cold sounding as they were back in 2005. Those days are gone with the recent major advancements in Class D technology. So its absurd that Class D works best nowadays with tube Preamps. Redundant.
You don't need a tube Preamp with the best of Class D. Here are the best solid state Preamps at $4K and under that will get you the full organic character your seeking. 1. The Hegel P-20 at $ 2900.00. 2. The new just released Cambridge Audio Azur
851E Preamp at $ 1850.00. 3. The Wyred 4 Sound level 2 STP-SE Preamp upgrade by EJ at $3749.00. And currently the best solid state budget Preamp on the market at $1000.00 is the just released Emotiva XSP-1 Gen 2.
Stunning board work and construction for the price.
Hey Goldprintaudio. I have an cary spl 88. I have the stock eh tubes and I also got sylvania gta's. The eh sounds a little boomy in the bass otherwise ok and the sylvania a little bright/hard in the treble. Would you have a suggestion on which way to go neutral/refined top end, articulate but not heavy lower frequencies. I wouldn't mind lightweight bass and a great mid-range and treble. Thanks
I just picked up a pair of used Bel Canto REF1000m monos on Agon. Plugged them into my First Sound Presence Deluxe mk III pre amplifier with the most recent two 'S' upgrades performed by Mr. Emmanuel Go of First Sound here in Renton, WA. Both pieces (actually all 4 pieces given the pre amp has a separate power supply and there are two amps) sound remarkable. I've owned a number of amps and pre amps, solid state and tube, SET, push-pull, integrateds, by Cary, Electrocompaniet, DK Design, Parasound, Jungson, Precision Fidelity, EICO, Doge, and my current combo bests them all, to my ears. First experience with class D amps and I must say they don't take a back seat to anything I've owned or listened to.
I have a Bel Canto ref500 that I've paired well with a Cary SLP 308 and, most recently, a Primaluna Dialogue Premium.
I'm running Tidal and Spotify from Sonos and Amazon Fire TV and it sounds really, really nice.
I wasn't crazy about the sound of Sonos before the tube pre's...(but that's probably a different issue).
Mjmch2003...I also use a Primaluna Dialogue Premium preamp pushing my Merril Audio Veritas Class D mono blocks and the over all sound quality is nothing short of sublime. This tandem just plain rocks. The Merrill's with the Primaluna Premium is a match that gets high marks in my audio world. Both are highly recommended...