Pre-amp recommendation: JC-1/Talon Raven C/ARC CD2

Greetings all,

I am in the process of building my system and I am in dire need of some direction. I have the following components thus far:

Parasound JC1 Monoblocks
Talon Raven C Loudspeakers
Stealth TR speaker cable
Audio Research CD2
Blue Circle MR 1200 - for the CD2 and future pre-amp

My room is 21' by 12' with 8' ceilings. I listen to everything but the vast majority of my CD's are redbook. Future sources could be satellite radio, FM radio and an IPOD. Musicality is very important to me and I would rather enjoy the music then be a critic for sonic perfection ( I realize the paradox with this!). I think this is germane since a good portion of my music is eccentric (ambient, house, techno, indie) and thus poorly recorded.

What I am looking for now is a fully balanced pre-amp (preferably tube, but does not have to be) to complete the system. I would like to keep the price in the $3000 and under range. I am limiting my choices to what is locally available because I want to make sure that I am covered for service and I would like to support the people that have been helpful in the past. I also have a personal preference for North American manufacturers; as well as the implied ease of service local vendors can provide. As such, the manufacturers/models I am considering are as follows:

1) ARC - LS16MkII my dealer has one, I am certainly open to other ARC products as well
2) Ayre - not sure what models are in my price range, but my dealer does carry this line
3) Blue Circle Despina MKII - Innerkip, Ontario is a 3 hour drive (I am in Detroit) and I have been very impressed with BC gear. This product can be upgraded, but is a little higher priced, will take 14 weeks to build and CANNOT be demo'd
4) BAT Vk5i & SF - not locally available, CANNOT be demo'd, but highly recommended (I would rather avoid these, but if someone has a similar system I would be foolish not to consider)

Naturally, I plan to demo all that I can, but in all honesty the auditioning will probably be limited to the LS16MkII and an Ayre product. The BAT and the SF would have to be bought off of the audiogon, and again I would prefer to support the local guys - but I am trying to keep an open mind.

Anyhow, I would greatly appreciate any advice that one can provide; especially from those who have similar equipment.

My apologies for the verbose post!


Anyone.....please! ;-)
In your post you state that you're limiting your choices to what's available locally, and apparently you've already listed those choices.

Since I don't have experience combining any of those preamps with the JC-1s, I don't have any comments about them in this context.

Are you open to other suggestions? Not knowing what's available to you locally is a limiting factor, and maybe that's why you haven't gotten more responses.

Hi Duke,

Thanks for your response! You are right, my post is too limiting.

I am open to other pre-amps. What would you recommend?

check out this thread

Lots of good suggestions.
Thanks for the link. Some good info there.

What I plan to do is audition the ones that I can at home, that is the LS16MKII and Ayre K5X. If neither of these amps fit the bill, then I will splurge for the Blue Circle Despina...
check out the new blue circle pre, the PLS. A touch less than the Despina and fully upgradeable to Despina and beyond as funds permit.
Thanks for the info. I have chatted with Kevin and Gilbert about my options including the PLS. I really think that BC is the way to go, but I would first like to hear what the others can do since they are immediately available. Unfortunately, this may take a while since one of my JC1's is out of commission. Argh!

Thanks again!
FWIW, I use a BC-3000 MKII GZPZ between an Ensemble Dirondo CDT > Audio Note 4.1x Sig DAC and Atma-Sphere M60 MKII.3s > Talon Firebirds in a fully balanced system. In an imperfect world, I feel absolutely no desire to change components. The BC preamp is utterly musical, dead quiet and a great fit with my other gear. Gilbert is passionate and driven about his designs, and his wheels seemingly never stop spinning when it comes to evolving his products toward better sound.

Just my 2 cents...

Thanks for the info Jb.

I have also been very impressed with the BC equipment that I have heard - and that I own. I also like how his equipment is upgradeable - the Despina could be upgraded to a Galatea and even to your pre-amp (if I won the lottery!). I am just more comfortable having heard some things first before I put my money down. I really don't like the idea of selling things on the 'Gon. Trust me - another part of me is saying "Buy the Despina and be done with it!"