Preamp Deal of the Century

If anyone is looking for a true "World Class" preamp at a very fair price..heed my advice. I just recieved a Supratek Syrah preamp that was hand built by Mick Maloney in Western Australia, and it is absolutely beautiful! This preamp is the best deal you will ever find. I would put it up against any preamp out there for both looks and sound. Price? $2500 for the Syrah (includes Killer Phono stage). Not into phono? Try the Chardonney line stage for $2100. Don't get me wrong, I am not associated with this company. I am just a very happy owner! This preamp is VERY dynamic, yet liquid. It conveys the sound of music better than any other preamp that I have ever heard! You can check out the Supratek website at www.
ok i'll bite... how does one get from the cantech website to the supratek website?
Can it possibly sound as good as it looks!!

Did it arrive in a kangaroo's pouch?

OK, BWhite, where are you? After reading your marvelous review of premium CD players in another thread and also reading your rave review of the Supratek preamps in yet another, I'm sure we would all be grateful for a similar "shootout" here between the Supratek and some other quality preamps such as Hovland, Joule, First Sound, Rogue, etc. I know I would appreciate it.

The Supratek sounds terrific, but how does it stack up against some or all of these units?

Supratek owners, speak out!
BWhite e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago and said that he and some friends compared his Supratek to a $15,000 Conrad Johnson ART preamp. He said that they all agreed that the Supratek bested the CJ in every way, and I believe it. Yes it does sound as good as it looks! No kangaroo pouch, but the base is made of Australian Jarrah wood.
That last post will cause half of the Art owners to jump out the windows of their basement.Conrad Johnson will be asking for federal aid.If this were the 70's I'd expect to see Bill in the cheese-line. What is becoming of made/and overpriced in America?
I've been looking for a top notch preamp for the past few months. I guess I'll have to add the Syrah to my short list which includes the Placette active, AIM3a, Hovland and Ayre 3x. Anyone have any opinions on these and how the Syrah compares. Thanks.
How does it compare to the CJ Premier 16 Series 2, which is a sleeper?
Also consider the Blue Circle preamps.
Sugarbie, which specific Blue Circle preamps would you recommend? Don't know anyone who owns them and no dealer handy. Many thanks.
After visiting the web-site, it looks as though this preamp is really optimized for vinyl playback. Linestage receives mostly "afterthought" remarks. Slowhand, what digital source do you use?
I play more vinyl, but the line stage is also very good. I use a pioneer "stable platter" CD player. BWhite got the Chardonney which is the same preamp with linestage only and he told me it was the best that he has come across. For $2500 (line/phono), or $2100 (line only) they are a steal. Only down side is because they are hand built one at a time it can take some time to get it, but it is well worth the wait. Mine took 3 months, I think Brian got his in 4 weeks. If these were built in the US they would be going for much more. The Supratek website has a review of the unit by Mark Bucksath which was due to come out in Ultimate Audio before they went belly up. Mark really nails the sound of the Supratek in his review.
Grandpa: You could start with the Blue Circle BC3 with the Despina power supply ($3,300). The external power supply can be traded in for the Galatea power supply later. The BC3 Galatea ($4,650) is Stereophile Class A and it is not their best preamp. Higher up is the BC3000 ($6,250) and above that the AG3000 ($11,500). At the low end is the BC21 ($1500), but for real high end it really starts with the BC3

If there is not a Blue Circle dealer in your area contact them. If you're willing to buy direct they will in many cases sell to you direct for 25% off list with free shipping.

You could check online at Soundstage for reviews and at Also at the Blue Circle website there are links to reviews, and customer systems who you may be able to contact.

When I spoke to Mick about the price of the Suprateks, he said the exchange rate is 2 to 1 for the American dollar. So double the price if the pre amp is made in the U.S. and then add another 50% if it was retailed in audio stores.

In other words, the Chardonay would have to sell for around $6000 if manufactured and sold in retail shops in the U.S.
Thanks Sugarbrie, I appreciate your input. Which BC amp would your marry with the Despina or Galatea, strictly from a sonic point of view? Von Scheikert VR-5HSE speakers.

Again, appreciate trading on your experience.
Hi Grandpad. I own the Blue Circle BC21 preamp and BC22 amp combo and I love them. The BC21 is a tube preamp which uses two 6SN7s, while the BC22 is solid state. Together they sound very liquid and musical, but at the same time dynamic. If you go with any of the BC3s, you might look into Blue Circle's higher end amps as well. They're a great company and the owner Gilbert Yeung is very helpful.
Shesh.. where have I been?? I guess I missed this thread.

The Supratek is absolutely astonishing! in both sound and visually. I have tried many preamps and the Supratek is both the least expensive and the most outstanding performer I have ever come across.

The sonic character of the Supratek is very difficult to pin-point. Its a very clean sound and very dynamic in that it has more bass than any tube preamp I've ever heard. One day we compared it to a Krell preamp and while the Krell had more bass - we simply couldn't listen to the Krell for very long at all. Vs the Krell, The Supratek really put accuracy into perspective. Someone who only listened to Krell their whole life would immediately realize that the Supratek was not only more natural but less colored, pure as the driven snow, liquid as liquid be, and in all ways utterly magnificent.

I am on my second preamp from Supratek because I asked Mick to customize my first one (made last year). While my first one was okay - it resulted in a few problems as a result of the customization. My new unit which was recently built before the parafeed design is much different - and more inline with what someone would expect from a 15,000 preamp.

I used to tell people that the Supratek Syrah was the best preamp under 15,000 but... then Mick released the Cortese for 5,000.

Mick is very ambitious in the design of the Supratek. He uses all point to point wiring - unsheilded silver wire - & the finest parts available. This combined with the superb circuit design and AWESOME power supply design create a very revealing, powerful and perhaps limitless preamp that will give most anyone more enjoyment than any high end preamp available today.

I had compared the Supratek directly to a Conrad Johnson 16LS preamp and the difference spawned my friend to say - "OH MY GOD". He is a CJ lover and really... really wanted to have a CJ preamp to match his CJ Premier 8A monoblocks. So.. we went out and got an ART preamp to demo... and again, the Supratek was more crystal clear, liquid, better resolving, pristine, musical and simply sumptuous to listen to vs the ART.

The Supratek takes 6SN7 tubes and they can make a huge difference in performance of the preamp. I have tried many. To date, the best have been either Sylvania Metal Base 6SN7W, or Ken Rad Black Glass VT-231. The regulator tubes in back are 5881 - comes stock with Sovtek's but a pair of Tung Sol 5881's will get you in business.

My fingers hurt from typing...
Oh.. to comment on Hindemith's remarks. yes. The Supratek Phono stage is quite likely the best you'll ever hear.
Thanks for the input Gunbei, I've heard that Gilbert is quite a creative guy. Just for reference, which pre-power combo were you using or compare to your BC combo before purchasing them?

Thanks again, and apologies to everyone for going off topic.
Bwhite, has Mick established any form of service support in the US, or if there's a problem does the piece have to be shipped back to him?
Hi Brian, this is Tom. I bought a pr. of Sylvania VT-231's that are JAN from 1940's in the original boxes and they sound fantastic in my Syrah. I am also buying a pr. of Sylvania GTB's that I like the sound of. I think I have found Tungsol 5881's and a Mullard 5AR4 rectifier tube. Now if I can just find a pr. of WE417's for the phono stage. I love this preamp!
Hey Tom! I told you it was good! So far for my system the Ken Rad Black Glass VT-231's are the ultimate in weight body, and seductive sound. The Sylvania Metal Base 6SN7W's are super good! But... they're hard to find with low microphonics.

The Tung Sol 5881's give a lot of dimension and front to back soundstage layering. Nice effect. Plus they are fractionally more detailed than the Sovteks. But until the TS 5881's are broken in, the Sovteks will sound a bit better.

As for the Mullard 5AR4 - I'm using a GZ32 and I don't know if it's all that much better than the stock Philips rectifier tube.
Grandpad, if there is a problem with your preamp, Mick determines which is easier - sending back or having the preamp fixed locally.

I had some work done to my preamp locally and Mick paid for it. The remote control board was funky and picked up cellular phone calls.
OK Should I sell my SF Line 3 SE and jump on this preamp?
Grandpad, actually my previous amps were the Simaudio Moon I-5 and Electrocompaniet ECI-3 both of which are solid state integrateds, so it might not be a fair comparison. That along with the Blue Circle being a tube design probably contributes greatly to why I like the Blue Circle preamp/amp combo so much. My experience is pretty limited, but I think other people feel just as highly of Gilbert Yeung's designs.
I just did something I always tell my friends who are getting into this hobby of ours not to do, I ordered the Supratek (Syrah) pre-amp WITHOUT "listening" to it, I havn't even seen one, other than the pictures. I have my fingers crossed that all you guys who have one, or listened to one, have the same listening needs that I do. I guess now and then one has to take risks, a $2200.00 risk? Actually it wouldn't be a real bad "OOPS" compared to some other pre-amps that could cost many times its price.
Bmotorcycle - Congratulations!
To Bmotorcycle -- you're not alone, I did the same. I ordered the Syrah (line-stage only) just after reading this and other threads like this. Good luck to us both. However, this "3-months" wait is really getting old. My first 3-months of wait for a piece of gear is coming to an end next week -- a pair of Kharma CE 2.2 speakers.
Bmotorcycle & Jewel hasan
I have joined your club...buying without auditioning. My 10 week wait started 3 days ago and I'm already edgy. 'Course I have prior credentials for joining....I bought some Von Schweikert gen III's without audtioning and waited 4.5 months for them. That deal turned out better than I had ever hoped. I'll be crossing my fingers on this one too.
Bmotorcycle and Jewel hasen, you will both be rewarded for your wait. I have been involved in high end audio for 25 years and this is the biggest single improvement that I have ever made to my system. It is that Good! I got frustrated with the wait also, but Mick will not be rushed. The quality of workmanship on my preamp is fantastic! My jaw dropped to the floor the first time I heard my Syrah and it is still on the floor. Everytime I listen to it (which is all the time) I just shake my head in amazement. Hang in there guys, you made a great choice!
You guys are slow. I bought the Cortese in December when it first came out also without hearing it. I only had to wait two weeks then. It is a stellar piece and the best eye candy in audio.
Khaki - how does the Cortese sound? What have you compared it to?
What are the dimensions of the Chardonney preamp?
The Chardonnay is 13¼" wide by 12½" deep the unit is about 8½" tall. The power supply is the same width and depth but height depends upon the tube you select. With my GZ32, the power supply is about 5½" tall. Stock the unit is about 4½ inches tall.
Thank you Bwhite for the measurements. Is anyone using the Chardonnay with a ss amp and has anyone compared the Chardonnay with any other pre's such as Rogue,Cat,Bat,Blue Circle, etc. ?
Bradz, the Chardonnay is in a completely different galaxy than any of the preamps you mention. When I first purchased the Supratek, I used it with Solid State (Electrocompaniet) and LAMM M1.1's which have a tube but are not exactly TUBE amps.
Bwhite, What were your results using the Chardonnay with your listed amps and what are you now using with the Chardonnay?
The results with Solid State is very similar to the results with Tube amps. I no longer own any Electrocompaniet gear, the LAMMs are gone and I am currently using a McIntosh MC2000 tube amp. In between those I had Chord (solid state), McIntosh MC2102, GRAAF and Cary 805 amps.

A friend of mine has Conrad Johnson Premier 8A's that go with his Supratek.
Bwhite, Can you comment on the Chardonnay vs. top of the line CJ and ARC tubes?
Hindemith - the only ARC preamp I've spent much time with was a friends LS-25 (I think that's what it was). To me, that ARC preamp sounded sterile and had a very bright solid state quality to it. I am not certain if it was a direct result of it in my friends system context or if the ARC didn't match up very well with his gear but I know of a fact that when he purchased a Supratek, suddenly things got WAY more listenable.

Since this friend also uses Conrad Johnson Premier 8A amps, he really, really wanted a CJ preamp to match his amps. He auditioned a Conrad Johnson 16LS in his system side by side with my Supratek. The CJ initially sounded pretty good (we thought) but once we switched over to the Supratek, it was instantly apparent that the CJ LS16 was a total joke. VEILED, weak sounding, restricted in dynamics, artificial sounding, rolled off in all directions.

So.... he bit the bullet and demo'd a CJ ART - while the ART was better, it still maintained much of the CJ character being a certain artificial sweetness and while it was much better than the LS16, the ART was rolled off too - undynamic and dull when compared to the Supratek.

So.. my friend purchased a Syrah and has been happy ever since.
Bwhite, Thanks. This has been really helpful. I have already sent several inquiries about the supratek, and this feedback adds a great deal to a growing strong case for purchase. At the price, how can one afford NOT to?
Hindemith - the Supratek currently represents a tremendous value. I had mine in to be modified by a local guy named Scott Frankland who's fame comes from building the $30+K Wavestream V8 amplifiers - he told me that between the time it would take to build these, plus the parts, Mick is making peanuts on these. I am sure that as word spreads about the Supratek product, they WILL become more expensive - they would have to.

Those of us who know about these today should consider ourselves quite lucky.
I e-mailed Mick yesterday as to delivery time on Syrah. He's running three months in arrears. He's a one-man assembly line and will not forego his philosophy of "doing it right" by hiring people to crank out Supratek amps and preamps any faster. All my best to him! I'd love to have the Syrah or the Cortese in my system. We'll see...
Oh God, I love it when I'm right. Its a $10K pre, or more, for @ $2K. As for Joule comparison, I wrote the Joule TAS review many moons ago and I've kept them both. Joule is slower, creamier upper mids - which I like. Syrah is "cleaner" but without any Nordost-like harmonic stripping (which some, eventually, call "lean" when describing Nordost). More people will like the Syrah. Dynamics are incredible and also on the phono, which, for the money, is the best hi-end value I've ever seen. Best dynamic/liquidity balance I've heard while maintaing harmonic presentation. For all of you who bitch about the bullshit of the hi-end mag/manuf/advertisment/reveiewer propaganda machine, this is the one you've been waiting for that restores your faith in (audio) mankind. I've permanently resigned from the hiend, but would like some of you guys to hear a gorgeous piece for a price that is more than fair.

The big mags will never review it - no "upside", if you know what I mean - so you'll have to take the jump yourself, or find one of these lucky ones who bought one to let you listen.

On tubes, I arrived at the KenRad black 6SN7's, which IMHO are mandatory - deep, layered, rich, homeric (I just, er, had to use that term once..). Tall Mullard GZ32 on rectifier. Good luck. Glad you ended up happy BWhite.
dear Bwhite,

can you inform me about the website of supra preamp?
i cannot find it?? I can get the cantech site, but no supra
preamp?? thanks
or can you provide its phone?

Timchen - I will gladly help you. The Supratek website is:
or simply click here to go there in another browser window.

Is there a phone number that you can call and talk to Mick, or is he only available via email?

Mick responds to emails often - twice a day in some cases.
Has anyone compared this to the First Sound Presence Deluxe MKII preamp?
it is risky business to call any gear the best deal of the century??
If this preamp is the best deal of the century, then it still has long way to go?? This new century just began.
my question is how do these supratek users said about this
preamp deserves credit or trust? what I am saying is why should I trust these users? since I have no way trying this
preamp? I am curious.