Preamp for Classe CA400 and Confidence 5

I'm Looking for suggestions for a preamp to match my Classe CA400 and Dynaudio Confidence 5. I like a good, focus sound stage with emphasis on vocal. My budget is $2500 new or used. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, What is the pros and cons on mixing tube and Solid state? Thanks in advance. Danny.
I would recomend without hesitation a CJ Premier 17 or possibly the new 14LS, it isn't out yet so it needs to be heard first obviously. For $2500 you might look for a used Premier 14 which has been discontinued - it is a classic CJ preamp. The 17 runs around $4500, it might be out of your price range - I'm using one with a CA 200 and it's great synergy. I've used a tube pre with SS amps for years and I think you get the best of both worlds - liquid midrange, smooth highs, with slam and detail. You also get a degree of warmth that is nonfatiguing, you can control that level of warmth to a degree with cabling. It's addictive!
I agree with Pops, get a tube pre with your Classe, I have Classe amps with an Audio Research preamp, no looking back for me. I haven't had the opportunity to hear CJ pre's, but I have owned a couple of different Audio Research pre's and I love 'em. The AR pre's are available here and on other used sites and are a bargain, certainly MUCH less than your $2500 budget. If you need a phono stage (I'm hoping you still indulge in analog) then look for an Audio Research in the SP series, otherwise the LS series will do the trick. Jeff
I own the Confidence 5's myself.Great speakers.I tried a few pre's.One that really stands above the rest in my humble opinion is the Krell KRC HR.I've seen them for around $2,500 and up used,without the phono stage.Tubes are great,but if you want the full package go with the Krell.Bottom end is without comparison.Open soundstage,liquid mids etc....If you have to with tubes in the system,I recommend a Audio Research LS 5 or a Melos 333 reference.Both can be found used really cheap.Good luck.
I agree with the tube pre-amp suggestions. I had used the Classe amp with a C-J ART...and it was just superb. I think any of the better C-J for the 14 on are worth a are several Audio Research models.
Tubes for sure. Even with a Sonic Frontiers Line 2, I found the midrange of the Classe CA400 to have a dry and wiry quality that needed some fleshing out harmonically. This will of course depend on the rest of your system and room. C-J strikes me as more appropriate that Audio Research in this context.
Redkiwi, how do you rate the Classe CA400 overall? Compared it against the Plinius SA250 by any chance? I am in Aust. and have a Classe DR9 running Apogees, and am not sure whether to go to a CA400 or get a 2nd DR9, or maybe a BAT VK500, or Plinius......etc!!
Markmc, I own the latest version of the SA250 and use it to drive Thiel 3.6 in one of my systems. Frankly I prefer valves to either the SA250 of the Classe CA400. But if you have speakers that demand solid state - as the Thiels tend to, and I suspect the Apogees you have, then either of these amps is going to give you all the drive you are likely to need. I cannot comment on the DR9 as I have not tried it in any of my systems. As to the comparison between CA400 and SA250, I definitely prefer the SA250. I am ultra-fussy about mid-range timbre, tonality and texture and all solid state amps I have heard have some kind of problem here. I have described the CA400 as having a dry wiriness in the midband, and it is only in a very narrow frequency band, but for me it takes away the musicality from voices and mid-range instruments - you just cannot quite focus on the natural tones of the singer as well as I would like. If you play mainly electronic music and rock the CA400 does a pretty good job, but for naturally recorded voices and acoustic instruments the mid-range problem I refer to is too intrusive - for me and in my system. The SA250 is not immune to the problems of solid state amplification either. The SA250 has an artificial sweetening effect on the lower and middle mid-range (which is useful with the Thiels I must admit), but then quickly crosses over to a slightly mechanical and electronic upper midrange. Neither effect is large, but the steepness of the change in character is what draws attention to it. The other issue to look out for is that the SA250 has a bit more treble energy than the CA400, which may be good and then again it may not - it depends on your system. I hope this helps.