What's wrong being dated back 2001-2002? It only reduces price as most-likely these models will be fully operational as new with substantially lower price.
I did that experiment when I had Creek 4330 integrated and coupled it with vintage Bryston(5b?) preamp with remaining 3..4 years of warranty and I liked it much better than stand-alone integrated.
Parasound Halo P3s can be had for under $600, and they punch way above their weight, and come with a remote, if that's important to you. NAD's current pre-amp, the c 165, should go for less than $1000 used, but I hardly ever see them for sale, and when they do pop up they're gone in a day. Anthem's TLP 1 is also rare, but can be had under $1000 used. A lot of people really like the Adcom GFP 750s, there's one for sale now on this site.
If having a remote is important to you, be sure the used unit you are purchasing comes with the remote. Somtimes it can be difficult to obtain one after-market if the unit you're buying is out of production.
The A S2000 is a different beast than your AX596, there is no comparison. Meaning The 2000 is better. There are plenty of amp/pre combinations that compete with it, but my guess is that you would be happier with the A S2000 than having any part of the AX596 involved.
Gotta know what speakers you are running and what kind of sound improvement you are looking for?
Thanks for the replies guys. Mapman, my speakers are Paradigm Signature S2. And, as far as improvements, I'm looking for that ever elusive extra transparency and detail. Can I get it with a preamp?
"I'm looking for that ever elusive extra transparency and detail. Can I get it with a preamp? "
No doubt pre-amp can be a factor for this. You'd have to give something a try, but I suspect for under $1000 you can make a difference, with a SS or even tube preamp.
No doubt you are 100% correct Timlub. I would love to have an A-S2000. But, 2000 is also what it cost! I'm thinking I can get a performance upgrade for less than half that if I buy a good, used preamp. Or, maybe an A-S1000. Same power amp section as the A-S2000. Different preamp section. Why does this hobby have to be so full of difficult choices? LOL.....thanks for the help guys!
I'd do the pre-amp upgrade and see what that does. That also sets you up down the road for using a dedicated amp rather than integrated amp section, which might also have something to offer. Decent integrateds with pre-amp out and amp in connections make fantastic spares to keep around in case needed.
Why not upgrade to a better integrated amp? Instead of just spending $1000 on a preamp and running it through your Yamaha amp section, why not buy a Classe or Krell integrated amp for around $1000 used?
Personally, I don't see the value in seperates until you get into much bigger money. I'm currently using a VAC Avatar Super integrated amp, which embarasses many seperate components.
A great tube pre for under $1000 new, was an AE-3 by Cary. But you will want to get some better 6SN7s for it. I saw one used, here this week, for $450. they tend to sell fast so keep your eyes open. Plenty left over for upgraded tubes. The sound will delight you I bet.
Good choices here. I must tell you the Bel Canto Pre 3 is exactly what you want. It will do what you want and can be had for $1000. Very transparent and open. The remote is a joy to use and it also sounds smooth and sweet.
The OP asked for recommendations for a pre to power his existing amp section of integrated amp; if I understood the question properly.
Separates were necessary for high end audio, a long time ago; but not now. In reality, there is no such thing as "separates". The pre ckt that exists in the integrated, puts the pre in one box instead of two. The ultimate end is the same whether or not the ckt is in one box or two.
If you mate a top pre with the existing power amp section of the integrated, you will be wasting money because you will still get "crappy" sound.
Your most economical solution is to sell what you have, and get the best "integrated" you can with available funds.
Please forgive my ignorance Mechans, but what are 6SN7s? Are those the tubes? I've never owned tube gear before. How often do tubes need replacing, and are they easy to obtain?
I tend to agree with Orpheus -- if you like integrateds why not just upgrade to a better one? I know you're trying to improve your sound on the cheap, but while you may get some benefit from this you may end up not liking this preamp when you upgrade to a better amp (assuming that's where you'd be headed eventually).
I'd recommend saving your pennies to buy a significanly better integrated amp (say something like a Bryston B60R or similar), and in the meantime try to audition some integrateds and maybe even some preamps/amps in your system to see what you can expect from whatever upgrade you end up making. Best of luck in your search.
I tend to agree with several posters recommending a better integrated (Orpheus, Soix). To me it seems that you have 2 componentes holding you back (the preamp in the receiver and the amp in the receiver) and you are considering which one to upgrade. Unless you plan to upgrade 1 now and 1 later I think it would be best to upgrade them both now. A good integrated anywhere near the $2K mark (especially used) would seem to me to be better than either a great preamp + the Yamaha amp or the Yamaha pre section + a great amp.
Just my 2 cents especially considering I'm not familiar with your Yamaha or other gear
To answer your questions, yes 6SN7s, are tubes. They will last up to 10,000 hrs depending on the circuit, but you can figure about 5,000 in normal use. This particular tube is very easy to find since they are still currently produced. The better ones IMHO are the older ones, which among OS/NOS tubes, are probably the easiest to still find at reasonable prices. That pre only takes 2 of them.
I strongly agree with the posts recommending an upgrade to a better integrated. I got sidetracked by the conversation and your original request for a pre. Getting a better integrated amp makes alot of sense. If you are curious about an integrated tube amp, there are plenty, albeit Chinese, that you can afford, especially if you buy used. My personal predjudice is to go with tube gear, I love it and think the hassles are overstated.
The sound didn't fall into place until got all tubes and went to NOS.
Take the advice and run to get an integrated with tubes, many brands available, Primaluna, Etc.
Ss i like bel canto or Classe. NAD is another I can live with.
Tube, I am sold on Audio Research.
The Unison Research Unico tube hybrid integrated sounds wonderful and are very well built. Uses the 6922 tube with SS output. Great sound with plenty of power and grunt.