Pass 30.5 is great amplifier and deserve the best preamp to match. The best, truly the best match that you can find, IMHO< is Joule-Electra LA-300ME (single ended) or LA-450ME (fully balanced). It has variable gain up to 8 dB and it has two output stages for low and high power amplifier's input impedance. Extremely user friendly with tube life span of about 5-10 years.
A few months ago, Harry Pearson of TAS gave "300" its 2010 HP Editor Choice Award. He wrote that it is the "most romantic preamplifier" (without euphonic coloration, of course). I wholehearly agree and if you read its owners reviews on line - all say the same: this preamp "grab" you and place you into the concert hall and does not let go. The best preamp I ever owned or even auditioned ( include CAT, REX, First Sound etc).
"450" is basically two "300" under one roof. Its obviously better but cost more $$$. I own "300" and I am extremely happy with it! It is truly the heart of my system.
As long as your speakers are sensitive enough to get by from the gain of your amplifier only, then sure, you could get by with a zero gain or low gain pre. What speakers are they by the way?
Looks like input impedance is 30 kohms, so you'll almost certainly need a buffered pre of some kind, a straight passive won't likely do.
First Watt B-1 (available on Audiogon right now) seems like a no-brainer. The Wyred4Sound STP may also be a good choice.
CODA/SANDERS SOUND (both Coda) will certainly have the same flavor or synergy of Pass.
Do you prefer ss or tubes?
Appreciate all the responses. My speakers are Avantgarde duo Grossos at 107DB efficiency. I've owned Joule LA150MKii a couple of years ago and it was an excellent preamp with adjustable gain on the output. I prefer tube to SS but never discount SS altogether. Balanced would seem to make sense since the 30.5 is a true balanced design. Certainly a zero noise level is critical with 107Db efficient speakers. The LA150MKii was remarkably quiet for a tube pre.
The Joule is worth a home audition, especially if you have good memories from a prior experience. IMO, the Joule and the Pass were perhaps more similar than different, and the combination went a tad too far into a rich and smooth presentation. While it did some interesting things, I ultimately found it dull for my tastes. I am sure that many will find such a combination quite pleasing. I have appreciated the BAT for providing a dynamic and clean synergy, also with low noise plus a balanced design. I think you are correct to worry about excess noise with the Pass and your very efficient speakers. Which is again why you should narrow down to 2-3 preamps, and do a home demo.
Now that I see your speakers. I would also get a few more suggestions on tubes. Good Luck, Tim
I like Conrad Johnson tube preamps with my 30.5 and 100.5's. I started with their CT-5, then ACT 2.2 and now their ART 2 and 3. I haven't heard but feel confident in recommending their older Premiere 16 and 17 if budget is a concern.
These are very pure in design: Just one gain stage, pure class A, no negative feedback and no cathode follower.
If I hadn't found these, the Joule would be on my short list.
Buy a used Pass Labs X1 or Xono (for phono)!
You will not regret it!
My Joule-Electra LA-300ME is absolutely silent. Plus you can have unity gain with it.
Regarding somebody's complain that J-E (what model?) is too smooth so its boring - it could or could not be with LA-150 and very early LA-300. Now, LA-300/450 have sparkiling (and very extended) silky highs which make sound even more exiting (for me).
BAT REX is very good too but not better then LA-300 and LA-450!
Can Pls update me the retail price for LA300 & 450.
Here in my region there no dealer. Thanks.
Its the best to call Joule-Electra directly; they may have some demo or "B" stuff...you never know unless you ask.
Their is something to be said for synergy.
I have a PASS X250 and tried both tube and other SS preamps. then bit the bullet and ordered the PASS X2.5. It worked perfect with the amp sounds great, has a remote, adjustable gain (4 and 12db) with balanced in and outputs.
The second best pre I had with it was a B&K pro10mc used in Passive mode....
I tried a Audio Research SP16 and took it out in 2 weeks..
My opinion stick with a PASS preamp you wont be sorry
I think you have your answer. Do home demo on the best Pass, Joule, and BAT preamp you can afford. Let us know the result.
I've never tried Pass with Pass. Just haven't had that itch. But, no doubt, a wise consideration. I am certain these 3 would be quite distinct.