Any of the Suprateks meet these goals.
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I have had both the First Sound and the Supratek, and ended up keeping the Supratek. The First Sound IS a very dynamic, "big" sounding preamp with the blackest background I have ever heard with any tube equipment. It is a great choice. I went with the Supratek because I thought it was also dynamic, and had a musicality that I have yet to hear matched by any preamp I've tried or heard. The best way I know to say it is that with my Supratek, I stopped listening for sonic attributes of the unit and couldn't help listening to the music. It has become the crown jewel in my system, and many others.
Oddly enough, I see that the very same unit that got all this started (the original unit that was so highly reviewed) is up for sale now for a cool $2100. If I were in the market for a preamp anywhere near this price range, I would jump all over that. A rare opportunity to get a discounted Syrah and not have to wait half a year or more.
I have no affiliation with the company or the seller of that used unit--just a very satisfied owner.
Just a thought here. If you have a need for a phono stage the Supratek Waltersalas mentioned would probably be a no-brainer purchase. IMO, that's the real strength of the Syrah. Keep in mind though that if I had a very high efficiency system I might not be totally satisfied with my Syrah. It's incredibly high gain so tube/circuit noise would be a problem (IMO) under those conditions. To be fair to my Syrah I have yet to install dedicated circuits but will do so this weekend and maybe eliminate this complaint in the process. Still, in my system, the Syrah is staying put. I love it.
The second part of my 2¢ worth of advice is that I've followed Artg's postings and his system for a long time. Even though I've not been to his home I can tell that he is reaching for the stars in this passion and has selected components that are top drawer and ones I'd love to own as a final purchase. Even though I'm totally unfamiliar with First Sound I'd take very seriously his recommendation. Man, do I ever lust for his Stereovox speaker cables. These are the absolute best I've ever heard by a large margin.
Lugnut: I'm a little concerned about your comment regarding the Syrah's very high gain and the possibility of being unsatisfied with my system's sound. Pardon my ignorance, but what kind of speaker db level might pose a problem here ? I have a wonderful custom made speaker (ribbon and Dynaudio driver combination) which I believe is about 90-91 db. I don't know for sure, and the brilliant friend who crafted it for me is no longer my friend. (Also, though this probably has no bearing, I am using Air Tight ATM-3 monoblocks.) This speaker shouldn't create a problem, should it ? Does the new Chenin (old Syrah) also have this potential ? What about the Cortese ? Should I be concerned about having the output lowered by Mick if I order a Chenin or Cortese from him ? One final matter: I've read through many of the threads on tube rolling with the Suprateks. It's a bit daunting, especially considering the mad rush for "the best tubes at the best prices". If so many are looking to swap tubes, what might this say for being assured that if I buy a Supratek I can be satisfied with its stock tube sound ? (By the way, I'm not terribly against tube rolling, though you can understand my concern.) I notice that a fair number of manufacturers, including Mick, use Sovtek tubes. I've only heard the 6922, and in my previous arrangement, I didn't like its slightly bright and rigid sound, but, to avoid any prejudgement, maybe I'll respond differently to the kind of Sovteks in the Supratek. Anyhow, I've said enough, and would greatly appreciate any further comments from you or any others wishing to put in their "two cents".
I offer this as a description of MY Syrah. Others may have different experiences. Mine is an older unit without master gain selection and line stage gain switches. The wonderful, and I mean wonderful, phono stage will handle any cartrdige output. The preamp will drive any amps but some of the newer high gain amps may not be compatible, IMO. In those cases volume control would be very difficult, meaning that a miniscule change in the volume control would make a huge difference in volume. The line stage in my preamp uses 6SN7 tubes. If you go with a Syrah with this tube compliment I'd recommend getting gauranteed dead quiet tubes from a reputable tube vendor. Since the phono stage is also very high gain to work with any cartridge I've found the expensive WE 417a's to be the quietest and best sounding. I really think that the rest of the tubes could be the stock ones and I'd be very happy. To clarify further, If one was using horn loaded speakers with super high efficiency then I think noise would be an issue. My speakers are 88 db at 4 ohm and I don't perceive the noise at anywhere near normal listening levels....85 db or so. But, if I'm cranking it up to around 90 db which I do often then without the needle in the groove I can hear a little noise. I do not have that experience listening to the line stage with a pretty well unknown to me pair of 6SN7's. These are NOS 60's gold pin Radio Shack tubes. Iv'e been advised that they are likely Japanese. They are very quiet and quite nice. Some things audio are still difficult for me to wrap my brain around. A perfect example is that I've mentioned I generally don't have an issue with the circuit noise I'm talking about. But, whenever I've reduced this noise I certainly experience more detail and more realism in the presentation. It's kind of like the super tweeter thing. Alone, you can't hear it but when operated with the speakers it does make a significant difference. In time I'm sure that a preamp that is absolutely dead quiet would become a goal of mine because of what I term maximum resolution. That point would be at my next speaker/amp upgrade which I will probably not do. Things are just so musical as they are now and lesser recordings are a real joy not to mention how wonderful audiophile grade software is. Living in the world of tubes is a blessing but like analog it requires some work on your part to make the most of it. The tubes I mentioned earlier have about a ten to fifteen year life expectency and therfore are a cheap investment. I spent around $300 for the best WE's, Raytheon 6GK5's and a Mullard '67 5AR4/GZ34 all NOS and gauranteed. I didn't flinch and am happy I purchased them. With patience I will get this thing as quiet as I want. Tubes generally aren't plug and play and be happy forever. Also, please keep in mind my comment about dedicated lines. I should find out this weekend if that is the cure. It certainly can't hurt and it's long overdue. I'm also sure that Mick has made major upgrades that are available now if you order one. New or used I'd buy one with a phono stage even if you don't use it. Should you want to part with it later it will be a much easier sale. The used one mentioned earlier would be a great buy since if you didn't like it you could get your investment back easily. It's priced very fair in my opinion. I sure hope this helps you and I didn't confuse the issue.
While I do not have any experience with your Air Tights and do not doubt or question the findings of Noble111 (yes, I saw the other thread on the recessed soundstage concerns), I can tell you that my own experience with the Supratek is pretty much the opposite of his. In my system, the First Sound, while very dynamic, quiet, and "clean," had a presentation I felt was compressed compared to the Supratek. I would not characterize the soundstage of the Supratek as overly exaggerated or overly forward, but it feels dimensional and "correct" to me. I realize matching components is an issue, but I seriously doubt the Air Tight would pose any problems.
There is a good reason 90 percent of Supratek owners still rave about their units, only looking to upgrade within the chain.
No affiliation with Supratek, just a lucky owner and big fan.
Let us know what happens if you decide to take the plunge.