Preamp with tone controls?

Hi guys,

I need help choosing a used preamp to match with a pair of Bryston 7B ST's driving a pair of Bowers and Wilkins Nautilus 801 speakers. I was thinking maybe a Mcintosh C-220 or similar as I think a tube would warm up the sound a little and I will definitely be wanting tone controls. I will consider any high end brand. I'm not sure if the Mcintosh will be outdoing the rest of my system but I do like the idea of a tube with tone controls and I love the VU meters and the overall look of the Mc's. My system is set up in a loft room with an angled ceiling on both sides that I have recently treated with some homemade acoustic panels filled with Rockwool and covered with Cara fabric. Most of what I play still sounds a little bright. The preamp must definitely have tone controls.
I'm not sure what the Mcintosh will cost but my ideal my budget is around the £2000 mark. By the way I'm based in the UK
Thank you in advance for any suggestions.
Have you given any though to an equalizer?
Call Mike Sastra at They have all the Mac equipment and the best deals. They are located next to the McIntosh factory in New York. Mike is a great guy.
IF you use only digital sources, and a DAC,then I would suggest getting a Behringer DEQ2496.
They are about $350 or so, (in USA) At AmazonUK the item is L249 (sorry I forget how to make a 'pound' sign for money)
I highly recommend this unit. it is complex to set up. You really MUST read the instructions!! But once set up, it is easy to switch EQ settings.
It would go between the CD player, and the DAC.
(I would not use the DAC in the DEQ2496 as the main DA converter. But for all digital in and out it is good)
I second Elizabeth's recommendation. Behringer is a much neglected source of high end gear.
There is a steep learning curve on the Behringer DEQ. I had one.
I would also recommend Audio Classics. I am a few miles down the road from them (literally) and as mentioned, they are great people to work with.
They are probably the largest Mac dealer in the world and deal with all corners of the globe. It wouldnt hurt to at least see what they have or recommend.
I've recommended this before, its a great preamp. Your budget is close, not sure if someone will give one up or not..
Spread Spectrum Technology Ambrosia
Used usually goes $2500 to $3500 USD (I've only seen $2500 once, $3500 seems to be the price)
Wonderful product
I sold my 800S in the past to a person with the 7B ST. The control was very good, but the Bryston still has his own sound. I think I would go for a Pass Labs X.5 series amp to replace it for the Bryston. Sell the Bryston and use the extra money for the Pass. The Pass is in every aspect a better amp.
The C220 could indeed do the trick. I suggest do some tube rolling to address your brightness issue (and also room mods, but it seems you have that covered). Tone controls are convenient to have, but they will mask, not address, your fundamental issue. Find the right tube/system synergy in front of your SS amps, and my guess is you will rarely use the tone controls. That said, with the McIntosh gear, you often get both options to play with. And, another nod here to AudioClassics.
Bo, in what way is the Pass Labs a better amp than Bryston? I'm strongly considering upgrading from Bryston to Pass Labs too.
First of all the stage is wider and also deeper. Second the difference in sound realism is very big. Pass labs is exeptional good in letting you hear the exact sound of an instrument.
Ok, thanks Bo. Much appreciated. :)
For $1695.00 you can have it all with true high end sound at a budget price. The magnificent Onkyo P-3000R Preamp. A giant killer for the price. I heard the Pre recently and was floored. Sounds like a Pre in the $4K to $5K range. Has tone controls, a built in DAC and a decent phone stage. Great power supply and dual transformers. Weighs 25 pounds.
A no brainer.
The Onkyo is first a bargain and second it can give a deep and wide stage. In this price range quite unique.
If you don't need a preamp with a remote, consider a used ARC SP-3C. This all tube preamp is a classic and made better in the C version by the use of a FET regulated power supply. The tone controls are defeatable.
You may want to try a DBX 10/20/EQ. They have an excellent bypass and will not change the sound of your system by simply being hooked up. $350.00 to 400.00 good luck.
The Onkyo is really that good? That's one of the preamps I'm looking at at the moment. Which make and model of amp would you pair it with?
Three of my last four preamps have not had tone controls. The one that did was a McIntosh C15 and I never used them. Although I do need EQ, I have a nasty room mode at 40Hz. This is part of the reason I run stand mounted monitors and a sub. I find my best results are driving the mains full range and using a Velodyne SMS 1 to set the low pass crossover and slope plus EQ the sub to the room.
DISCLAIMER: Am a seller.

The Triode TRX-1 that I am selling right now on audiogon has tone control.
Best part is that this tone control can be bypassed too.

Its a fantastic amp (TAS recommended, if that carries any weight) that I am only selling since am moving abroad.

I resisted a week, since it seemed like a conflict of interest, but a pre-amp with tone control at a great price, and only 3 months old, think OP might do worse than getting this one.
With Audyssey pro I now have the best control over loudspeakers and subwoofers. Audyssey limits not only the acoustic problems. It also can give you more drive in the low freq and even more details in the high freq. I can let people hear more and easy articulation of voices.