Preamps opinion

Hello all,

My setup contains atc scm 40 mk2 speakers, hegel h160 as a pre, and bryston 4bsst2 power amp... Now I want to change my hegel h160 with a dedicated pre amplifier. 

My candidates on second hand are bryston bp26, audio research ls 26, ref 3, ref 5se(if i find budget)

What are your opinions about these matches? 
Unless you have a tremendous interest in emphases on detail at all cost, or excessive heavy bass (only like rock)... then the best Audio Research Preamp you can find. Ref 5 or 5SE... if you can. I have owned Audio Research preamps and prized their sound over different solid state (like Pass) and other tubed (McIntosh and CJ) for 35 of the last 50 years. Their sound has gotten better and better. Detailed, natural, midrange bloom, outstanding soundstage, great bass... I recently upgraded my REF 5SE to 6SE... but honestly they are in a class of there own. With the New REF 160s amp... my system really went to a new lever. Audio Research preamps have always had a magical sound to them.


You’ve got 2 x gains you can have on the Bryston 23dB or 29dB, this will be ideal for a Schiit Freya+ pre SE or XLR, 3 different peamps in one passive, tube or solid state. And it’s got remote.

Cheers George
In my limited experience a tube preamp with bring more tone and texture to the sound. Ymmv. 
Hello again,

Actually I have never used a tube amplifier before... But i have heard many times bryston power amp and arc pre amp match is very good. My main concern with hegel h160, at some tracks I have to raise volume level until 99 to get sufficient sound. 
your problem with the hegel and its volume control setting is one of poorly matched input sensitivity in your system
What is your signal source? This has never happened to me. Sounds like an insufficient input signal. 
That should not be. These pieces are std audio. No insult here.  Are you using single ended input? there any chance your your DAC is plugged into the Home Theater max level inputs, instead of the ones marked analog?

What you are experiencing to me sounds like a equipment problem. I would consult with an electronic repair facility. 
I would check out the Don Sachs linestage. Hand built, point-to-point wiring. Uses 6NS7 tubes.

You can call and talk to Don directly. He will custom tweak the unit to best fit with your amps.

Incredible performance for under $3,000.

I’ve owned an LS 26, and now have an ARC Ref 5se. The LS 26 was a disappointment. It had a beautiful midrange - I literally stopped in my tracks when I first fired it up and put on CSN, and I was out of the room in the doorway!  But it was bass shy. That last low octave was mostly gone. A deal breaker for me, maybe not for you. I sold it quickly and got a SS Krell pre to go with Krell FSB 400cx. Plenty of beautiful bass, but I always missed that organic mid on the ARC. Now I have a Ref 5se mated to a Pass Labs X250.8 amp. Upstream it’s a Ref CD 8. The Ref 5se is amazing. It does it all, from top to bottom. From what I’ve read, the 5se was the start of new voicing for ARC. Before, ARC’s have had a wonderful, clear, natural mid (“lit from within”), but it’s often called “a little white”. Not bright or clinical at all, but a little dry. The 5se kept all the goodness and added a little warmth in the lower mid, which for my Wilson speakers is a good thing. The Ref 3 was a milestone in its day and people loved it. It’s said that the Ref 5 was not that much of an improvement. So IMO go with a Ref 3 if funds are limited, else save up for a 5se. 
I had a AudioResearch REF 5SE with a Pass x350 for many years, I found it a wonderful combination.