preamps - vtl tl5.5/rogue 99/linn kairn

i currently use a linn kairn w/brilliant p/s & fono - great transparency/detail/clarity/pace, & convenience. considering toobs, & have narrowed it down to the vtl tl-5.5 & the rogue 99. both have optional internal fono, like the linn. i'm interested in the possibility of better soundstage depth, but don't wanna give up what the linn does well. speakers are meret re's, bi-amped w/a pair of electrocompaniet amps; lo-end is x-over'd at 60hz w/a marchand 24db/octave x-over, to a pair of bridged adcom gfa 555's driving vmps larger subs. any comments/suggestions? max budget is ~$2k (new *or* used). thanks
Purchase the Audible Illusions Modulus 3A. The Best Preamp period. Has the depth and slight warmth of tubes but great high end. Make sure you take the capacitors out of the signal path(a user option located on the circut board with dip switches). Of course this is my opinion, if you like a thicker,warmer sound, leave the capacitors in the signal path. Also, do not use the cd input for cd, as this input has some padding down, which in my experience detracts from the transparency of the unit through all other inputs. Read the reviews on this unit. Used pieces go for $1000-1700. I have used one for several years and can't go back to solid state although I've ventured out a couple of times. I have listened to the Rogue and thought the Audible was better. Have not listened to the VTL. Also the Audible has an great resale-ability going for it. Good Luck! Paul
I have a Rogue 99 with phono.I replaced the phono tubes with NOS 12AX7 Telefunkins and 12AU7 Radiotechniques.As far as the Audible Illusions3A sounding better than the Rogue 99 thats just plain silly.The 99 trounces the 3A in transparancy,layering,focus,detail and ESPECIALLY WARMTH.JEEZE!!! the 3A sounds cool and uninvolving(like solid state) The Rogue 66 is almost as good as the 3A and warmer also.The 99 trounces the 66 but its the big brother so you have to expect it.Audio Musings compared the baby brother 66 to the 3A and the 66 was prefered over the 3a in warmth,layering and enjoyment.The 3A had better detail(like S.S.) So figure it out your self.Read the Audio Musings review.Check out also.The reviewer rating for the 3A is around 4.4 or 4.6 I cant remember.The 99 is 5.0. The 99 kills the 3A PERIOD!!!!
Amen David 99!! I just brought this baby home for an in home audition, AWESOME!! It stays, Sonic Frontiers Line 2 goes. I cannot wait for a pro review on this piece, I think it has had the greatest impact of ANY of my changes, and thats a lot! Bloom, clarity, detail, you name it! For about 2k, it's a steal!
good choice dude!! I found some BDR cones #4 under my 99 added more magic to this fine pre.
BTW Stereophile recently reviewed the little brother 66 and gave it a solid Class B rating.Not bad for a $1200 pre!
hi all,

phunny, i started this thread last may - was it really that long ago i started looking for a preamp? :>)

telescope_trade, the 1st tube pre i had in my system was the magnum wersion of the rogue 99 - it was too coloured & had poor bass response, even w/nos tubes, so away it went. while it had more depth than the linn, if i had to choose between the two, i'd have chosen the linn. it mighta been an impedence mismatch, tho. the cary slp98 i replaced it with was better in *all* areas, but especially in accuracy & bass-treble extension. also had a separate tape-loop & balance controls, which i found useful.

but, i found a melos music director that i've always wanted to try shortly after i bought the cary, so, knowing i could sell either the melos or the cary & not take a beating (the adwantage of buying used!), i tried out the melos. well, it's in a completely different league than either the cary or the rogue, & i'm *wery* happy w/it. still curious about that vtl tl-5.5 tho... ;~)

regards, doug

Sedond and David99, Do either of you know how I can (or if) connect my Bag End sud to the pre? In the 66 they mention a internal swith that allows you to use a sub. The manual does not mention anything about it. Thanks, Bob
telescope_trade, i know nothing of this switch, but call mark o'brien at rogue - he's wery friendly & helpful (tho he prolly doesn't care for *me* too much!) ;~)

do ewe have the elf processor w/your bag-end? i'm not wery familiar w/how this works, but doesn't the pre's outputs go to this proccessor? in my case, i run a pair ov vmps larger subs, and my pre feeds a marchand active x-over which splits the signals to the amps...


Hi Sedond, I will have to wait until Brian gets back from CES. I'm not sure about what processer you are talking about, but with other pre's I have used I just run the sub straight to a pre out, one for the amp and one for the sub. This pre amp has two out's also, but one say's "amp" and the other say's "record". But the sub does not work in the record out.??!! I guess I'll just have to wait, I sure would hate for that to be a deal breaker though, I'm to used to the sub at this point. Thanks for the input! Cya, Bob
Sedond, the VAC Standard Preamplifier "Limited Edition" sounds better than the rogue99 or the vtl 5.5. I've not heard the Melos or the Cary though.
I have been inside my 99 several times and the only switches I have seen are in my phono stage.I have looked it over inside closely.Sorry I cant help.Try calling Mario owner of Toys From The Attic.He may be able to help you.He is a Rogue dealer. 914-421-0069
Sedond, I think you should first decide what type of sound and music you like. What you want to get out of this preamp. I truly believe just throwing out a name of a nice preamp to you is not the road to the ultimate system for YOU. I think synergy(which your tastes are a major, and overlooked factor) is the most important aspect of a system. Ultimately deciding success or failure. Do you want to go to a more tube sound? Add some warmth to the wonderfully clear, crystalline, open sound of the Electrocompaniets? Or not? Also, what is your source? And do you plan to upgrade that later, or are you happy with it? I know about the neutrality and soundstage issues, but there is more. Do you play mostly rock, jazz, classical. There are a lot of great products out there. The trick is to merge one to your tastes and equipment. The one recommendation I do have is to BUY USED. A new $2000 preamp would be one of the weaker links in your impressive system. Buying used will allow you to get a preamp that was originally $3500 to > $6000. So when you upgrade later, it will surely be a component other than this preamp. I always buy a component(presuming it fits in to what I am building towards) that is above the others in my system. That way, it should be the last to be replaced. Last in, last out.
David- Give me a break. In your post you had stated that the 99 kills the the AIM3A period. Are you that insecure that you feel the need to make such an extreme statement. From what I have read the 99 is an excellent preamp, I would love to hear one. The 3A is also an excellent preamp (yes I own one) like any thing else I'm sure that depending on everything else you have in your system either one could excel over the other. This constant grand standing is really very High School. I'm glad your happy with your 99, other peoples mileage may differ. Best-Gary
Gmele-read the audio musings review of the 66 vs the a-1.very close over all with the 66 being the most enjoyable.the 99 is much better than the 66 so go figure it out your self.i have heard the a-1 yeah,its ok but way too dark (colored) for my dont have to resort to insults.i am not "grandstanding" just what I read and heard.sorry if that bothers havent even heard a 99 so what are you talking about anyway.just want to stir things up?
David-I'm not looking to stir anything up here. As far as "grandstanding", don't take that personally, it's more of a reaction to what a lot of people do on this site. At this level of preamp I'm sure that one is better or different than the other but I doubt if it's night and day. I've read the Audio Musings article on the 66 vs AI. In the article it was unclear as to which AI he was listening to, all through the article he keep on referring to the Modulus 3, it wasn't until the end that he mentioned the 3A. There is a big difference between the two. Regardless I'm not looking to win points here or exchange barbs with anyone. From what I've read the 99 seams like an excellent preamp of which I look forward to auditioning. The price is certaily not an issue. All the best-Gary
bob, ya have to push the *record* button on the front of the rogue 99 in order for the record outputs on the back of the unit to work. try this, & it should work for ewe. as my subs are passive, i couldn't run them this way or they'd run full-range, thus the active x-over in my system.

trelja, i agree w/what yure saying, which is why i lost *no* money trying & selling two kairn preamps (one w/latest p/s), the rogue or the cary. i'm *wery* happy w/the melos, & have no intentions of selling it any time soon. comments on wanting to try the vtl 5.5 were more of a rhetorical nature - yust curious as to the sound of this unit. :>) i paid $1800 for my melos music director, spent $200 for additional upgrade caps - not bad considering it retailed for $4600. my musical tastes run the gamut from folk, latin, african, jazz, rock, classical, so i need a system that "does it all"! :>) the melos pre keeps all the clarity of the linn pre & the electrocompaniet amps, while adding that tube warmth, & substantially improving on dynamics and soundstage depth.

regards, doug

Sedond, I tried the button on front and the sub is running full range also, and independent of the pre amps volume. I guess it is just not going to work unless Rogue can do some custom work. Seems that they would have an additional set of outputs to accomadate a sub. Thanks, Bob
Gary-yes the review was confusing.Sorry,I can be impulsive with what I say here.We both have great pre-amps.When I heard the A-1 it wasnt the best set up.The 99 may have sounded dark too in that system.Best to you also.... :)
bob, sorry, yer right - i thought your sub would have a volume control or a built-in filter. ewe can buy a short two-into-one interconnect or solid brass two-into-one plug for the main out. (or, is that one into two?) ;~) or, ewe can send it to rogue to have 'em add a second set of main outs. i had 'em do this to mine when they upgraded it to *magnum* status. but, i wooda yust added the brass twe-into-one plugs if it weren't going to them for the upgrade.

regards, doug

Sedond, I think your Melos is an excellent preamp. Better than the VTL, Rogue, and Linn. Others you may want to try are Air Tight, Blue Circle, upper level CJ, Hovland(I have not heard this one), and Jadis. There are surely more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head(that I have heard).
trelja, remote-control is now mandatory for me in a pre - adjusting the wolume from the listening position is something ya don't wanna give up, once ya have it! ;~) this is especially true in my set-up, where the electronics are in the corner, behind & to the left of the speakers.

the hi-end cj stuff is the only one ya mention that offers remote, afaik, & even used, prolly outta my budget at present.

melos is supposed to be offering a revised photentiometer in the next couple of months, designed by mark porzilli, that won't be so suceptible to shipping damage - i tink i will swap out the alps pots in my unit when these are awailable... the alps pots, while nice, were a sonic step backwards from the original photentiometer, imho - one that melos had to do because ~25% of 'em were getting outta alignment due to shipping...

regards, doug

hey dud,do you know what your melos did/does sell for new? just curious.tanks!
david, i paid $1800 for my music director - it was supposed to have all the latest capacitor updates from the ma-333, besides having the alps pots in lieu of the ma-333's photentiometer set-up. but, i guess the old melos, struggling in its last days, missed a few things, so i had the *new* melos replace a few more caps, for $200, which included shipping both ways. $1800-$2000 seems to be the going rate for these, when they come awailable.

as for prices when brand-gnu, both the ma-333 & the music director listed for $4600, when equipped w/balanced ins/outs. this was for the 2-box linestage wersion. the 3-box version, which includes fono-stage, listed for $7400. stand-alone 2-box fonostage listed for $3600, add-on to a melos linestage - same as 3-box wersion - listed for $3k. i got the linestage, & use a pentagon ps-3 fono-stage.

regards, doug

ps - their old www still hase some info, if innerested:

Second-Just wondering? Have you seen alot of these on the used market? I remeber back in the day that preamp got some great reviews. Do you have any additional info on it, I will check out there web address you had left in your earlier post.Thanks-Gary

no, these don't come up f/s frequently - which is why i bought one when i found it, even tho i had purchased the cary only a couple weeks prior. i'd always wanted to try one - i really liked the sha-gold, which i'd heard before. (this is basically a less-expensive 1-box wersion, not in true balanced configuraqtion.) i figured i'd a-b 'em, & keep the one i liked best. the melos stayed.

there was one other one awailable that i found out about yust after buying mine; i tink i still have the guy's email address if yer innerested; he was asking $2100...

I've heard the Rogue 99 and it was fabulous! A much sweeter and more layered presentation than the 3A. The AI M3A is a very nice sounding preamp (which I currently own). Just hope you NEVER have to send it back to AI for service. If you do you will encounter the most disfunctional people in the industry. They have preamps which have been returned for service for so long after they have promised (over and over again) to return them (sometimes 4-6 months), that they have to screen their calls to avoid their angry customers. I have owned 4 AI preamps and all have been sonic bargains, but the total lack of integrity I've encountered with the company has forced me to say I'll not own another.
I have also heard that there customer service is lacking (Big Time). At this point I have not had to send mine back for any service. As luck would have it my dealer has both AIM3's and just recently added the entire Rouge line. As soon as he gets back from the CES I plan on trying to get a 99 for an in home audiotion. At this point I only use my 3A for a line stage using my EAR 834P for a phono stage, which is a big improvement over the 3A phono stage. I just put in some NOS Tungrams from Upscale Audio, they need some time to break in put I have to say it's sounding great. I look forward to tring out the 99. Best-Gary