It's always the more expensive one that will be the best, in these "which one is best" contests.
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Blindjim, the internal board work in the Pre30 and the STP-SE is remarkable. The Wyred 4 sound STP-SE has a power supply five times larger, 164K microfarads, than the Primare. The price is about the same especially when you
consider the fact the STP-SE is sold factory direct. These
two Preamps have drawn a lot of attention in recent years
in the audio press and blogs.
I don't know W4S pre which I only heard good thintgs about. But I know primare pre-30 which I bought it a week ago and now it is on sale. Briefly, Pre 30 has no warmth,no dynamics, no detail. It basically sucks in everything. I bought it to replace my benchmark dac1 usb which I use as both dac and pre (by the way my set-up consists of a pair of cary cad 500 mb monoblocs driving Usher 8871s) and it did not last too long to decide to put the primare on sale. Benchmark is by far better. I'm still searching for a new pre not because I don't like b.mark, but because I want to add my turntable to the chain as I could not be able to since I switched from integrated amp to power amp set-up. I wish I could find a Wyred4Sound stp-se pre in Turkey, but there is no dealer here in Turkey. If I cannot wait, maybe I will replace my dac with hdr model, but tthe only thing that keeps me is that hdr does not have an aes-ebu input which I would prefer connect my cec 51x transport through its aes output.
Dellafago. If your after warmth and detail, try an older
used Spectral DMC-10 or DMC-12. They are warm and very smooth, like floating over a placid lagoon. I heard the 10
back in '92 at a friends home and was captivated. On the reserve side, but rich and full. I prefer the 10 since it was the last piece by Demian Martin before Keith Johnson
took over the designs. Martin went for a more classic analog sound.
Maybe hard to believe but the best preamp I listened to so far is benchmark. I tried many of them in the last couple of months and most recently I borrowed a 15.000 usd. mark levinson no.32 reference pre. The result; I definately prefer benchmark over it. The sound of m.lev was again dry, tiny, small with much less detail. Anyway, at least I realized that preamp is a very critical equipment and if you are happy with a certain model, it better not to look elsewhere. At the end of the day, I decided to stick with benchmark. But I think I will replace my usb model with a hdr model as the hdr offers an analog input for my t.table plus a remote control function.