"Budget" pre tube with SS power amp

I like the idea of have a tube pre amp with a ss power amp. But I know next to nothing about tubes. What are thing to keep in mind when looking for a tube pre that has to work with a SS power. I know some tube pre have an high Output impedance it this a concern? Some tube pre also have some slight DC output. For tube power amps as far as I know this is not a problem but for SS power amps this could spell major disaster as far as I know.

Some tube pre amps that come to mind are the:
Primaluna Prologue 3
Cayin SC-6LS
Melody SHW1688II
Manley Shrimp

The thing is I am looking for some of the tube magic but I don't want an overly warm bloated pre with last of nice fuzzy/warm mids but no low or high to speak of.

So any advise you have is welcome.
how much money will you spend on this pre amp? Maybe you should mention the power amp, speaker and what sound/music you like.

There is not much tube gear these days that are limited in frequency extremes or have bloated midrange. That is the old stuff from the 80s or earlier.

I am a big Audio Note gear fan so whatever you could afford in their lineup buy it IMHO...
I think I am willing to spend up to 1500euro. My power amp is a Rotel RC1070 and my speakers are Impulse Aria SE.

I listen mainly to rock/metal. To give you an example last couple of weeks I have been listening a lot to Tristania's Illuminations, Moonspell Irreligues and Anathema Judgement but I also like Slayer, Machine Head etc.

The Audio Note M1 is about 1300euro, about the same a Primaluna prologue 3. The M2 is a 1000 euro more expensive. Both are the models without the phono options.
So the M1 is within my options I think the M2 is to expensive.
did you want a phono input? here is one on Agon (someone I do not know)


without phono it would be in your price range I imagine...

You will get a hundred responses and all of them different. You need to decide what is important to you, things like if you need a remote or how much room you have on your shelf, what kind of service the manufacturer has etc.

FWIW I have listened to several manufacturers of tube equipment and Audio Note draws the least amount of attention to itself, it is just very musical.

have fun!
how about this list new or used

joule electra la100
audio horizons
space tech
since you live in Europe, the thing I suggest you do is try a preamp within your budget with a name that sells easily, in case you will not be satisfied and will want to try another preamp. Go used. Find something like an Audio Research, BAT, Sonic Frontiers, Audio Note, Prima Luna, Manley, VTL, etc. Stick to names that sell. Unless of course you can audition at no cost. You don't wanna be stuck with a piece that will be tough to sell.
Good luck!
Manley Shrimp and VTL 2.2 are good options for used tube preamps.Also check the Cary preamps,they are in your price range and have remote control(not shure about phono stage). Cayin tube integrated have been received very well,may be you can go with one of those... PS. I,m listening to Tristania:Beyond the Veil: right now,very good album.Good luck.
I did the same thing. I'm fairly new to all this, and it's my first set up.... so this is For what it's worth.

I just saw Iron Maiden..btw.. awesome. And I have no trouble with Metallica. Much easier to listen to with a tube preamp. Off topic, but "Mobile Fidelity" just released an audiophile/tube remastered from analog tapes pressing of "Kill em'all" and "Ride the Lightning". Very exciting.

I was concerned about the same thing and went this route for the same reasons as you. So far so good.. voices sound very sweet/front and centre, projects right at you, and imaging 3D is much better, snare drum, double bass distinct. Listen to it all day, no stridency with the wailing guitars.

I'm sure you know all this, but with impedance matching, there is a general rule of 30 to 1..output impedance of preamp to input imp. of amp. Supposedly the higher the better. Not a deal breaker though with a mismatch. Supposedly you would just get high and low freq. roll off.

Although, my current preamp/DAC is 3K and I just paired it with the power section of my integrated that is only 20K (while I'm waiting for monoblocks with 100K imp). Complete/gross mismatch, but it sounds pretty darn good...

All the brands mentioned above are a definite step up from what I'd buy. They are very popular....but expensive.. I suppose you get what you pay for, but budget has dictated that I look for (a lack of a better term)... "giant killers".... with cables and power cords etc.. not to mention your front end.. gets expensive quick.

You might want to check out pure "class A" power amps. All the warmness of tubes, but solid state, a happy medium. Tons of slam and dynamics....supposedly.

Something like the Clayton amps (S40 or M200), they're expensive but hold their value. Huge power supplies.

For preamps, go to the audiogon review section and read up on the "TAD 150 signature".. a lot cheaper compared to the above mentioned ($800). With remote and phono stage. <1k output impedence, easy to pair with.

I have a Monarchy M24. It's a discrete designed (2 separate power supplies) tube DAC with a linestage. About $750. Read the Bound for Sound review of the M24 to get an idea (note: not the NM24):


Clayton Class A power amps and Monarchy hybrid power amps:



(not in production anymore, last month I called Monarchy and they had a European version they built for someone but never bought for !500/2K a pair).


(no longer in production, hard to come by..but they do show up used on audiogon)....

This might not be too helpful for 220v/used... but not bad reading. Take it easy.
ooops.. general rule of thumb is 10 to 1...input impedance of power amp to preamp. Supposedly 30 to 1 is ideal...

someone correct me if I"m wrong.

Also some tube pre's can be a little bit noisier than SS. That is, if you put your ear to the speakers without anything playing, there is sometimes a hissing... doesn't bother me too much. I don't think it affects the sonics...

And it's cheap and easy to switch premap tubes (no biasing) to tailor the sound you want, as compared to power amp tubes (again someone correct me if I'm wrong). Much longer life too.
Thank you for all the advise/reply's.

Has anyone seen or heard this tube pre amp?
This is all the info I have about it.

Tubes: 101D x 1, 6SN7 x 4, 5AR4 x 1
Frequency response: 3 Hz ~ 100 kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion: < à 0,02 % à 1 kHz
Input Impedance: 250 kΩ
Symmetrie: < 0,5 dB (20 Hz ~ 100 kHz)
Verstärkungsfaktor: 20 dB
Dimensions (mm): 470 (l) x 190 (h) x 470 (p) mm
Weight: 21 kg

Anyone compared it to a primalune prologue 3 or similar products?

I have also been "looking" for class A power amps something like a Usher R1.5. But I am afraid that combining a class A power with a tube pre it will become to warm. The last couple of weeks I have done some internet surfing to see what is available, 2nd hand with a reasonable price tag.

So far I have seen a Primaluna prologue 3and March P2000. I know the March isn't a tube pre, but they make some nice gear.

Or maybe I should go intergrated. Then the best deals I have seen are a Symphonic Line RG10 and a DK design V1 reference mkII. But I think that will be to expensive but I can dream.

So many options, now way to review them all and so little money.
Do you mean Marsh p2000? They do have a tube hybrid version, the p2000t, that is affordable and great performer.

I have heard the Primaluna P3 this week but I think it is to warm/mellow. Can you discribe how the Marsh p2000t is?
Mordante, some tube preamps don't provide the dynamics and full sound for rock music. Since I like a variety of music including rock I have found the VTL 2.5 tube preamp to be an outstanding performer in all areas, delivering excellent bass, extended highs but with a wonderful midrange. Also I never had an impedance matching issue with the VTL 2.5 with various solid state amps. On occasions you can find one used on Audiogon for around $800.00 to $900.00. By the way, how much is 1500 euro in US dollars?

If you really want to save money on a tube preamp, the high resolution Audio Experience Symphonies V2R is ridiculasly good at its new asking price of $448.00 out of Hong Kong (YS Audio). It is a pure tube design (tube rectified) with two pairs of outputs, four pairs of inputs, remote control operates volume & input selection. Quality parts are used throughout: Alps, Wima, Dale, and the sound beats the pants off many name brand preamps. I personally, in addition to some others, use one & I love it.
1500euro is about $2300. But I know the primaluna prologue 3 is about $1500 in the US and 1500euro in the Netherlands. I think, but I cannot prove it that audio in the US is a bit cheaper. But all Dutch prices I mention are including the 19% VAT we have in the Netherlands. So when I import things from outside of Europe I have to pay about 4% import tax and 19% VAT.

Brand new the VTL 2.5 is 2700euro, a shop is selling a demo model for 2290euro. What kind of tubes does the VTL use?

The shop that sells the PL P3 also has a used BAT VK-3i and say it will be more according taste. It's the same shop that sells the VTL 2.5


Just so you can see 2nd hand audio prices in the Netherlands.
What kind of tubes does the VTL use?
2 x 12AU7, 2 x 12AT7
TL-2.5 specs
I see the VTL has a high gain 20dB isn't that asking for problems with tubes? I also though 12A tubes tend to be warmer then 6299 etc tubes or is that not true?
If you are able to find Audible Illusions in Europe, it would be worth auditioning for preamps in your price range. Other good tube preamps in that range are the deHavilland and Modwrights; just don't know what you have available to you - of course the VTL is always a solid recommendation as well.