My Balanced Audio Technology VK-33SE is stunning. Used with a BAT VK-255SE solid state amp, it is everything I need in terms of sound.
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I would personally prefer the PS Over the Pass. For me the Pass Lacks just a bit of Dynamics... I would also take a look at the SST Ambrosia Preamp.... It will sound very close to the PS, but give you a bit more flexibility and the convenience of SS. I'm sure that there are others that fit the bill, but this will definitely work well. Good luck
I have 2 preamps that are rather opposites. The CODA 07x ($6K) and the Benchmark HPA4 or LA4. The Benchmark has no sound and it will pass the sound of the source with what seems to be no alteration of the signal.
I would take the 30 day home trial of the $2500 LA4 preamp and hook up your DAC to XLR 1 input (optimized for DACs). You will get an amazing volume control on this preamp. There are a few posters that have $100k systems that have added the LA4 instead of a fancier preamp or DAC direct.
I do not have the 07x delivered yet but I expect it to alter the sound. I had the CODA CSiB integrated for a while so I know the sound I am expecting. I want the sound to be warmed up for a specific use case.
I think the Benchmark preamp is one of the very best at ANY price.
I will second an Atmasphere MP-1 for tubes and an Ayre KX-R for SS.
I own both and they are very good.
The Atma is pretty much stock and the KX-R is non-Twenty. If I have funds to play with, I am getting the Ayre upgraded, and the Atma fitted with Caddox resistors.
Both companies are run by the nicest, and talented people you could ever meet.
I have been on a bit of a merry go round with gear but I think I will be settling on the Decware Zen Triode amp and I also probably keep around the Pass 30.8 as well. Speakers will be Klipsch Forte III and maybe going to upgrade to Cornwall once the dust has settled. I have Maggie LRS and Zu Dirty weekend and also just sold my Kef Blades. They are all good but I like the Forte III and Decware amp the best of the bunch. The Benchmark pre does look good as I don't think I would be looking for a flavor so much as just the function of a preamp mostly the multiple inputs but I'm not opposed to it either. I like the tubes and vinyl best so that kind of shows my priorities. I would consider something that had a top notch phono stage too, that could save me on a separate phono stage that I'm sure I'll want to upgrade at some point down the line.
The way you have it direct, (better than any preamp) is the best you’ll get from the Rossini.
The Rossini has a 3ohm output impedance, and preset gain from 200mv to 6v output switchable. Using it with it’s own volume control with 10mt interconnects direct to your amps it will be the very best sound you can get.
Just make sure with the 200mv to 6v preset gain level switching you have it so the Rossini’s volume control is up near full for the loudest you listen at, so you know your not "bit stripping".
For a preamp to to give you more inputs and phono, I suggest using also an inline switch box between the Rossini and your amps so you can switch to a preamp from the Rossini dac this way you maintain the purest direct sound path for the Rossini to your amps still.
Like this, output of this switch box to your amp/s, Rossini on input 1 and new preamp on input 2.
Go to a brick and mortar store and listen to it. Go to Stereophile and The Absolute Sound's website and find out what they recommend. Their reviews and description is better than any 5 line description here - mine included, hah!. Then think about your budget, and the sound you like. Stay away from "vintage" high end gear (i.e., Levinson, Krell, etc.) that has not been serviced, and that has not had all the old capacitors replaced. If you must buy vintage high end gear, look on a website like George Meyer's site. He's an authorized Krell fixer-upper in the SoCal area. In any case, happy hunting!
The PS Audio BHK preamp is a fine unit with many inputs and flexibility of sound via the tubes.
The Coda 07X is the best preamp I have discovered thus far in terms of inputs, outputs and gain level settings per input. it doesn’t take up much space and generates minimal heat.
The Schiit Freya+ is also ridiculously good and fun to operate. As far as bang for the buck, it’s tough to beat. Tubes, no tubes balanced, unbalanced, it’s got ya covered. 5 inputs and 3 outputs, quite nice indeed.
If your budget can handle it, I highly recommend the McIntosh C49. Besides the excellent and upgradable DA1 digital module, it has two balanced inputs, two balanced outputs, and 3 pairs of RCA in’s and out’s. Two of the RCA out’s are variable and one is fixed. It has phono inputs for MM and MC and they have user adjustable parameters specific to the cartridge type to get the best possible performance. All the inputs can be named for the device using them, and unused inputs can be deleted. The level of the incoming signal can also be set for each device so that all operate at the same level. The C49 also has bass, treble and balance controls with a bypass. All this is accessed by the two control knobs and a blue dot matrix screen. The icing on the cake is a wonderfully functional remote with a volume control that is actually useable, and allows access to all the functions.
I replaced my PS Audio BHK with a Benchmark LA4. Great move for me. The gain of the BHK is significant, resulting in noise with 6 and 7 volt tubes in my efficient system (might not be a problem with less efficient speakers and lower powered amps).
The Benchmark is spooky good - absolutely silent, imaging and low level detail improved significantly.
I also have replaced my PS Audio BHK Pre. First with the Audionet
Pre1-G3, which afforded more clarity and resolution, and a better image.
I have now upgraded to the Audionet Pre G2, with even more of the same virtues.
The comments about the Benchmark are ironic to me; It measures great and imparts nothing to the music. But (to me) the audionet stuff provides much better soundstage and imaging, with amazing resolution.
Is that adding something to the music? Imaging? Yes and no. It does not 'color' the music in any way. But it sounds better!
I just got a Cary SLP-05. they are having a heck of a sale at Cary Direct. If you like tubes, you will love the SLP-05. It is on sale for $2,250. off.
ModWright Instruments is definitely staff to think about. If you want to go full truly balanced, the LS 36.5 is the way to go... LS-100 is single ended but also has XLRs in and outs with bunch of RCAs... Modwright is made in US... easy upgradable, modification friendly staff...
personally I’m very satisfied with my LS-100...for me it was big upgrade in SQ moving from Parasound preamp.
@fastfreight, "The comments about the Benchmark are ironic to me; It measures great and imparts nothing to the music. But (to me) the audionet stuff provides much better soundstage and imaging, with amazing resolution."
Honest question: Have you done a direct comparison with the LA4 / audionet in your system? What amps and speakers? The LA4 is pretty low gain so maybe it doesn't mate up well with your amps? I'm not tryout to justify the LA4. Even though I am delighted with the Benchmark, perhaps I should look at the audionet.
I haven't heard this but Terry London (he posts here) really liked this:
It's what I've been dreaming of, along with their matching amp.
Here's Terry's review as well: http://v2.stereotimes.com/post/sound-performance-lab-spl-elector-preamp--performer-s800-amplifier-and--m1000-monos-by-terry-london/
All the best,
I would consider these in order of increasing price:
Backert Labs preamps
Luxman CL38uC (probably best bang for buck with phono built-in)
Nagra Classic Preamp
Shindo Vosne Romanee
Given your listening preferences, stick to a tube preamp, and no matter what anyone says (believe me I have tried for years), get an active preamp, again tube preferably.
First a disclaimer: I make no claim for being a highly informed "stereophile".
I've owned McCormack audio gear for over 20 years. Steve McCormack is a very highly regarded audio designer. He now runs his operation as "SMc Audio" in CA. While still designing new gear, he also does lots of upgrading of his older, discontinued models. My suggestion would be to pick up one of his TLC-1 passive, line-drive preamps, which can be found for under $1K and have his guy, Pat, upgrade it. They rebuild to your exact requirements; sonic and budgetary. Great to work with. They just upgraded/rebuilt my DNA 0.5 amp; incredible results!
@ejlif The problem you have is that you need to drive long cables. That means that all passive control systems are out. It also means single-ended preamps are out.
You need a balanced line preamp, and further, one that can drive long cables. You might think that 'because its balanced it can drive long cables' but its not as simple as that. To do that, there are a number of hurdles that the preamp must clear and most in high end audio do not. There is a standard for balanced line operation; most high end manufacturers either ignore it or worse, don't seem to be aware that it exists.
Its called 'AES48'.
If your preamp supports AES48, driving the long interconnects is a walk in the park, and the cost of the cable won't amount to anything with regards to the sound quality. So when you look at these suggestions and talk to manufacturers, ask if their preamp supports the standard. If they don't know about it, or don't know, that is telling you that they do not.
I think there are four preamps suggested so far that support the standard. They are the Dan Sachs preamp (when used with its output transformer to produce a balanced output), the Benchmark and the two Atma-Sphere preamps. There may be others- ask the manufacturer when investigating!