Can;t go wrong with a used VTL 2.5, i have owned the 5.5 for 8 years and no problems yet so far. Sounds good too. YMMV.........
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I will second the VAC. If you can find one with the full MM/MC phono section it would possibly eliminate another piece of equipment for you. The phono section is excellent, but like Rhljazz I am partial to the VAC sound as I have a Standard LE in my system. The VAC remote for this unit will allow you to change the volume and turn the mute on and off. There is no remote source selection.
You dont technically need a pre with bypass, you would simply place volume (typical to place it at 12 oclock) every time you want to watch a movie. Just hook your mains into the empty input on non HT tube pre, go out the tube pre to your main amp as usual, set volume ot 12, calibrate speaker levels for movies and your done. Just always select proper input source, set volume to 12 then you use your theater pre or reciever for all volume oafter that during movies..........you wont need to tough the tube pre at all after you have dont this during a movie.
I and countless others did this for years with great results and it opens you up to many more options, used your dollar can go MUCH further and music is king right?
I have a tube unit with bypass now but it fell in my lap for years I did what I listed above. Just an FIY to think about.
I have a Cary SLP-05 and one thing I like about it is that when the power is off, it automatically goes into bypass mode. The relays just close and bypass everthing in the pre. I often just leave the pre-amp on, but there are times when I am not planning to use the 2 channel, so just turn it off or a week or so. With the pre-amp off, you do have to make sure the amp is still triggered, if you use a trigger to control the amp. How often to turn off a tube pre is always an issue, but having the bypass work when it is off is a nice option. Something to think about.
Thanks for all your responses. I think I'm taking the Aesthetix off the list after reading a few negative things about it (including reliability). I'm taking the Conrad Johnson PV-15 off as well as I think the premier 17LS is a better alternative.
Good to hear positive things about the VTL and the VAC. As for the remote on the VAC, volume is all I really care about.
Riley: Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm not so sure about adding the Belles 21a to the list. Hard to find much info on it.
Chadnliz: I thought about foregoing the bypass feature, but I think the preamps listed would likely stand up well against any tube preamp in my price range. I'm all ears, of course, if you think otherwise. And being able to turn off the preamp while listening to HT makes it even more desirable to me. So thanks DTC - the Cary SLP-05 might have just inched up on the list...
Anyone familiar with the Primaluna or the CJ 17LS?
My comments were for the 05, not the 03. I am not sure if the 03 has the same feature. More, I wanted to point out what I find a useful feature. I would do some searching on the different 2 channels sounds from the varioius options. Do want a lush romantic sound or a tighter more analytic type sound? The range of sound can range pretty widely for company to company and piece to piece.
I'd like it to be a little on the warm side, but I don't want to stray too far from neutral. That's the main reason I'm aiming for a tube preamp to match with my SS amp.
The Cary SLP-05 is an amazing piece. It's just more than I'd like to spend, even on the used market. But Cary and CJ are known for that warm, lush sound which is why I had them high on my list.
They did but they are back now, with some new features in their preamps, like on the fly switching from transformer to cap coupling (pretty neat idea IMO). Here is their website:
Looks like the c220 doesn't have an HT bypass, so I'm removing it from the list. Adding the Supratek Cortese for now.
That leaves me with the following:
Conrad Johnson Premier 17ls
Primaluna Dialogue 3
VAC Standard LE
Any other comments/suggestions would be appreciated.