Same manufacturer for pre & amp?

Is there any consensus that using an pre/pro and amp from the same manufacturer, e.g. Krell with Krell, Levinson with Levinson, is likely to yield the optimum result?

It's certainly a safe approach, although I believe it's possible to achieve superior results by carefully matching components from different manufacturers. For example, the ARC Ref 3 and CJ Act 2 Mk II are considered some of the best preamps around (OK, there are two or three others, but go with me here...). One could argue that these preamps might easily outperform any preamps offered by Krell, provided the preamps matched with a Krell amplifier.
I have been using a McIntosh MX135 with 2 Mc amps and have been happy but considering looking (er listening) to Ayre or BAT amps in the system. Just haven't taken the time to drag one home yet. To answer your question. I think it is a good idea to start with the same but change out amps and pre/pro's as equipment evolves. It's a nasty afflicion this audiophilia. IMHO of course
It would seem to make the most sense on paper untill you may be looking for Solid State slam and control on the amp and the warmth of a tube pre amp, wich alot of manufactures dont fall into both camps......then it gets interesting.
I don't believe that you will find any consensus that will say staying with one manufacturer for amp and preamp will yield optimum results. It may, it could, it is possible, but far from being a necessity. There are many manufacturers that are famous mostly for their preamps, Klyne, Aesthetix, Hovland, CJ, CAT and others. There also are many maufacturers that are famous mostly for their amps, like Plinius, McCormack, Krell, Lamm, Pass etc. There are manufacturers who are equally well know for amps and preamps, BAT, VAC, VTL, Mark Levinson, Ayre, etc.

In my 30 years in this hobby, I've found sonic nirvana with preamps and amps from the same manufacturer. I've found sonic nirvana with preamps and amps from seperate manufacturers. I've heard preamps and amps from the same manufacturer sound 'not too pleasant'. I've heard preamps and amps from different manufacturers sound 'not too pleasant'.

Bottom line, IME, you'll get some say that preamps/amps from the same manufacturer will yield optimum results. You'll also have some say that same manufacturer for preamp/amp will not yield optimum results.

So to answer your question, no, I do not think you will find a consensus that will recommend preamp/amp from the same manufacturer. You will just have to do it the old fashioned way, and listen for yourself. Then you can form the most important opinion of all.....your own.


I've never been a big believer in one manufacturer doing everything the best. It can be safe, but IMO the best system synergy can be achieved by mixing. Your own ear will be the determining factor, and as such no one can really tell you what will sound best to you. At the price range you're looking at an audio store should lend you the products you're interested in to see how it sounds in your system in your room. At that will be the true test.

I have moved back to seperates for the first time in 15 years. Both are (given recommendations and reviews of each)the same manufacturer. I agree with everyone here, but went with the same manufacturer because I felt, given I couldn't audition these babies, that the same manufacturer stacked the deck in my favor for a delicious match. This is what is nice about purchasing used. Don't like? Sell, and look for a new amp, pre, or both. warren :)
One thing you sometimes get by keeping it in the family, is a lot of good experience from the manufacturer or dealer about system synergy with other cables/speakers/ sources/Nos tubes/ etc. This can really ease your way, assuming taste & system goals run in the same general direction.
The nearest you will get to a complete consensus is that each manufacturer believes that you will get the best sound by using their preamp with their amp. After that it varies with whose ears are doing the listening