Seriously considering tube preamp…opinions?

Tube virgin, here. I am building a system and I'm trying to contain the preamp/amp cost to $3k or so. (I could go up a little.) 

I'm inclined not to dive into tubes all the way through, but get a solid state on the output end. (Open to suggestions; inclined toward PS Audio, Parasound.) I'm reading around about tube preamps and have talked with my local dealer, who sells Black Ice/Jolida and Prima Luna (PL). He used to carry Rogue but said they kept coming back for repairs. That's why he carries PL.

I'm asking these questions after having established (via reviews, comments) that Schiit gear is quite the value. Lately, I've been reading about Decware and other small tube makers. I'm very curious about buying direct, if possible, and a company that stands behind their products is crucial.

So, your opinions about tube integrated or *especially* tube preamps —

1. Who do you like? Consider I want to do pre/amp for a total of $3k if possible.

2. Do you think PL is worth all that money just for a preamp? I get the feeling they're high quality but a bit over-hyped. (No disrespect to the highly passionate Kevin Deal, but he's all over my search results.) And what would you think about $2k/$1k preamp-to-amp spending ratio?

3. Any sense of what happened to Jolida since the name change to "Black Ice"? I see there's a sordid story there but did the re-branding clear up the mess? Any experiences with the Black Ice company?

4. I know there are many Schiit fans out there; so my question would be -- did anyone consider Schiit for tube preamp and go another way? Or move beyond Schiit for any particular reason? It's hard not to just capitulate and do a Freya+ or Saga+ but why wouldn't one just go with Schiit?

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Showing 1 response by bigkidz

Here is my two cents.  The Primaluna 12AX7 based for $2200 new is a very musical preamp.  The Quick silver is a nice sounding preamp not as tube sounding versus the Prima.  The deHavilland is a good sounding tubish sounding preamp but I have only heard it after I modified the unit with my upgrades for a buddy of mine.  The upgrades included V-Caps, volume control, some tube sockets, transformer (much bigger thatn the junkie stock one, AC filter choke, resistors, and a few other changes.  Those upgrades gave the preamp a much bigger dimension, better detail, made it quieter, and with more space between instruments.  The stock unit to me was nothing special.  Other options would be a Counterpoint SA-3000.  It has phone which is OK for an old preamp. These I can perform upgrades that bring them to a new level.  I also like the SA-3000 for the separate power transformer which helps eliminate noise.  Besides parts upgrades I can upgrade the circuit to today's level and is basically a new preamp.  All of the above are good choices.

Happy Listening.