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?




8700e65e 845e 4b1b 91cc df27687f9454hilde45
+100 on tvad Tube Amp(s)!

Anther +1 on a Primaluna integrated. New or used.
Prima Luna for the money nothing better you don't have to worry about a tube if it goes bad easy to identify. Also they are very hard to find used people don't give them up. Should tell you something.
Prima Luna hard to find? I see them for sale second-hand all the time.

What is true is that the parties behind PL are extraordinarily talented at dealing the hype.
Agree with 4425,  although I would add refurb'd Dynaco or Van Alstine gear to CJ/ARC.  Any of these you can easily get really good, fully depreciated preamp and amp for $3k or less.
This might be surprising, but don't look at it a foolish...until you check what I say,

Some years ago I discovered a "cult" preamp-amplifer from a mass consumer mid-fi maker from 1960's, Stromberg-Carlson.  I have restored three of these through 2007 -2013 in my restoration work for Audio Classics, or two privately (for my son).
The device is the Stromberg-Carlson ASR-433, an integrated preamp-amplifier with 6BQ5's, a whopping 10-12-watts or so per channel.

When done, listening through my Joseph Pearls !!! the sound was astonishing, good, and all owners were happy with this unit in a "second" system for casual listening. The usual recapping, etc, but no modifications.
Worth checking.  There is a bigger model using 5881 or 6L6 output tubes but I have never seen it. There is of course, other vintage tube stuff around for anyone brave (or crazy) enough to experiment and have fun...

My own system (all my design) is tube, a 50-watt/channel triode amplifier with MAC output transformers built in 1989, a two-box tube preamp (1991) , and a TUBE MR78 tuner in 1995 (for the MR71 tube sound). Drives a set of Josrph Pearls (my design also! in 1999)

RIMO