If you don't need the extra gains, a pair of passive attenuators are all you need.
Try this resistor based from
or transformer based from
I read this review yesterday, and it sounds like a very nice unit:
Do you need the gain of an active pre-amp or is passive OK?
If passive will work, Luminous Audio Tech. (LAT) makes a very good single input passive unit for $125 brand new. I think they have a money back offer too, but not sure.
For active pre-amps, Space-Tech Labs offers a single input tube pre-amp for $349 with a 30 day trial offer. This pre-amp has received some good reviews at AudioAsylum in the past. See the link and click on QA-001
I'm currently auditioning a pre-amp from Dodd Audio that has 2 inputs. I'll bet Gary would build it with a single input and bypass the switch. You can email Gary Dodd at
It is a very nice sounding pre-amp and it looks really great too. It is $450, but may be less with a single input/output.
My $.02 worth!!
Dan Wright of Modwright is developing a tube-stage preamp with separate power supply which has four inputs. At this time he is selling beta testing units for I believe $600. These units will retail for over $1000 after the test period. Knowing of Dan and his work, this may be a terrific opportunity to get a very well made, but basic tubed linestage. Website is http://www.modwright.com
Let me clarify just a bit here: I am not seeking a pre like this for budgetary considerations, but more for the uncompromising and simplistic aspects such a design might offer. Thanks for all the input so far. Keep it coming!
I don't think a state of the art pre with a single in/out exists. The market for such a piece is too small to justify building one. However, most any preamp could be easily modified to bypass the input selector and hardwire one set of inputs. This could also be easily reversed when you decide to sell. To go a step further you could also take your favorite interconnects, remove the connectors from one end, and hardwire those to bypass the input and output connectors.
I own the Luminous Audio AXIOM passive pre, and for $125 it is very good, but seems "flat" in the soundstage compared to tube preamps if you know what I mean. It has very good dynamics and frequency response though.
I am in the process of purchasing a THREE input tube preamp that is getting good reviews. It's called the MiniMax and is from a new company called Eastern Electric. A very simple design utilizing point-to-point wiring similar to the Blue Circle preamps and it's only $1200. Read some of the reviews at: www.eeaudio.com. When I get it I'll send you an e-mail and let you know what I think.
Check it out!
placette has excellent passive and active units which are EXTREMELY transparent sonically.
I'd be curious if Dennis Had might be willing to make one for you if you asked him. He seems like enough of an enthusiast, always trying out something new, he might make you a special order. Since you like your Cary unit, something you might consider.
I recently asked myself the same question and did a fair amount of research and experimentation. Many passive devices will reduce dynamics. Sound quality is also a function of the CD player output. AudioNote has tones of gain, so most passive devices work well. So it is important to listen to the options.
Stan Warren has a schematic for a new buffered line stage. If you send him a SASE he will send you the schematic and 1 day later you have a preamp. Placette is one option. Gilbert at Blue Cirlce will make his BC3 preamp for you with a single imput. Portal Audio will be introducing a remote controled volume control in the near future. Ray Samuels at Ray Samuels Audio has a simple 2 input unit. So, yes, there are options, but you need to take the time to listen and be sure that it will mate with your system. Get a used McCormack and have Steve update and modify it to single input at the same time.
Hope this helps.
I have a Supratek Sauvignon tube linestage that was built to order with one set inputs and one set of outputs. All Supratek gear is built to order and like yourself, I only have one source and I wanted my pre to be as transparent as possible. Visit the "preamp deal of the century" thread for info. The supratek website is www.supratek.biz.
Per my suggestions, just because they are inexpensive doesn't mean they aren't good! Why spend big bucks if you don't need to. BTW, the Dodd is pretty good, using the circuitry from the $3500 Melos that Gary Dodd bought the rights to. Also, the Space-Tech. has gotten good reviews and has been compared to $3000-5000 units. I have not heard it personally.
I also use SET amps. For my single souce needs, I don't use a pre-amp at all. I use a Resolution Audio Opus 21 CD player w/built-in volume control. At $3500 list, it does a great job for CD playback and pre-amplification.
Reubent- I agree with you regarding expense... I just wanted to make it clear that budget was not my main criterium as much was simplicity and performance. All of the passive solutions I've ever heard seem to be a bit flat sounding in the systems I've heard them in. I tried one many years ago and didn't like it at all, but then I've never tried one in my present systems. I should also clarify that this solution is not for my home SET system. I'm very happy with the Cary there. This is something I am considering for my work system to try to keep it simple and eliminate the large box that is currently my pre there. Sorry I should have listed that system here with my question (an Audiogon Faux Pax):
Naim CD5 + Naim HiCap
ARC LS2B Great Northern Sound Modified (Damn fine Pre, but I only use a single input, that input is not balanced [unable to take advantage of the direct bypass on the pre, which is a great feature] and I'm wanting to condense the space it all takes up) The GNS Mod is HIGHLY recommended and worth every penny BTW for anyone considering Steve Huntley's handiwork.
Quicksilver Mini-Mites (Svetlana KT88's and Tungsram 12AX7's)
Klipsch Heresy (early 80's vintage - metal horns w/Dynamat & MDF backs)
Cables are currently Stealth (silver) pre to amps, Chord Cobra (for Naim to pre), and Homegrown Audio (speaker cables in 2' lengths)
I just got the Naim CD5 and really love it. It may even surpass my older technology Muse front end in my home system, but I've yet to put them head to head. I went from a Rega Planet 2000 to the Naim. The Planet was a great little player for the work system, but while I'm sitting at the computer working and listening in the sweet spot I found myself wanting something more. I was going to try a SACD changer (Sony's 555) but the deal on the Naim came up first and I couldn't pass it up (thanks Randy!). Boy, it really took this little system to a whole other level. Never heard the soundstage go this wide and deep on this rig. No more digital grittiness or harsness either - and the Planet was no slouch there, but the CD5 shows it up in every which way. Very smooth, kind of laid back yet engaging. Kind of like sipping on a good port.
So that's where I'm coming from. Thank you for all the helpful input folks. I've looked into all your suggestions and wasn't aware there were so many ways to go.
I've never heard one, but, the Bent products might be worth looking into.
I have the Bent Tvc passive, mine is two input model and would work well with your Naim at 2.1v output..the Bent does not like cdp's with high output. It should also be a great match with your speakers. Talk to John at Bent Audio about a match with your amps.
Here is a link to a review of the Bent, this Model like mine has the older case design (the new models have a new case design) which is very nice..they also have remote.http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.pl?forum=amp&n=16560&review=1
Thanks for all the input. I've decided to give Dan Wright's prototype amp a try (thank you Tvad). He's making one for me with a single input and a single output. I'll post the thread with the results. Dan was very responsive to both emails and phone calls, and was a pleasure to talk to. He also happens to be 3-hours south of me in Portland, OR. As Tvad mentioned the pre-amp is a prototype for one he intends to put in production, perhaps with certain refinements. It is a two-tube class a design. This is from an early email he sent me outlining the details:
4 Inputs, 1 output. (mine will have only one input)
2-Tube Mu design - 5687 tubes.
Noble volume pot.
This circuit is a culmination of what we have learned
with our tube mods for digital gear.
Beta Price = $600.
Project Production Price = $1200-$1400.
30-Day Return if not satisfied with Beta Units.
Beta customers will be offered Production units for
60% of retail when available and we will take Beta
units back for 100% credit towards purchase of
The only condition for the 30-day guarantee is that the returned unit is mint. I was intrigued by both my conversations with Dan and his use of the NOS 5687 tubes (AudioNote uses these in some of their designs). I'm not sure if he's filled his quota for the beta program, but he mentioned that he was limiting that to a dozen units and I believe I was the ninth to agree to the deal.