Suggestions for a pre amp with HT passthrough?

Looking to improve the 2 channel performance of my system by adding a 2 channel pre amp into the mix. As my music and movie enjoyment take place in the same room, I need some recommendations on great sounding pre amps that offer a dedicated HT passthrough. Ultimately I would like to try out both a tube pre amp (always been curious about tubes) and a SS pre amp so both suggestions are welcome.

Pass Labs XO.2 would be a good choice. No compromise 3-box design. Very quiet. Excellent pass-through with unity gain. I have owned tube equipment and got tired of fooling with tube issues (all of them have tube issues). Solid state is more dependable and good designs last forever.
I will agree that the Pass Labs X0.2 would be a good choice for SS. I will also agree that SS is more dependable and good designs last forever. However, after listening to tube preamps, I cannot return to SS.
So you have a good SS reco, my tube reco would be an Audio Research Reference 3 preamp. As quiet as any SS preamp I've heard, but sounds better playing music, IMHO.

Two of the more recognizable manufactures, Conrad Johnson and Audio Research both offer HT pass through on their tube preamps from their entry model up to the more costly ones. I’ve tried the AR SP16 and currently own the CJ CT6. Both due a nice job (I prefer the CJ sound to AR) and I never had tube issues with either one.
Don't know what your price range is, but here's a partial list of companies that make stereo preamps with HT passthroughs:
Adcom, Pass, McCormack, Sonic Frontiers, Rogue, Levinson/Proceed, VAC, AR, Conrad-Johnson, PSE, and probably a few others I've forgotten.

One thought about going with tubes in an HT system, even used as an HT passthrough you'll be burning the tubes. If you watch a lot of HT it might be a consideration as you may be replacing tubes more often than you might like.

Also, you don't necessarily need an HT passthrough -- any preamp will work, you just need to set a reference volume level on the stereo preamp and you're good to go. That would open up a world of choices. Best of luck.
Soix is right on both counts.

A tube pre-amp with pass-through will be turned on during HT playback and will simply be using up tube life for no benefit. Depending on the pre-amp, the tubes might be relatively inexpensive and it might not matter to you, but you do need to consider that fact. Maybe some pre-amps turn off the active tube stage when the HT bypass is engaged, but I'm not aware of any that do this.

Also, as he states, you don't need an HT pass-though. Any unused line level input on any pre-amp will work. You simply need to set a reference level on the volume control before calibrating the HT setup and you need to set the volume control to that reference level whenever using the HT input.

However, the HT bypass switch is a nice option because it eliminates one step in turning-on your HT setup for each use.


Most preamps require that you turn them on to activate the HT bypass, tubes and SS. Yes this is of more concern with tubes, due to their shorter lifespan than transistors. I do know a gent who had his Gill Audio/Art Audio Alana tube preamp designed for a "true" HT bypass, in that he does not need to power up the preamp to have the bypass become active. A novel idea I think.

Also, as Ruebent states, most manufacturers can tell you their preamps 'unity gain' reading. Unity gain is the point in which the signal is neither cut nor boosted, as in a HT bypass. You could just use any of the preamps inputs, and set the volume to the manufacturer recommended unity gain position.

All info above is correct; HT bypass is convenient but not required. Be careful however if you go with the unity gain on the conventional pre route. If you forget and switch over to a music mode, its likely that unit gain will produce a very loud playback, enough to scare the living bejesus out of you at the least, if not damage your speakers or your ears. There are a few pre-amps with HT bypass that do not need to be turned on, but I don't know which. I will add VAC pre-amps to the list with HT bypass.
Having gone from a ss preamp to a tubed one, I'd definitely recommend the tubed versions. When you utilize the bypass mode, you'll gain the advantages of the circuit routed through tubes, even with movie dialogue: a more dimensional, musical and pleasing sound .
I'm sure there are very good ss designs out there but, from my experience, I'm convinced of the benefits of tubes. I use a VTL 2.5 with HT bypass and there haven't been issues with tube burnout or maintenance. In fact, I've left the preamp on continuosly for almost 2 years with no issues thus far. Tubed amps often require biasing and other maintenance, but tubes introduced through the preamp or a tubed cd are low maintenance and big on benefits.
You can also tailor the sound via tube rolling to match your tastes, which you can't with ss. Good luck and have fun.
hi, Take a look at the Juicy Music Peach for $1500 or so. It has only 2 6H30's and forgot what rectification he is using.