Suggestions on a pre-amp

Hello Folks,

I’m posting this question to those who have had some experience mixing and matching up pre-amps with a variety of differing manufactures equipment.

My system is currently a mish-mash of fairly decent gear… I consider myself a budding audiophile with a lot to learn, but I have been making incremental steps in trying to develop the system to its maximal potential…(while staying under the wife’s radar pertaining to budget…Thank God for Audiogon!)

I am running a pair of Dali MS4 speakers, powered by a Bryston 4bsst pro amplifier, that is handled by a Hafler JFET 945 series pre-amp, that in turn receives its attention from a Marantz SA 11-1 CD player. The interconnects are Audioquest King Cobras (unbalanced RCA’s).

I am pleased with the sound, however I have been wondering if the elder Hafler pre-amp were to be replaced, what might others pair up with a Marantz player or a Bryston amp? Or does the pre-amp really make that much of a difference?

I have been reading good things about the Parasound P-3 pre-amp,($800 new ~ $500 used) but I can find none around to audition.

Lastly, I ask the question can a pre-amp reduce the occurrence of clipping?

Thanks in advance for any information provided. Cheers

A pre-amp can have a hugh impact on sound quality. Considering you have Bryston amp you might consider a Bryston BP-20/25 pre-amp. The Rotel RC-955 pre-amp used for around $350 is absolutely worth every penny. There was one for sale on AudiogoN recently which the seller took a picture of the unit w/o the cover on. Check out the parts quality. Very impressive. Not familiar w/your model Hafler pre, but a change might really make a big improvement. Good Luck!
If you are interested in hearing the source without colorations, I highly recommend the Bryston BP-26. It is a reference quality preamp at a very reasonable price.
Pre-amp can make a huge impact. Bryston pre would be a good place to start since you have a matching amp. There are better pre-amps out there and it just depends on your budget. If you want to get into tubes this is a good place to insert them as well. Give us more information on budget, features and desired sound/goals.

Electronic gear does not last forever. Caps start going bad. The Hafler is probably a good choice for replacement.

Clipping is a amp speaker relationship. If the amp is clipping you need a bigger amp or more sensitive speakers.
I would support the Bryston preamp recommendation, but also will take a look at an Audible Illusions 3 if you have the chance to hear it at your system.

If you are looking for a more musical presentation then try the MapleTree tube preamp for around $600 new you will get a in home trail period so you can return it if you don't like it. Really great sound for the price.

Happy Listening.
Conrad Johnson PV-11 or 12
Starting out I would stay with the same brand of amp and preamp. Compatibility problems can drive you nuts and take your money. You can have the best amp, best preamp and best speakers ect. Each recommended by a different person and each right - for their system. Put them all together and it sounds bad. Kinda like replacing your video card with the newest and greatest in your state of art computer. Might have compatibility problems with motherboard or soundcard ect., or might not.