I’ve been in this hobby for many years using myriad different and mid to high end components and have been generally lucky putting together equipment that worked well together. For the last 40 years I’ve mostly used panel speakers from Magnepan, acoustat and many different Martin Logan models. Recently, though, I bought a pair of Von Schweikert VR4 gen 3 HSE speakers which I think may be the most competent speakers I’ve ever owned. I still think that’s true but I also, for the second time, have a pair of old ML CLS2’s that I use with a pair of Velodyne Mini Vees and really love the sound maybe, the more laid back but still transparent and detailed sound. I’m still trying to decide which pair to keep in the system which brings me to my question. I currently mostly stream music or use CDs using an Angstrom 200 preamp which I keep coming back to year after year and a Mark Levinson #27 amp. With either set of speakers. This setup sounds quite good but my next step gets a bit involved. I want to replace the preamp based on advice from several local audio hobbyists and I’m looking for suggestions based primarily on the described amp and speaker choices. Two example suggestions that they have are: Prima Luna with the VS’s or Bryston with the CLS’s. I think I understand the reasoning but am open to and asking for suggestions that won’t be cost prohibitive. Thanks
There are so many good preamps out there its a hard choice. you've got one tube pre and one SS pre so both are going to sound different.
May I suggest you try a Schiit Audio Freya+ its $899usd made in USA, and gets fantastic review. Single ended, Balanced inputs outputs. Selectable tube buffer stage or SS buffer stage or passive. Remote. This would give you flexibility in using the preamp in both systems as it can do it all tube, SS and passive. its also got a fancy relay - resistor volume control system that's very good. 30day money back trial as well.
There are a plethora of positive reviews of the Freya and Freya +, including a pile from me. "My original version is absolutely perfect"...see?...there's another one. Obviously nobody makes anything that approaches a Freya tube preamp relative to input and output options, truly balanced operation, brilliantly designed super accurate 128 step relay volume control, and the ability to switch among 3 modes of operation including 2 that turn the tubes off to save 'em. Mine is extremely quiet, the new version claims to be quieter. Regarding cost, it's possibly the best deal in audio.
Soix, Your response is a perceptive observation regarding my apparent preference of speakers. I truly do enjoy both sets and the VS’s may be a bit more technically accurate but for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, the ML’s keep pulling me back in. Also, the Ml’s are easier to look at as furniture as my listening room is also our living room. The bottom line is that I’m really not sure what I’m looking for as Sonic improvement with a different preamp. Although I consider the sound of either system the way it now exists, to me at least, to be extremely good, the Angstrom is quite old with no upgrades and is not a dedicated two channel preamp, which leads me to assume that improvement is possible. Detail and resolution are extremely important to me.
May I suggest you try a Schiit Audio Freya+ its $899usd made in USA, and gets fantastic review. Single ended, Balanced inputs outputs. Selectable tube buffer stage or SS buffer stage or passive. Remote.
Without listing a budget, it is impossible for me to make a suggestion. Schiit stuff sounds exactly as it should considering the price. IMO not a giant killer just good sounding gear at a reasonable price. If you could find a used CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) this would be a suggestion.
What I’m willing to pay is dependent upon how good a deal is offered but I want to keep the price under $1500 for stuff I’m unable to audition first because it will be, after all, an unknown until it’ becomes part of the system. I’ve never been able to recoup prices I’ve paid when selling something with which I’m disappointed. That’s one reason why the Schiit products have their appeal to me; one gets a trial period to determine how well it fits the setup.
Well, I decided to try the Proceed PAV based on the good reviews I’ve read on the Internet. I’m glad I did because this is some of the most high resolution detailed sound Ive ever gotten from my various system setups. Having read that the controls are somewhat challenging to master is an understatement. The sound is very good but there are several issues that I’m having; I’ve not been able to mute the sound except by setting the master volume gain to zero or by selecting a mode or audio source that has no input connected. I can’t adjust the balance and there appears to be no output or control to the subwoofers from the sub out connection. I believe that these issues are related to not having the DSP unit which provides the ability to have surround capability. Because I’m currently using the Martin Logan CLS2 speakers I need the subs so I’ll use splitters from the stereo main outputs to drive the subs, at least temporally. If anyone has suggestions I’d sure be grateful hearing them.
Get rid of your problems and buy the Bryston BP25da listed here now for $1025. Detailed and quiet to the max, and your soundstage will expand dimensionally in all directions. And it may even have some of the 20-year warranty left, not that you’ll need it. If detail and resolution are what you’re after, you will not be disappointed — it’s the embodiment of “straight wire with gain.”
Thanks, soix but since I have now heard the Proceed I will probably buy another one and put this one in my garage system which is currently all tubes. That setup sounds very good but I’m sure addition of the PAV will be an improvement judging by what’s happened in my main system. Bryston was on my short list so I may end up doing that eventually. Depends on how my luck is with the new PAV.