If someone gave me a Counterpiont SA-5000A I would jump at the chance.. the Sunfire I would sniff at it and be far less interested.'Is that an answer?
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I owned both in the past,the Sunfire a couple of years ago and the Counterpoint (used) about 15 years ago.
The Sunfire was an OK sounding preamp.The Counterpoint was exceptional!!!
Of course,I never heard them at the same session or had a chance to A/B the two,but I would opt for the SA-5000 in a heartbeat!!!
Is the Sunfire remote controlled? I cannot remember.If so,that would be the only advantage.
The Sunfire is remote controlled. I actually own both units.I got the Sunfire recently and realized it had never been retubed. I ordered new tubes so I can hear how good it can sound. That's why I would like to hear other peoples opinions to see if they match my own. Right now with the old tubes (they are Sovteks) I prefer the Counterpoint. The Sunfire seems to push instruments to far back (deeper soundstage?)for my taste. I will say it does seem to have more air than the Counterpoint. I will have the new tubes in another day or so (JAN Philips 6922 and Sovtek 12ax7 LPS) so both units will have the same tubes and give them some burn in time then I will see which one I really prefer.
You really need to compare the Counterpoint SA-5.1 instead of the SA-5000. Contrary to popular misconception, the SA-5.1 is superior to the SA-5000 and Michael Elliott who designed both will tell you that. The SA-5000 is filled with SS components and it does not have the same tube power supply voltage regulation that the 5.1 has. The SA-5000 is newer than the 5.1 and has a bigger chassis than the 5.1 and sold for more than the 5.1, but it was never better than the 5.1. The only *advantages* that the SA-5000 had over the 5.1 is that the 5000 can take low output MC cartridges straight in thanks to the J-FETs tied to the phono section tubes (which Mike removes if you send in the 5000 for an upgrade)and the loading is adjustable from the front panel instead of plug in resistors in the 5.1. However, with the 5.1 you can plug in whatever value of resistors you want and with the 5000 you are stuck with the set values. The bottom line is that the SA-5.1 is a much better sounding preamp than the SA-5000.
I have never heard of the 5000A, only the SA-5000. So no, I was strictly talking about the SA-5000 in comparison to the SA-5.1. The SA-5.1 is one of the biggest steals in high-end preamps if you can find one for sale. We traded off my brother's SA-5000 to a guy with an SA-5.1 because my brother was tired of waiting for one to show up for sale. He would have made some money had he sold the SA-5000 and bought the SA-5.1 outright. It was just a way to smoke one out from someone who thought the SA-5000 was better.
I was fortunate enough to pick up a 5.1 as a trade-in many years ago. I almost never take trade-ins. I wouldn't have been interested in the Sunfire.
Still have the 5.1. From time to time I decide to post it on Audiogon so I hook it up to make sure it still works and give it one last good-bye listen... and the damn thing would sound too good to sell for what I thought I could get. Subsituting the 5.1 for the preamp section of a little NAD integrated pretty much transforms the system, it's that good.
I own very few pieces of equipment that I'm not a dealer for; it just makes sense for me to have my money in something that can make money for me. But when it comes to the 5.1, I have repeatedly failed to come to my senses.
Didn't realize the 5.1 had a following until finding this thread. Thought it was my dirty little secret.
Ok I'm back. I have listened to both preamps back to back for about a week, both preamps using pretty much the same tubes and I have to say I prefer the Sunfire. I love the SA-5000 but the Sunfire just gives me more. The sound stage is larger, it is cleaner, more detailed, the low end is lower, the highs alittle more extended. It seems to have more "air". Months after I originally got the SA-5000 I began to notice the tube coloration. Didn't really bother me the preamps sounds great but I knew it was there. I haven't really noticed this with the Sunfire. The Sunfire really makes me go "WOW"! The sound is HUGE!!! I almost feel like I stole something now!!!
I remember sitting for hours listening to the 5000. Was that 1992 or there abouts? Anyhow, of all the many preamps I have listened to, that one stills sticks out in my mind. I have never heard the Sunfire, so I can't comment. Didn't they also have a 3000 series preamp? I was fond of Counterpoint, both of their amps and preamps.
Curious to find out which one you end up with.
I chose the Sunfire. Don't get me wrong the SA-5000 is a great preamp I could easily carry on with it but people kept telling me about the Sunfire so I tried it out. The original tubes the Sunfire had didn't do it justice (Sovteks & Silver eagles) but once I replaced them it really came to life. Now that I think of it my SA-5000 had Sovteks and a 12ax7 made by who knows and when I retubed it the sound was much better.