Hi guys

I've been toying with the idea of tubes for a while, and was wondering if a tube pre-amp would be worthwhile pairing with my Class A/B integrated - Atoll IN200 Signature (the Atoll has the function to bypass its own internal pre-amp section, and pair the power section with an external pre-amp).

I predominantly listen to Jazz (all eras, all flavours) and am very interested to hear what tubes would bring me; I've casually read around, and the description of sound from reviewers and regular users does appeal to me greatly. 

I am aware of the Schiit Freya +, and from what I can make out, with some tube swapping, the Freya can produce some good results; but apart from this I'm not really sure what I should be looking at. I'm not looking to spend multiple thousands on this little side interest, or replace my Atoll./Solid State, but to just give myself an exposure to tubes in my audio chain. 

The other option I suppose, is to look at the offerings from Willsenton as an additional integrated, such as the R300 (this seems to be well received, and at a  reasonable price tag). 

Any advice/guidance gratefully received

Thanks very much 👍




The Atoll IN200 is a Integrated Amp' with a selection of user reviews that give it a very good appraisal, and makes it very clear, as a design and marketed product, it can punch well above its price range and compare as a contender to much more expensive other Brand Models.

It is also reported to have a capability of creating the perception it has the Imaging and Soundstaging being presented in a manner that reminds of the better Tube Designs in use.

This does lead to the notion, the IN200 has a leaning, that falls away from the usual, if thinking about how a SS Circuit can present.

How much the Pre-Section of the Integrated Design is responsible for this, is not too clear. This is the area that presents difficulties when talking about the exchange of the Pre-Amp Section for a Off Board Model to be used in its place.

Where is the Presentation wanting to be taken to:

1, A More Expansive Soundstage with greater perception of a separation for the imaging. ( Voluminous Ethereal Room Filling Sound )

2, A Richer Tone where more realism and honesty is perceived for certain elements of the performance. ( A Emphasis toward the Bass Frequencies)

3, A Further Journey into Transparency, where the perception of colouration is seemingly very difficult to detect. ( Clean Bass, with incisive Cut Off, with the perception that there has been a removal of subdued Mid, Upper Mid, High Frequencies.   

4, A Perception of a Noticeable Balance of all the above Three Traits having become more prominent.

On a constrained budget it will be difficult to create the presentation, that the in built pre' has been effortlessly outperformed/resolved, to the point the In Bult Pre', will become a less attractive option.

On a constrained budget it is possible to put a Pre' in place that will be noticeably different in how it performs in comparison to the Built In Pre'.

Where Valves are concerned a ECC 83 Valves in a Pre' can produce a Richness and in some cases a very muddy Bass.

The 6SN7 can be the Tune to create the Voluminous Room Filling Sound.

The Korg Tube can be the Tube to create the Transparency.

Boutique Components can further the impact for the better when used on circuits.

The Good News is that there are good quality Base Model Pre' Amp's that can be acquired at a sensible cost.

 Tube Rolling is very simplistic to achieve and also becomes a option. A Carefully Selected Component Swap Out can be achieved, with a little extra help if not trusting in oneself.

I suppose one very good condition is that there is Two Pre's to be available for use. The Built In Pre' to be used in conjunction with the new addition, as a comparison or alternative presentation.     

Since you are in the UK, May I suggest:

The first link is their blog where they post about designs and new developments. The second is a shop that represents them and should have gear to audition. Very fine components, well designed and built with top quality parts. I believe they are made to order and can be customized to your needs.

You sure about that 24?

With gear the usual set-up is the onboard pre-amp runs an external amplifier, hence the volume control & selection knobs.

At any rate IMHO you're getting the tail to wag the dog. Tube pre-amp, SS amp is the combo to go with.

I think you have a number of good options to delve into the tube space.  FWIW, I'm using a SS amp (Electrocompaniet AW250R) along with a tube pre (Manley Neo Classic 300b) and absolutely love it.  Can't really say whether all tube would be better or not...haven't tried it yet...but can say it's a pretty nice combination.  

I picked mine up as a used/demo and got it for a reasonable price.  If I had to guess right now I'd say most likely as (if) I do future upgrades to components I'll be on the tube path...  Tubes rule...