I upgraded from Conrad Johnson, Sonagraph (solid state) to CJ pv10a which is Conrads bottom dollar tube pre-amp and it gave a much warmer sound. I am running it to a Proceed hpa2 and Martin Logam Aerius i. Brand new I think they go for about $1200 you should be able to find a used one for around 600. This pre-amp is not remote controlled, from what I have seen you have to spend WAY more to get this kind of sound and a remote controlled unit. As soon as I heard it I forgot all about not having a remote.
brant nordlund of melos audio restorations has a melos maestro (retail $2300) for sale for $1k on audioreview. great tube sound, remote control for volume/balance, but yule need a fono-stage. there are also sha-gold references (precursors to the maestro), that usually go for ~$800. these are *excellent* preamps.
Try befreo you buy but I think adding in a tube preamp will give you what you are looking for. I replaced my Bryston BP25(SS) with a Rogue 66 tube preamp and it has made the largest difference in a positive way with both my former speakers - Acoustat hybrids and 1.5 Maggies (current speakers)
I agree, tube pre will do what you want. Anthem may not. Anthem preamps are very good, but closer to SS sounding. I had the original CJ PV-10 (now 10a) for a while. It was great for the money.
Wsmatau, I would highly recommend a switch to tubes if you can spend the coin. I have Martin Logan ReQuests and was driving them with Hafler power amps and an Apt/Holman preamp. (High quality early 80's solid state). I bought a Conrad Johnson PV11 tube preamp and CJ premier 11a tube amp (used) from Audiogon/Audioweb members. A very big difference to my ears. The Logans really sing with the tube equipment. I have nothing but great things to say about Conrad Johnson gear. Listen for yourself!!
I had the same problems with a pair of Quest Zs. I run them with a Krell KAV250 amp & swapped An Adcom 565 for a Sonic Frontiers Line 1 & really noticed a positive improvement. I still would get a little too much top end brightness on some recordings so I replaced a Tara Labs Prime 1000 with a Cardas Quadlink 5c speaker cable & got a really nice sound.I have seen Line 1s advertised for around $1200 on this site. . The extra bucks are worth it because it is an excellent unit with a remote& easy connection to surround sound should you desire.
Thanks for the advice. Conrad Johnson seems to be the popular choice in my price range. Has anyone heard/ can you reccommend BAT pre-amps? A friend suggested the brand but it goes a little above my limit.
Hello Wsmatau: I use a BAT VK50SE. I took home numerous preamps including Rowland, Levinson, CJ, ARC REF1 and REF2. In the end the 50SE was THE one. Nothing else came close in it's price range. Yeah, expensive, and for me worth every penny. Do yourself a favor and try the VK5i, VK30 and 50SE before you buy anything else. System: BAT VK50SE preamp, BAT VKD5 tube CD player, Sony SCD777ES SACD player, Levinson 33H, Aerial 10t. Magic!
BEEMER, glad to hear from one who uses BAT gear. would like to know what kind of power cord, intercon and isolation platform you use firstname.lastname@example.org look forward to hearing from you'
As evidenced from the abpve replies, what works in one system may not yeild the same results in another. In general I would agree that a tube pre would introduce the tube coloration known as "warmth." Quite a benefit in a hard and bright sounding system. At the lower price spectrum I would suggest the Anthem pre-amp. It was mentioned above that it may not be tube like enough for you. I would like to mention that some simple tube rolling can make all the difference. Hard to beat at the prices I have seen it listed for lately. Good Luck
I bought a AES AE-3 tube pre-amp for the very same reason. It made a huge impact in my system and brand new is in your price range. I really think it has been my best purchase to date. Tube rolling is very easy since it only has two tubes and you can buy it with or without remote.
I had a 565/Rotel 991/Maggie 1.6 setup and recently upgraded to a Rogue 66 LSR. Big differences, although almost the opposite of what I would have expected. The 66 is far more detailed and fast - when I switch back to the Adcom it is much less resolving. Check out my review of the 66 and 99 on audioreview.com. IMO, the 66 was superior to the CJ PV-10 and close to the BAT 3vki. The BAT had a "darker" tone which could be what you are looking for. The 99 was clearly superior to the BAT, but you are looking at $2K. I'm saving for the 99. The remote on the 66 is great, but if you go remote you do not get the phono stage. You have to get the 99 for both. My 2 cents, MIke
i just bought a joule LA 100 mk2 for $1200 used (quite a deal--and a lesson; you'll get lots more quality / sound for your dollar if you buy used--$1k will get you a NICE pre). this pre has made a huge difference in my musical enjoyment, as i have an extremely resolving system (merlin vsm milleniums, JPS superconductors, Joule + CJ MF2100 amp). i couldn't recommend a tube pre highly enough, but try first--some are great others are not (caveat: for your money, you cannot go wrong w/ rogue)
Hello Wsmatua, I have to agree with Beemer. Give the Bat a try. I also have the VK50se and it is just great! IMO it was better then pre-amps costing twice as much by quite a large margin. Start out with one of the basic models and then the road when you can afford it have it upgraded to an "SE" status. All the best, Tom
Torn!!! My Counterpoint hybd is sick and I AM getting an Adcom 750. BUT!! the Adcom has a wierd feature that sends the signal to a separate control (the volume is only controlled by the added unit...) SO... I have this urge to buy an all tube preamp and run it in the Adcoms circuit so when I'm in a serious weekend listening mood, tube heaven... and for not-so- serious listening the Adcom can run alone. Any comments??
I have no experience with solid state pre-amps so I can't comment on differences in sound quality. There are a couple of disavantages to tubes. The noise floor is not as low as with solid state and the tubes have to be periodically replaced (not an insignificant cost in my case). This said, I really like the results that I am getting from my system which is comprised of a Sonic Frontiers Line 3 preamp, Bryston 4BST SS amp, and Ohm Walsh 300 speakers. If you decide to get a tube preamp then you should check out Sonic Frontier's gear. It sure provides a big bang for the buck.
A tube preamp will usually help warm up the sound. But not for some of the reasons stated on here. A tube preamp will not induce "glare" or etch the highs like SS. A tube pre-amp can be very transparent and not analytical. Some tube preamps do offer a "warmer" sound and are designed to roll off the highs. A properly designed tube preamp will add air and dimension, it won't be harsh or etched. Tube preamps are easy to design and are much simpler than SS components. Less is more in the signal path. I owned the BAT, Cary, Hovland, CJ tube amps. I currently own the Thor Audio TA-1000 linestage. It is quite expensive at $7500. But nothing comes close to its musicality. It is dynamic, smooth and refined and throws a deep soundstage. Runs very cool too. I am currently building a Cary AE-3 preamp for my son. It is a fine sounding preamp with good quality parts. The kit cost $399. You might check it out. mike
Elizabeth, That seems like a waste of money to me. Just buy the tube and always have good sound. Unless you are referring to the GTP-750 (not GFP-750) for surround sound and home theater, otherwise I'd just put it all into a good tube amp for the same price. For others, A couple of you have suggested "Rolling the tubes." I am not familiar with tubes, but I'm guessing that yoou mean to exchange stock tubes for aftermarket improvements? Please Clarify.