Tube preamp options

My system from the preamp on consists of a rouge rp-7, rogue m180 monoblocks, and vandersteen quatro wood speakers. My main source is a brinkmann Bardo through a Rogers PA-2 phono pre. It all sounds great. But there's that itch, you know? I get tremendous soundstage but not that much depth. Clarity is great, mids are nice, bass is excellent. But it doesn't quite have that in the room sound that I'm looking for. The RP7 sounded too solid state and analytical for me out of the box with the stock JJ tubes so I've done extensive rolling. Been through all sorts of NOS tubes and landed on amperex as they seem to have the best balance of warmth and clarity. My thought is, maybe I can find a pre that has those attributes out of the gate without all the rolling. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of being able to tailor the sound with trying different tubes but I feel like maybe there's a brand out there who's house sound I like better. I haven't listened to anything more yet but brands that are on the list to check out are Backert labs, maybe a used ARC Ref 6, VTL, VAC. There are a million little boutique brands tho and I'm asking what people have heard in the 10k price range, new or used, that might be a good fit for me and why. 



Make an all Brinkmann System. I have this setup in my showroom. It's spellbinding...

@axo0oxa I didn't say the Backert preamps don't have XLR inputs or outputs. I said that the circuit isn't fully balanced. That's not the same thing. Lots of manufacturers add xlrs for convenience and compatability, but fully balanced circuitry adds plenty to the cost and requires changes to the design. The Backert Labs preamps are great products, I am not knocking them at all. But for buyers who value true balanced, it's a distinction worth noting. Cheers,


There was a seller who had the last generation of Don Sachs preamp on the other classified site. It was a good price so I pulled the trigger. Seller has the newer one also and said the sound wasn't markedly different so I figured this is a small investment and we'll see if I like it. If I do I'll likely have him build me a new one and sell the old one. Too many great comments to not try it out. 

@sbank, Spencer, talk to Andy, from their web site the XLR input and output are "Fully Balanced". I am not saying I am a techie nor have I opened the units up and gone over them in detail but based on my conversation with Andy and from their web site they claim that the XLR inputs (two on the Rhythm) and outputs are indeed fully balanced. With that I will leave the back and forth dialog on this topic, I do not want to thread cap on this issue. I know you know Andy so ask him and let us all know what you found out because I could be wrong and really want to know the full story. Still enjoying Texas, we miss you back here in the Philadelphia/Delaware area.

@soix maybe on to something with your speaker distance from front wall--the further from the wall i brought my speakers the more depth was achieved but i'm listening nearfield now and also depends on how big your room is.

like @bgross i run an Aesthetix Calypso Signature and have never felt the need to roll tubes (thankfully , although i chase other rabbits) and i haven't heard anything better although i'm not so sure it's the preamp that creates depth--more speaker, speaker placement and room IMO.  Good luck if you scratch that itch.