- Audio Research Reference 3
- Balanced Audio Technology VK51SE or VK32SE
These should fit your budget and are fabulous tube preamps.
the rogue audio RP1 sounds weak imho, very low gain spec.
i had the rogue RH 5 linestage headphone amp and the sound was exceptional. Clean, clear and very powerful with optional gain settings. Stereophile Class A, 2500 retail.
excellent display screen and ergonomics. Balanced input and output a big plus at this price.
Big 3D soundstage.
Thank you all!
@soix I am looking at a warmer sound stage, this is the first time I will be adding tube to this mix. High hopes as of now :)
@avanti1960 do you mean headphone amp might be a better choice that a regular preamp?
@others I am looking for a new one itself but definitely will check the recommendations
For under $3000 it can be tricky but there are some great ones out there, look at the deHavilland ultraverve. For about $2500 and you can also have the caps upgraded before it ships out. I think they have some of the best service out there. I owned one and really loved the 6sn7 tubes back when I had it. If you want used that opens a lot of doors but that ultraverve is a damn good musical preamp.
sudharl, there are a lot of reviews out there on ultraverve 3. There is only one 6sn7 tube so cost to tube roll is cheap and fun using NOS tubes vs 4 signal tubes or more like some pre's I've owned, my BAT used 8 6922's, it can get expensive and I liked the Ultraverve better. If you are looking for a big sounding pre with a huge soundstage it could be worth looking at, it's definitely not lean. All point to point wiring and depending what sound you are looking for you can ask for Jupiter/Miflex to V-Caps or any other cap in between your price range and sonic preference. I think you would have to spend a lot more money to best this amp. Due to no middle man you get a lot of bang for your buck and can have it custom built just for the way your system is voiced, my favorite part is a live human answers the phone and a nice one at that.
I just assumed they were open for business, if I'm wrong, sorry about that. I just called them for the hell of it and web sight is still up and when called voicemail still answered " deHavilland" so may still be building amps or you could talk her into it. If not The Don Saches, Backert Labs are nice too.
When I called deHavilland, I left a message, she called back and left me a voicemail, she did say she is on "sabbatical". She did say she has some used units for sale, not sure if they are amps or preamps. May be worth a call if you are interested in a deHavilland. At least you know they have been gone through.
Regarding deHavilland and the Ultraverve preamp, Kara has left the building. Recently, I’ve been in email contact with her and bribed her with premium Vermont syrup and money to upgrade my Mercury 3 with the newest and most premium V caps. She graciously accepted and completed the work.
She is taking a sabbatical from the business and driving patients around. I’m not kidding here. Anyway, the results were astonishing and brought under control the bass. She also gave tube recommendations which improved everything. I thank her.
She is quite gifted, but for personal reasons is out.
I have reduced my list to Don saches, dehavilland, primaluna & decaware. I wrote an email to Don and waiting for a reply. While spoke to upscale audio regarding Primaluna. Today hopefully if time permits will talk try to reach other 2. Thanks @nordicnorm! I will let you know if I might be able to get one :).
@celtic66 any additional customization that you would suggest with Don Saches?
Yea she's been building amps for 25 years and must need a break. She's helping people by driving a medical van and must like it, hope she comes back to building amp eventually though. If you can listen to the prima Luna before buying I would. I have a friend that had one of there upper models I think $2500-3000 models. I had an old Bruce Moore Companion preamp in a closet he wanted to borrow and compare prima Luna to and much preferred the Bruce Moore. He sold the prima Luna.
@paulcreed I called and left a voice mail with Kara. Regarding Don Saches, no response yet. It’s a problem that I am not in a position to listen to all these before buying. I got connected to Decaware, but Steve was not available. So waiting :). Only place where I am having an easy connect is upscale audio.