You would probably like the conrad-johnson preamps. Among used preamps, the c-j PV-9A, if you can find one, is extremely good with an excellent phono stage (for medium to higher output cartridges).
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I agree with Rushton. The CJ's are a real good value. Try for a PV10a with phono and try rolling the 12ax7s, 12au7s and 12at7s. I use Mullard box plate 12ax7s, Mullard box plate 12au7s and Brimar 12at7s.Almost any NOS tube will be better than what comes stock. The CJ's will give you holographic 3d mids, sweet and extended highs, fairly decent and detailed bass with great pace and rhythm. They're all about the music.
If you heard the Supratek and liked it then I think you are going to be hard pressed to find anything as good.Very few Supratek owners seem to have poblems with microphonics.The one you heard was obviously an exception.What valves was it using?I own a 300b Cabernet and have had no problems-unless you rap on the chasis-but even then the microphonics quickly settle.
If PRAT is your priority you really need to hear a Sauvignion with 6SN7 tubes.Amazing in this area and as I understand it the 6SN7s are very non microphonic.
The Audio Horizons TP 2.0 is a 6922 tube based preamp. There are a number of threads here in the forum in which its qualities are discussed. I have found it to be an excellent preamp in my system (VTL MB185 Signature monoblocks; Coincident Tech Super Eclipse Mk III loudspeakers). Perhaps most important for your purpose, it is available for a 30 day trial in your system.
I use the TP 2.0nB version with Siemens tubes.
Thanks Jtg, but Prat was not my priority. Too many tubes on the supratek to remember but after seeing another thread on AA I decided not to pursue the issue. Have been looking at some Joule Electras here on agon, might try an la100 just for kicks. An la200 was just listed but looks like it has been removed. Whats going on with the Act2? Seen a few selling in the low 6000's, doesnt seem to make sense that all these CT5 buyers would'nt pony up another 1500 and buy a used Act. Thanks for the suggestions.
I'd recommend a Conrad Johnson or the Cary SLP 2002. I A/B'd these in the same system at the same time. The Cary is 6922 based while the Conrad (PV10B) was 6189 (12AU7) based. Both displayed great musicality and a very nice midrange without being too neutral. The Cary had a significantly bigger and more enveloping soundstage, and extended into the high frequencies much better. So, in effect, the Cary sounded more neutral. The Conrad sounded like it was rolling off the high frequencies. Both had similar bass response (sounded nice in the system). The Cary sounded a little more forward in the presentation. The Cary can be tube rolled with lots more options than the Conrad Johnson to get the sound you want, so I won't explain the differences in sonic signature much more.
The two of us who auditioned it preferred the Cary.
They were in a quality system with good components.
Velo62, I have owned both the AR LS-25mkII and the CAT Ultimate II at the same time and was able to give a just audition with both before choosing which preamp I would keep.To my ears and in my system the AR was extremely detailed throughout the scale, but was also extremely sterile sounding almost as if a veil was covering the music from coming into bloom. The CAT on the other hand is extremely revealing (A/B compared with stock tubes)and over all sonically preferred. Top extension was very good, bottom was solid and mids were detailed, but not as much as I would like. This now resides with my system, and it wasn't until I rolled tubes that I found the CAT performing much better. Get rid of the Sovtek tubes without question IMO. Hope this helps.
Linestages seem particularly sensitive to associated electronics so it is a bit tricky trying to guess how they will sound in your system. I have found that a lot of models sound completely different depending on the system. So, given this caveat, I can say that, in the systems I auditioned them in, the Cary SLP-98 sounded way to warm and sluggish, and, while it did throw a quite large soundstage, that big soundstage seemed to be a product of phasiness rather than being natural. The AR was the complete opposite -- it was lean, lacking in harmonic richness,weight and meatiness, which made it sound cold and unnatural.
The Emotive Audio Sira can be very good, harmonically rich and vibrant, but, in the wrong system, it can sound a bit loose and sluggish in the bass, so it (like anything else) must be auditioned. I have the Epifania with the optional teflon caps. This is an incredibly good linestage (leaner and more "accurate" than the Sira, with astonishingly good recovery of cues on the recording environment), but it is quite pricey.
Other, more reasonably priced linestages that I have heard and liked include the Joule 150, and the lower-priced Audionote (uk) models.
ok, are you ready for what iam about to tell you? good! here goes........i have a lamm ll2 deluxe and here is what it takes to make this the last tube preamp you will ever need for a good while. to start off, this amp needs a very good power conditioner and a ps audio premier is not in this class. i have a accuphase ps-500 which i purchased on audiogon for $2700 and was rated 10/10. i consider this pc to be one of the best i've ever had with my gear. next is the amp and with all the tube rolling i've done, the black sable mullard 1950's ECC82/12au7's cryogenically treated and the black sable mullard E88CC/6922 cryogenically treated are truly the best tubes for this amp. one last thing to change with this amp and that is the 25 cent fuse. i replace this cheap fuse with a hifi-tuning fuse and this is needed in order to get the full effect of your power cable. next is the cables........the better your cables are the more your ll2 will express its potential. the front end, my ic is the stealth indra (one of the best ic), and my ic to my amp is the stealth gs 50-50 (another great ic and a good match for the indra). my power cables are the stealth dream which i feel are one of the best pc's you can have plugged into your audio gear. there you have it, if you can fit this setup in your budget, you will not be looking for another preamp. this ll2 does extremely well, in fact this amp is outstanding. before this amp, i had the accuphase c-2800 (great preamp), first sound (another great preamp)and few others top preamps and i would say the ll2 has a slight edge, and would not be there if it wasn't for the mullard tubes. the mullards present extended high's/low's and extreme mid's and since the ll2 has a frequency response range of 400k, it makes these tubes more functional. good day! david picarsic
I agree with with several others here that the Lamm LL2 deluxe would be a great fit based on your priorities. I replaced a Hovland HP100 with the Lamm due to the improved bass weight and more realistic mids. It does not have the last word in resolution as the Lamm L2 or several other top flight and much more expensive preamps but it is very musical.
interesting thread. I had an LS25MKII, currently have an LS15 on tap, but have been using a Promitheus TVC. TOmorrow however I get to hook up a BAT VK5i (6922 for current sources and signal gain). I have been a bit mental lately zeroing in on a long term preamp. I suspect the vk5i will be a good match and offer the traits I desire. I like a bit of romance, yet fast, detailed, and powerful with a dense soundstage. The TVC is surprisingly good at most of these things but lacks that last bit of palpable realism (to my ears) capable of the rest of my gear. I really mean the TVC is outstanding though, and especially for the asking prive... I have been listening to it for weeks now and swapping back and forth between that and the LS15 there is no obvious "winner".
However, I suspect that Vk5i will be in another league and I look forward to getting to know it. It has been my experience with the LS25MKII, that, basically it is ruthlessly revealing. Very detailed, yet sometimes painfully illuminating subtle flaws in either the source material or elsewhere... Probably a great tool for a mastering engineer's studio but a bit too much for my tastes (I did not have a go with it in my current system, rather previous incarnations with similiar equipment, it is quite possible that it would be a stunning match with the Pass!). It all depends on your own desires (obviously) and some find great peace with the 6h30 designs (it is probably wrong to stereotype a gain device). I would like to try other manufacturer's implementations on this tube, esp say the BAT Vk51 someday.
I would second the recommendation for the Joule Electra LA-150 MkII. I previously owned the Blue Circle BC 3000 MkII, and the Joule provided a dramatic increase in bass impact and harmonic fullness. Here's HP's description in awarding it a 2007 Golden Ear:
"With the LA-150 [MkII], your'e going to think your speakers have bottom-end response like they never did before. And it won't sound 'wrong' either. That's because Barber has elicited from the electronics a correspondingly alive and dynamic upper midrange, though not enough of one to make you think it is a euphonic coloration, so skillful is the design. All all this is bathed in glorius 'tube' sound, like a darker version of the classic gear when Audio Research ruled the waves, and with even less distortion."
I don't listen much to reviewers, but everything he said is true in my system (solid state amps driving monitor speakers). But you must get the MkII version -- the original used the 6h30 and reportedely sounds very different.
I haven't heard and didn't consider the Lamm after living with no remote during my (otherwise favorable) Blue Circle experience. My only hesitation would be if your speakers are already bass-heavy, in which case the Joule could be too much of a good thing.