There are many threads here on this subject. Generally speaking, many people have been quite happy with this. I recommend that you try it and see.
Listen to them both and pick the one that sounds best.
Good advice above. I prefer a tube preamp with a solid state power amp but there are some very good solid state preamps out there. As mentioned, experiment with both.
I also prefer a tube preamp, and I am a big fan of Kevin Hayes work (VAC). I would struggle to go back to solid state, but if I did, I think that a Klyne 7 series preamp would be first on my list.
PM Audiogon member Pops. He is a big fan of Thiel speakers, and he drives them with SS monoblocks and a tube preamp and phono preamp.
I'm a tube preamp, solid-state amp guy. I also have tubes in my cd player and phono preamp.
I have had both tube and SS preamps and prefer the warmth the tube preamp provides coupled to the power of the SS amp.
The VAC Sig preamp is one I have lusted over. Doubt you would go wrong with that.
A tube here or there or more is just one way to tweak, depending on goals. Common benefits and issues are well documented. No two units sound the same, SS or tube, so expect variability always depending on choices.
Some SS gear is designed to sound more like tube gear than the norm, but that is the exception not the rule.
IF using a tube pre-amp, just be sure the power amp input impedance is 30-40 Kohm or higher, 60Kohm or higher to be safe. If not distortion levels may be higher than needed. Dynamics and bass levels are likely the most impacted, but others may suffer less noticeably as well.
One tube based component in the signal path is typically enough for me. 1-3 tubes total per channel. I prefer and often can get away with none. Its all in the synergy and one's personal goals for how things should sound.
Compensating for fatiguing digital sound is often a reason one might turn to tubes historically, but I find modern good quality digital gear in the last 5-10 years or so (set up properly of course, need not be expensive) to mostly resolve that problem often associated with older generations of digital gear, usually due to higher jitter levels than desired. So tubes should not be needed for good performance with digital alone. One might still choose to use tubes because of the unique sound various tubes and tube gear might impart.
I've heard a "cheap" tube pre sound better than an expensive
SS pre many times.
Also have lost a pr of Rega RS-3 and a pair of KEF 105's to tube failure in a tube pre.
I use a BAT pre with a SS amp for my Thiel CS2.4's with good results, I would think you would also achieve the same especially if you want to "tame" any brightness at the top end.
Before you try/buy waist money/time on anything, try this.
Your only source the Ayon S5 has a volume control, and it already has a highly regarded (by tube lovers) a low output impedance tube output stage which is a 6H30.
This is just like having a unity gain tube preamp, but with the extra gain that you don't need.
Because your 6h30 tube in the Ayon S5 gives out 2v at 700ohms and your Karan power amp only needs 2v for full output before it clips.
And the impedance match ratio from the Ayon output (700ohm) to your Karan input (33kohm) is a healthy 1:47 ratio, you have a great match to drive direct from Ayon to Karan, no need for anymore unneeded electronics in the signal path.
I am in GEorgelofi's camp these days and like to keep things simple. If you have enough gain, and a volume control, no need for any pre-amp other than as a potentially expensive (and inflexible) signal processor.
I am looking to try and dump all my active pre-amps at some point, probably when each finally gives up the goat. Maybe even next time I need a fresh set of tubes.
Good Day Thieliste,
I,too, regard the Thiel Cs 3.7 as a true reference loudspeaker. I choose the CS 2.7 model, as my room is too small for the mighty 3.7-
Recently, I have read about BAT, VAC and VTL are being sonic matches w/ Thiel speakers.
Tell me about your cables/power cords that you plan on using?
Keep me posted- Thiel lover here!
Many thanks guys for your inputs!
You are right Georgelofi about the Ayon S5's volume control, it does work pretty well connected directly to the Karan amp.
Ayon is probably the only brand to date that make tube network players.
I was able to compare it directly to the Lumin S1 and for me the Ayon S5 goes much further.
Jafant VTL is the other brand that i was really thinking of for preamp with the VAC.
The cables are the French Brand "Esprit" with their Lumina speaker, interconnects and power cords.
Any of you guys out there own a VTL preamp that they can speak of ?
Yes I own a VTL 2.5 preamp and love it. It renders a huge, full soundstage if the power amp is up to it and has a wonderful midrange.
I'm interesting in trying a passive with 3 inputs minimum for under 500. What options would you recommend? Thanks.
Hi Mapman, only one that I know that is reasonably priced at $49 is this one but it only has 2 inputs
If you PM me I can give you an alternative.
Map, have you seen this one? They're in the UK but have a 30-day trial:
Goodpoint makes a passive pre around the 500-600 dollar mark
Excuse me, I misspelled, its Goldpoint, not Goodpoint
Yes that maybe better than the Schitt Mdemaio, at 10kohm also, but it has a not so useable 20 position switch smd resistor type VC, these can be a bit coarse, a 32 position would have been better.
But it's 6 x the price of the http://schiit.com/products/sys
which also has a 15 day return policy, maybe I should start doing this.
And I wonder what quality the input switching control is like as there are no internal pictures on the web to show it.
Very nice! Thieliste & Phd-
Those espirit cables/cords are supposed to be very nice.
Additionally, I want to audition both VAC + VTL gear w/ Thiel loudspeakers. They are supposed to be sonic matches for one another. Excellent flow of information here, keep it coming. Happy Holidays.
I am working in this world for over 16 years of time. I have
sold both. I have tested both and auditioned many as well. I
love a physical 3 dimensional stage with a small intimate
individual focus of instruments and voices. But.....the overall
sound is the msot important part of audio in general. I want and
love the full pallet of colours in the mid freq. as in real.
Pass Labs amps have the advantages of solid state, but the sound
of tubes. This is in my personal taste the best balance. When
you want an even more tube sound add a tube pre amp. I would
never choose for a tube power and pre amp. When you are aware of
the speed, dynamics and timing of a Pass Labs poweramp you
cannot go back. Because this part is essential for the absolute
sound in my personal opinion!
If going passive, a used Placette Remote Volume control is a great idea. The Placette line stage can be had used for $800 or so and ads three inputs. These are made with the Nude Vishay bulk foil resistors and are quite accurate.
My SS preamp is very clean sounding and puts an accurate signal into my tube power amp grease festival...I would like to get a tube preamp someday but anything I like is so expensive that I don't give a crap, and my feeling is that my tube amp is where the rubber meets the road...the system sounds great, and I prefer not to have another tube rolling gizmo draining my cash...still...that Cary is tempting...damn...
Out of interest - I am really taken aback by the fact if it is the case that your dealer won't lend you some pre-amps. In the UK it is taken for granted that you get to try out what you want before committing to the purchase. My penniesworth is that when I have heard a couple of all Karan Set ups they are pretty damn good - authority, even handed, not harsh at all. Like Wolf-Garcia i may go down the tube route one day, but I think what I may want will be stratospheric in price, and that which I have heard (mostly) is often soft at the top and bottom (Art Audio and VTL excluded which i thought were astonishing) - just to throw something into the mix - try and audition the following: Music First, DNM 3d; Lavardin pre-amp. Test as much as you can. There is also a lot of wisdom in the posts relating to your front end which may have a cd with a very good pre-out already
Someone also told me about NAT AUDIO making some very fine tube gear.
Their tube preamps are supposed to be very good, also a Serbian company like Karan Acoustics.
Any of u had the chance to audition NAT audio gear ?
Any thoughts on the latest big Jeff Rowland stereo amps and monos ?
I don't know what your budget is, but I and at least one other have Ayre MX-Rs paired with a Nagra PL-L. It's a stunning combination. I suspect both of these can be purchased at "reasonable" prices. There are certainly others, but this is a good starting point.