It's gonna be hard finding one to audition but you should try a Supratek. Your search will be over.
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Aronov Audio LS-9000 tube preamp together with top of the line Mapleshade power cord (and, presumably any other great power cord) has tremendous bass slam, along with natural, musical sound throughout the entire audible range. See review in soundstage.com for introduction to Aronov line.
If you already have your ideal amp, then EVS Ultimate Attenuators (from tweakaudio.com) which attach directly into RCA input jacks of amp eliminate one interconnect, and allow all that your amp is capable of in bass slam, weight, and dynamics. Used in single source system, such as one where you listen only to CD's. Retail is $350, although I got mine for less as a used item on Audiogon.
I have owned my CAT Ultimate pre-amp now for over a year, and feel that it has as much or more bass slam and impact than any of the SS preamps that i have owned in the past, along with the ability to create a very satisfying musical presentation as well...very robust build quality and also very reliable as well.
Bigkidz, I'd like to keep an open mind here, but aside from gain, I just don't see how any pre-amp worth it's weight is going to provide better bass or better anything else for that matter.
As far as I can tell, the best a good or better pre-amp can do is get out of the way (or simply interfere with the signal less than it's competition) much like cabling. (and I'm not speaking of passive pre's)
For the characteristics you seek, I can't help but believe that 90% or more will be found, not in the pre-amplifier, but in the amplifier. And then of course a pair of speakers than can reproduce what the amp is delivering to them.
Yes, I am aware of the synergy between each and every component within an entire system. But the amp produces far more sonic signature (good or bad) than any other component or combination thereof.
I'm not saying this is the way it should be. But based on my limited experience, it appears that this is the way things are.
-IMO (of course)
Stehno, I think that may be part of the problem. Some preamps don't let the bass slam and dynamics come through...
Bigkidz, I think I understand what you are looking for as I am looking for the same. As mentioned the Supratek is very good.
Another that you should consider that directly addresses what you are looking for is the Joule LA-150, not LA-100. The LA 100 is a sweet, lush sounding preamp. I have heard it and it is extremely good. (I am familiar with the Joule equipment as I own one of Jud's OTL amps.) According to Jud Barber and Bobby Palkovic (Merlin) the LA150 improves upon the LA100 in every way, most notably slam and dynamics. I am buying the LAP-150 and I expect it to better the Syrah Supratek preamp I have heard... but I don't know for sure it will. If it does it will be some kinda pre... I don't think you can really go wrong with either.
Bobo, When a change to a "better" power cord is made on a DAC or preamp there can be an improvement in apparent bass extension, and slam. You are correct that this performance has to be within the capability of the source component design, and presumes audition somewhere else has already demonstrated what the downstream amp and speakers are themselves capable of delivering.
When I began to use the top of the line power strip from Mapleshade for all my source components, there was improvement in bass extension, and slam! This was easily heard by non-audiophile family members, as well as by those who are supposed to hear the difference. Even a bigger improvement was noted when the same basic design in a power cord connected the amp directly into its own unmodified AC wall outlet. As Mae West was known to remark, you never know all of your capability, or something suggestive implying the same idea.
Someone just put up for sale an Aronov LS-9000 preamp, and I notice the ad mentioned the bass performance. No, not a relative of mine, although a set of reliable Audiogon ears.
Bobo, If a loudspeaker is capable of the lowest audible bass, it's possible that a preamp with poor bass extension will not allow the speaker to show what it can do. I tried the Hovland HP-100 with my full range speakers. It sounded fantastic except the whole bottom octave was missing.
Bigkidz, you have an excellent short list. The deepest bass I have heard from a tube preamp was the Thor TA-1000. It was every bit as deep as a high quality solid state preamp. Unfortunately it is $10,000. Maybe $5000 used.
Of those you mentioned I think the most positive comments I've heard were for the Joule and the Blue Circle.
The Supratek mentioned above has a big following on Audiogon. If for some reason you don't like it, you could probably sell it in a heartbeat.
Thanks everyone I was comparing the tube preamps to the Pass X-1 and on the same songs the Pass has better bass as I describe above. I would like to find one of these preamps that can come as close and retian the tube mid magic. I have Talon Raven C speaker and they do go pretty low.
I second Holzhauer's Thor TA-1000 recommendation. I had a chance to audition the Thor and compare it to the Pass Labs X-1 and the ARC Reference. The Thor has tremendous bass extension, great speed, liquid midrange and great top end extension. It easily bested the Pass and the ARC Reference. I bought mine used here on Audiogon within your price range.
If you have a chance, I highly recommend auditioning one before making a decision. If you're ever in the San Francisco area, feel free to stop by for a listen.
I don't know about the PASS X-150, but the older Aleph series amps had a low input impedance and if this is the case with the X150, you may lack some bass with many tube preamps. Try a BAT tube preamp with the 6-pak capacitor package. (See Drubin's response about an impedance mismatch which most other responders seem to ignore.)