A good tube preamp can handle all the input output of the ss preamp. I can't understand why in the world you wouldn't just ditch the ss preamp altogether in favor of the tube preamp. The point of the x10 is that it is cheap compared to a full blown tube preamp and gives you that 'tube' sound. Two preamps is redundant.
Drmoles, actually, I tried and am presently using such a setup with great success. I kind of happened upon this combination by accident when trying out a new TAD-150 Signature preamp. I first hooked up the TAD exactly the way you described with my solid-state Parasound P/LD-2000 feeding its auxillary inputs.
It sounded quite good to me. The tube piece seemed to smooth out the sound a bit and make the midrange really lovely, and the highs and bass just perceptibly softer. Depending on the recording quality and the source, it offered a very nice effect.
Curiously, when I removed the Parasound preamp from the system and used only the TAD, the sound softened and relaxed even more and lost some of its dynamic impact. It became a little too laid back for my taste. So, I ended up putting the Parasound back into the system, feeding the TAD-150, as before, and I like it very much. My intuition says that this particular "hybrid" combination will outperform some highly touted, higher-priced preamps.
So when the conventional logic results in worse sound, sometimes you need to think unconventionally and go with what sounds best to you. :)
BTW, that's a gorgeous system you've assembled. Congrats, and Happy New Year!
I tried using the X10 D V3 attached to the output of my MF 3.2 cr. This would make my 3.2 cr almost equal to the newer A5 preamp. The results were dissapointing, to say the least. I sold the X10D and recently proceeded to put together the set up mentioned above with striking results just like those that Plato referred to. thank you for your comments.
It sounds like there is something seriously wrong with your system and you're using a band-aid approach to treat the symptom rather than address the root cause. Just because it works doesn't mean it's right.
I believe there is more to this phenomenon than people realize (impedance/gain matching issues, and such). As Onhwy61 says, just because it works doesn't mean it's right. But on the other hand, since it works so well, it could very well be "right." We're talking about relatively subtle differences here, not huge glaring changes, so for Onhwy61 to suggest there must be something "seriously wrong" with our systems is sheer blatant hyperbole. So I must ask, why all the drama? Is this finding that upsetting?
I find a lot of closed-minded thinking in this hobby, and it's a shame. The simple fact is that the "purist" strategy does not always yield the best (or most musical) results.
They make hybrid preamps--Curcico mods of dynas for example. If it takes two to do it, my bet is that somewhere there is one single preamp that will do the same thing as well, better, cheaper for sure.
"Just because it works doesn't mean it's right"
Incredible....a guy tweaks his sytem and gets the sound he likes, someone else comes along and says it might not be right because of the way it is put together.
There's more than one way to skin a cat.
I say if it sounds good to you, it's right....period.
It is not closed minded to reject schemes that fly in the face of basic engineering/system design. Ask yourself this question -- "Is your solution the simplest solution that addresses the problem?" With the extra interconnects, rack space requirements, power cords, issues involving gain and optimal signal to noise and potential circuit overload, I just don't imagine how you can answer "Yes". However, that could simple be because I lack imagination. But then again I've never read of a reviewer system, seen a manufacturer's display at a high end show, heard a demo at a dealer or seen such a system on Audiogon (until now) which features running one preamp into another. I'll grant you that you could just be at the leading edge, way ahead of the pack, but you could just as easily just be out there. Either way, it's all good, but common sense would say some ways are less good than others.
Ok, well, I am a reviewer, so there is at least one reviewer's setup that is presently using that particular arrangement. It may not be the simplest solution to the problem, but it's one that works well.
If the two preamps were actually combined together on one chassis that would be simpler and more optimum, and no-one would raise an eyebrow, not even Onhwy61.
As it is, we have two totally isolated power supplies for the respective solid-state and tube stages with the ability to fine tune the power cords and interconnects for each section, independently.
Since we are going through an extra volume control and an extra set of interconnects, the configuration is not ideal. Yet to my ears, in many ways, the combination of the two sounds better than either preamp alone. That is all I'm saying, and I'm hoping it doesn't raise your blood pressure too much.
If someone would volunteer to combine these two preamps on a single chassis for me and bypass one volume control, that would be great. But until that happens, I hope you don't mind if I enjoy the great sound I'm hearing right now.
In addition to the Z-man and Musical Fidelity tube line buffers, I will remind you that a few years ago there was another audiophile product specifically developed for this purpose, called the Harmonic Recovery System, by SCE. It got terrific reviews in many of the mags. The reviewers universally agreed that their systems sounded considerably better by adding this device (essentially a high-current, solid-state preamp) than without it.
At this point, I'd like to take the opportunity to point out that Drmoles asked for impressions from people who have tried the aforementioned solid-state/tube setup. He did not ask for advice on how to build an all-out assault on the art preamp... I believe that would be a different question.
I would like to mention the fact that I am matching a MF 3.2 cr pre with a Rogue Magnum Pre going to a Jeff Rowland Amp. I have achieved a sound, which, I suspect, would cost a lot of dough investing in the perfect pre.
I have done the homework prior to matching amp to preamp by checking to output impedances and input impedances of the equipment mentioned above.
I would love to have the money to try units like the Boulder 2010, Mark Levinson # 32, Cello Audio Palette or even, the ideal match for my amp, Jeff Rowland Coherence II.
I invite anyone to check the prices on these units and start calling your real state broker of choice for a second mortgage.
My point is, simply, there might be other ways of scaping the large equipment expenditures we incurr in this hobby.
Why not reverse the order of the preamps? Why not add a third?
So Tarsando, which tube preamp do you use that you think is so great, and what components make up the rest of your system...? C'mon, now, no need to be shy.
If you want to bypass one of the volume controls, go out of the tape out instead.
I am benefiting from the remote capabilities of the MF 3.2 cr, its dual power supply (cual mono configuration), the tube output of the Rogue and its external additional power supply.
Do you know of any preamp out there which has all these features at once? If you do, let me know the price.
Besides it is a good thing to be able to manipulate the gain at the output stage of your preamp without increasing distortion when using your phono stage located on the first stage of preamplification. Do I make sense?
The tape outputs of the Parasound P/LD-2000 are unusual. They do not provide enough gain to drive another preamp, only the inputs of a tape deck. Also, I think it is the high current capability of the Parasound's active output stage that makes this setup work. And I have an outboard phono stage, so that's a non-issue in my case.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe in the sanctity of the single preamp system. It may be that on the east or west coast that sort of dual preamp behavior passes as normal, but here in the Midwest it's, dare I sound un-PC, unnatural. I hereby request that Audiogon revise the rules of the Forums to ban any further discussion of dual preamp system and not accept any new posts advocating their dual preamp lifestyle.
So is there a volume control setting on the Parasound that sounds best for all situations?
Onhwy61, I think you need to get out more. :)
Rwwear, I can't say that I've experimented that thouroughly with all the possible volume settings. Since both preamps have gain neither of them has to be turned up that high. I believe I have the Parasound set between 10 and 11 O'clock and the TAD ranges between 11 and 12 O'clock. It seems to work well like that. I do have to turn up the TAD a bit further when I use my turntable as opposed to the CD playback system, which has higher output. The input sensitivity of the amps and the speaker efficiency plus a few other things affect the spot on the dial where good listening volume is achieved.
I think DrMoles was alluding to the fact that many volume controls' interchannel tracking is usually more accurate at higher settings.