IMHO Joule-Electra or BAT.
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Ten5turbo, a dear friend has a pair of the latest generation of Specron's, and has great sonic results with the Modright 36.5 and the Audio Valve Eklipse. He recently has been auditioning the Wired4sound STP se and has been surprized how well it performs against the other two preamps, considering the STPse sells for $1800.00 compared to $9000.00 and $4800.00 for the other two linestages.
For what it worth not Modright 36.5 - I auditioned it and I did not like it. I heard in at RMAF 2008 with Spectrons and I did not like the resulting sound very much. They were presented there with Audio Analyses speakers. In CES 2009, the Spectron-Audio Analyses room got "Best Sound in the Show" and deservely so. The preamp, I believe was BAT (Joule-Electra was just starting its production)
For money, Audio Valve is excellent preamp - I agree here and I know nothing about Wyre4Sound preamp.
All The Best
I had the ARC Ref3 with my V-cap/Bybee Spectron monoblocks and it was not a great match - very hard sound and a rising top end prominance.
I also tried my highly modded Sonic Frontiers Line 3 and that didn't have the sound I was looking for, despite the obvious excellence of the Spectrons.
I then tried the MBL 5011 and that was just great. I moved the demo to the MBL 6010D and decided to keep that. I can't actually say the 6010 sounds better than the 5011 as I never had them side by side, but the bigger 6010 is dynamic, quiet, textured and faithfull to the source and has clarity and the 'emotion' to draw me in to the music. I am set with this combo for some time and bear in mind I have been a tube man for over 20 years prior to this current set up! Nothing against tubes with Spectrons, but good SS gear is a proven formula in my set up.
My source is a Micro-Seiki SX-8000 air w/ Grandezza arm and Allnic Verity Z or ZYX UNIverse into Pathos Inthegroove or Aesthetix IO sig phono stages. Digital is Macbook and Kora Hermes DAC. Current speakers are Martin Logan Requests, soon to be compared with Apogee Scintillas.
Either MBL is a great choice and even though I have not tried it with Spectron, the Burmester preamps might be something to consider as well.
I used Capri by Jeff Rowland along with Spectron until now and I started to look on other preamps. I audition MBL 6010 and I agree with Steve - its very dynamic and quit and is excellent match. You cannot go wrong here. Excellent choice.
However, Simon from Spectron introduced me to Joule-Electra LA-300ME (and no surprise as he did design there power supply or something) and it caused so different emotion that I am selling my Capri and placing order for LA-300ME.
The reason is very simple - I could not stop listening and I was "in" the music. No other preamp or amp ever come close to this experience... I can't wait until I get my own unit. Pure and simple.
I have two Musician III, Mk2 with Bybee upgrades (not monoblock but each stereo on AA Beethovens) with Cary SLP-05. The Cary is not using original tubes--now Raytheon and Mullard rectifier. The sound has excellent dynamics, detail, and decay but is neither fatiguing nor lush--very enjoyable for my tastes.
Although I'm not a Spectron owner, the following may be helpful.
My amps are NuForce Ref 9 V2 SE and I, like you, was in the market for a preamp to suit them.
I discussed this with Simon of Spectron since he was also involved with Joule-Electra. My goal was to find a tube preamp to compliment the Nu-Force, and provide enjoyment for many years. I want to get off the upgrade path and just enjoy my system. My bet was that the Spectron would benefit from a similar preamp.
Simon's excitement and information about the LA-300ME convinced me to give it a try.
The LA-300ME has been in my system for several months now and it never ceases to amaze with its musical presentation. No veils in front of the music, no artificiality, just a natural and very involving experience. Plenty of power and slam when called for, and also delicacy with detail, lots of detail. Combination of circuit design and very high end components makes this thing sing. This ranks with the best, no doubt. I have heard quite a few contenders at CES over the past 4 or 5 shows, (although this is not exactly an ideal place for critical listening you can tell the special from the not-so).
Hope you give the LA-300ME a listen to see how it performs with Spectron amps. Expect great things!
I used the Supratek Dual with the Spectron MKII (stereo) and it was a good combination, but when I used the EMM Labs DCC2 directly to the amp I got a sound that was absolutely clean and harmonically very rich. The EMM Labs DCC2 directly to the Spectron is a perfect partner as preamplifier. My speakers are Von Schweikert VR-9SE.
Thank you Boris,
I knew about your first initial review but I wondered about your current impressions - thank you for the posting. I have "only" LA-300ME and I am tempted to upgrade it to LA-450 if possible and your observations just make it stronger.
P.S. My wife does not like you - I dont understand why?