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I agree with Mejames, Placette is the best I have heard in this price range. The Placette Passive linestage can be had for under $1,000 used ($1400 new) or a Remote Volume Control is $1,000 new and around $600 used. They both are solid state, have the same volume control and remotes. The linestage has three inputs and two outputs, whereas the RVC is a single in/out. The Passive is superior in every way to the $6k tube preamp it replaced in my system.
If you want passive the Placette is the way to go. However for a simple (no remote) pre amp with high quality sound look at the EAR 834L - its a tube preamp w/out phono - it uses three tubes and the tubes last a long time. Harry Pearson of TAS gave it high marks. I've used one for about 3 years - no problems. Tonally it sounds much like my ARC SP10. I've seen them sell used for 600 to 750 on Agon.
Conrad Johnson PV10B with phono stage. This is a tube preamp...entry level into the CJ family. I owned one, fell in love with CJ products, and now have upgraded to all CJ products. I know you can get one on Audiogon for under a grand. Verify the serial number with Knut at CJ. The 10A and 10B look the same. The 'A' is obsolete...The "B' is much more musicial. One warning though. There is no balance control on this series.
I think a used Sonic Frontiers Line 1 is a good choice. It is not as transparent as the Placette (but almost) BUT, you get ALL the features one could possibly want in this price range and more. A cool, round aluminium remote. H/T loop, phase inversion, mono switch, configurable inputs, and the list goes on and on. The exact same chassis, solid build and styling as the $5K Line 3, and it's an easy choice. I am finished buying high-end gear at high-end prices that do not come with a minimum of conveniences and adjustements....
I'd add the Audio Research SP-9 to the list if a phono stage is needed. All versions can be had for less than $1000, I would go for the latest MK III which is the best sounding but a little harder to find (there was one listed recently in the $800-900 range). When it comes to relaible service, holding value, and of course good sound Audio Research is a good choice. Of course there's nothing wrong with any of the other recommendations. As has been said many a time the best is very system dependent!
Thanks for all your replies. This is what I'm finding. the Audio Research has the best resale value of any of the used equipment. There are a couple of better deals out there, but I'm not sure of the sound. I don't need a phono stage and am finding that I would problably like a tube preamp. I'm looking for something really musical and the CJPV10BL sounds like a good choice. It's tubed, It's linestage and It's still reasonably priced, compared to what people are wanting for the ARC products. Another choice is Mcintosh. I was wondering about the McIntosh C712? It's not tube, but has lot's of features. I'm not sure of the sound, but I'm not sure of any of the mentioned preamps everyone recommended either. So I guess it comes down to taking a leap of faith and if not satisfied, sell it, like everyone else here on Audiogon... Sound like this has happened before a few time here. I'm looking also at ARC LS2 and Audible Illusions L1. I think the ARC is a better choice. Do you think any of these will sound better than my Adcom GTP-500II? But really thanks everyone and let's keep this going. I'd like to hear from all points of view.
Thanks to all. I made a decision on a preamp, and it wasn't any of the suggested pre's. I purchase a ARC LS2. I went with something which has a high used resale, and i've heard the ARC LS3 with my system and loved it. I thought the LS2 might sound even better the the LS3, with the sound somewhat adjustable with one tube. Thanks, and I'll remember all your recommendations for future reference.
Not here to pooh pooh your purchase, I made the same one 4 years ago, it was a big step up but was later replaced in the ever evolving chain of audio pursuit.
I had an LS 2 mk II for the money it's great, it is very revealing but can be a little shrill on the top end, a well placed nos tube like a telefunken E88c or 188c can help (don't worry one $100 tube isn't a bad deal to tame this) some of the dutch tubes as well (my local hifi shop found a dutch tube that helped cure things nicely), but I ended up going up to an ARC LS5 which is twice the price for engaging real audio heaven.
experiment with the tube - it will pay off
when you are ready to make that or a similiar jump you should be able to get about what you paid out of your LS2.
Well, if you're talki'n used, I just bought an Audio Research SP 6E which I run my Thiel 3.5's with, I have'nt had any sleep in almost four nights!, just cannot stop playing all my cd's,...HELP!!I'm outta control!! Great tight and authorative bottom end, great timbre! Holographic mids and airy and sweet treble are not an exaggeration. For a new under 1k, ? the Eastern Electric Mini Max , I used to own..(Tubes)