Cary 2002 SLP 98, CJ's, Juicy Music,
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Thanks all,I like the recommendations for Audio Research.
I have considered these as a possiblility myself.
I like the build quality and looks of Audio Research products.I've never heard one though.
I wish I could afford the SP-11 but it's too far out of my reach.
The SP-9 II is more in line with my budget.
Can anyone comment on the sound quality/performance of the SP-9 II ?
Thorman,thank you for the kind offer.
Yah! I had them both.Two different worlds.My spin on them is the 9mk2 is dry and analytical and my taste told me to get something more "earthy" sounding. At that point I purchased the sp11 and kept it for many years. If you like the sound of tubes,you may be unhappy with the Hybrid sp9mk2.
How about the Audible Ilussiion tube preamp? Should be in your price range...Or maybe a older Conrad Johnson preamp... Hope all this helps. It really depends on what type of sound you like. This really will direct you in the right direction!
Alex was right, though now the Innersound iPre, and Coda 05r, essentually the same circuit, with about $40.00 in upgraded parts is a better bet. The T-2 is a great pre to be sure, but it is getting a little old. The Coda's can be had used for far less than they are worth, and with some better diodes and caps, well this is what a fellow told me about it;
"Butter makes the bread taste better. Such is the case
with the Innersound Pre i and music.
I really wasn't expecting or even really hoping that
this jewel would make as big a difference. I thought
that the cdp or the speakers or the cabling would
dilute any improvements that the Pre i would make. I
must say I wuz wrong! More detailed in a very delicate
way, more integrated sound, eerily black background. I
thought in my small town mind that I already had
that!! Them there shiny silver discs have a bunch more
information after all!
They say a first impression is a lasting one......
Emjoy the Music.Coda"
Mind you, he is talking about a Coda with some Black Gate caps, some RTX Multicaps, and some Stealth diodes in it. Stock they are interesting sounding to be sure, but they just do not sing. OTOH, Coda does mods at a VERY reasonable cost, and covers them should they ever fail. I think there was an InnerSound Pre i for about $1200 on Audiogon recently, it may even still be for sale. A real steal.
The 05r uses Jfets for the input, and these are the best sounding devices there are for low level inputs. They follow up with an all FET based circuit, and FET's operate much like tubes, but do not have the draw backs. They do demand good clean DC to sound like they ought, but that is where the $40.00 in parts comes into play. I am going to be doing an all out assult on one for a friend, about $95.00 for parts in that one, if it turns out, I am sure Coda would love to do the same for you, though with labor and shipping it will be a little more than $95. I'll be shocked if it does better what the $40.00 mod sounds like now, but I have been shocked before! One more thing to think about is that Black Gate caps will soon be history, and there is no other electrolytic cap that comes close to them in sound, so it's nearly a now or never deal. Audio Note uses them in all their thousands of dollar gear because they are THAT good...
A Threshold FET1, about 20 year old would be worth considering. Priced at around 2000$ when new, they usually go for up to 500-600$ and there is an auction on eBay right now for a nice MkII unit from Australia (at least judging by the pics). I own one that I bought 3 months ago for 220$ and I am delighted by the sound, includes an truly excellent adjustable phono stage (MM&MC). Add to that the fact it is a Nelson Pass design beautifully put together like some instrument-grade lab hardware, what more could you want? A remote control...
This was a rather cold and clinical sounding class A/B amp to my ears. And I sold them.
I would pair it with something very lush and warm. CJ Premier 3 or later, Eletrocompaniet, Meitner, Audible Illusions, MFA Magus (very good for the money). Pre '90's preamps would compliment the amp well. No need to spend a fortune.
The SP11 would be a little too towards the neutral for my taste.
How about the Threshold FET 10HL? I see them come up on Audiogon from time to time at around $800. Introduced in 1989, it is a contemporay match for the S/300. It originally retailed for over $3000 for the high level stage alone. Given proper warmup time, it is very neutral and quite dynamic with a very spacious soundstage.