Which Counterpoint Preamp SA-5000 or SA- 5.1???

I have a friend with both of the Counterpoint preamps and he says for me to pick the one I want and he will keep the other. So Counterpoint owners, which one should I pick and why?

Thanks and Happy Listening.
For what it is worth, the 5000 replaced the 5.1.
I know the 5.1 was considered a very good preamp in its day.
I will point out that the relibility of the Counterpoint line was its weak point.
I had a 3.1, and it had a few minor problems as well.
Mostly the balance control was problematic.
Good sound though and a decent phono preamp section.

My two cents worth.
Well it's been a while since you posted and you probably have your preamp ....go with the 5k if you plan to ues a low output cartridge, under 1mv. This is what it was built for. The 5k uses video buffers to improve specs...at that time overseas sales was important so specs ruled. In Mikes upgrades he removes the buffers. I beleive there is a buffer defeat but does it really? There is also a ton of switches that the 5.1 doesn't have. Mike removes them too in his upgrades. The 5k also uses 2-6922's in the power supply...this is not what they were designed to do but it does work. Now the 5.1 will only work well with higher output cartridges. I'm using a Benz H2O...2mv or so. Volume usually set between 9 to 12 not more. Low output cartridges don't work here. There is too much tube noise, and I'm using red Amperex 7308 LOW NOISE TUBES! The 5.1 uses a pure tube path without everything that the 5k puts in the way for specs but it does low output extremely well. As for the 5.1 power supply, it is of a purer tube path again. Just take a look at the tube selection. Compare. Take a look also at the tube selection in the SA9. See a resemblance. Mike now offers a upgrade called the SA9 jr. Guess what, it's from a 5.1. The 5k is nice and big and a new type of look...the 5.1 thin, older but alot cheaper! I've had both in my all Counterpoint system...they are very close IMHO. Depends now on the cartridge you want to use and your ego. Hope this helps Kurt. Harvey B.
Hey Kurt...have you got your preamp yet?
It sounds like you know the product very well Harvey. I can only add that I've been a fan of the Counterpoint pre's (as well as the company in general). A friend had a 5.1 which he loved, and subsequently turned me on to the lineage starting with the SA1000 about 15+ years or so ago. I moved up to the SA3000 and eventually graduated to the 5000... all were completely reliable and always problem free. Each was a noticeable improvement over the previous and brought countless hours of musical enjoyment. Whatever the reputation of the brand evolved into, I can attest to its very good sound AND reliability. I've dealt with Mike (Elliot) a few times as I still use the Counterpoint DA-10 and DA-11 processor and transport (coming up on 10 years for them, trouble free) and he's been a straight shooter with me. Had an SA-100 for awhile too which I also liked and turned my friend on to it as well as an SA-3000 which he's been enjoying together for several years.I have since moved on to other pre and power but personally, knowing Mike is there, would be enough for me to consider anything in the product line if I was ever in that position again. Good luck. Happy lissnin.
I bought a new 7.1 pre in 1988 and have always had the balance control reliability issue. However, I still think it is a sweet, very musical preamp. simple clean lines, great phono stage (for the price). As a matter of fact, I just retubed it with a pair of Tungsol 12AX7's and Amperex Bugle Boy 6DJ8's. I don't use it much, but when I do, I am still impressed with it's musicality. Now - if I could get my hands on an SA 9 phono stage....
i would suggest running as far as you can from counterpoint.
their reliablity track record isnt the greatest ( all the dealers in san diego stopped carrying them and still dont carry the new line to this day.

hope that helps,

There are those who would disagree. reliability issues aside, Mike Elliott made some of the best sounding phono stages in his 3, 5, and 7 series preamps in the mid 80s. There are a lot of Counterpoint amps, both SS and hybrid still running in a lot of systems to this day, with very satisfied owners, including the stock versions, and Mike's mods done by Altavista. His new line is Aria, and if I'm not mistaken, it is only sold direct via the Internet. Someone correct me if I am wrong. As for dealers dropping the Counterpoint line, they had no choice when the company went bankrupt. Mike Elliott is a great audio man, but at that time, he may not have been as good a business man as an audio man. Altavista is Mike's Counterpoint Mod/repair line and Aria is the name of his new product line. I have no connection to Mike Elliott, either personally or professionally. His 7.1 preamp that I purchased new was an eye opening beginning to the high(er) end of audio. JMHO.
Just to add comment on this. I have always loved Counterpoint sound. I started with SA 3 some 20 years ago. Never, Never had reliability problems.

I have been using Mike upgrades for a while and they are nothing short of spectacular! I have upgraded SA 5000 and it beats pants off of CAT Sig II, Herron and BAT 5i that I also own. Better imaging, overall tonal balance, quiet etc. I listen to Classical and Jazz only. Rock listeners may not have same reaction. Mike is responsive and stands behind his work. It is actually a good thing for us audiophiles that Mike is away from the restrictions of manufacturing Counterpoint and is able to offer a truely unique and valuable service.
I have a 5.1. Go to the Counterpoint site, altavistaaudio.com, and read up on both preamps. The 5.1 appears to be generally regarded as better. They are relatively inexpensive, but in time you will likely have to ship it to Michael Elliott for repairs. My advice- when you experience your first breakdown, save up and get the unit upgraded. Reliability issues are not an issue with the upgrades.
My SA-5000A is a fabulous sounding preamp, never any problems. Mike is an honest guy and totally backs his work.
So far we own 5 SA5000s among our audiophile friends and all of them are trouble free and noise free. I do agree that it is a lot more complicated than SA 5.1. We prefer SA5000 over 5.1.
Right on S23chang, power to the Counterpoints, keep-em playing !
I am glad to see other 'Pointheads sticking up for great products! While my lowly 7.1 does not see much action any more, I still love it and will not part with it.
I have been using a sa1000 and sa20 combo now for 3 yrs after sending them to Mike for the basic upgrades.Prior to these,I had a sa 3000 and sa12,both stock,bought in 1988.I never had any problems,plus Mike is so prompt and professional when it comes to advice and service.So I recommend either product,though I have not heard those 2.Hope this helps,good luck in your venture,Bob
Just had to chime in on the "reliability" issue with Counterpoints. I currently own a SA220/NP220 amp modified by Mike Elliott) and it is a tank...no problems whatsoever, and extremely satisfying musically. I also have a SA100. I have in the past owned SA12 amp and a SA5000 preamp. NEVER had any problems with any of them.

I believe that some Counterpoint products got a reputation based on (1) the MOSFETs used in the outputs of the SA12, SA100, SA20 and SA220 were susceptible to blowing if you shorted the speaker wires, and (2) the subcontractor who built the power supply for the Magnus Opus One preamp screwed up and had 100% failure in the field.

However, don't let the generalizations and reputation stop you from trying Counterpoints. The upgrades are extremely reliable AND extremely good. Just check out the Alta Vista Web site,then give Mike Elliott a call if you have questions. He is quite accesible and will give you the straight scoop.