Which preamp for Symphonic Line Kraft amps?

Hi All;

I'm in the process of receiving a pair of Symphonic Line Kraft amps to power a pair of Dali Megalines (using a tube crossover). I'm currently using a Dodd battery powered preamp and am thinking about upgrading to either a Symphonic Line solid state amp (RG3 mk4) or the new CAT Renaissance (replaces the SL1 Ultimate mk 2?).

I'm guessing the best way to find out would be to use my ears if I can audition both units in my system, but these aren't items I can drive down the street to pick up...

Any thoughts would be appreciated though, especially regarding the SL preamps...
why not another symphonic line? but perhaps I will by one tube preamp , one that was a little more warmer than one ARC REF 3, Emotive audio, Aesthetix, Viva, Wavac, Kondo...
Try calling Klaus at http://www.odysseyaudio.com/, he is the Symphonic line importer and a great guy.
Yes, I've spoken with Klaus - he said the SL solid state and tube preamps have a similar sound, but that if you are partial to tubes that the Erleuchtung is a perfect mate with the Kraft amps.
Would stick with either symphonic line rg3--ss or tube ---the CAT is also a great choice and I believe mates quite well
you lucky so & so - a PAIR of Kraft amps! That should be -s-w-e-e-t-!!
Are you anywhere close to NC that I can drop in sometime to listen to (what seems an excellent) your setup??

which exact preamp really depends on your sonic taste. I've used the CAT preamp with great success.
A good friend of mine has tried out both the Erleuchtung & the RG3 MK4 (which he owns now). The Erleuchtung "lights" up the soundstage like only a tube preamp can. It is a bit light on the bass compared to the RG3 Mk4. Additionally, the Erleuchtung has a lot of tubes inside - each of the 5 inputs has a tube buffer, then 4 tubes for the line stage, 4 for the built-in phono stage. So, that adds up to 13 & I'm missing 1 tube somewhere - so total 14 tubes!
Both the RG3 & Erleuchtung mate very well to the Kraft amp - the RG3 has better (balls to the wall) bass.

I am in Houston should you ever make your way down to this part of the country...

I need 4 identical channels of amplification for the Dalis, so I needed 2 of the stereo Kraft amps. I'm guessing that I can't really go wrong with either a CAT or a Symphonic Line preamp, but I haven't really seen much on the web about the latter. I'd like to use a solid state amp and get away from tubes (it can get very expensive to use NOS tubes), but I'm not sure how much of a penalty would be paid to go to the RG3 mk4 vs using one of the tubed units.
Thanks for the prompt reply.
I will certainly keep you in mind if I make it to Houston. My Dad's school friend lives there & teaches Pharmacology at Univ of Houston. And, I have another friend in Katie.

Indeed, you cannot go wrong with either a CAT or S-L preamp. If you get the CAT, as you well know, the tubes come from Ken S after they get thoroughly screened. They are current production & cost a modest amount. Ken does not believe in NOS tubes, as you know.
In the Erleuchtung you could use NOS tubes but I supposed well screeened current production tubes from a reputed dealer will be easier on the pocket-book.
The RG3 is supposedly very good sounding & I'm told should end your quest for a preamp.
The sonics of tubed vs. s.s. is a perennial & endless debate!! Hard to say what you would lose - everyone listens differently.

The Kraft amp has a 10K input impedance and a high sensitivity. In my experience (very limited), you need a preamp with a very low output impedance, moderate gain (12 db or so), and dead silent. I have a Kraft amp and RG3 MK4 preamp. I did own a ARC REF3 for a while but found it lacking in bass, dynamics and it had a low level hiss that was distracting at night. In the end I gave up and resigned myself to trying the SL preamps. I have tested both the tube SL preamp and now the RG3 MK4. Both do the job. I have also heard of many state side Kraft owners having excellent results with CAT preamps. I decided not to pursue this because the CAT can have too much gain and then you hit the noise problem.

Good luck in your search.


Thanks for the input - I have a tubed crossover that I'm using between the preamp and amp. I just looked at the specs and the output impedences are 600 ohms on the high pass and 180 ohms on the low pass. Hopefully that leaves me safe (over 15X on the high pass)... The new CAT Renaissance has switchable gain (I believe, I want to say between 15 and 26) and a 100 ohm output impedence.


600 Ohms may be too high. 100 Ohms is more like it. Remember the SL tube preamp has 100 Ohm ouptut impedance and the SL RG4 RG3 preamp has a 1 Ohm (not a typo) output impedance. If you had the opportunity to try the CAT, that would be ideal. Make sure the stepped attenuator does not provide too much gain and not enough resolution on the low end of the scale. Very few tubed preamps have low output impedance. In your case, it may not matter because the preamp drives the crossover. The crossover is responsible for driving the amp and that should be tested before purchase.

Thanks again for the observations - you're right that since the crossover is what's driving the amps that's what counts. I also have the stock solid state crossovers that come with the speakers and they have an output impedence of 50 ohms. I have to say that I much prefer the tube crossover - its input impedence is 60k, and the stock Dali crossover is 20k).
In years past I owned an RG-1, an RG-7 and the RG-4 monos. I tried a few different preamps with each of them but in the end CAT preamps always produced the best sound. The RG-1 was mated to a Sig. 1 and the RG-4s were mated to an Ultimate. Truly wonderful sound.
I now use the SL Kraft 250 and the SL tubed pre. I previously owned a CAT Ult MK2. I have also heard the SL SS pre with the Kraft. Bombaywalla and Jay are both right.
The SS SL with a 1 ohm output produces deeper tighter bass than the tubed SL or the CAT. The tubed SL does other things somewhat better than the SS SL. It is a matter of taste but I would choose either over the CAT. You may end up going back to the SS crossover to drive the amp correctly and may want the things tubes bring from the preamp.


Thanks for your reply - I was hoping I might hear from you as I'd seen a couple of your posts on Audio Asylum about auditioning the SL SS preamp and then purchasing their tubed unit.

Once I get the Kraft amps I'll have to see what happens using both the tubed and stock crossovers and then make my decision about going solid state or tubes when I upgrade my preamp.


Hi guys allot of good info. in this thread,

I have never heard Kraft product, when I look at pics on the site and the little bit of info. regarding the product I'm a bit confused with; the finish and actual product line it's self.

First off the finish, I see on the site a pic of a pretty industrial pro looking finish, then I see some pics of a darker chrome shiny look (which I like) and then a mat aluminum look as per the 300 for sale right now, what is the actual finish.

Secondly, are all the amps a class "A" design ....

Do the amps run warm, hot .....

The pre-amps offered are tube and solid state .....

Looking at my past set-ups I seem to favour a tube pre and solid state amps.

Jdineshk I read you actually use to have a REF3 which I currently own, what's the rest of your set-up.

This set-up is for CD playback only.

Connections are they XLR or RCA and the preference is .....

Right now I have all XLR, Stealth latest version Indra's and very happy.

My speakers are MBL 101E's, what would you recommend, I need mono's due to my set-up configuration and the space is fairly large. I had bought a pair of CAT JL3 Sig. MK2's but do to reliability issues etc. which I was not privy to prior declined to have to deal with this and sold them, while talking with Ken he mentioned the only other amp he would recomend if not CAT would be Kraft product.

Right now I'm learning more about Karan product and specifically the 1200's and look foward to hearing in my set-up in the near future.

There is a guy from Philly that has auditioned a Karan amp
(and preamp I think) in his system. He uses Ascendo speakers (M?) and a CAT JL2. He was very unimpressed with the Karan gear. His agon moniker is ubbyglubby (Bob). Let us know what you think of the Karan gear when you hear it.


My system is for CD playback only. I use a Marantz SA-11S2 player. Although the Kraft has a balanced input it is just connected single-ended inside. Hope that makes sense? So, when using the ARC Ref 3, you don't get the benefit of the 12 db of gain in balanced mode. Instead, you get 6db of gain, along with an output impedance that is too high to drive the Kraft amp.

The net of this is the sound lacks weight and hiss was intrusive at low level listening. At least that was my experience.

The ARC Ref 3 is a phenomenal product, but was not a optimal match with the Kraft amp for my ears. I reluctantly sold it.

I have no experience with Karan and cannot comment.

Good luck,


The black finish is call "Aranya", which could be best described as a black chrome finish. The last I heard, SL does not offer this anymore for the Kraft amps due to the cost and difficulty in getting a consistent finish.

The amps are class "A", but probably a sliding bias system.

Driving my B&W 802D it never gets hot, just warm no matter how loud I play it. But, the temperature of the heatsinks would rise considerably if you were driving a tough load like a Apogee.

Hi Jonathan,
How's it going?
I just wanted to find out if you had received your Symphonic Line Kraft 300 amps? I believe that you intended to buy 2 so that you could biamp your Megalines.
Please let us know if you received your amps & what you think of them sonically vs. the previous amps (you never mentioned which amps you were switching from)? Thanks/