Good place to ask!. http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=54
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Hey Finity ;-) First, I must disagree with the Mac preamp recommendations. It's a fine sounding combo, don't get me wrong, but it's important to know (if you don't) that the sonic signature/character of a system is (at least) 80% the result of the amp + speaker. If you like the sound of a fine tube amp (I also have an MC275) the first thing I think you should do is obtain better tubes (than the stock ones) and do a little "rolling" to find out what you like best with your speakers. Once you've got that dialed in as good as you can, you should try a really fine balanced output tube preamp (minimum C500 if you want to stay in the Mac lineup, but you can get better for less money ;-) or a really fine ss preamp (again, you can do much better than Mac for the same or less money.)
I have found that a really quiet (and OK, and moderately expensive) ss preamp combined with an excellent tube amp yields the best performance combination of ambiance, image accuracy, detail and S/N ratio. I also caution that you CANNOT 'have your cake and eat it' by pairing a tube preamp with a ss amp - the ss amp sound will prevail -- as I explained in my remark about the amp + speaker combo; and from what you said in your opening remarks, an 'all-tube' system might require you take insulin ;-)
In line with Nsgarch's comments, I have been finding that I like the counter-intuitive combination of my Spectral DMC6 pre-amp with my Mac MC-40's. The MC-40's have upgraded caps and NOS tubes and sound very good, but they are plenty "warm" enough and seem to like the very high-def (in another combination perhaps "dry") ss pre. This is in combination with Snell original "E"s.
Neil, you'd never get away with this heresey over on the Karma....LOL ;-)!Which is one reason I've returned to AG where people are truly interested in audio (most of the time) and satisfy their need for social interaction elsewhere, and in person. I've tired of hair salon gossip and ladies quilting bees ;-)
As for ss preamps, I'm keeping my Levinson 26s and 25s(phono) but Klyne and Spectral would both be equally acceptable in my view.
2muse, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that your Spectral DMC6 was so compatible with the Mac 40's. I'd always heard that Spectral equipment didn't like being paired with equipment from other manufacturers, no matter how excellent, so I'm glad to lay that myth to rest! ;-)