The forums can be your friend.
Its a shame that the internet can be a useful tool for such things as this, but instead people want answers now with out doing research.
I wish I could guide you, but truth be told, what I or anyone else likes ,isn't necessarily going to be what you like. Your options are virtual auditions reading as many reviews as you can, Or listening to one trusted friend or knowledgble person Best of all listening for yourself.
It is tough when polling people. I found one person's opinion about a warm sound was very analytical and crisp to me. Go figure, the best way is to listen for yourself with your own gear in your room. That means buying and selling until you hit the right one for you. This can be very expensive and frustrating.
I ran into my favorite because I wanted a pre amp that used 6SN7s. It was cheap~ $350 and very responsive to tube rolling. That turned out to be near perfect for my needs and preferences. So you know, it was a used AES-AE3 made by Cary and still available from Upscale Audio but new and jazzed up a lot, making it $1200 min. I hope to buy an SLP-05 or whatever comes out using 6SN7s from Cary in the furure.
It was pure luck maybe that will happen to you. I spent a lot of money along the way, so it wasn't as cheap as it seems plus the tubes I use are really good and also expensive.
With all my due respect to great work Dan Wright does - these two line stages are in two different classes.
This is (very biased) opinion of the owner of LA-300 Platinum and I auditioned many, many preamps and even owned REX by BAT (also great preamp but with different sonic signature). Jud Barber equipment "forces" me into the music as no other pre- or power amp I know (well, except LA-450 ME which I cannot afford at the moment...)
All The Best in Your Search
Dob- OP is asking for comparison btwn LS100 and LA-150. The Joule LA-300 is in a different league price and quality wise. It would only be fair to compare it to the Dan Wright's more expensive (LS 36.5??) two piece unit. I've owned both the LS 100 and either the LA-100 or 150 (not at the same time). I'd say that the Modwright is a value leader that is very neutral and perhaps closer to a ss sound. The Joule tended to be a bit slower, fuller, more tubey sound and was good at conveying emotional impact. If I wanted to add a tube sound to a system w ss power amp I'd probably pick a Joule product. If I had a tube amp and wanted to stay w tubes while maintaining speed and neutrality (whatever that means) I'd go w the Modwright. but you need to compare statement or near statement pieces to each other, not basic to statement. My $0.02, YMMV.
"I'd say that the Modwright is a value leader "
FYI, I have listen to all J-E preamp I could find, starting from LA-75... and LA-150SE of course.
The sound of LA-150SE is very, very close to that of LA-300ME. The biggest difference is that LA-300ME has different (better?) power supply.
Sonic difference between LA-300ME and LA-300 Platinum is much wider then that between "150SE" and "300ME".
That's my biased opinion.
Ooops, "slow", you mentioned. I used Still Points ULTRA-5 vibration control under my preamp (and before that ULTRA SS and before that ultracheap Yeil). No, not slooooow, not in slightest, so sorrrry. Lightingly fast I would say. Also, I use interconnects and power cord which also effect sound, I been told....
I respect you methods of matching equipment you described in your post but I have my own. I buy ONLY equipment which, IMO (biased of course) has "musical soul" in it. I am grown-up and can improve bass, speed, imaging, this and that (e.g. all kind of accessories exist to choose, different capacitors, resistors etc) One think I can do nothing about: substutute designer and give "soul" to this equipment
All The Best
Dob- My opinion of the Joule pre could have been prejudiced because I was using it w the Joule 80w stereo amp in comparison w Atma-Sphere M-60s and I also should have mentioned that it was not the 150 but rather the 100. Also it was just a matter of degree, not a day and night difference at all. Several years have passed as well.
And I would also add that the one time I heard the 300ME, I liked it very much. But not as much as the new flagship (450 maybe?)
Just what is the Platinum version of the LA-300? This is not listed on the Joule website.
RE: Platinum Upgrade - I received this description recently from Joule-Electra
"Platinum Upgrade for LA-150SE, LA-300ME & LA-450ME
Joule-Electra is proud to introduce the Platinum Upgrade for LA-150SE, LA-300ME & LA-450ME preamplifiers. This upgrade consist of the upgrade to the power supplies as well as to the signal path circuitry.
One part, mainly, is the installation of Bybees Music Rails (see - www.bybeelabs.com) to the high voltage power supplies of the preamplifier. A Bybee Music Rail is a highly efficient polishing filter that reduces power supply noise throughout the audible spectrum and up to about 100 KHz by the extraordinary 45 dB. (i.e. approximately 200 times !!!)
The second part of this upgrade consist of .the installation of new VH Audio Copper Teflon capacitors (CuTF). Per request of VH Audio, we did extensive evaluation of these capacitors (see - http://v-cap.com/simon-thatcher.php) and found them to be superb in Joule-Electra preamplifier in selected positions. Specifically the treble is substantially extended and much more silkier and bass even deeper and tighter. The images became more three- dimensional and sound stage enlarged.
One of the beta testers reported:
. My system was cold, after 7 days of power turned off - conclusion is: Right from the first note [ upgrades] are phenomenal!!!! So MOREEEEEEEEE details, so much more VIVID sound, so much more presence, you can see actually full 3D size of instruments. For the first time I did not want to analyze sound - I just closed my eyes and enjoyed..... This is HUGE upgrade - I can not recall such improvement with any component change in the past ( except maybe going from digital to analog). I did listen only digital which sounded believe or not , almost good as my analog! Enough said!
Another commented that
the imaging became substantially more three- dimensional and level of minute detail increased dramatically, almost spooky
. In terms of definition, I have been astonished by the improvement on acoustic guitar : now I can hear the mediator's contact with chords and metalic resonance of the chords has became more obvious.
LA-150SE - $999
LA-300ME - $999
LA-450ME - $1,995
Platinum Upgrade takes about three weeks.
To reserve a time slot, please call us MONDAY-SATURDAY between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time at (803) 589-9161 or e-mail at info@Joule-Electra.com
PLATINUM UPGRADE: I was one of the beta-testers. Its game changer. Its so strange to be honest. I have "300ME" and I think its the best preamp in the world. period. cannnot be possible improved. BAM ! I hear 450ME and I want to faint because I cannot afford it
BAM! Platinum Upgarde - I can (I CAN, YES, I CAN !!!) afford it and it brings my preamp on the level of LA-450ME. I faint again, still cannot recover...
What a gorgeous hobby we are involved ! What are lucky people, we all are !!!!!
Dob: Did you have a chance to compare the standard LA-150 MKII SE with its Platinum version?
" Did you have a chance to compare the standard LA-150 MKII SE with its Platinum version?"
No...but why its effect would be any different (qualitively) then that in LA-300ME ? I would suspect that the same upgarde in less expensive unit will make proportionally greater effect...but its speculations, really.
I was an other of the beta tester (I think we were 2 a the beginning), located in France, and I had a LA 150 SE, which has been upgraded in the same way. Joule Electra kindly proposed me to test this upgrade and so I sent back to US my LA 150 SE without hesitation.
I must say that even if the CuTf caps need quite a long time to sound at their full potential, when I first switched on the unit the effect was immediate, spectacular and surprising ! The first CD I put in the Ayon CD5 was Niels Lofgren acoustic live "Keith don't go", and it was just prodigious..
The main audible effect was on the treble extension and definition, and their increased strengh. A multitude of small details became obvious without searching for them, giving the whole presentation a more tridimensional, dynamic and deep soundstage. Typically I use the LA 150 SE with Cary CAD 211 AE 845's monoblocs + Ayon CD5, and before the upgrade I used to plug super tweeters to increase high frequencies contribution (just to boost up the Cary's). After the upgrade no more need for the supertweeters :-)
Concerning low frequencies, I didn't noticed anything special, but I think something has improved also because the overall balance between high and low has remain homogeneous despite the improved high frequencies.
This is something important in this upgrade : the overall sound remain well balanced through all the spectrum.
The cost of the upgade is quite cheap compare to the improvement and I would like to insist on the kindness of Simon (my contact) and the professionnal work of Joule Electra.
The LA 150 SE upgraded is still in the center of my system.
I agree with you the CuTF capactitors take months to break-in but...what a paradise you live in. Indeed, compared to its benefit the upgarde is CHEAP, BLOODY CHEAP !!!!
One correction only: the name of your preamp is LA-150 Platinum !!! not "SE" anymore. Request from Jud or Simon the official certificate
Have you try both impedances on the LA 150 ? For me seems the lower impedance is better in terms of dynamics. Maybe this comes from the association with my power amps.
I think I'll upgrade the capacitors of my Carys with these caps if possible :-)
Great thread. wish my la100 could be upgraded....
In my system, the use of the buffer stage substantially improved the sound stage, palpability, detail and overall musicality.
Kbuzz - your LA-100 can also be upgarded but not by J-E.
You can find good modifier and he can do a number of things - particualrly with signal path capacitors, and power supply, filter capacitors
Dob. Thank you for your reply. given the unique joule sound, which i love and dont want to skew, i have never thought of having that piece modded. figured if i wanted to upgrade with a newer joule id just sell this one and try and find another used.
so on that note, do you know anyone who has modded this pre? And if so any details would be appreciated.
You can contact:
Bob_Backert RHB Sound Dezign
152 Windsor Drive Churchville, PA 18966
Bob knows Joule-Electra for "a" to "z" and can be trusted
He has his own power supply but I did not auditioned it and thus unable to recommend