New Schiit Freya or used Conrad Johnson PV-10AL/BL, or?

Looking to buy a line stage tube preamp with an $800 budget. Considering the options. I can use this preamp with either a Vincent SP-331 or McIntosh MC2200, whichever is a better match.
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I really like the PV-10, as a fun, musical preamp but it is also a little noisy. :)

If I had one again I would mod it and reduce the overall gain significantly.


Does re-sale matter to you? If you buy the  Conrad Johnson PV-10AL/BL used you can re-sell it for close to what you paid for. If you buy the Schiit Freya new and find it doesn't mesh well with your system your re-sale price most likely will be at a loss.

A little more analysing here to find the best of what to choose from, instead of just plucking from the air.

If you look at the input sensitivities of both Vincent SP-331 or McIntosh MC2200, they need very little to drive them to full output, only 1.2v at (47kohm) for the Vincent and only .75v at (50kohm) for the Mac.

The Schiit Freya will be the best, a very good match for these in all modes, (passive, tube or S/S) as it have very little gain, which is a perfect match for these amps
The Conrad has way too much gain, and as a result the volume control will be very loud even down low in the range.

Cheers George

George is spot on on his analysis,your best choice for under 1k is the Freya.Can be used in passive or tube gain mode and definitely sound better than the cj or Mac.

I had a Freya but didn't really like it and sent it back for a refund during the trial period.I'm a very picky and fussy audiophile,Might work great for you.

At your price point I can't think of any other than a Freya,Your always taking a chance with the older gear.

Best of luck to you,

I also like George's analysis.  You may need to change the tubes on the Freya,  but I hear its quite nice.... as George mentioned about gain. On the Freya, be prepared that each stage,  Passive,  SS and Tubed will all have a different amount of gain. It can throw you off a bit.  Tim 
Thanks for everyone's input particularly George for taking the time for looking up the specs of my amps. The (unusually) high gain in most if not all of CJ preamps is a valid concern. The MC2200 does allow to toggle the input sensitivity between 0.75v and 2.5v which might work with the CJ pre but I'd rather keep my options more open. That Quicksilver pre also looks real good.
I have the Freya and it is very nice.I haven't heard the CJ but I did look at them when I was searching.The Freya also has 2 outputs which work well for me.One set goes to 2 Emotiva XPA100 Monoblocks and the other set goes to a Primaluna Prologue 5 .I rarely use the passive,it is either the Jfet or the Tube output.The Freya is made in America as well.Plus ,I kinda like their Schtiik and I can say I have some good Schiit man.
With the Freya you are getting a brand spanking new preamp Plus,the tubes are plentiful and mostly affordable.
You should also consider the Mapletree Line 2, you cannot do better at the $800 price point.  It can also be customized for inputs, outputs, gain, whatever you want. Hard to find used and they sell quick but new ones do look nicer. 
also looked at those ,super nice and I got a reasonable quote from Lloyd with HT Bypass but I ended up with the Freya as they had one ready to ship.The money was burning a hole in my pocket!
Line 2CHT  was the one I got quoted a little more than the standard because of the HT bypass.The specs are:

includes the PS 2C power supply, tubes, line cord, and power interconnect cable. The Line 2CHT will have 3 line inputs, with Input 3 being your HT channels. The selector switch position next to Input 3 is labelled HT and it bypasses the Input 3 signal directly to the output jacks, of which there are two pair. You can power off the PS 2C when in HT mode. There is not a "REC" output on the HT model.

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I do wish it had a remote power  on/off.The remote It does volume & input selection.The Freya is in the Harmony Database which is nice.I also wish there was a way to turn the Tube section off when not used.They will eventually make some "Solid State Tubes" for this i read somewhere.They call the ones they make LISST Tubes (linear, integrated solid-state tube) .6BZ7 currently is the tube this will swap out THEIR stuff.
If you wouldn't mind me tagging your post, I too would like some input on choosing a preamp for my Levinson no. 334. I currently have an aged Classe' cp60. I was considering the Schiit Freya or a used Ayre k5xemp. My source is an Ayre cx-7emp.

You should have been more patient. I have had 14 tube preamps thus far. Most of them are well regarded like Quicksilver, Belles, Cary, Rogue, etc. The Mapletree is easily in the top 5 of the bunch.
Maybe I need to try the Freya, a lot of chatter about them these days. 

Lol,I do get impatient once I've decided to get something.I really did like the dual output feature of the Freya when I was pondering my purchase.That kinda helped swing the decision and ,at the time,there weren't any used Mapletrees I could find.I really don't mind buying used at all.The Primaluna Prologue 5 was used but like new.
Rotarius that’s a nice line up of Pre’s.Which one did you like the best,or what stood out about each of them

If you doubled your budget,you might want to look at the Linear tube audio MZ2s.Lot's of good reviews either professional or users on this one.I have one on order but won't get it for 2 weeks,the only drawback is the remote only controls volume but if it sounds as good as what I'm reading I can live with that.


Thanks again for all the great input. Its very helpful. The Mapletree piece looks like a really great option - thanks for the suggestion, but . I’d consider that over a Freya assuming that the build/wait time is not outrageously long.

axememan, the Mapletree L2C does appear to have two outputs. Did you mean Freya allows you to select the output and L2C doesn't?

Axememan, the stand out ones for me were Belles 20A and the Cary/AES units I have owned along with the Mapletree.  Those would be SLP-88, AES AE-3 DJH and a modded AE-3.  I did not like SLP-308 or the AE-3 MkII as much as the others.  In stock form the AE-3 DJH is a giant killer with the right 6sn7s.  
The ones I did not like at all were Audible Illusions 2D, AVA T8 and a Chinese one, Antique Sound lab or something like that. The rest were fine, probably just a system match thing.   
You are correct on the Mapletree 2 outputs.No,the freya does not ,they are both live at all times.
PS: to those thinking about the $699 Freya. That don’t need balanced.

There’s also the Schiit Saga at half the price $349!!!, single ended (no balanced), 5x inputs, 2 x outputs, active tube or passive outputs (no s/s) output. It still has a remote control, and again relay controlled 64 positions volume control 1db increments, which is plenty I use 48 with no problems.

Cheers George
I don't need balanced but wasn't sure if Saga was in the same league (as Freya) sound quality wise. Anyone with experience?
Beside being single ended only, same passive, same relay controlled volume control, except 64 position instead of 128.
Tube buffer is bit different, unity gain, output impedance 180ohms  on the Saga, and 5 gain, 210ohm output impedance on the Freya.

Cheers George
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stfoth, thanks for the great review, appreciate it. I'm thinking the main reason for my interest in getting a tube preamp is to experience this so called "tubey" sound that everyone talks about. At the end, I might not like it as much - which I doubt, but just feel the need to experience it.  Great word by the way: tubelicious!
Is there anything cheaper than Freya in terms of preamp with no DAC? Just for volume control and remote.
Mapletree Line 2  - I looked at these because everyone says hey have excellent sound.  I do believe that.  However, if I am going to drop $800.00  I do not want control knobs that are from the 1940's.  I have seen antique radios with these same style of knobs.   I know, you cannot judge a book from it's cover.  My opinion only, I think they are ugly looking.  They look like they were made in someones garage.  I just cannot get past that.  The Freya if even a close competitor is very nice looking and the route I will go unless something else strikes me before I buy.  The Freya has a remote too. 
If you use balanced and single ended for different sources , be careful . I bought the Freya , it produced a loud hum through my speakers . I couldn't have both single ended and balanced plugged in at the same time . had to return it . 
@maplegrovemusic  that sounds like a serious issue..   Had you verified with Schiit  to be sure it wasn't something else?   Anyone else experience this?   Assume you mean can't use balanced and rca  at the input at the same time.    What good would the option be really if that is happening.   I am considering going for one but this not boding well in terms of their design topology .  
@skiroe  I ran the Freya this way : Sonyhaz1es - balanced into freya for music listening . Oppo 203 - rca input into Freya for tv/movies. There was a loud hum that stayed consistently loud when both inputs were connected , but only using one at a time . Once I took out either the balanced or RCA input connection the hum would be gone . I used a balanced out from the Freya to my amplifier . 
@maplegrovemusic didnt catch this when you posted. I havnt sprung for the Freya plus as of yet. I had a Modwright LS100 in here and to me quite a revealing change for the better in sonics compared to my Line 1..  While I did not A/B it certainly appeared to sound that way just from memory.  

Quite pleased. Although,, not really caring for the huge size of the unit--would need to move the feet on the bottom in order to fit in the rack and then a bit cramped. Volume control not the best..

The overall challenge was could I replace my Sonic Frontiers Line 1 full featured preamp (recent upgrade to its volume operation and fresh caps in critical area) with one of the best remotes in the biz with the LS100.. Apparently I did not think so and sold it.

But more to the point--have you found out what the issue was with the hum in your Freya? Ground loop comes to mind.

BTW--what had impressed me with the LS100 which was my first foray into 6sn7 based preamp which to me proved to be a huge benefit sonically than the many pre’s I have had using typical 6922 or 12ax7 or 12au7 .

6sn7 being a motivator to try the Freya + .

The other potential is Icon Audio LA4 mkiii of which there is SCANT info .. 6sn7 based with tube rectifier and tape monitor although no balanced in/output and a Alps (?) motorized volume control. Likely not quite the sound quality as stepped per Freya + although I have read of a few complaints in that regard for Freya’s new implementation on volume control and not quite getting what the poster was getting at.
FWIW, the Freya Plus punches way above its $900 price point. It has been compared by users to much more expensive units. Unfortunately, IMO it requires more than the 15 day return period of normal use to fully break in its circuit and tubes. Perhaps the break-in period can be shortened by running it 24/7. I use both single ended and balanced inputs and and both single ended (to a subwoofer) and balanced outputs and have not experienced any of the problems written of by others here. I am quite happy with the broken in sound even with the original JJ tubes, but look forward to getting some NOS. There are plenty of recommendations for 6SN7 tube rolling for this pre around the ’net, including some at very reasonable prices. The Freya+ user interface, though, is not the best.

I found this thread very useful. I am hoping to get some advice for my stereo setup. I have two -

  1. Amazon Echo as music source (using Plex) and ELAC Uni-fi UB5 speakers for my bedroom
  2. Amazon Echo and a Sony CD Player (CDP-CE500) as music source (using Plex) and ELAC Uni-fi 2.0 UB52 speakers for my living room

I will like to add tube pre-amps for one or both of the above. I have a choice of NAD 2400, NAD 2600, B&K ST 1400 series ll as power amps. I am considering following pre amps -

  1. Conrad Johnson PV10-AL (can get it used for $600)
  2. Freya Plus (can get it used for $800)
  3. Sound Valves SV-100 JFET preamp (can get it used for $200)
  4. Open to other suggestions for new or used tube preamps

I am hoping to get two pre-amps for a total of under $1200. I am hoping to get some advice on which pre-amps might work for my situation. Thanks in advance.

@deltaa2333  This is an old dormant thread.

To get more exposure to your question(s), it is best to start a new separate thread