personal experiences with quaility preamps...

i'm switching from a receiver to separates system, and need some personal experiences with quaility preamps you had or heard. also, if you have time, please recommand me amps that go with the preamps. thanks a million...


p.s. budget is around 3K altogether.
At $3k, I wouldn't bother with separates and would plump for something like the Plinius 8200. Get a great deal and buy it from NZ at way below the US price.
I agree with Redkiwi, but if you want separates you might consider Sonic Frontiers Pre-1 or Pre-1L, the former with phono, the latter without. I had a Pre-1 and a CAT SL-1 III at the same time, and the Pre-1 stood comparison quite well. Depending on power needs, you can get a Pass Aleph 3 for roughly $1000, and unless you prefer tubes (as I do), it would probably make you happy. Total cost should be under $1600 for a Pre-1 or Pre-1L and an Aleph 3.
The Blue Circle BC21 tube pre, BC22 solid state amp is a great matching combination. List is $3650 ($1500/$2150) but used mint/demo is about $2200 ($950/$1250).
I would get 2.5K nice used power amp and FT-Audio LW1 (passive controller). FT is a raved here and there $500 passive pre, and it it really a bang for a buck. If interested, email Paul there. Ken
i can't help but recommend rogue audio tubed gear, it's what i own and i can say i've been very satisfied these last 7 months. clearly there is stiff competition in the market and better gear, but i think you have to spend considerably more.
my rogue 99 magnum was had for about $1900 and a very well cared for rogue 88 power amp (non magnum) was bought used on audiogon for about $900. sounds like this fits in your budget.
you can always buy non magnum versions and have them magged at the factory. check out for more info, or better yet call mark o'brien. he listens, does not push, and provides great customer support.
btw i think i've recently seen a 99 preamp for about $1300 on this site. you may also consider the m120 monoblocks since you seem to have the budget.
compare against whatever else you can if possible.
hope this helps
I had an anthem Pre 2L for a while. It does a great job with most everything I threw at it. You can pick up a used one for about 650. As far as amps go, anthem makes some nice ones that compliment the pre. Check out their website. Also, I've had pretty good luck with the more expensive Parasound amps.
For $2K, you could have a BAT VK3i tube pre and a McCormack DNA 0.5 dlx ss amp(125 wpc) or BAT/DNA1 (185 wpc) for $2.75K. Very nice combo. Either would leave you with some $ for used cables. A lot depends on what kind of music you listen to and what your present/future plans are for speakers (in terms of the load, current demands, etc.)
I would get a McIntosh amp and pre. I have owned 5 separate systems and then I got a Mcintosh setup and I find it is the best in looks and sound. I am now a Mc man. I tried my C712 pre with amps from other makers and it did not sound as good as with the 3 Mc amps I have used so I would buy them as a pair. There are 50 years worth of used ones so a good deal is not too hard to find (except on recent ones). Arthur
Depending on the power requirements of your speakers and the size of room, your needs are difficult to determine. I will however recommend several systems I have heard which sound very good. The Bryston 4BST and BP25 preamp can be had for under 3K, and is well spent money. They are capable of handling just about any speaker out there. An integrated recommendation is the Rowland Concentra 1. This is a fabulous piece, more refined than the Bryston combination, but with less power and muscle. There is no magic in separates, they can sound good or bad depending on how they are matched to your system. I also would recommend the BAT VK200 and VK3i, VK30, and other BAT preamps. They are also very good and reasonably priced. The best advice I can give you is to find someone who has speakers and a room size similar to you and find out what they have heard and other info. Then you will have better direction. Jallen
lets see


you can pick up a sonic frontiers line 3 for arond 1700 or an ARC LS15. Then a solid state preamp Arc d200 for $1500
great system
For $3000, I would go with the used ARC Classic or the D series for tube amp and used ARC SP8 for pramp. Great gear for the price. For the amp, depends what speakers you have and you can decide on all tube or hybrid amp. Sp 8 is the best overall tube preamp with phono for the money.

I'm going to assume since you're switching from a receiver you might not want to jump right into tubes, but there are some fine recommendations for tube stuff above.

In terms of solid state, you could have one helluva good start with an Adcom GFA-750 preamp(around $1200 new) and a used McCormack DNA-0.5 Rev. A amp(around $1500) and still have some cash left over for decent interconnects. If no 0.5 Rev. As are available(or if you don't want to buy used stuff) you could buy a new McCormack DNA-125 and still be close to your budget. Another amp option would be the Odyssey Stratos that should work well and only set you back $1000 mail order direct(and you can upgrade to monoblocks later if you want).

The McCormack amp should work well with a passive preamp, and if you're open to that route you should definitely check out the Placette passive unit(the one with 3 inputs). Any combination of these amps and preamps will deliver a huge performance boost from a receiver and meet your budget. Best of luck.

Lot's of great ideas here for you Dave. Personally, I like Sugarbrie's suggestion of the Blue Circle separates, because that's what I happen to own. There are some VERY viable combos mentioned here too, such as the VK3i with the McCormack DNA 0.5, and ARC combos. I would also offer up the Rogue 66/88 combo as well.

Redkiwi's idea of getting a good integrated is a great plan as well. The Plinius is an awesome machine. I used to own the Simaudio Moon I-5 and also the Electrocompaniet ECI-3 integrateds, and can vouch for their quality.

Go out and sample as much as you can. Everything depends on your taste in sonic reproduction as well as your accompanying equipment, so listen to as much as you can. But the suggestions listed previous to mine are a great place to start looking. Have fun and happy hunting!
Audible Illusions Modulus 3 (not 3A) with Mullard 6922 tubes(~$700-$800) and Pass Aleph 5 ($1500) (or Aleph 4, if you can stretch to $2800-$3000). With a good speaker match, this will jump you to near state of the art with very little money.
melos ma333r or sha-gold-r preamp: tubed, remote control volume/balance, great sound - able to compete w/the bestout there, imo - $1k-$2k used.

amps: electrocompaniet aw60ftt, aw75dmb, aw100dmb, aw120dmb. killer solid-state amps, not tube-like, but still warm, w/o losing any detail. amazing current cappacity. $800-$2k used...

these also work great together, imo... but, i'm biased - i use a music-director (last iteration of the ma333r) w/two wertically bi-amped aw60ftt's! ;~)

doug s.

The idea that $3k is not sufficient for separates seems in error to me. Especially if one is looking at used.

Assume $1500 for preamp and another $1500 for amp.

Names popping up used on US AudioMart for under 1500:


Audio Research
Conrad Johnson
Black Ice
Jeff Rowland


Conrad Johnson
Audio Research
Aric Audio
Denis Had

I think it’s obvious that $3k is plenty.

There is in my way of thinking a few ways to part with $3K.
1, Buy Branded New Off the Shelf products produced to a very restricted build budget, where the end product will produce music, but it won't be very refined.                      The search to create a system using this method that will recognised as surpassing other systems produced using the same Purchase method will be long.

2, Buy used, there will be more info available on products from a broader fields of information. Both Reviews from when a new launched product and user reviews will help shape an idea of what might be expected if a demo' could be had.              Using this as a Purchase method will get one closer to owning Amp's to be used in a system that may have cost close to $6K if a a few years used.                                 Additionally, there may be recognised mod's for certain devices that assists with refining the sound being produced, and maybe puts the model in a more attractive option than a model that superseded it from the Brand.

3, Buy into a purpose designed Brand, where the product is directed at the DIY community, much of the outlay will be for a Bill of Materials, that would usually be the type of BOM for Amp's costing substantially more.                                               A Neurochrome or Bruno Putzey Design, Purifi EIGENTAKT Class D Amplifier falls into this camp, to buy into Amplification to show such models a clean set of heals is not easy.

I have been demo'd as part of a Group, Neurochrome Power Amp's using a Soulution Pre' in comparison to a Soulution Power Amp', with the assessment from myself as well as the Soulution owner being gobsmacked how good a Amp was which was costing £47Kish less.

With proper investigation and choosing carefully a method to achieve an Amp' type suggested in option purchase method 3. Both Amp's of Interest, Pre and Power  may be achieved at very close to your Budget.

I am familiar with very capable Pre' Amp's that can be purchased using the method 3. 

OP never responded in two years so don’t bother wasting your valuable time here.

Across two Posts recently made, there is now added relevant info for Forum Visitors that might be valuable to their interests.