Preamp for a GaN-FET amp...

Hello everyone... I'm thinking of replacing my Belles Aria Integrated for a GaN-Fet amp. I would have preferred to purchase an integrated GaN-Fet, but they are either too expensive or of questionable quality. I therefore resign myself to opting for an amp/preamp combo. My question is the following :

Which preamp do you recommend for a GaN-Fet amp?

I haven't made my choice yet, but the only GaN-Fet amp within my reach is the Starkrimson (used). Please note that if I opt for GaN-Fet, it is to avoid tubes, so I would prefer a preamp WITHOUT tube (and not a class A).

My speakers are Altec 620A (100 db efficiency) and I mainly listen to digital sources through a Metrum DAC. I also sometimes listen to records on my Garrard 401... That's basically why I need a preamp.

Note: the Belles Aria Integrated is a superb machine with astonishing sound, but I'm looking for an amp whose midrange is as good as a tube. The Altec don't do any favors and they are a little harsh in the midrange, especially at high volume. For those who would like to understand what I am trying to express by "as good as a tube", I suggest you listen to this interview with Ralph Karsten who explains the limits of transistors much better than me.

Thank you ! 😎


I think Guttenberg was actually surprised at how good the Holo Serene sounded. He certainly talked a lot about the music which I believe is a strong compliment.

If you do not want a preamp to adjust the sound, then the Serene and Benchmark LA4 are the best I have found for that role. 

I would be interested to see Guttenberg review the new Schitt Mjolnir preamp. I have that and I like it for the Class A color it gives to my headphones. I wonder how it compares to something like the ModWright LS99 that was mentioned in the review.

I would prefer a preamp WITHOUT tube (and not a class A).

Jason Stoddard of Schiit Audio posted this on Head-Fi (link):
"all preamps are Class A. There’s no reason to run a preamp in Class AB. Or D, LOL."

I don’t know if it’s actually true, but it makes sense to me. A preamp handles low level signals and there is no concern for issues such as heat generation. Class A is the simplest, most direct circuit design and running in any other class would make it much more complicated with only disadvantages.

My GaN amp is a LSA Voyager GaN 350. My preamp of ~ 3 years is an Audio Alchemy DDP-1(pre/dac!) + PS 5 outboard power supply. Excellent match. I saw one for sale on US Audio for $1250, which IMO is a bargain, especially since the it and the amp have XLR inputs and outputs. Hurry as they rarely come on the used market. Do a search for it and find a review which is quite thorough