Tube vs Solid state for Preamp

Like opinions on this match up

Running audible illusions L3 preamp. into (jumpers removerd) Krell 350 mcx in a Biamped arrangement.

Would going solid state be an upgrade in Lowend control of the krell



No  the krell amp on tubes can be glorious iwould upgrade to a balanced tube preamp zesto makes incredible balanced tube preamps


Dave and Troy




Definitely stay with tubes if a Krell 350 watt amp can't do low end it's on the amp not your preamp. Are there better tube preamps than the AI? Sure do you have a budget in mind?

Funny this post came up, wondered when it would again.  I just spent the last 90 days re-evaluating my SS preamp to my 6SN7 based tube preamp.  Both are nice in different ways, however nothing about the SS preamp can replace the sound stage, layers, 3d imaging of the tube preamp - IF that's what you are going for. 

I always prefer tubes, in the past units all were using 12aux, 12atx

My current Cayin Integrated uses 6SN7 and 6SL7’s, I really like their sound. Based on their sound, 2 of my friends changed their Preamps to 6sl7/6sn7, both very happy with them.

Various tubes definitely sound different, I bought (6SN7 or 6SL7’s too lazy to look it up) from Brent Jesse, one pair sounded awful to me (compared to the original Cayin branded I blew up). He had me break them in for 60 hours (no signal, just on), I still did not like them, he let me exchange them, I got lucky, second choice, half the price, they sound terrific.

Meanwhile, someone changed their OEM Cayin tubes to a different type, and listed his Cayin tubes on eBay. I jumped on em.

Your question is very specific -- it’s about low end control.

I’m assuming you’re not interested in general opinions about SS vs. Tube preamps.

So, the question is quite technical:

What is the impact of tube vs. SS technology for controlling the lower frequencies?

I’ve never heard that a preamp matters for low end control, but perhaps there are people more informed?

The Audible Illusions L3 preamp has a solid state power supply. 😎


i’d say it’s a mistake to try to generalize about tube or solid state preamps having better or worse bass. amplifier-speaker relationships would be more dominant for bass performance than particular preamps.

easier to make a case that past a certain level of gear, preamp to amplifier same brand synergy is more significant. at more modest levels of gear, for stand alone preamp; it’s case by case.

so audition other preamps in your price range, in your own system, with an open mind. or ask other Krell amp owners about it.

i do agree that preamp bass performance can be significant. for instance, at the top of the food chain, the Gryphon Apex Commander preamp does have more bass authority than my darTZeel preamp. but musically the dart preamp is more musical overall. the dart gets out of the way, the Gryphon takes control. a matter of musical priorities.

personaly i have no interest in hearing the gear signature as a non musical coloration imprinted over every recording, i prefer the music. YMMV.

Thank you for the replies, its all about the musicality for sure.

Good Information all, Krell is fully balanced will look into preamps of the same

Had A Bat Vk51SE here needed to be repaired ect. Fully balanced.

What is the output impedance of your current tube preamp? This can have an effect on bass performance. I have a tube preamp with single ended outputs with a krell ksa 300s amp, and have great bass performance.

 @hiend2, Preamp matching for Krell FPB amplifier see here! 😎


AI preamps (L3, M3) are capable of incredible bass performance...absolutely no need to jump to SS. I've owned an M3B for 7 years, btw.