Who Offers a Highly Musical Preamp using a 6SN7 tube and a remote?

Compatible with a Pass Labs XA25. 
Must use the 6SN7 tube.
Also a remote.
Budget to $2k and less than 4 years old. 
Anyone done this exercise lately.

Pass specs-
INPUT  Impedance= 47K
GAIN = 20db
Keep in mind really-really good 6SN7 tubes are becoming harder to find, just went through this past few years trying several new, multiple NOS collections, adding a few more NOS. Then, bought some boutique 6SN7s no longer made. If you do go with a 6SN7 based preamp, and must buy new tubes, try the Sophia Electric Blue - not cheap but nice.

Looking around you see a bit of a paradigm shift by some preamp and amp designers now leaning back to 12AU7, 12AT7s for better tube availability.

re: SLP-98*, while It’s well above your price point for a new one, keep any eye out for a good used one. A good friend who bought my prior tube amplifier also demo’d the XA-25 with is SLP-98 and liked it a lot. Has an outboard transformer and decent volume control for a remote preamp. Also, has two sets of pre-outs, kinda rare.

I spoke with Nelson a year ago and he told me personally that he has several customers running the SLP-98 with his XA amps, fwiw.  I won’t give up my 6SN7 based preamp for a long time, but I’ve managed to hoard away multiple quads of NOS and new boutique 6SN7s as backup just in case - the majority of the new re-issue and new limited production 6SN7s just did not cut it for me.  Your results may vary...
larry-forgot to mention- nothing by schitt. I had an unpleasant experience with them. Additionally the noise from the volume control gets on your nerves. 

decooney, bigG and jond,
Those names I will investigate. The Cary SLP05 is one I like
but used they still go at 3,500.

Mod and dehav are both two I want to learn more about.

If I only require 1 or 2 of the 6SN7S I can probably find them  

Thank you all so much for your experience.

Supratek - I think the Chardonnay is priced right around $2000. Seek out the thread entitled "Preamp Deal of the Century". At one time that thread had 26 million hits. I don't think I ever read through each and every of the 70+ pages. But I read enough to persuade me to bite the bullet on a Supratek. 

Wonderful, custom-built, point-to-point wiring, gorgeous. and Lifetime guarantee.
Don Sachs line stage, which I think has a 14-day return period that is nice to have. 
I will ada Aric Audio to the list. I also considered Don Sachs, Supratek, Atma-Sphere. Went with Aric as he had a 'demo' offered up here on AG. 
Post removed 
I have had excellent service from Schiit...I was shipped a new Aegir and when I suspected it to be "too sensitive," meaning it shut itself down too easily, they arranged for a new one with the return of the old one immediately, free of charge and really could not have been nicer or more professional. I own a few things from Schiit, a couple of headphone amps and a Loki, as well as an original version Freya (mine is dead quiet and sonically transparent in all 3 modes)...a GREAT preamp and the new Freya + might be better...note there’s nothing like these things at any price, and if the super accurate level change click bothers anybody, who cares? It simply means it’s working, and it works amazingly well. I think the response to Schiit’s products is overwhelmingly positive with some outliers certainly as they ship a lot of stuff, but don’t dismiss ’em without more research as they're an astonishing bargain in most cases. By the way, there are MANY sources for great 6SN7GTBs including Viva Tubes, and my preferred are GE NOS...plentiful and great sounding.
By the way, there are MANY sources for great 6SN7GTBs including Viva Tubes, and my preferred are GE NOS...plentiful and great sounding.

Just two years ago I bought multiple matched quads of really good NOS Sylvania Black Long Plate plate 3-hole 6SN7GTB tubes for $200-225 a quad. Sure, there are sources, including Viva below, 3x the price now days. Sure, GEs are available for notably less cost.  


Tests NOS Matched Quad (4x) Sylvania 6SN7GT Black 3 Rivet T Bad Boy Plate Tubes


"Bad Boys" have been expensive for a long time, so I get that. NOS Chrome Domes and GEs aren't so expensive at all (yet) and sound great.
"Bad Boys" have been expensive for a long time, so I get that. NOS Chrome Domes and GEs aren’t so expensive at all (yet) and sound great."

True. One can find lower cost tubes. As long as one buys from a reputable tube dealer with good test equipment, it helps. Some noisey tubes out there being sold as matched pair NOS too on auctions.

Have you seen what some "good" testing tubes look like on a curve tracer, looking for matched triodes within each tube? My tube sources pass and sell them off as non-matched, non-NOS, lower grade with that disclaimer regardless of brand. Others will say, if it works use it, okay, hope they don’t pay too much for them. Finding good ones that truly test as NOS and balanced triodes on each side of the tube is getting to be harder to find.  Best of luck.

Any UPDATES from anyone here on Agon over the past 2 years...???

-checking for a friend with solid state and tube amps considering a 6SN7 preamp.   

Boutique hand made point-to-point designer-builders too, if you know of them!  

6SN7 / 6SL7 Preamps, by:

  • Don Sachs Consulting?
  • Aric Audio?
  • Cary Audio, SLP**?
  • Inspire by Dennis Had?
  • Supratek?
  • Erhardt Audio?
  • VAC?
  • Atmasphere?
  • Dehavilland?
  • Modwright?
  • Custom, one-off?
  • Others? (add to this list)

Thanks in advance for sharing your story if you have 6SN7 preamp updates?

That is a good heck of a list of 6SN7 preamps where one can be happy with any one of those.

As for me, I am using an Aric Audio preamp(close to the Motherload II build, but not quite) with my Pass XA-25 for at least 18 mos. or more now, and there’s no changing to anything else for me! Can’t compare the Aric to anything else on the list, but it betters any other 12au7 or 6922 based preamp I’ve used in the past. 6sn7s are the real deal for preamps. I can get great music out of the Aric with a whole slew of 6SN7 and 5v regulator tube combinations… many flavors of sonic bliss can be created!!

I have a Supratek Cabernet and love it. One of the advantages of customer built stuff is that you can modify it. Mine has an extra set of balanced outputs and can use either 12sn7 or 6sn7 tubes. That has allowed me to own some of the otherwise out of my budget tubes like the round plate Tungsol and “Bad Boy” Sylvania tubes. 

I run an Aric Audio Motherlode II in my main system. I rotate two First Watt amps,or a pair of Monarchy Audio amps. I find the results beyond what I could have ever expected. While the Motherlode is above the budget, Aric does make other 6sn7 preamps.  Try reaching out to him. He’s very accessible and very good to work with. 

@decooney  Well, I own a n Aric Audio Special Pre  with 6SN7 tubes. I have paired it with both the XA25 and the Aric Transcend Amplifier driving Tannoy Sterlings. Great Preamp in both cases. With the Sterlings I believe I like the tube amp best. 


Another recommendation for Aric Audio. I'm running a Super6SN7 upgraded to near Motherload II status. Without a doubt one of the best audio purchases I've made in a while. Aric is pleasure to deal with and will work with your budget.


Good luck


Thanks for this list. Even while I'm settling in with my newly modded Quicksilver gear and doing a speaker shoot-out, I've not started a folder on my computer called "End Game" and 6SN7 Preamps this thread is a keeper.

When I was shopping initially, a bunch of these names were on my short list, but my budget was lower for a preamp. I ruled out Supratek because they're made in Australia and that's a long way to go for both purchases and service, which I assume would have to be done locally (maybe?).

I noticed Herron is not on the list but then I realized he doesn't built around this particular tube.

Noticed Blue Circle is not on the list. Are they still making preamps? 


@hilde45 Blue Circle is out of business as are Dehavilland. Also Herron is closing up shop though as you say does not make 6SN7 preamps.

@jond  Thanks. Good to know. Some stuff still circulates used so perhaps not totally irrelevant but probably better options.

Great recommendations, I think, above. One of the nice things about so many of them is their high quality, robustness and reliability. I would not hesitate to pick up any one of them on the used market, if that was what I could afford, though I am not really familiar with Blue Circle.

My Supratek Cortese LCR is the first piece of equipment I have bought in a long time for which I paid full retail. And I've never had even a particle of buyers remorse. It's always simply been a tremendous source of satisfaction. Sounds great with solid state and also tube power amps.

@hilde45 I know Mick has a tech in the US, he even chimes in on here from time to time. Not sure where you are but you can ask Mick if there are techs closer to where you live. 


I've owned three 6SN7 based preamps in the last five years.  The Modwright LS-100, the current Don Sachs Model 2 and the current Supratek Chardonnay. Still have the Sachs and the Supratek.  From purely a sound and musical involvement perspective the Supratek is the winner to my ears in my system with both SS and tube amps.  The inclusion of both XLR and SE outputs plus the variable gain make it easy to match with a wide range of amps.  

I got some NOS Sylvania 6SN7 tubes for my Freya and they are wonderful. Outshine all the Russian based tubes I had. I also tried a couple Chinese tubes Shuguang but the Sylvanias are the ticket for me

@isaacc7 @jackd  I am in Denver and have a great tech nearby. If/when I improve my preamp game, I'll consult with him about older models. I know he really likes deHavilland. I am saving this thread into my "end game folder" and now really have a star next to Supratek and Aric. And Don Sachs.

I hope to borrow a deHavilland Ultraverve III to compare with my Quicksilver to see what differences I hear. I realize that the rest of my system and room needs to be revealing enough, so I won't prejudge too much if I don't hear a large difference.


I've owned the following 6SN7 preamps:

  • George Wright WLA12A
  • Modwright LS-100
  • Don Sachs Model 2
  • LTA MZ2
  • Atma-Sphere MP-3

The keeper is the MP-3, mainly because the synergy with my Atma-Sphere M-60 mono blocks can't be ignored. I bought mine used and liked it so much I sent it back to Ralph for the remote upgrade.

Surprisingly, the MZ2 is a very close second and I'm keeping it as my spare. Clean, fast, and the inner detail is fantastic.

The Wright, the Modwright, and the Don Sachs are all very, very good, and mostly just different flavors. You won't be disappointed with any of them.

I fully admit to being a 6SN7 fanboy.


I think the XA25 single ended and wouldn’t benefit from a balanced preamp. I’d recommend on LTA microzolt Preamp.  I own one and love it.  And they can use 12sn7 or 6sn7 tubes.  I know I’ve read about the combo of the LTA and pass/first watt amps.  

Anyone heard the Erhardt preamp?

or Atmosphere UV -1 ( reviewer found it grainy )

Atmosphere UV -1 ( reviewer found it grainy )

I own one, and 'grainy' isn't a trait I would ascribe to it, in the least.

Quite the contrary. To my ears, it outperforms many preamps, even ones that are higher priced.


@armstrod is your Atma-sphere MP-3 “stock”, or does it have upgrades such as V caps or Caddock resistors?