indus

What's the best SS pre amp you've heard?

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11 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

IMHO a change of speakers will bring much larger gains than changing preamp.

Is your current pre valve based, obviously a solid state pre will sound different, I would draw up a list of ‘possibles’ and compare them in your room.

Keith

I definetly don’t think the speakers are ones to change as they look very good quality indeed. If you’ve spent that much on speakers you’ve probably got there through upgrades and it’s a sound you really want and thus you likely won’t get ‘gains’ changing speakers but just something different. Particularly for a class of this type of speaker at that price. 

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9 minutes ago, George 47 said:

Nice problem to have and of course the LS26 is rather good (understatement).

If you like the big, bold sound of the preamp then I would be inclined to go for another ARC. A Ref 5SE can be yours, within your budget and ARC dealers may give you a nice trade in for the LS26. Do not get tempted by the Ref 5, it is better but not a real jump up in SQ. Some do not like the Ref6 (I have not heard it) as it is a bit more towards an SS type of sound. For new, the LS28 is thought to be very good but I have never heard it.

For SS amps I would try a good passive like MFA or Allegri to give a very neutral and ultra-low noise (therefore very 3D) sound. Basic facilities but great sound. Alternatively, for an active SS preamp, I like the Pass Labs XP12 or an XP20 to give a very neutral 3D sound but it does not quite have the 'magic' of ARC valves.

Thanks.

There is actually a XP20 for sale in the classifieds well within budget. It seems to get excellent reviews but I've read that if you like ARC you probably won't like Pass as its a very different sound. Obviously I have no idea what this means as I've never heard a Pass.

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+1 for an MFA passive - very transparent and excellent sound staging

I would also suggest the PS Audio BHK Signature. It is tube based, sounds great and get's good review across the board.

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Super Dealer
5 minutes ago, QuestForThe13thNote said:

I definetly don’t think the speakers are ones to change as they look very good quality indeed. If you’ve spent that much on speakers you’ve probably got there through upgrades and it’s a sound you really want and thus you likely won’t get ‘gains’ changing speakers but just something different. Particularly for a class of this type of speaker at that price. 

Loudspeakers and their interaction with the room are the major contributors to sound quality, changing valve amps may alter the ‘flavour’ but won’t actually improve sound quality.

Changing one solid state pre for another won’t change anything.

Keith

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I think I heard the allegri on someone’s system I know. Trying to remember but he had either the avm pa 8.2 connected up to power amps or an atc intergrated , both on fact 12s, and the allegri just totally lost something in tone and as if it was a bit flat.

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Super Dealer
5 minutes ago, QuestForThe13thNote said:

I definetly don’t think the speakers are ones to change as they look very good quality indeed. If you’ve spent that much on speakers you’ve probably got there through upgrades and it’s a sound you really want and thus you likely won’t get ‘gains’ changing speakers but just something different. Particularly for a class of this type of speaker at that price. 

Loudspeakers and their interaction with the room are the major contributors to sound quality, changing valve amps may alter the ‘flavour’ but won’t actually improve sound quality.

Changing one solid state pre for another won’t change anything.

Keith

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Moderator
9 minutes ago, QuestForThe13thNote said:

I think I heard the allegri on someone’s system I know. Trying to remember but he had either the avm pa 8.2 connected up to power amps or an atc intergrated , both on fact 12s, and the allegri just totally lost something in tone and as if it was a bit flat.

Martin Colloms, Jason Kennedy, Rafael Todes all disagree with you. MC thinks it is one of the best sounding preamps around. I like mine but prefer a nice valve sound anyway.

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2 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

Loudspeakers and their interaction with the room are the major contributors to sound quality, changing valve amps may alter the ‘flavour’ but won’t actually improve sound quality.

Changing one solid state pre for another won’t change anything.

Keith

Sound quality is very much flavour which pertains to quality. Like the flavour of laphroaig to bushmills. I know what you are getting at though.

But sound quality has to be subjective. It’s like taste.....If you eat a lot of spicy food you can damage your sense of taste. When I was in Mexico last year I was listening to a lot of Michael Bolton. 

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2 minutes ago, George 47 said:

Martin Colloms, Jason Kennedy, Rafael Todes all disagree with you. MC thinks it is one of the best sounding preamps around. I like mine but prefer a nice valve sound anyway.

It was on Jason Kennedy’s system I think George, but I didn’t have a reference on my own stuff so equally i could like it, such is the fickle nature of hifi. 

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Super Wammer

The best in recent years would be between a Linn Klimax and a D’Agostino Momentum.  Unfortunately neither are available for your more real world budget, as far as I know.  

Go back a decade or so, and ARC would have been my answer.  As you currently own one, a newer model is an obvious choice, particularly as you value the big soundstage, something I perhaps wrongly tend to expect from US makers more than any.  Quite which model I couldn’t say as I’m not familiar enough with all the permutations.  

If you’re looking at secondhand, then it’s going to well nigh impossible to audition, unless you buy from a dealer who uses eBay.  

For something new at a real world price, ATC make a fine pre amp, the CA2.  It’s solid state.  Their top end model, the SCA2, is available used for around two to three grand sometimes too.  I’ve heard neither at home, but did use the integrated amp extensively when auditioning speakers last year.  It seemed entirely fuss free and transparent, but with a welcome heft too - which seems to be just what you are seeking.  

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, QuestForThe13thNote said:

I think I heard the allegri on someone’s system I know. Trying to remember but he had either the avm pa 8.2 connected up to power amps or an atc intergrated , both on fact 12s, and the allegri just totally lost something in tone and as if it was a bit flat.

It was the opposite probably, not adding anything.

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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, indus said:

I'd say £5k for something really special that will keep my happy for some time to come and will be reliable etc.

Thanks. I will read your bake off later. It's that wide dispersion and soundstage that I love about the LS 17 that I'm scared I'll lose with a ss pre.

The LS 26 is probably quite close to the LS 17 in performance. I'll read your bake off with interest as I want something that will better the LS 17 in all regards

Thanks

It's difficult to say. It is an itch I suppose...but if I was going to put my finger on anything I'd say detail retrieval, separation and low bass control perhaps.

The first two might just come with a lower noise floor?

I'm intending to upgrade the power amp for sure, it's on the cards. Changing the speakers I'm not so sure about. It's a fairly big space (8m by 8m) and so upgrading the speakers will probably mean bigger speakers and that might not pass for aesthetic reasons. I know MA are often looked down upon on forums such as these but the PL 300 are excellent speakers.

Personal view - start with your loudspeakers - I know you love the MS (and they are highly reviewed) but for the money you intend to spend for me they could be the weak link at the moment.   You are looking for something that your current Pre and Power should be giving you in spades ... or perhaps you are feeling that something is missing when it isn't,  the answer is to get another pair of highly rated speakers up next to them and you may find all you have is an itch . or try a highly rated SS amp such as a Nelson Pass or Sugden Masterclass or perhaps try a better DAC  .. but changing the pre is not going to deliver what you are looking for methinks 

Edited by uzzy

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1 hour ago, George 47 said:

Martin Colloms, Jason Kennedy, Rafael Todes all disagree with you. MC thinks it is one of the best sounding preamps around. I like mine but prefer a nice valve sound anyway.

I've never really looked at passives. After a quick google it seems that the ones mentioned don't have remotes? If thats the case then it's a no go, a remote is essential.

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14 minutes ago, uzzy said:

Personal view - start with your loudspeakers - I know you love the MS (and they are highly reviewed) but for the money you intend to spend for me they could be the weak link at the moment.   You are looking for something that your current Pre and Power should be giving you in spades ... or perhaps you are feeling that something is missing when it isn't,  the answer is to get another pair of highly rated speakers up next to them and you may find all you have is an itch . or try a highly rated SS amp such as a Nelson Pass or Sugden Masterclass or perhaps try a better DAC  .. but changing the pre is not going to deliver what you are looking for methinks 

In terms of speakers perhaps you are right, and I suspect the same myself to some extent.

The problem is the speakers I like are the next ones up from the ones I have and they are huge, they are 1.85m tall!

I can just about accommodate them but in my non dedicated room I wonder whether they will look ridiculous

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Super Wammer
Just now, indus said:

In terms of speakers perhaps you are right, and I suspect the same myself to some extent.

The problem is the speakers I like are the next ones up from the ones I have and they are huge, they are 1.85m tall!

I can just about accommodate them but in my non dedicated room I wonder whether they will look ridiculous

I would spread your wings - ATC, Spendor, Proac and Art to name a few .. but it may not be the speakers but the DAC or Power amp (although I cannot see the latter being a problem but you never know until you try) .. the Preamp is right up there and is undoubtedly detailed and revealing and will provide a more than adequate signal so that would be the last thing on my list to consider at the mo 

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