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Help me select a preamp

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gobble

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Hello Guys

I am looking for a tube preamp that can sound lively and retain the musicality of the nad 325. I need one that will not slow down the pace of the music and still retain the speed of solid state with tube qualities. The one I've auditioned so far unfortunately lost on that count.

I would settle for the c165BEE as the safest bet, as the NAD series is proven for its musicality (was the 355bee an exception?). But its very hard for me to forgo the tube sound now that I've tasted it.

Budget is below 50K.

Edit: I read pages after pages about how wonderful the tube sound is, but nothing about tubes matching solid state in speed, quickness and a surefooted agility in performance.

*This is the primary quality I am after*


TIA
Regards
 
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gobble

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And then maybe I'm thinking I could try pairing the C165bee with a valve power next year ...? If it promises to retain the energetic pace and performance of solid state.
Any opinions about this possibility?

Regards
 

Asit

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I read pages after pages about how wonderful the tube sound is, but nothing about tubes matching solid state in speed, quickness and a surefooted agility in performance.

*This is the primary quality I am after*

I am sorry to say this because it is much above 50K and also not just a pre-amp, my Leben CS300 has all the qialities you desire: "speed, quickness, and a surefooted agility in performance". I think I said similar things about my CS300 in my amp thread. In addition, it has an absolutely clean transparaent sound. Very dynamic too. All this in a very refined manner. So what you want is possible too in a tube amp, however, I am not sure anything's available within your budget.

Regards.
 

gobble

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I am sorry to say this because it is much above 50K and also not just a pre-amp, my Leben CS300 has all the qialities you desire: "speed, quickness, and a surefooted agility in performance". I think I said similar things about my CS300 in my amp thread. In addition, it has an absolutely clean transparaent sound. Very dynamic too. All this in a very refined manner. So what you want is possible too in a tube amp, however, I am not sure anything's available within your budget.

Regards.

Yeah, I came to the same conclusion, but thought I'd sound out my dilemma on the forum.

Unless somebody has an idea of another compelling alternative, I will just settle for SS pre. Lets wait for the opinions of others ... :)

Regards
 

stevieboy

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you might try changing the voltage first to check :)


"The volume control then feeds the buffer directly, bypassing the tone controls and is used to drive the power amplifiers input circuitry. The buffer provides a low output impedance of 100 ohms compared to the original 33s 1200 ohms, giving it the ability to drive the cable and the power amp input without being effected by cable capacitance or amplifier input loading. These loading effect are most notably heard on a passive pre amp which tends to sound dull, lifeless and lacking in bass and bass slam compared to a buffered pre amp."

found this para on the net. dunno which your current pre falls into, passive or active but am sure the voltage change might help, especially since two forum members have the same preamp and have no complaint bout pace.

am sure the manufacturer himself would courier you the necessary resistor with instructions to try it ;)

hoping you dont splurge on a more expensive pre without trying this important fix first.

regards
 

gobble

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you might try changing the voltage first to check :)


"The volume control then feeds the buffer directly, bypassing the tone controls and is used to drive the power amplifiers input circuitry. The buffer provides a low output impedance of 100 ohms compared to the original 33s 1200 ohms, giving it the ability to drive the cable and the power amp input without being effected by cable capacitance or amplifier input loading. These loading effect are most notably heard on a passive pre amp which tends to sound dull, lifeless and lacking in bass and bass slam compared to a buffered pre amp."

found this para on the net. dunno which your current pre falls into, passive or active but am sure the voltage change might help, especially since two forum members have the same preamp and have no complaint bout pace.

am sure the manufacturer himself would courier you the necessary resistor with instructions to try it ;)

hoping you dont splurge on a more expensive pre without trying this important fix first.

regards

I've been unable to locate an electronics shop selling resistors in the vicinity of Bangalore east. Too tiring to drive to SP road.

It is possible the NAD 325 pre-power circuitry is optimised and runs fast at 735mv (power input sensitivity) but becomes sluggish with 2 volts.

Anyone know an electronics shop in Bangalore east side?

Regards
 

thevortex

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Gobble, which tube pre that you have been using has given rise to this occasion?

And when are we going to get a review about the Callistos?
 

gobble

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The Lyrita Pre. Somehow the pulse of the music was totally lost and the music became sluggish and boring. The pace appeared to slow down although if you kept the count, it may not actually be the case. In any case the combination robbed the NAD 325 of its musicality completely. Everything else was good. The tone is clean and pure, its almost the proverbial straight wire that does nothing except for adding a bit of tube "enhancements" like depth to the sound stage and a sweeter tone with more body, with slightly better imaging and focus. I also felt the upper harmonics were gone, but this is just a matter of tube rolling which I am confident can be fixed. The lack of pace, speed and quick surefooted agility is what bothered me more. The combination also displayed a certain lack of finesse at times, unable to get the timing right when the musicians converged, and lent a somewhat flat sounding auditory experience, as if the instruments were just slightly off tune. The inclusion of the pre in the system made it totally incapable of the slight exuberance in persona that the nad 325 displays when it is all by itself. It sounds more like an over aged person plodding through the music with sluggish circulation as compared to the quick and sprightly NAD. The moment when you discover your beer is absolutely flat and warm - that was the lingering experience... :(


Hence I am no longer impressed by all the reviews that solely praise the tonality or the image focus and depth of tubes. With the NAD 325, the sound may be a little more distorted and noisy, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is very true to its reputation - a king of the budget segment for musicality and sheer enjoyment factor. With the pre in place however, all the parts have greater attributes that tubes are famous for in terms of purity and sonic quality, but it does not make an ultimately favorable impression on the whole due to lost vitality and pulse of the music. It does everything a tube is supposed to do but enliven the listening experience. That said, I heard the tube do things that may be termed well worth dying for ... but on second thoughts again - not quite really! I still prefer the NAD standalone in the end. :licklips:

I also asked a lady friend to audition. She needed explaining what tubes are or what a pre and power amp were, and stared at the tubes with sheer fascination, taking delight in their gentle glowing charm. But at the end of two long auditions she too made the observation that the music was dull and lifeless, and lost its pulse and pace. (Did I post any nasty comments in the "Women and Hifi" thread? :D) The accuracy of her comments made me jump (thankfully she knows nothing about this particular HifiVision thread) :eek:hyeah:


I have a gut feeling the NAD does not play well with the output impedance of the pre and the 2volt input. The input sensitivity of the power amp section is 735mv. Maybe it is used to running best at certain finely tuned signal levels between pre-power, hence fails to impress when supplied with a different input signal? But I really am no electronics expert to make a qualified judgment.

However the taste of tube sound with single drivers is hard to let go once acquired, and is still really worth having, hence my search.

The solid state option that sounds most tube like is the new Rotel RC-1082 pre (usd 1100/- ,same 3d depth and tonality as tubes). But again it does not have the variable output like the NAD c165bee (usd 900) which I might need in case I discover the 325 is truly being hampered by the 2V input. The c165bee has a little more flat soundstage but of wider width. But these are the two options I have in mind considering that decent tube pre's start upwards of usd 1400./-

If I get the NAD for its flexibility of variable output, I could try and pair it with a tube power one year later ... Else I could risk the Rotel and stay happily in the SS domain, which I am loathe to do long term, unless it surprises me. :)

I must add a word of compliment about the tonaility of the NAD 325 though - when doing A/B testing, I found little difference between the tonality of the tube pre and the solid state NAD. More body, depth and sweetness in the tubes yes - but the NAD wasn't lacking too much esp in roundness of tone. :)



Regards
 
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mahiruha

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Hello gobble,
sorry to hear your frustration with the pre amp. Well when I paired the Lyrita pre amp with my onkyo tx sr 705 initially I was very impressed with the sound but when I listened to the pre amp connected to the lyrita amp there was considerable improvement. Since you have a budget below 50k then why don't you try the Lyrita integrated amp all together. I am not sure if your Nad allows you pure connection to the power amplifier section entirely bypassing the solid state pre amplification.
Thanks.
 

gobble

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Hello gobble,
sorry to hear your frustration with the pre amp. Well when I paired the Lyrita pre amp with my onkyo tx sr 705 initially I was very impressed with the sound but when I listened to the pre amp connected to the lyrita amp there was considerable improvement. Since you have a budget below 50k then why don't you try the Lyrita integrated amp all together. I am not sure if your Nad allows you pure connection to the power amplifier section entirely bypassing the solid state pre amplification.
Thanks.

Hey
I'm not frustrated :) Maybe I should, but somehow I am convinced I want the speed and drive of a SS power amp for the moment. 50K is still a stretch for me but yeah I just might spend since theres not point in shelling money and not experiencing an upgraded feeling.

Edit: This thing started as search for an easily affordable drop-in addition to the NAD to improve on the sonic qualities a bit - esp I was looking for a real quite background with little or no perceptible distortion in the SQ. Now that I've started the trip, its hard to stop and stay put. :)

Regards
 
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AMITNOIDA

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I am a silent follower of this thread. Gobble, sorry for hijacking your thread to some extent.

The Emotiva USP-1 preamp, suggested by Venkatcr looks a good one at reasonable price of around 400$. I am in dilema in selecting the pre-amp for my Operetta power amp pairing with BE-718. The options so far are:

- Lyrita pre
- Nova Peachtree (with DAC also)
- Emotiva USP-1

I love analogue sound but don't want to lose the speed and punch of SS system. What can be the best solution at around 50K max?

Gobble, actually your quest is more or less same of mine also. I will definitely keenly watch this thread.


Gobble, you can do two things.

1. Talk to Sandeep/Sharath and see if they can put together a pre for you.

2. Take a look at Emotiva Audio USP-1 Stereo Preamplifier and see if you can get it into the country somehow.

Cheers
 

odyssey

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Gobble
can you post the entire system that you have?

Like SS components, tube components come in all flavours, some warm with a lot of bloom, etc some fast and extended similar to SS, one tube pre is not really an indication of how other tube pres will sound.

cheers
 

gobble

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My tube preamp is the Grounded Grid from Transcendent Sound-in kit form it costs about $500 and is very easy to assemble.Excellent product.

The Grounded Grid Preamplifier kit by Transcendent Sound

I also have a ss preamp from Audio by Van Alstine that I bought as a kit but is now in cold storage.

George
Does the grounded grid score on speed agility quickness? How are the upper harmonics? Hum and buzz levels?

TIA
 

gobble

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Gobble
can you post the entire system that you have?

Like SS components, tube components come in all flavours, some warm with a lot of bloom, etc some fast and extended similar to SS, one tube pre is not really an indication of how other tube pres will sound.

cheers

Hello Odyssey

Speakers are Audire Callstoe BS using Fostex 166E 6" drivers. AMP is NAD C325BEE. CDP is Marantz CD6002. CDP amp is solid silver IC made by Mr. Murthy. Pre-out<>Main-in or Pre<>Power is Calrad-Suri cable (its a new brand :)). I have also swapped in Viren's cable in both places.

Regards
 
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gobble

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Gobble, you can do two things.

1. Talk to Sandeep/Sharath and see if they can put together a pre for you.

2. Take a look at Emotiva Audio USP-1 Stereo Preamplifier and see if you can get it into the country somehow.

Cheers

Hello Venkat

I did consider it. Somehow I am not convinced it will be an *upgrade* for a long term. I also chanced upon an interesting thread about the real value of Emotiva and am inclined to believe it: Emotiva tid bits from the horses mouth - Page 2 - AudioReview Forums

If it is to be SS I would rather trust NAD for its musicality or take a chance with the Rotel 1082 pre for its tube flavor.

So if I absolutely have to compromise anywhere, let it be in favor of tubes - at least I can swap the tube pre out when I want speed and musicality of the NAD but enjoy tubes when I want to ... SS is a compromise, and I feel Emotiva just may be more so .. or I may be wrong since I never heard it. Since I cant audition I can only go by instinct. :)

Yeah - Checking with Audire is a good idea but I will leave it for last as I find George's Grounded Grid a quite appealing and cost-effective idea.

Regards
 

gobble

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What you heard is what I expected you to hear.

It is possible to reduce the issues somewhat with a lower gain. This will help resolve a lot of your issues. When used as a x1 buffer, an active device imparts less colour to the sound. Maybe you should chat with Viren and see if that can be worked out for you. Also his products are made with a particular sound in mind, the 'house sound'.

There is a possibility that the series components will influence the sound significantly as well, so some more 'neutral' choices will work better.

If you're just looking at adding musicality and a shade of warmth to the sound, I would look at bypassing the NAD preamp totally, using just the power amp inputs and a B1 buffer in front of it with a simple, high quality pot for volume control. For most listening, this will suffice. The output of most CD players is a healthy 1.5-2V, and it will have no problem driving the NAD to reasonable volume levels.

I have no idea how you will pull it off, but there's the idea. There is also the BOSOZ, in my mind a better preamp, but it has some gain. It may or may not be useful. SS pres will be a safer bet for you for sure, with tubes there is always the off-chance that you will not like the end result and the money will be gone.

Hello Cranky

I do want the magic/colouration of tubes that the pre imparted. The Bosoz and the B1 wont add the tube flavor. Yes if I ultimately decide not to get a tube, I owe it to myself to try the B1 or Bosoz before spending big bucks on a SS pre. The CDP plugged into the power straight sounds way too loud, so input voltage should not bethe issue like you said.

Edit: Viren did mention he could make a zero gain buffer for me. But I am not certain the other problem of hum will be fixed to death quite levels good for very low volume late night listening.

Regards
 
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dinyaar

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Hi Gobble,
To get what u want is going to be difficult to say the least.
Sadly am not familiar with your speakers at all and am now totally against solid silver ICS but then its all system specific.
A good preamp is difficult to find, a good tube pre even more, naturally keeping a sane budget.
I dont know why u say the Rotel RC 1082 is tubey? I have it, if u are not in too much of a hurry, i will sell it to u at a mutually agreeable price. It will take u nowhere though. Matching the Rotel with the NAD is going in reverse at quite a speed!!! I did it for a while with a Nad 272 and this is what i felt. I presume the Nad C165 is similar to my C162 so in a way it makes sense BUT then u are getting the Nad sound entirely, which seems to appeal to u.
What I would do is jus t buy a better class integrated amp for your speakers rather than keep trying with all kinds of preamps. See the Nad 325 is a starter amp, u seem to now want more & more. The Nad cant keep up for long and u will easily find a buyer for it.
Rgds
 
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