Preamp/ Tube buffer: Swara/ Schiit/Little Dot 2

Amarendra

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Oct 25, 2010
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Hi,

I want to experiment with tube buffer/ preamp but not sure if I should take the plunge head down or just wet my toes first.
My audio chain is as follows:

Iphone 12 (apple music hi res)>> Audioquest Dragonfly v 1.2 >> Rotel RA 10 >> Wharfedale Diamond 220/ Micca RB 42.

I occasionally listen to my Marantz TT which I find sweet sounding however I prefer the clarity offered by Apple music even for old Hindi film songs.

I am not sure if I can make the sound sweeter/ mellow by introducing a tube buffer between the Dragonfly and the Rotel.

Few options which I am thinking of:

1. Swara Tube Buffer (~ INR 24k)
2. Schiit Valhalla 2 (~INR 35k)
3. Little Dot Mk2 (~INR 15k).
4. FX Audio/ Fosi Audio (Used in sale section INR 6k): but seller has stopped responding

However given that this is a totally unknown devil I would like to know your views. The lower the budget the better :)
I am also willing to look at used buffers/ preamps or where I can buy these in Mumbai.

Thanks in advance
 

Amarendra

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Oct 25, 2010
Messages
813
Points
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Location
Mumbai
Your rank of current choices is good. You could also look at pre-loved Swara Tube Pre or other options.

One more option is custom built Tube pre. One or more FM would do it for you.
The problem is not being able to listen to any tube amps and deciding solely on the basis of online reviews. For products such as the Swara tube buffer there are no reviews as well :)
 

Yogesh

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No Where Near to where I want to be yet...
The problem is not being able to listen to any tube amps and deciding solely on the basis of online reviews. For products such as the Swara tube buffer there are no reviews as well :)
Little Dot & Schiit might be available for demo at HPZ as you are in Mumbai. For rest FMs in Mumbai who own other devices may enable you to demo.
 

kib_reddy

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Aug 7, 2012
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Hyderabad
I Used a Schiit Valhalla II as a pre amp for a while. I feel, in most situations (unless you have 95db+ Speakers) Tube Pre + solid state Power amp is the way to go. One thing that really puts me off tubes is loose bass. Valhalla is not like that which is why I went for it. Have not heard the others. One word of caution, You cannot use cheap power or RCA cables with tube pre amps. You are adding one more element to the signal chain, it will muddy the sound if you use cheap cables. A cheap power cable will give you bad bass. Cheap RCAs will lower resolution.
 

vbutani

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Jul 27, 2016
Messages
115
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Location
Pune
Hi,

I want to experiment with tube buffer/ preamp but not sure if I should take the plunge head down or just wet my toes first.
My audio chain is as follows:

Iphone 12 (apple music hi res)>> Audioquest Dragonfly v 1.2 >> Rotel RA 10 >> Wharfedale Diamond 220/ Micca RB 42.

I occasionally listen to my Marantz TT which I find sweet sounding however I prefer the clarity offered by Apple music even for old Hindi film songs.

I am not sure if I can make the sound sweeter/ mellow by introducing a tube buffer between the Dragonfly and the Rotel.

Few options which I am thinking of:

1. Swara Tube Buffer (~ INR 24k)
2. Schiit Valhalla 2 (~INR 35k)
3. Little Dot Mk2 (~INR 15k).
4. FX Audio/ Fosi Audio (Used in sale section INR 6k): but seller has stopped responding

However given that this is a totally unknown devil I would like to know your views. The lower the budget the better :)
I am also willing to look at used buffers/ preamps or where I can buy these in Mumbai.

Thanks in advance
I am using Swara tube preamp and really like the sound.
My chain:-
LG mobile > Swara tube preamp > O&B Power amp

After adding tube preamp it improved the sound for me to great extent. It improved overall feel of sound without affecting or rolling of any frequencies. Please feel free to direct message me for more details.
 

Amarendra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2010
Messages
813
Points
93
Location
Mumbai
Little Dot & Schiit might be available for demo at HPZ as you are in Mumbai. For rest FMs in Mumbai who own other devices may enable you to demo.
Finally took the plunge and bought the Xduoo MT 602 tube preamp from The Audio Store. Price after discounts was INR 7500. Stock tubes were Chinese which I found to be sightly shrill (high freq). I replaced them with GE 5654 tubes from Agra. After the replacement I got the sound which I wanted- the digital glare is gone. The vocals sound wonderful without any over emphasis on any particular frequency. The sound stage is really decent with very good separation. Initially when listening to old Hindi film songs the sound used to be centred in the middle between the speakers but now even for older songs I can clearly place the instruments from left to right with vocals at dead centre. My chain is iPhone (apple hi res) >> audioquest dragonfly dac >> Xduoo >> Rotel RA10 >> Micca RB42. Would highly recommend to those looking to take the plunge into tubes without breaking the bank.
 

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