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(Super) High-end preamps

Wharfedale Evo 4.2

essrand

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Arguably the most controversial part of the audiophile chain.

Hard to get it right (and quite expensive to do so) to the point that I am currently going direct to amp, while saving up the cash to buy the last preamp I will need or cop out and (gasp!) move to an integrated.

My list is:
1. Shindo Vosne Romanee or above
2. Convergent Audio SL1 Renaissance
3. Robert Koda K10 (haven't heard this, but given the reviews might just buy one used)

What's your list?

BTW anyone buying this new nomenclature of "super high-end" coined by the audioexotics people for the gear they are obsessed about?
.
 

square_wave

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Since going direct is ( technically ) working for you, do try out passive preamps from Music first audio. You may be surprised.
 

heliumflight

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The final tonality of how the music system will sound will be defined by the preamp
 

Hari Iyer

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I am slowly going to belong to the camp where less is more. Adding a pre-amp will have its own issue like 2 extra pair of interconnects, impedance matching, powers supply etc. I recently removed my DCB1 from the chain and went direct and found them better than using one. Again thats for my setup.
 

malvai

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You could look into the EAR 868
or 864 (which is available for sale on the forum)... highly recommended!

Also ARC REF 5 & 10 are superb too!
 

heliumflight

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I am slowly going to belong to the camp where less is more. Adding a pre-amp will have its own issue like 2 extra pair of interconnects, impedance matching, powers supply etc. I recently removed my DCB1 from the chain and went direct and found them better than using one. Again thats for my setup.
I have been through that route too, but tonality is imp which will make you keep the system or break it!
 

reignofchaos

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As far as Shindo is concerned, my 2c is that they work best with a shindo power amplifier. They a certain house sound and with another power amp, they just don't work.
 

essrand

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As far as Shindo is concerned, my 2c is that they work best with a shindo power amplifier. They a certain house sound and with another power amp, they just don't work.
I have owned a Shindo preamp (Monbrison), they worked fantastic with my 300b mono blocks, the best preamp I have ever had. Only sold it cause I was moving to India and it was a 110V model, unlike the rest of my system which was dual voltage.
 

bornfi

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I have a Silvercore Preamp 324. I know everyone has one's own opinion but since the time I introduced this to my chain, it is just shocking (in positive term, of course) playing tracks that I have been listening for years.

For those who think introducing one more equipment in the chain would complicate the matter, I too thought the same way but with this, that understanding has been wiped out completely from my knowledge book. Let me explain why I say this. I have a Benchmark DAC that has a volume control so, I can use it with my power amplifier in two ways - first being connecting this directly to power amp and the second through silvercore preamp (by bypassing Benchmark's volume control that can be bypassed using a switch at the back). The difference is like day and night in terms of delicacy and palpability. Benchmark turns into a total different beast through this preamp and volume bypassed. It is the realism that disappears when I connect the DAC directly to my power amplifier.

As for some data points, I gave this preamp to one of my friends who compared it to USD10K preamp and as I guessed, he liked Silvercore better.

Not sure if I mentioned earlier or not but this kind of preamp falls in the category of TVC (TRansformer Volume Control) preamp.
 

yogibear

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If CDP is your source (and no independent DAC), a preamp is a must to drive the amp. Try a DHT Tube Pre, you will be shocked.

When I tried it first time, it seemed that my ordinary CDP ( supposedly, a top of line JVC DVD in fact ) was on steroids ! I just got gifted a 6 CD pack of Salman movie songs collection. Though I don't like to listen to such songs, but am surprised that I am actually enjoying them and rediscovering my speakers. They ARE doing some magic. The spatial distance of instruments is amazing and so are both, female and male vocals, with every bit of warmth and sweetness and the bass is soft, organic. Every next song is a surprise.

While paying from laptop I prefer no pre or just the DAC, as one FM shared his experience too.
 

nosortf

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Preamps are a dilemma. If you go by the book, it is a component that needs to be most transparent and without character.
Straight line with gain/reduction path.
However audio is filled with designs where pre amplification is most desired for their coloured sounds. I find this strange, as it makes more sense to have tonal colour lower down the chain in power amplification and loudspeakers, as these are less likely to follow Straight line with gain/reduction path. My 2cs, not to put down other thoughts.
 

ONEMANARMY

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You could look into the EAR 868
or 864 (which is available for sale on the forum)... highly recommended!

Also ARC REF 5 & 10 are superb too!
I second the recommendation of EAR868. I was fortunate to have used it for about 5 years. Highly transparent and changes colours like a chameleon with tubes. My favourite were Telefunkens with diamond bottoms. It's a real jewel.
Recently sold it to a fine gentleman and HFV member.
 
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CV181Z Shuguang Black Bottles with Duelund CAST Copper Coupling capacitors. Simply the best the only combination that can have all the lush, transparency, resolution, tonality and sledge hammer dynamics.
 
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