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  1. #1
    Forum Regular phileserver39's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Does Tube Preamp+AV Preamp=Insanity?

    Howdy all,

    So..I am extremely happy with my newly acquired B&K Ref 50 preamp. Some of it's features that I really love: it has a couple sets of balanced inputs (and way more balanced outputs!), it has great routing options, it's dts neo music mode is (believe it or not) really great sounding, and, above all, it all around sounds fantastic. Really, I love this thing.


    I kind of miss the magic that my old tube pre brought to the party (specifically: sound stage and warmth). I need advice on the insertion of an additional preamp into my current setup. Here is my signal chain......

    PC - ASUS STX Sound card using 24/192 Coax output to

    PS Audio Digital Link III DAC using balanced cable outputs to

    B&K Reference 50 version 1.04 AV Preamp to

    NAD 2400 THX amp powering

    Allison Four Speakers on Stands

    Now, to my question (thanks for sticking with me): Would I be a dumb-ass to place a tube preamp between my PS Audio decoder and my AV preamp? Both tube and B&K preamp would have a gain associated with the volume knob and I obviously would not want to damage any component due to the compounding of amplitude(?)...i.e- my incompetence.

    Thank you for your time and expertise,

    The round mound of rebound sound is profound and bound to pound the ground. OK, I got nuthin.....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    What you propose will not exactly work. If you want to go that route the best way is to get a tube preamp with "theater bypass". You would take your B&K front left/right main preamp outputs to the "theater bypass". Go from tube pre to the power amp inputs that drive the main front speakers. Run your stereo sources to the tube pre. Then you'd have a stereo set up with a tube preamp and your HT set up. The only drawback would be if the tube preamp had to be on for the signal to pass through to the power amp
    while using the HT.

    I know Conrad Johnson has theater bypass but not sure what other companies with tube gear would offer it. CJ is only single ended, no XLR at all.

    Another option and maybe best would be to get a tube integrated and just share the front speakers between them as I do. It's no big deal the swap speaker cable ends with bananas.

  3. #3
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    My front crossover, amps and speakers are connected directly to my preamp. All two channel sources are connected to my preamp. For two channel sources my preamp, selected source and front speakers/amps/crossover are all I need.
    My preamp doesn't have an HT bypass switch. I use the Tape 2 input. I measured the output levels and marked the unity gain position on the volume control. All MC and HT sources are connected to my Lexicon processor. The front outputs from it are connected to the Tape 2 input of my preamp. For HT and MC I switch to Tape 2, set the volume control for unity gain and the Lexicon controls everything. The surround outputs from the Lexicon go directly to the rear amps, crossover and speakers. This setup has worked well for me for several years. Of course, if my preamp had an HT bypass switch I wouldn't have to adjust the volume control for unity gain.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    I use the Front L/R outputs from my AVR to my main Tube Pre with it's own amp and speakers and set the volume about 12 and then the AVR controls all volume for theater. When just listening to music, the AVR is out of the mix. I use a switch box to allow the sub to be driven by the main pre or the AVR when needed. All other speakers, center and rears are controlled only by the AVR.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    You might want to consider a Tube Buffer between your Preamp and Amp-

    Some people like them and others don't. Most of the reviews that I have read have been positive. It's a cheap way to add some tube sound to your system.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    When I got my first CJ preamp a theater bypass was a must and I ran the mains through it and my MV60's, ONCE. The sound was so different I knew I had to come up with something different. I only mention this in case you are as particular as me. The CJ amp did not blend at all with my then solid state Arcam. So I just went with two separate systems that shared a pair of speakers, not at the same time, of course. Using solid state with a tube pre may not be as drastic either.

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