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  1. #1
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    the quest for a new preamp

    I am starting to look at studying preamps in order to add one to my system and still keep the yamaha for video and multi channel setups since I want to have a theater but keep the 2 channel part of it separated. I want a preamp with theater bypass and a tubed unit is really not where I want to go because unless the tubes shut down during theater bypass I would be wasting tube life on watching tv and movies. I have looked at the adcom gfp 750 since it seems to have a following and is not very expensive. I have also thought about Emotiva's up and coming xsp 1 mainly because their usp-1 only does theater bypass on their crossed over outputs for my mains which I don't want since I rarely use my sub for music. The usp-1 will have much more abilities than the usp and also supposed to be a much better unit if they will ever some out with it!!. I am just wondering what thoughts are out there for ideas one this subject. I know the adcom 750 has a following but I am worried about buying a possibly 10 year old preamp without a warranty but heck I have had a adcom amp for around 17 years or so without one problem with it so I guess I should not worry. But on the flip side the emotiva will have a 5 year warranty. I just want the best sound for my money. I am looking at saying around the 1500 dollar and under market and the cheaper the better obviously but I don't want to have worse sound just to save a few bucks because I know how I am I will kick myself for it later. Ideas will help on this.

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  2. #2
    Ajani
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    Assuming you don't have an analog source (I don't see one in your sig) then have you considered Pre amps without HT Bypass?

    For example, you could get a PS-Audio P200 pre and run the balanced outputs from your Dlink 3 to it and run the RCA to your Yamaha receiver.

    You could do the same with an Emotiva USP-1 (if you want to spend less)...

    Also, I think you could get a passive pre like the Creek OBH-22, send the the RCA signal from the dlink3 to the Creek and then use the Creek's tape out to the Yamaha...

  3. #3
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    I did own an GFP-750 that failed. Actually not on my watch, but it was DOA at the person who bought it from me: he had to have the power supply replaced at over $300.

    Budget is a big factor of course, Today if I were willing to spend say $1500, I'd be looking at an older tube preamp, say a BAT VK-3i, like THIS one recently on the 'Gon. Actually a couple of years ago I bought a Sonic Frontiers Line 1, a fully balance tube preamp for $900. The SF equipment is a relative bargain because SF is no longer in business; however expert service is still available from Parts ConneXion whose owner was president of SF.

    On the other hand these days I'm into DIY in a modest way, and I would give consideration to buying a preamp kit from one of the internet providers of which there are quite a few. Or you can buy an assemblded one from some of those sources, mostly in China not surprisingly. THIS one from DIY Gene on eBay, supposedly "based on" an ARC balanced tube design, would be tempting to me: US$600, assembled & shipped.

    And for sure, you could look at the selection at Pacific Valve of Chinese-sourced preamps. For example, THIS "YS Audio", $800.
    Last edited by Feanor; 11-16-2010 at 08:38 AM.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Assuming you don't have an analog source (I don't see one in your sig) then have you considered Pre amps without HT Bypass?

    For example, you could get a PS-Audio P200 pre and run the balanced outputs from your Dlink 3 to it and run the RCA to your Yamaha receiver.

    You could do the same with an Emotiva USP-1 (if you want to spend less)...

    Also, I think you could get a passive pre like the Creek OBH-22, send the the RCA signal from the dlink3 to the Creek and then use the Creek's tape out to the Yamaha...

    Good thought but I do want a preamp that I can run when I use my digilink or an analog source from which I have yet hooked up but I do have a tt that I am restoring so it will be a future thing. When I run this preamp I want the adcoms power amp connections to come right off of it and when I am listening to music through this preamp I want to be able to take the yamaha completely out of the mix at all. I thought a preamp with ht bypass would be perfect for this and there are plenty of them out there that do this. Now I have heard the adcom 750 having some reliability issues so that is a concern since they are out of warranty now if I bought one of the gon but I think I want to go a little higher end than the emotiva usp-1 since my system if evolving and I want to go as good as I can afford, I have heard the usp 1 is way better than their price leads you to believe but they are coming out with a new preamp that is supposed to be better than the usp. But I am also looking at different preamps and getting ideas. have looked at the rotel 1580 and the bel canto pre3 since they have a theater bypass and have gotten good press and have looked at tubed pre's but I would want to make sure that the tube section is bypassed when the ht bypass is active since I don't want to waste tube life on ht. If there is a pre that does that I will look at it very closely but for now a ss pre seems to be the best bet for this kind of setuation since I do not have room in my home and my girlfriends approval to set up two systems in my home.

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  5. #5
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    Good thought but I do want a preamp that I can run when I use my digilink or an analog source from which I have yet hooked up but I do have a tt that I am restoring so it will be a future thing. When I run this preamp I want the adcoms power amp connections to come right off of it and when I am listening to music through this preamp I want to be able to take the yamaha completely out of the mix at all. I thought a preamp with ht bypass would be perfect for this and there are plenty of them out there that do this. Now I have heard the adcom 750 having some reliability issues so that is a concern since they are out of warranty now if I bought one of the gon but I think I want to go a little higher end than the emotiva usp-1 since my system if evolving and I want to go as good as I can afford, I have heard the usp 1 is way better than their price leads you to believe but they are coming out with a new preamp that is supposed to be better than the usp. But I am also looking at different preamps and getting ideas. have looked at the rotel 1580 and the bel canto pre3 since they have a theater bypass and have gotten good press and have looked at tubed pre's but I would want to make sure that the tube section is bypassed when the ht bypass is active since I don't want to waste tube life on ht. If there is a pre that does that I will look at it very closely but for now a ss pre seems to be the best bet for this kind of setuation since I do not have room in my home and my girlfriends approval to set up two systems in my home.
    If you're not in a rush then I'd suggest waiting on the XSP-1... It should be at least as good as the Rotel for quite a bit less (considering how many of us Emo owners were previously Rotel fans and owners)...

  6. #6
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I might do that but I wish they would announce a pre order for it so I could get the before the end of the year pricing because I am thinking about their dipole,bipole surround speakers as well sense this type of speaker will work better for how I have my room set up and as far as I have seen dynaudio does not make a speaker like that and they are at a very good price right now so if I could bundle the two together and get the sale price that would be awesome.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
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    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
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  7. #7
    Ajani
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    Not sure how soon the XSP-1 will be released, but Emotiva has up preview pics of it on their website (under the news section)...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/emotiva...5658/lightbox/

  8. #8
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    I wonder how this would sound and it has a HT feature.
    http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summar...+pre+amplifier

    Here's a sweet piece: Krell KAV-280p preamplifier, silver (List $3,500) $1,700 Demo, at Spearitsound.com They also had a used Mac for $899.00. Some decent CJ preamps but I didn't show them since you were pursuing solid state.

    If you could swing it that Krell would be the way to go hands down.
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  9. #9
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    The Emotiva xsp is quite big for a preamp but it does have some great features like balanced inputs and a ht bypass that is full range and has a sub control if I choose to use it. I also like that it is quite a bit cheaper than competitive products and the only thing that I wonder is if it will be able to compare to other higher end products in my price range up to around 1500 dollars. If it is anything like their usp-1 except better then it should be able to hang with products in that price range easily. I am just a person that does a lot of studying before I purchase new equipment and with this unit being brand new and not even officially out yet I will have to see if I pull the trigger on it when it comes out.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
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    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
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    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    but the cambridge azur is a very good looking piece I just don't know if it is worth the extra dollars sound wise, I do like Krell as I have heard them before and they are top notch solid state components.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
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    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
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  11. #11
    RGA
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    I would like to make one comment on your concern for tube life.

    Tube preamplifiers typically use tubes with very very long lives - same for CD players. These are small tubes typically like the 12AX7 variety and will last anywhere from 15,000 to 150,000 hours.

    I just reviewed a CD player that has a tube life expectation of 100,000 hours and the manufacturer desires that you leave it on 24/7 (over 11 full years on the tube running 24/7).

    And then after all that the tubes in most preamps are of the type that are very inexpensive to replace. My integrated amp costs about $9.00.

    So if you look closer this is not an issue to be on when you watch TV or movies. (many tube televisions lasted well over 20 years and the whole thing was a "tube" and most home theaters and most everything else was run with tubes that lasted many many years. People have original ST70 amps with the stock tubes still going after 40 years. My SS highly reviewed SS Arcam was falling apart after 8 years. I've had two receivers die within 5 and that driving dead easy to drive speakers. If my worry is a $9.00 tube (light bulb) replacement that's not a problem.

    The concern is the power tubes of tube power amps or bigger integrated. The life of power tubes can be as little as 2000 hours and they also tend to cost a lot more.

  12. #12
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Agreed. At least consider something hybrid that may be able to meet your needs harley. You will love the mix of SS and tube as it will give dimension and lush texture to the music. I bet you would fall out of your seat hearing what a tube pre could do for your DL3.

    On the other hand if Krell or similar brands is what you're seeking, can't go wrong there either.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    The only thing that I am worried about with a tube preamp is synergy with a solid state amp. because even if I change from my current amp I am pretty sure I will stay SS. I have seen people succeed at putting the two together before but usually they have had access to several components or just luck out that the synergy works because I know that a tube pre with a ss amp does not always get the results that the person wants and I don't want to play the buy and sell game a bunch of times until I find one that works.

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    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
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    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
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  14. #14
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    Harley, you didn't seem to mind my CJ gear too much but for the type of music you listen to I'd say you were on the right track with solid state. If my musical taste wasn't as diverse it's a good possibility I'd still be running Krell. Lush isn't usually a term I hear so much with double kick bass and distortion That is better served with bone jarring transient response and gut punching bass. My brother actually was annoyed at me for going tubes, he liked the Krell better, now he calls my system the "Frankenstein" system, I guess because of all the glowing tubes and I have my cages off.
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  15. #15
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Actually I really enjoyed your CJ gear Mr Peabody and it really made the dynaudio's sound good and I am not against tubes by no means and I do listen to a very wide range of music not just the hard stuff and my interests seem to grow all the time as my system grows as well. I just thought with it being a while at least until a new power amp will be in the cards since I am quite content with the way my adcom pushes the Dynaudio's that a tube pre might not work with the adcom amp very well. Let me know if you think this is wrong because I have never done a lot of trial and error with tube pre's and adcom power amps. If there are any tube pre's you think would have good synergy with ss power amps and have the theater bypass let me know and I will check them out as I am trying to keep an open mind about things until I make a decision for sure.

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    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
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  16. #16
    RGA
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    Harley

    Synergy is always the key. A lot of hybrids tend to sound to me like the worst of both worlds not the best of both worlds.

    I never understood the main "concept of hybrid systems. People put the tube preamp in largely to get the sound to be good (fuller warmer whatever the words that are used to equal "more right" sounding). But they don't stop to think that gee the reason I need to bother with tubes is because solid state tends to sound horrible. But they say "well I need to buy big high damping factor power amplifiers" to which I wonder again why? The only reason that is necessary is because the speaker designer is incompetent and can't make a good high efficiency speakers (which isn't the same as High Sensitivity). But if the speaker is already bought and won't be removed then so be it. High power tube amps tend to cost a ton. So there is a certain reality check in play that a SS amp will probably be much less expensive to buy and operate. The Grant Fidelity Shengya PM 150 monoblock power amps are 40lbs each use massive transformers first rate build quality and tend not to sound so damn annoying as per most every other SS power amp I've used. It is a hybrid monoblock which is a little different. You don't see this kind of design often in a power amp. 150 watts per channel. If you need more - buy different loudspeakers.

    They posted my review of it but they have better pictures http://www.grantfidelity.com/site/Shengya_CV15_PM150

  17. #17
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Well i do understand your opinion about the ss vs tube thing from which I have heard you say before in other posts. I have heard great components form both worlds and do not necessarily say that one is better than another all the time. I have heard Mr Peabody's CJ tube components and they sounded excellent and have heard other great tube systems but also have heard total SS components that sound equally excellent just in a different way and I can not say I am a one sided audiophile in either direction. I do believe that most of the SS stuff seems to have a little more detail but the tube stuff has a little more emotion in the midrange but I so far I definitely like solid states bass production better for the most part. which is my opinion on my instrument amps as well as I play Bass and Guitar and will always choose a tube amp due to the frequencies that the guitar play in are the tube amps bread and butter and also the tubes sound so much better overdriven than transisters. On the flip side of that I have played bass for just as long and will always choose SS for my bass heads since they have a more solid and quick bass response that seems to suit that bass guitar perfectly and every time I have tried a tube head for bass I always come back to the the SS heads for which I own one myself because the bass is just better and more reliable. So I see why people choose tubes for that magical midrange but I don't know if I will like the rest of the frequency spectrum with a tube preamp.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
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    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
    Dynaudio audience 60 mains
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    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
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  18. #18
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    In my experience I have not heard tubes and solid state mixed well either. Well, the Vincent hybrid power amp didn't sound bad. So maybe it's just a synergy issue. I can tell you it's not as easy as just sticking any tube pre with an amp. For tubed preamps to work well with SS the preamp needs a low output impedance, 500 ohms or less is preferred. Then the sonic signatures will have to mesh for good synergy.

    Like you Harley I am not a hardliner either way but hear the attributes of both. It seems the differences between tubes and solid state are narrowing in some brands as well. The good tube gear with power or grip costs though.
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  19. #19
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    I think those Shengya PM 150 monoblock power amps are really Vincent....good stuff.
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  20. #20
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    It might be just me or is Grant Fidelity taking components and putting their name on them. I have done a lot of searching and have seen components that match up to theirs in every way even physically with out their name on them. I am not a fan of rebadging at all and that was what kept me from buying a dac from them earlier. I am not saying that they are not good quality or anything I am just saying that I would rather buy from the source or at least know of the source first.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
    Dynaudio audience 60 mains
    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
    ps-audio NuWave dac (2 channel)
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  21. #21
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I am just wondering if the tube preamp thing is even worth considering. I know that there are brands like Conrad Johnson and others that make top notch tube preamps but I just don't know how they will mesh with a ss amp. I have looked at the Rogue audio persues pretty close and I am still on the hunt.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
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    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
    Dynaudio audience 60 mains
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    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
    ps-audio NuWave dac (2 channel)
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  22. #22
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    It might be just me or is Grant Fidelity taking components and putting their name on them. I have done a lot of searching and have seen components that match up to theirs in every way even physically with out their name on them. I am not a fan of rebadging at all and that was what kept me from buying a dac from them earlier. I am not saying that they are not good quality or anything I am just saying that I would rather buy from the source or at least know of the source first.
    Grant has acknowledged that they re-brand products.... I believe they gave some explanation about them being official North American distributors as opposed to the guys on ebay selling the gear out of china...

    Interestingly enough, considering your current question of pairing tubes and SS; I had considered trying out a GF tube buffer in my system... It would be much cheaper than a decent tube pre and I could just remove it if the effects were less than positive...

    Note: A buffer adds something unnecessary to the signal path...

  23. #23
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    I am just wondering if the tube preamp thing is even worth considering. I know that there are brands like Conrad Johnson and others that make top notch tube preamps but I just don't know how they will mesh with a ss amp. I have looked at the Rogue audio persues pretty close and I am still on the hunt.
    I also recently considered the Rogue Audio Metis Pre, between my DAC1 and XPA2, but as positive as all the reviews are they all mention some amount of noise... Considering how noise free my system is now, I'm afraid that the Tube pre would mess things up...

  24. #24
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    I've already given my 0.02 regarding the pre harley, I feel like this conversation is leaning towards SS v Tubes...yet again. I say get what you feel comfortable with.

    I just wanted to chime in about Grant. The way it works is like this...they go to China and find the gear that they like. Then Ian Grant makes modifications as he sees fit. Once the new design is put together and ready for production, he gets a 2 year exclusive on it.

    So, the stuff you see selling on Ebay during the 2 year exclusivity is actually not exactly the same. It's not SUPPOSED to be anyhow.

    The DAC-09 has hit it's 2 year mark and you'll notice that Grant has significantly dropped their price. I have 5 of their new Psvane tubes coming for my pre amp. I am really excited about it.

    Anyhow good luck with your search.

  25. #25
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    4,396
    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Grant has acknowledged that they re-brand products.... I believe they gave some explanation about them being official North American distributors as opposed to the guys on ebay selling the gear out of china...

    Interestingly enough, considering your current question of pairing tubes and SS; I had considered trying out a GF tube buffer in my system... It would be much cheaper than a decent tube pre and I could just remove it if the effects were less than positive...

    Note: A buffer adds something unnecessary to the signal path...
    Signal purity aside, I think those buffers are for the most part, false economy. I am always telling people to continue saving for a true tube pre. The difference in SQ will far exceed the difference in money.

    There's the GF buffer's and also the Bellari phono pre's which are great products, but I think through reviews and such, people have been misled as to how good they are.

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