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Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?

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Posted on February 17, 2017 at 19:14:09
Rodcarew29
Audiophile

Posts: 8
Joined: May 5, 2016
I would like to know if it would be worth swapping out my passive with a tube preamp.

My setup:

Magnepan MG .7
Mod Squad Line Drive passive preamp
Bryston 4b-st amp
Rythmik f12 sub
Bluesound Node
Tidal streaming

My budget on a preamp would be $1k on a used tube preamp. Would such a purchase be a worthwhile addition?

thanks
Adam

 

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RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 17, 2017 at 19:21:08
Rodcarew29
Audiophile

Posts: 8
Joined: May 5, 2016
Oh yeah, if the opinion is yes then any recommendations would be appreciated

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 17, 2017 at 21:16:26
Satie
Audiophile

Posts: 4346
Joined: July 6, 2002
Yes, it is usually very useful to have an active preamp, and the more complementary ones for Bryston and maggies are tube types.

Current production would be the Doge 8 and Rogue RP1 and Vincent, and the Schiit line of headphone amp/preamp.

Classics include the Melos SHA Gold,, particularly with the Maestro or Reference mod package, Bruce Moore designs from Audible Illusions (Uranus, Dual Mono, Saturn Modulus) MFA (Magus and Luminescence).
Lesser values - Most of the ARC line stages, and those from CAT, BAT, CJ, VAC, VTL and Manley . VAC and BAT being particularly expensive.

On the DIY side, the Bruce Herran line single ended non feedback line stage is great/

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 18, 2017 at 07:15:56
66mgb
Audiophile

Posts: 152
Location: Pioneer California
Joined: November 8, 2009
I found a mint used Conrad Johnson PV12 with phono stage for under $1K. I highly recommend it.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 18, 2017 at 08:10:49
zomax
Audiophile

Posts: 212
Location: NYC
Joined: May 5, 2006
I'm currently running .7s with a Rogue Pharoah integrated that has a tube preamp component. I'm very happy with the results. Before the Pharoah, I was using a Rogue Metis preamp and Class D Audio amplifier. I never tried that combo with the .7s but I'm a big proponent of the tube preamp/solid state (or class d) combo.

BTW, the Metis is currently sitting on the shelf in my closet ;)

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 18, 2017 at 09:59:17
Davey
Audiophile

Posts: 861
Joined: September 26, 2013
I would say "no"......unless you have some sort of objective that you didn't state.

Do you need more voltage gain?
Is your intention to introduce some distortion?
Etc.
Etc.

Dave.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 18, 2017 at 10:14:19
JBen
Audiophile

Posts: 2768
Location: South FL
Joined: May 18, 2008
Contributor
  Since:
July 26, 2010
Hi Adam. It depends on what you are looking for. If it is just the "tube" sound, you could simply keep the best of both worlds. Units like Schitt's Saga and the Freya would do this very well. They both allow switching to/from the tube stage easily, and changing inputs also, via a remote.

Now, these don't offer amplification, they are no gain, with buffer stages.





 

Freya has a 14 db gain with tubes (nt) , posted on February 18, 2017 at 15:28:52
neolith
Audiophile

Posts: 3807
Location: Virginia
Joined: February 21, 2002
Contributor
  Since:
December 2, 2004




I married the perfect woman. The downside is everything that goes wrong is my fault.



 

RE: Freya has a 14 db gain with tubes (nt) , posted on February 18, 2017 at 17:41:27
JBen
Audiophile

Posts: 2768
Location: South FL
Joined: May 18, 2008
Contributor
  Since:
July 26, 2010
Yup, I stand corrected. It's only the JFET stage in Freya that has no gain. It does have balanced in/outs, which the Saga does not. The Saga is the one where both modes are 0 gain.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 19, 2017 at 20:21:11
Joe Backer
Audiophile

Posts: 325
Joined: July 10, 2011
I was huge passive guy. Tried so many of them at all budget levels and finally when bought a phono preamp from Keith Herron, he suggested that it sounded better with a tube preamp and I bought an old model used for like $1200 and it totally changed my view. There's just a spacial aspect that you can't get with a passive that tubes bring you and if you're careful with tube choice, you don't give up resolution.

If you can find a used Herron VTSP-1, that's a great place to start.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 22, 2017 at 06:38:32
fredtr
Audiophile

Posts: 572
Location: Phoenix
Joined: January 4, 2005
If you have any local shops or acquaintances that would allow you to try some different tube preamps do it. The reason I am suggesting this is that system synergy and personal taste is important. I have had a half dozen tube preamps in my system and what I liked was different from others that have posted. And the difference between some of them wasn't subtle, if your experience is anything like mine it will be well worth your time and effort.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on February 22, 2017 at 08:38:58
josh358
Industry Professional

Posts: 9565
Joined: February 9, 2010
Contributor
  Since:
February 3, 2012
Years ago, I went in the opposite direction, replacing my Conrad-Johnson PV-5 with a passive pre that I built myself. I never looked back. However good it is, an amplification device can only add distortion and coloration and so will never sound as good as a passive pre unless you have other problems in the chain such as inadequate gain to drive the power amp to the desired level, an impedance issue, or anemic output stages that distort at higher levels.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on March 3, 2017 at 20:15:58
bfrank53
Industry Professional

Posts: 24
Joined: March 11, 2002
I tried the same Mod Squad passive for a while with my 3.6s and modified Adcom GFA585 Special Edition amp. CD player was a Rega Apollo. There just didn't seem to be any "there" there. No oomph. I finally switched to a Dared 2000 tube preamp and the difference was palpable. I've since gone to a Conrad-Johnson Classic and theres been even more improvement. For me, a passive preamp seemed like a good idea, it just didn't sound very good.

 

RE: Should I replace my passive preamp with tubes?, posted on March 23, 2017 at 22:17:50
ghost4man
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Joined: February 18, 2016
All this talk about using a pre which is a valve sounding much better when used in conjunction with maggies is not something that I really subscribe to.

My feeling has always been that a a pre, regardless of the electronic architecture should be as neutral as possible.

I was speaking to a colleague the other day who spent 10k for a valve pre - Audio Research Reference - because he liked the warmer valve sound.

I remarked to him that he preferred the sound to be coloured. He agreed.

So he sold his Lightspeed LDR passive pre, which is about as neutral a pre as you will get because it was in his eyes a bit too raw for him. Speak to other people and the LDR gives an amazing combo with maggies.

 

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