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Help! Which Preamp to choose?

 

Silver Member
Username: Jingka99

Post Number: 217
Registered: Aug-06
Hi all, recently I got hold of a NAD C272 but I am still using the preamp section of my C352, I am planning to get a dedicated preamp but I have the following questions:

1. should I venture to tubed preamp or stay with SS preamp? Why?

2. currently, these are within my reach, availability-wise and budget wise: EAR 834L, ARC LS3, NAD C162...other suggestions are welcome...

Thanks in advamce!
 

New member
Username: Tomacco

Carp, ON Canada

Post Number: 7
Registered: Jun-07
1. Tubes are something you have to experiment with to see if you like the sound. No one can tell you to buy solid stae, or a tube amp.

2. If you are going to venture into tubes, buy an integrate one preamp and amp in one box). Jolida makes a very reputable one, and I just bought a Soundstage One (Chinese knock-off), which I am very happy with so far. Contact Miro(galaxy500x@yahoo.ca).
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 14
Registered: May-07
Can't speak for the others but I'm very happy with the C162, both with the C272 and w/ headphones. As others have said, there's a certain synergy using components designed w/ the same specs in mind.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 10590
Registered: May-04
.

"If you are going to venture into tubes, buy an integrate one preamp and amp in one box)."


I have no idea why anyone would make that statement.





However, tubes do operate differently than bipolar transistors and therefore there will be a difference in what you hear with either in the line. The question I would ask is; why do you think you want tubes? If you are looking for "tube sound", then look somewhere else. Most tube pre amps don't have the classic tube sound any longer. If you think tubes will soften the hardness of a too bright system, look elsewhere. That isn't how you should balance a system. If you've never heard tubes and just want to try tubes, you might think about buying a pre amp with MOSFET gain stages rather than tubes. MOSFET's "sound" very much like tubes and in the pre amp stage they can perform better than a conventional tube in certain respects.


You are, however, asking too broad a question. There are very good reasons to buy a particular operating device (tubes, transistors or FET's) and a specific pre amp. I think you should ask a good dealer in your area what you should buy. And never buy a pre amp without hearing it in your own system. A pre amp must mate electrically and mechanically with your system and buying a pig in a poke could prove far less satisfactory than just buying on the basis of tubes or solid state. A good dealer can discuss input/output impedances, microphonics, gain levels and sound quality and how a tube or solid state pre amp will fit with your particular set up.


.
 

Silver Member
Username: Alright_boy

Post Number: 270
Registered: Jan-07
Ignore Jan's mumbo-jumbo and follow #1 from Eric.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 10593
Registered: May-04
.


jonesy, you can't even spell "tubes".
 

Silver Member
Username: Alright_boy

Post Number: 272
Registered: Jan-07
Ibid.
 

Silver Member
Username: Jingka99

Post Number: 218
Registered: Aug-06
Thanks Eric, FrankS & Frank...

I understand that hearing a component in one's own system is always the best thing to prove that it is what i need and what i want but there are instances wherein this is not possible so I was just hoping that somebody here in this forum have taken the same path of partnering the NAD C272 with a different preamp than the C162 and had success with it...whether it be tubed or SS...
 

Silver Member
Username: Jingka99

Post Number: 219
Registered: Aug-06
Or maybe I could revise the question:

If I have a $1000 budget for a preamp, what would you recommend to pair up with C272?

Thanks again...
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 10601
Registered: May-04
.

"Jan Vigne

Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 - 05:20 pm:


jonesy, you can't even spell "tubes".






Jim Bob Jones

Posted on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 01:26 pm:


Ibid.






Told ya.


.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Tomacco

Carp, ON Canada

Post Number: 47
Registered: Jun-07
Jan Vigne: "If you are going to venture into tubes, buy an integrated preamp and amp in one box)." I have no idea why anyone would make that statement.

Does a salesman make more money selling one amp or two? In order of preference, he'd rather sell you a preamp, a preamp and amp together (contrary to popular belief, you can drive a high efficiency speaker with a preamp), and lastly a receiver. Remember the salesman's nightmare of the '50's, a combo amp, preamp and turntable in one unit. Finally a marketting genius, gradually and over time, convinced the average ignorant consumer to buy all these items separately. And fear not, there's engineering hyperbole for each of these con sales jobs. Anyways, I digress; I've probably hurt the feelings of too many savy consumers presently out there.

1. {General}: The more interconnects that you have, the more sources of noise and distortion you have. The amp/preamp hybrid was created strictly to save money. Among other things, one common chassis, one common PSU, etc. Why do you think receivers are so cheap. A proper amp/preamp will combine common components to save money, but in the electrically right places. The separate preamp now has to be connected to the amp via cables, which despite what the literature tells you, are susceptible to EMC.

2. {Absurdo Reductum}: Let's assume we have a separate amp and preamp comprising only of the primary component identified as a transistor. Using your reasoning, let's put each transistor into a separate box, and at the same time, let's supply each transistor with its own PSU. Make much sense? I don't think so; the fewer interconnects, the better.

3. {Combo}: The combo receiver/amp/preamp was designed to save money by sharing common components (e.g. chassis, PSU, EMC filter IEC cord, etc.).

4. {Separates}: Same goes for a separate preamp and a separate amp.

5. {Properly Shared Components}: A proper integrated amp/preamp will combine common components to save money, but in the electrically right places. Common elements like the chassis, PSU, EMC filter IEC cord, RCA jacks etc. need not be duplicated. And I'm sure that their are complex design elements which can also be combined without compromise.

6. {Schematics}: Each time you design two boxes, you generate two sets of schematics and parts lists. Most can be auto-routed, while others must be hand-placed. While the same pinciple applies to a single PCB, only one design is required. Once routed, each box must undergo an EMC integrity analysis. Except in extremely simple circuits, this necessarily leads to hand routing of critical signals. With 24-bit D/As, that means you are dealing with 16 micro-volts (16 x 10^-6).

7. {Mechanical}: Each time you design two boxes, you design two mechanical layouts, assemblies, and assembly instuctions whereas with one box only one needs to be designed.

8. {Logistics}: Each time you design two boxes, you must keep track of two bills of material, whereas with one box, only one bill of material need be kept. Having sufficient material on hand costs money, because it's just sitting there waiting to be built.

9. {Test Equipment}: One box, one piece of Test Equipment, one set of Engineers to run the test, and one set of support staff to maintain the equipment. For two boxes, double that count.

10. {Assemblers}: They're the folks who are going to insure you have the parts to build cables and do general assembly. They're the folks who are going to find part shortages for you.

11. {Purchasing Staff}: They're the folks who are going to procure material for you, and in the event that a large order comes through, and your supplier can't supply, the purchasing folks are gonna' work their buns off making sure you have what you need, because, their necks are gonna be on the line.

12. {Doubling Up}: Doubling up on staff because of the increased workload works a short while, and then you have insurrection on your hands.

13. {Other Condiderations}: There are many other considerations, but I do believe that I have covered the primary ones (e.g. engineering working area, emplyee benefits, heating & cooling, health benefits, workman's comp, etc.) Anyways, you get the general idea, and these are REAL costs which can make or break a company. I've tried to focus mainly on the Engineerring portions, but you would be surprised what "sneaks" in. If you believe that any aspects of items 1 .. 13 are false or exaggerated, let me know - I've been doing this stuff for 28 years, including detailed design, debug and integration, test and manufacture, and field support.

1. {Tubes - General: These are all very good questions whose answers willl probably never live up to your expectations, given that I have never studied tubes, but am in the midst of doing so now. Where I have failed, perhaps a more knowledgeable person can step in and fill the void.

2. {Tubes - Why Do You Wasnt Them?: I don't even know if I want tubes! Discounting my childhood, I've never heard anything but semiconductor technology. Well then you ask, why not meander down to yor local Audio Shoppe, and have a listen to a couple tube amps. Audio Shoppes are set up so that you pay an overpriced premium for any tube-related product. Experimenting with tubes is part of the process of finding pleasing audio equipment, in the same way that finding the ultimate speaker is. For instance it is known that:

a. when operated in linear (unclipped) mode, tube amps sound the same as SS amps provided that their frequency response and distortion levels are sufficiently low - audible differences between tube and SS amps emerge only when they are clipped

b. when you clip the amps, however, it is easy to hear the difference between tube and SS amps; it is also easily observable on a scope

c. a tube amp such as a pair of triodes in series can be seen to clip with a softly rounded waveform, while SS amps (such as op amps clip with razor-sharp edges

d. the "superiority" of tube amps can be found at this site:

http://www.trueaudio.com/at_eetjlm.htm

What isn't mentioned however is:
a. the life span of a tube is short
b. some tubes cost upwards of $200
c. some amps (probably most) need a warm-up period
d. some amps require the cathode heaters to be on for a short period of time before the main power can be engaged

e. a typical tube amp (such as a pair of triodes in series) can be seen to clip with a softly rounded waveform, while typical SS amps (such as op amps) clip with razor-sharp edges

f. in general SS amps produce odd-order harmonic distortion which is more irritating than even-order harmonic distortion in a tube amp.

g. 0.05% 1st order harmonic distortion in SS amps is much more displeasing than 0.5% 2nd harmonic distortion in tubes.

h. tubes will sound diferent from transistors, otherwise the experiment would be pointless

i. some tube preamps do have the classic tube sound; you just have to know where to look, and that's what's going to take the research, but isn't that half the fun? There will also involve tube swapping NOS, Russian-made, etc.

j. how should you balance a system?

k. that's just what I bought, and SoundstageONE Integrated Hybrid Tube Amp ($400 for a Chinese knock-off), which comprises of a tube preamp, with MOSFET power O/P stage.

l. MOSFETS will also last forever compared to a tube

Jan:

1. I am very appreciative of your advise, and I do not make this statement in a condescending manner.

2. Amp - Soundstage One Integrated Hybrid Tube - tube preamp w/ MOSFET O/P stage, 25 wpc, $400 CAD

3. Speakers - Axion MT 60's, 150 wpc, $1,200 CAD

4. I need a recommendation for a CDP and interconnect wire - suggestions?

Thanks,
Best Regards
Eric G.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stryvn

Post Number: 248
Registered: Dec-06
Doesn't matter Eric. CD players are a scam - you couldn't tell a $200 unit from a $1,000 unit. Buy the one with the least amount of interconnects.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 10603
Registered: May-04
.

EG - If you're still around.


From the very first sentence of your post, my head hurt. I can't read it. It makes no sense. There is no logical argument for, "If you are going to venture into tubes, buy an integrated preamp and amp in one box"; there is only gobledeegook. All that time spent posting something that makes no sense. If I tried to get explanations for everything I find wrong with that post, we'd be here for I don't know how long.




Too be extremely rude; you have what kind of degree?



Now what is this with asking for a recommendation? I thought you were the one giving advice?



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 4954
Registered: Feb-05
Red2, if you are looking for the kind of dynamics characteristic of solid state with some of the warmth and fluidity of tubes, I've heard very good results with Audio Research tube and hybrid pre amps. They can be had for a good price second hand and have very good reliability.
 

Silver Member
Username: Jingka99

Post Number: 221
Registered: Aug-06
Thanks Art for the recommendation, I am currently looking for a good deal on either ARC SP or LS series, but I might go for LS series as I don't need a phono stage...there is one LS3 here being sold here but still waiting for some more to come up, probably newer models if possible...

Anybody has experience with LS3?
Thanks again to all who contributed to this thread though it's sometimes frustrating to find out that it's being used to voice out differences between members of this forum...but then again, who am I to complain!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 7784
Registered: Dec-04
red2, if you do not need a phono stage, you might consider a Benchmark DAC1 as well.
Very simple and easily affordable, it functions well as a pre.
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