I'm considering going to stereo separates. Not down to the short list yet, but are considering Adcom, Parasound, and NAD. Any others generally available that I should investigate in my budget limits?
Bryston 2BLP Parasound Halo p-3
Infinity Kappa 400 M&K MX-70
NAD T-533 Yamaha MCX-1000
Thorens TD-185 Monarchy 33
Well, I'm halfway there. I just won the auction for a Bryston 2b-lp power amplifier on e-bay. Twenty year warranty, 60Wpm should be plenty for my den, and a great reputation from many reviews. The question now is Halo or something else.
One great sub-$1k preamp ($995 actually) is the Rogue Audio Metis. I'd encourage your to put it on your short list.
The Metis is a 6SN7-based tube preamp with a solid-state MM phono stage. For an extra $100, you can get Rogue's remote volume control.
What I found particular compelling about the Metis was its combination very good transparency (not state of the art, of course, but still quite fine) and excellent top-to-bottom balance. I can't emphasize that last point strongly enough. Some affordable tube units fall into the trap of offering solid midrange but significantly flawed bass and treble response, but the Metis, happily, does not. For this reason, I think it sounds as if it should cost more than it actually does.
The Metis phono section is decent, but not on a par with its tube linestage.
At a lower price point, the NAD C 162 is terrific. You can find an archived copy of my TAS review of the NAD and its matching C 272 power amp on www.avguide.com.
An unexpected surprise is the inherent goodness of the C 162's built-in phono section (it alone is worth the price of admission, IMHOP).
'Hope this input proves useful.
Editor, Avguide.com/Playback/The Perfect Vision
I think TAS has a review of the Rogue in the latest issue.
EDWARD wrote:I'm considering going to stereo separates. Not down to the short list yet, but are considering Adcom, Parasound, and NAD. Any others generally available that I should investigate in my budget limits?
I know you said less than $1,000, but want to suggest a few very musical alternatives, just in case you somehow have the opportunity to try them.
Although I see the price has recently gone up to $1,395, the PrimaLuna Prologue 3 offers unheard of performance for money. Then there's the 3-input tube with twin pre-outs, Eastern Electric Minimax at $1,195. Both very, very good, but I'd have to give the nod to the PrimaLuna, though and find that extra money (or buy pre-owned/demo) one way or another!
Or how about the $1,195 Sonic Euphoria passive? It also has dual pre-outs but double the inputs plus a tape-out.
And, though I haven't heard and need to get my hands on one, if you can follow up on Chris' suggestion re the Rogue Audio Metis I'd very much encourage you to do so. 6SN7s make great preamp tubes, and my expreiences with Rogue amps has been positive. That unit could prove a great partner for the amp you just acquired.
Best wishes on your hunt!
You can also try the Adcom GFP 750. These can be had off of audiogon for about 750. A Classe CP 35 can be had for under 500. An Audio REsearch LS3 I recommend too.Any of these is superior to any you have listed. There are more but these would be my choices.
I actually use a Primare Pre 30 and am way impressed with it. You can get them for about 1000 but they are very rare in this country for some reason.
If I were in the market for an under-$1k preamp, I'd be tempted to look on Audiogon or in the used equipment section of a large high-end dealership for a vintage ARC (Audio Research Corporation) tube preamp--like an SP-6B, SP-8, SP-9, SP-14, or (if you're lucky enough to find one at this low a price) SP-10. The big caveat emptor, of course, would be condition. Personally, I'd send the preamp back to ARC to have it thoroughly inspected and circuit boards, caps, and tubes checked and/or replaced. This could end up costing you $500 or more, but it would be worth the expense, as the preamp would be bullet-proof and sonically superior to the new stuff priced around a grand.
As a follow-up to my previous note, the following vintage ARC preamps, all under-$1k, were listed on Audiogon (cgi.audiogon.com) on 2/26/06:
Audio Research SP-3A-1 Preamp beautiful ! Pre-Tube $975.00
Audio Research SP9 Mklll tube pre-amp with phono Pre-Tube $995.00
Audio Research SP-9 MK 3 w/phono. exc. condition. Pre-Tube $995.00
Audio research SP-8 stereo pre-amplifier Pre-Tube $900.00
Audio Research SP-6A unmolested Pre-Tube $800.00
Audio research SP 8 high definition preamp Pre-Tube $900.00
N.B. I'm not recommending you buy any of these units. I'm just illustrating my point--that vintage tube gear of very high quality is available used for the money you want to spend.
It would be interesting to compare, say, an SP-9 with a new $1k preamp. Has anyone done that?
Uh...no. And it is a not only a reasonable question; it's the critical one.
Here's what I can tell you from my own experience. For many years I used an ARC SP-10MK II as my reference preamp. (I also had an SP-9 on hand.) For a time in the mid-to-late 90s I did the very kind of comparisons you ask about, although I was comparing the ARC gear to much more expensive "new" preamps, including new ARC preamps.
There were tradeoffs, of course. But overall the vintage ARC gear didn't merely hold its own against the competition; it outright bested a lot of very expensive contemporary gear in musicality.
Whether that would be the case with new millenium electronics I can't say with utter certainty. But I'd be willing to bet that an SP-9, which was pretty high-resolution preamp for the money and includes a darn good phonostage as well, wouldn't be embarrassed by sub-$1k gear of current manufacture.
Of course, the "right" way to confirm this is to actually do the comparison. Unfortunately I don't have the SP-10 or the SP-9 anymore (damnit).
just finished an exhausive search for preamps Parasound Halo P3 came out on top. I looked at and listened to used Audio Research, CJ, McIn. new Quad, new NAD, new Cambridge, new Vincent, considered integrated amps... drove the sales folks crazy, I have a $5000 "taste" at under 1K budget. Because I experiment with loudspeaker design, a mono switch and balance full right (and left is critical for me) but I have other equipment for the AB comparison work, I listen "flat" 90% of the time but on certain recording, tone controls are just really helpful, turn unmusical tracks to something somewhat decent. The closest great sounding preamp I found was a ten year old modified Acoustic Reserech tube-mosfet unit with no tone controls of course. In fact it sounded much better BUT I just can't afford to spend more as it was more and I can't afford for it to burn out down the road. Many of my collection of equipment is 10 to 20 years old and still very good. I also just invested in an Arcam DAC $479 wow what a killer deal upgrade for my Rega CD and getting good sound out of my PC!