Preamp advice - Passive or active, Tubes or SS for a Sunfire 300x2 amp + SL3

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malcesine

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Looking for advice on a budget preamp (around £400 - used) to match up with my Sunfire 300x2 power amp + SL3's
I had been thinking about tubes to take the edge of the slightly clinical but wonderful Sunfire.
I would prefer a pre that will change the sound rather than be simply being a neutral volume control.

I have also seen a lot of discussion about active and passive preamps so not sure what works best

At the moment I go straight from a squeezebox to the sunfire with control volume from the squeezebox

Any thoughts on what would work well ?
 
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Looking for advice on a budget preamp (around £400) to match up with my Sunfire 300x2 + SL3's
I had been thinking about tubes to take the edge of the slightly clinical but wonderful Sunfire.
I would prefer a pre that will change the sound rather than be simply being a neutral volume control.

I have also seen a lot of discussion about active and passive preamps so not sure what works best

At the moment I go straight from a squeezebox to the sunfire with control volume from the squeezebox

Any thoughts on what would work well ?

Tube buffer
 
Agree with Dave.

Even if he likes to bust my gonads.

What's your budget?

GG
 
would love a Cary or CJ but only have around £400 ($600) to spend :-<

any cheaper options out there ?
 
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Keep your eyes peeled for an older PV series from CJ.......8 or 10 if you can swing it but a 4 would definitely be in your budget. The 'euphoric' tube sound I think you're looking for is most certainly there.
 
There's an 8 on ebay UK at the mo but it is £1000. American kit is expensive here.

Don't buy a passive it'll be transparent and won't do what you want. A tube preamp should smooth out the Sunfire.

TBH £400 is a tough call for a tube preamp. Look at the feedback on this offering - it is excellent. It will therefore be great for the money. Tube rectified too - that is usually a good sign. Great quality parts, too.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Audio-Exp..._HomeAudioHiFi_Amplifiers&hash=item3a553ce549
 
Tube buffer

Not the best idea. You want to get away from using the Squeezebox as a volume control as this is a regenerative digital control which loses resolution when not at 100%.

Therefore, some from of preamp is recommended. I would also NOT suggest you look for something that changes the sound in any way - if you are not happy with the sound of a component, change that component, but if you stack "tone controls" on top of each other you're only asking for trouble and disappointment with every subsequent upgrade.

Go for the best neutral valve preamp you can afford would be my advice, and if you're not happy with the sound after that then it'll be time to look to replace the Sunfire.

Passive preamps are great in theory, but because they provide limited impedance matching then they can be highly dependent on source and amplifier (ie. what is connected to either side of them). That makes them highly specialised.

Another option you could use (if you are only using the Squeezebox as a source and don't plan on adding any other analogue sources) is to forget a preamp altogether and buy a DAC with volume control. DACs like the M-DAC which a few of us have do have non-regenerative digital controls and can drive a power amplifier directly. You'll then have the added benefit of a source upgrade at the same time! Can't lose!! :)

What does the M-DAC cost over in its native country? The cheaper Q-DAC doesn't have volume control, but if the M-DAC is too expensive then the Cambridge DACMagic, Wadia 121 or Nuforce DAC-100 might be options? There are heaps of DACs with non-regen digital volume controls.
 
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Not the best idea.You want to get away from using the Squeezebox as a volume control as this is a regenerative digital control which loses resolution when not at 100%

That's really the idea to avoid loss of resolution and you are right - a volume controlled DAC would work too.

I also take your point about going for neutrality but I feel the Sunfire is 95% there and just needs a wee bit of warmth.
To rip it all up and start again going for tube pre/power amp with enough warmth and control might take a lot of cash and a lot of attempts to get it just right when I feel its pretty close now
 
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