Preamp choice

andromedaaudio

VIP/Donor
Jan 23, 2011
6,889
1,628
650
Amsterdam holland
Hi all,
I have been working on my system since almost a year and after multiple changes have been very close to get it final. I have completed my digital end, very happy with speakers and amp. My amp is Audia flight strumento no.4 mk2 and drives the speakers extremely good. I am now looking to upgrade the preamp. I am OK with either tube or solid state. The amp`s input impedance is 7.5 Kohms and hence looking for preamp with output impedance < 200-300 ohms, lesser the better. Price < 20 k, preferably less than 15 k (if used). I have short listed to these. Unfortunately, even though audio research is very well reviewed, their output impedance is high for my preamp. Any thoughts or experience on these or suggestions will be appreciated.
Esoteric C-02X
Boulder 1110
Conrad Johnson GAT 2 S2
VTL TL-7.5 S3
Luxman c900u
VAC signature Mk 2 SE.
Audionet pre G2
Used esoteric C1
Why have you not included this one in the list ?
Is it not widely distributed / popular / available for audition in the states ?
And what about a second hand Lamm LL1 sign , that goes for around 20 K second hand i think ?

CAT-LEGEND.jpeg
 
  • Like
Reactions: analyzer

RaChiK

Active Member
Sep 14, 2020
147
79
35
42
I use it to run two systems in different rooms: YG Sonja XV/Boulder 3060 and Paradigm Tribute/Anthem MCA20. The Cordesman review in TAS is pretty good. The day-to-day sound quality is ease -- all the music is there, effortlessly.
I am surprised with Boulder 3060, you decided to go with 1110 instead of 2 or 3 series. That tells a lot on 1110
 

RaChiK

Active Member
Sep 14, 2020
147
79
35
42
I have ordered one.
I am assuming you might have auditioned others too. Can you please tell me the sonic characters of this preamp compared to others. I really like this preamp based on reviews, but this preamp has not been changed/updated since 7-8 yrs (which is usual life cycle of high quality preamps, I think)
 
Last edited:

chuck

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2011
255
210
348
San Diego
I am surprised with Boulder 3060, you decided to go with 1110 instead of 2 or 3 series. That tells a lot on 1110
The 1110 gets pretty much all there is from the source and lets the 3060 do the heavy lifting.

Cordesman talked about this in his review: "Transients and dynamics are also exceptionally revealing, and imaging is as well defined and natural in size and depth as the recording permits. It is the power, definition, and control provided by the 1160 power amp that does most to keep even truly high-level dynamics and transients so well defined—both in massive orchestral works and really demanding electronic music and rock—but the 1110 preamplifier is also a key enabler, and its resolution of really low-level information and dynamics is a pleasure to hear. "

What the 1160 can do, the 3060 does ten times better.

The 2 or 3 likely do better but I could not justify the cost, the 2 is nearly 3x and the 3 is 7x the price.
 

RaChiK

Active Member
Sep 14, 2020
147
79
35
42
The 1110 gets pretty much all there is from the source and lets the 3060 do the heavy lifting.

Cordesman talked about this in his review: "Transients and dynamics are also exceptionally revealing, and imaging is as well defined and natural in size and depth as the recording permits. It is the power, definition, and control provided by the 1160 power amp that does most to keep even truly high-level dynamics and transients so well defined—both in massive orchestral works and really demanding electronic music and rock—but the 1110 preamplifier is also a key enabler, and its resolution of really low-level information and dynamics is a pleasure to hear. "

What the 1160 can do, the 3060 does ten times better.

The 2 or 3 likely do better but I could not justify the cost, the 2 is nearly 3x and the 3 is 7x the price.
Boulder 1110 are pretty good. I wish I could go for 1110, but, I want tubes in my otherwise solid state gear. I will go for tube preamp.
 

RaChiK

Active Member
Sep 14, 2020
147
79
35
42
Any thoughts on Thrax Dionysos. I had posted in other thread, but this one is really interesting. Recently Pete from AV showroom, said it is one of the most musical systems (along with Teres amps). I am going to look more into this.
 

dcc

VIP/Donor
Nov 4, 2012
486
592
445
Continental Europe
Any thoughts on Thrax Dionysos. I had posted in other thread, but this one is really interesting. Recently Pete from AV showroom, said it is one of the most musical systems (along with Teres amps). I am going to look more into this.
All I can say it that its big brother is the best preamp I have ever listened to.
 

chuck

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2011
255
210
348
San Diego
Boulder 1110 are pretty good. I wish I could go for 1110, but, I want tubes in my otherwise solid state gear. I will go for tube preamp.
Good luck. I have had a fabulous sounding two chassis tube preamp since 2010, the Audio Research Reference Anniversary preamp ($25K). It was great for the first 18 months, then the sound collapsed and distorted. Retubing. Order the tubes, disconnect everything, pull out both pieces, $900.00, reinstall, reconnect, hope it works. Repeat about 6 more times. I only had to send it back to Minnesota once. I expect that it still sounds as good as any tube pre. When I got it, with fresh tubes, AFAIK there were no SS preamps that could come close to its SQ, including Boulder's best at the time. But the new 1110 sounds as good.
 

RaChiK

Active Member
Sep 14, 2020
147
79
35
42
OK. I pulled the trigger for Thrax Dionysos. Somehow, after seeing the reviews and users feedback, I felt like this is the preamp to go. Purely gut driven, as I have not listened to them myself. I was going back and forth between solid state and tube preamps, but thought I need tube somewhere in my otherwise SS chain. Among the tube preamps, I was torn between this and CJ GAT2. CJ GAT2 was bit pricey and got a good deal on used Thrax, that made the decision easy. I will be getting it by tomorrow and will see if I made the right decision. Thanks a lot for everybody who made valuable suggestions.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,504
1,774
698
OK. I pulled the trigger for Thrax Dionysos. Somehow, after seeing the reviews and users feedback, I felt like this is the preamp to go. Purely gut driven, as I have not listened to them myself. I was going back and forth between solid state and tube preamps, but thought I need tube somewhere in my otherwise SS chain. Among the tube preamps, I was torn between this and CJ GAT2. CJ GAT2 was bit pricey and got a good deal on used Thrax, that made the decision easy. I will be getting it by tomorrow and will see if I made the right decision. Thanks a lot for everybody who made valuable suggestions.
Congrats! As a former CJ GAT 2 owner, it is a sensational preamp, but it is surely not the only one. Look forward to hearing how the Thrax works out.
 

RaChiK

Active Member
Sep 14, 2020
147
79
35
42
So, I have been listening to thrax dionysos (V2) for long hours and am very pleased and happy to say the least. Since I have not used a lot of other preamplifiers, all I can compare is to my previous VAC renaissance Mk V. VAC is amazing preamp for the price. In that price range, I would still keep VAC. Coming back to Thrax Dionysos, one word that comes to mind after listening is "seductive and musical" in addition to being very dynamic. The noise is very very low and has black background, which I love. The music just flows out. Very minimal to no grain, which is very noticeable coming from VAC. The transients and decay are fast. The mids are the best with very seductive vocals, without being bloomy. The mids and vocals are the main highlight of this preamp. The bass is huge. They are tight and well controlled. I was surprised how a tube pre-amp can throw so much bass. They are very dynamic with a huge (I mean very huge) soundstage, both lateral, vertical and in depth. The dynamics are very very good and I did not expect this from tube preamp. It is best described as combination of tube magic of mids and solid state dynamism and soundstage. I highly recommend this preamp, if they are looking for this combination. Add to that, the build quality is top notch and like a tank. They look very luxurious. Only other component which looked this gorgeous are esoteric components.
Not sure if this is a downside, but It is a bit forward. I guess this a part of throwing a huge soundstage.
To summarize, the biggest strong points are: Magical mids/vocal, huge soundstage, solid bass and very very dynamic.
I am happy I made this purchase.
I am not sure how much better or different is V3, but I am assuming they should be better. I can only imagine how good the Libra preamp can be. All I can say is people who have preamp from thrax are in for musical treat.
 

dwhistance

Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2019
98
95
83
61
MP-1 Fully Optioned from Atma-Sphere... Using their Caddock Volume control and Resistor package and the Vcaps

You could ask Ralph on other cap install thou he still prefers the Vcaps for reliability and neutrality.
Have you heard an MP-1 with any other caps installed? Can you describe the sound signature? I’m hoping to hear a “fully loaded” MP-1 soon (assuming we are able to travel freely later in the summer), I like most of what I have read/heard about it but am worried the sound may be a bit too “neutral” for me. A cap change just might make it perfect.

David Whistance
 

Phantom-Audio

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2017
186
129
150
Jakarta
www.phantom-audio.com
Have you heard an MP-1 with any other caps installed? Can you describe the sound signature? I’m hoping to hear a “fully loaded” MP-1 soon (assuming we are able to travel freely later in the summer), I like most of what I have read/heard about it but am worried the sound may be a bit too “neutral” for me. A cap change just might make it perfect.

David Whistance
Iv owned the MP-1 for a number of Years, I also have the MP-3 in the same room.

Never heard the MP-1 or MP-3 with different capacitors, iv read multiple users over at Audioasylum changing caps to paper in oil and so on with good results. However most of them do like the Vcaps and others prefer more exotic caps.

Honestly the pre-amp is so sensitive to changes on tubes you can tweek it to sound warm by selective tubes in the correct places.

If you change the sound to warmish from a cap change then all tubes will all sound warmer then usual.
 

MrC.

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2019
47
45
83
Have you heard an MP-1 with any other caps installed? Can you describe the sound signature? I’m hoping to hear a “fully loaded” MP-1 soon (assuming we are able to travel freely later in the summer), I like most of what I have read/heard about it but am worried the sound may be a bit too “neutral” for me. A cap change just might make it perfect.

David Whistance
Have an MP-3 with copper v-caps on the phono outputs and Atma branded teflon caps elsewhere. The difference is real. I would hesitate putting a paper in oil cap anywhere in a preamp other than the power supply. The paper kills transients and in small signals like a preamp handles it can compress a drum strike into a hum. (An actual experience I had on a audionote phono preamp circuit using Jensen copper paper in oils.). If you use vinyl, the MP-3 is really excellent and for me is an end of the line product. I have heard other preamps and own one based on a LCR circuit as well, but the MP-3 is just better. The MP-1 provides the possibility of driving much longer interconnect runs given its output impedance, however I question whether that justifies the added cost. I haven’t heard both the MP-1 and MP-3, with comparable caps in the same system but if you are on a budget, I would suggest that a fully tricked out MP-3, with copper output caps, a shunt volume control, and external input transformers customized for your cartridge, would give you more than a basic MP-1 without any of the above. If money is no object, the external power supply is likely to give better isolation and sound but to what extent that is audible I would question.
 

Phantom-Audio

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2017
186
129
150
Jakarta
www.phantom-audio.com
I have both Pre-amps, MP-3 Fully Loaded and the MP-1.

If budget is not an issue, the MP-1 is the final destination. It resolves finer details and does everything the MP-3 does but better. I could live with the MP-3 if i never had the chance to own an MP-1 becus to me the MP-3 is still once of the best pre-amps available for the money.

After owning the MP-1 i have never wanted the need to look elsewhere. Being in this hobby for over 25 years i think that should say something.

Atma-Sphere gear needs good quality tubes, the one issue you will find with the pre-amps are tube quality you need quiet tubes as the pre-amp responds to crappy tubes very easily.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
19,577
3,662
910
Portugal
MP-1 Fully Optioned from Atma-Sphere... Using their Caddock Volume control and Resistor package and the Vcaps

You could ask Ralph on other cap install thou he still prefers the Vcaps for reliability and neutrality.
Which model of Vcaps?
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing