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  1. #1
    Old Polk
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    Question Tube preamp recommendations

    I'm in the process of having my Counterpoint SA-100 power amp upgraded and I've opted for the "low sensitivity" build (details here.)

    I chose this build based on a desire to replace my SS preamp with a tube preamp that would compliment the SA-100 and allow better volume control. I've used the same amp/preamp combo for, literally, decades - so, I'm totally out of touch with current equipment.

    Any suggestions for a tube preamp in the $600 range (phono stage optional, but a plus) that would fit me needs would be sincerely appreciated.
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say

  2. #2

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    Off the shelf, I like the Norh ACA 2, and Audcom has a couple 'affordable' models also. Dodd Audio has an entry level giant killer also.

    I'll have to check my stash, see what's here.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

  3. #3
    Polk-a-dweeb
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    I picked up a Dared Sl2000a off ebay for a few bones over $400. I believe. Here's one at Audiogon.
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D

  4. #4

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    The Audible Illusions Modulus 3A is excellent and I've heard the CAT preamps are even better for about the same price (maybe a little more) but I have not tried one yet. I use the 3A and for sound quality, well, I am VERY happy. No remote and the dual volume knobs are a hassle. It has been said to eat tubes but mine lasted with old tubes for better than two years. It is listed as one of stereophiles class a components. Also, if you need a phono preamp it is a great choice. I have seen them go used for as little as $700 but I had to pay $1500 for mine. Depends on who needs one at the time.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  5. #5

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    This Cary is a tad over your price, but.......

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ube&1099926716

    ......you gotta love the meters! Remote control too.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  6. #6
    Old Polk
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    Originally posted by F1nut
    ......you gotta love the meters! Remote control too.
    Yeah Jesse, it's a looker! I think I'm going to have to ease into tubing my pre. Chuck's picks all look great and full-featured, too. Just like my experience with women - the lookers always cost ya!

    I've been eyeballing the Dared mini's Frank suggested for awhile on ebay. Don't know if I want an open tube cage with kids lurking about - great price, though. The character who posts their ads needs to take a deep breath and compose his sentences WHEW! I found their web site in China, but nothing much there except pictures.

    The Audcom that Russ suggested has some nice features - and tube "headlights":D With Halloween nearing it could do double duty facing out the window in front and scaring the bejeezus out of the trick-or-treaters! Seriously though, it looks like it has flexibility for tube rolling. And, the 3-position gain control on the ass end would give me (at least I think) better volume control than I've had. Anyone here ever done business with "The Tube Guy" in Philly?

    - oops, should have been "The Tuner Guy."
    Last edited by BlueMDPicker; 09-12-2004 at 10:52 AM.

  7. #7
    Polk-a-dweeb
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    The character who posts their ads needs to take a deep breath and compose his sentences WHEW!
    The manuals have some of the same types of sentence structure, funny as hell.
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D

  8. #8
    Old Polk
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    Originally posted by RuSsMaN
    and Audcom has a couple 'affordable' models also.
    Russ,

    I keep going back to the Audcom AP-120 in my online research. Thanks for the tip. It looks to be full featured and 'affordable.'

  9. #9

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    If you do decide to go the Audcom route, I have a dealer I can put you in touch with. He's in Canada, but a GREAT guy - VERY trustworthy, and will ship free to the US.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

  10. #10
    Old Polk
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    Originally posted by RuSsMaN
    I have a dealer I can put you in touch with.
    Russ,

    Hook me up, if you would, please. Much appreciated. It looks like a nice entry level to tube preamps for me.

    Thanks.

    Mike

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    If you can go used....

    Conrad Johnson PV tube preamps pop up on audiogon pretty regular. I have a PV-7 and like it very much.

    I saw an Anthem Pre-2 on www.tfta.com for 700 a little while back, they might still have it. Dorokusai has one and seems pretty impressed, I've heard it too and liked it...

    BDT
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  12. #12
    Old Polk
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    Thanks for the input, Troy.

    Used isn't a deal breaker for me. I'd rather buy used from someone local I could deal with eye-to-eye, primarily because I haven't been active in audio (as far as acquiring gear) for quite awhile.

    Ironically, I did make an offer on an Anthem Pre-2L I found on AudiogoN ($525) because I saw doro had it in his rig list. The only knock I saw in a review of that model was "touchy remote volume." Maybe doro could jump in here and remark?

    The guy took several days to respond, finally sending me an email saying "another deal fell through" (a quick sale pending reply would have been appreciated.) Because of the lag, I'm not pursuing that deal now. We're going to be out of town for a couple of weeks and I'm sure not going buy it and wonder what sort of surprise may await me when I return.

    Mike

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    I've heard that about the remote as well......easy, just don't use the remote ;)

    I'm sure doro will be more than happy to expound....

    As for me, I really dig the CJ's.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  14. #14

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    I have the Anthem PRE 2L Special Edition version. Yes. the remote is a bit touchy, but I just get up and manually adjust it. There is also an internal switch selectior that allows you to adjust to the sensitivity of your amp and this also affects how sensitive the remote volume acts. I use the matching Anthem AMP 2 to power my Maggies, MG-12.

  15. #15
    Old Polk
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks to all.... Russ, Frank, Jesse, Chuck, Troy and Tony .... for the great input! I picked up an Anthem Pre 2L, well under budget, on AudiogoN. I'm anxious to get the main rig back together and see how it meshes with the Counterpoint.

    Mike
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say

  16. #16

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    Originally posted by BlueMDPicker
    Thanks to all.... Russ, Frank, Jesse, Chuck, Troy and Tony .... for the great input! I picked up an Anthem Pre 2L, well under budget, on AudiogoN. I'm anxious to get the main rig back together and see how it meshes with the Counterpoint.

    Mike
    I have an original Counterpoint SA-12. It sounds pretty decent but does have a hum. Do you think it is worth the effort to upgrade it? I was considering ripping it apart myself and went as far as to purchase the tech manual. I just have not had any time other than some minor swaps and listening but am still considering doing something with this unit. let it be nostalgia or whatever do you think its worth it?

    HBomb

    sorry for the derail and yes the 3A is an outstanding little preamp.
    ***WAREMTAE***

  17. #17
    Old Polk
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    Originally posted by HBombToo
    I have an original Counterpoint SA-12. It sounds pretty decent but does have a hum. Do you think it is worth the effort to upgrade it?
    Hi HBomb,

    "Worth it" is, I'm sure you'd agree in this hobby, fairly subjective. If you haven't read Mike Elliot's "Does It Make Sense to Upgrade" , it's worth the read - if for no other reason than to get his views on where your dollars really end up in the retail audio game. Mike also has some solid DIY advice on that site.

    Before the SA-100, I ran a Nakamichi 620 for decades. It was a real powerhouse for my hungry Maggies. In 1988, when I lost a channel in it - thanks to Mother Nature, I auditioned a league of amps. For my musical tastes (blues and jazz), I just fell in love with the SA-100. It's open, detailed and bright (without harshess and grain) on string bends, sax and metal percussion. It performed flawlessly for 15 years before the power transformer went south. After talking to Mike at length about repair versus upgrade, I opted to have it totally rebuilt. If the new incarnation sounds and performs like the original, I believe I'd put it up against anything in its class today. And, I am going nuts wanting to hear it drive these SDA's!

    BTW - there was a fellow in GB who had a SA-12 to SA-100 upgrade board for sale on ebay a short while back for cheap (under $300.) As I recall, it went unsold.

    Mike

  18. #18

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    Originally posted by BlueMDPicker
    Hi HBomb,

    "Worth it" is, I'm sure you'd agree in this hobby, fairly subjective.

    And, I am going nuts wanting to hear it drive these SDA's!


    Mike
    This says it all and Thanks MD.

    HBomb
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  19. #19

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    Sorry I chimed in too late, kept forgetting to say something.

    The Anthem, not all of them, had an issue with a poorly designed volume pot. Sonic Frontiers/Anthem offered original owners a free replacement and/or service to replace the pot with an upgrade. It affected the remote as well, beings it's, duh, tied to the same pot.

    The upgrade removed the static and gain hobbled original pot.

    The previous owner of mine was nice enough to have this done for me, since he was the original owner. Never had a problem since.

    Yes, I like this unit very much. Mullards are in the sockets now, and sound much better than the original tubes.

    Let me know how yours turns out Mike. I wish I had said something earlier about the volume pot issue, but you may be fine as wine.

  20. #20
    Old Polk
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    Mark,

    I did pick up on the pot issue from online reviews. The seller told me this was a "more current model" and he'd had no issues. I'll let you know how it works out. This was my first AudiogoN buy, so I waited for a price I could afford from a seller with lots of good feedback. Fingers crossed.

    Have fun down south!

    Mike

  21. #21

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    Mike,
    I'm using NOS Brimar CV5358 in my PRE 2L. They came with the Special Edition version I own. I'd love to try some Amperex ECC88 or 7308, but the they're about $100 each and we need four! Enjoy the tube sound.

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    Tony - I am going to pick up a couple sets and roll them in the next couple weeks....you guys want to try some stuff? I'm a free shipper :D I would surely be interested in trying something new.

    I can shoot these Mullards to you guys if you wanna try them.

  23. #23

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    Thanks for the offer Mark.
    PM sent.

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    NP T, we'll get something going in a week or so.

  25. #25
    Old Polk
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    Doro,

    I'd like to get a taste of tube rolling - all new to me. I'm running on my "spare tire" amp at the moment, so I might want to wait until the Counterpoint comes back home, no?

    Mike
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say

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    Mike - Yea no problem, that's why I mentioned it. I think you should wait until your setup is fairly stable, as in, it has the gear that will be listened to most often in place.

    Counterpoint being serviced?

    When Tony is done with the Mullards I'm going to ship him, I'll just have him forward them to you. After you get some time with them you can just bring them back to me, since we're local. This way we can meet up, you can have some food and get your ears on some more stuff.

  27. #27
    Old Polk
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    Mark, sounds good!

    Yeah, see the first post in this thread about the Counterpoint. It may be away for awhile (dammit), it's in the que for a production run total rebuild. Hopefully, we can get together before that.

    Wish I could be in SC with the gang, but I've been struggling (for about 6 weeks now) with some medical issues. Ten days of sea air didn't help it, as I'd hoped, (ironically, I had an asthma attack in the rain forest of Belize that about killed me during the trip) but time and "better living through chemistry" is slowly getting me there. It's hell to get old - but, the alternative sucks :p

    Mike

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