Most bang for the buck?

I currently own a PS Audio DS jr. And am very happy with it. It runs directly to a Wyred4Sound (W4S) ST1000 mkii amp, powering Monitor Audio PL200 floor standing speakers. Any opinion on the better purchase: (1) BHK 250 to replace the W4S amp, or (2) BHK Pre to use in conjunction with the W4S amp? I would like to get both the Pre and 250, but my budget will not allow it.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Were it me I’d go for basics first if there’s only one option. BHK 250.

Maybe just my particular system, I didn’t have good results of running my DAC Jr directly into my BHK 250, much higher background noise, even with balanced interconnects.

Mr McGowan, any chance of a BHK integrated?

So formal! Mr. McGowan sounds like my father. In any case, yes, there’s been talk but no action. Not out of the question and a completely cool product but I haven’t figured out how we’d cram all that good stuff inside.

I agree 100% with Paul. Get the BHK 250

Well, I might look at this differently. First of all, do you like your amps? Do they match up well with your speakers?

If you answered yes to the above, do you have any other sources besides your DAC? A turntable or tuner, or tape deck? Would you like to add any other sources?

If you answered yes to both sets of questions, get the preamp. Then work on raising the money for the amp. Right now Music Direct is offering no interest financing. If you have good credit, you could get both. Both PSA and MS take in trades, so you could trade you amps in. You can get up to $2250 in trade for the 250. If you have other working unused gear, put it towards the preamp.

I think you can do both. Do the math.

A good preamp is the heart of a great system.

Jeff, thanks for your comments. I have a turntable but it’s in a secondary system. In my main system with the PS Audio DS jr, my sources include a Lexicon RT20 universal disc player, a W4S MS-2 music server and a Wadia 170i/iphone for Pandora, etc. I have no need for another source. My intent for the preamp is sonics not analog inputs.

Judging from all of the comments, it looks like the 250 is likely my best option. I like the W4S ST-1000 mkii but I feel a hybrid amp will flesh out the music a little more. I hope a $7500 amp will outperform a $2000 amp. If not, I would be sorely disappointed.

In a previous system, I used a Rogue Audio Medusa hybrid amp (tube/Class D) with good results. Another Medusa is a possibility, but I like the PS Audio DS jr so much that I would like to give the 250 a chance.

Finally, my finances would allow for both the 250 and pre, but my “budget” will not. I do not owe on my house, cars or anything, so I would not dream of financing stereo equipment. Anyone that would needs to check into an audiophile rehab clinic.

tabascocat1994 said I would not dream of financing stereo equipment.
Agreed. Toys such as audio, motorcycles, sports cars, etc. should never be financed. My rule has always been if I cannot pay cash, I cannot afford them.

My rule is I may be dead next week, I want it know! :wink:

tabascocat1994, shop around. There are deals to be had especially if you buy the BHK Preamp and Stereo 250 bundled together.

All this is true and it really brings up the heart of the matter - which is it? The preamp or the amp? I happen to believe it is the amp, but wonderfully, others believe it to be the preamp.

Not much help to tabascocat1994

But, it is an interesting discussion.

I have never been able to determine which component in the reproduction chain is most important. I find the clearly weakest link to be the most critical to improve, but if the system is good overall every true improvement to each component is meaningful. And one can sometimes go backwards.

For most of us, better speakers, amp, pre, source - all would be improvement. Determining which would be the biggest improvement depends on the particular system, the proposed new component, etc.

But, to mirror Paul’s comment to an extent, my first experience with making a system sound better involved my inexpensive set up with a cheap receiver. I swapped in a entry-level Hafler I assembled and was amazed with the improvement - even with dreadful, single driver empty box tiny book shelf speakers. I purchased small better speakers next which were also a major improvement. This makes sense as each component was pretty poor to start.

Great observation, Elk, and this really gets to the heart of the matter. I am going to blog about this in the next few days and we’ll see where it goes.

This will be interesting.

I have witnessed excellent demonstrations on both extremes, each trying to establish their product is most critical. i have heard excellent systems with a compromised source - such as an iPod - and inexpensive amplification but spectacular speakers, and wonderful systems with a spectacular source and modest upstream components. The end sound of each extreme example was very good. Thus, I cannot come down on source or speakers as the most important, much less were each amplification component falls.

Amazingly complicated to predict what’s most important in a system. I basically run parallel systems: a big rig inside and a pair of outside Definitive Technology speakers.

Both systems utilize the same sources and pre-amp (Cary SLP-05 and DS). My big rig and outside speakers are separated only by a large window and brick wall.

For the outside speakers, the DS and SLP-05 drive a 70W Music Hall integrated amp plugged into a P-10. I can’t tell you how many people comment on the great sound I get outside. The sources on this system are clearly sophisticated, yet the speakers and integrated can’t really be called sophisticated. Yet really great sound.

The big drawback on my outside system is the lack of imaging. The speakers are too far apart and we sit on the deck too close to the speakers to get any real imaging. Doesn’t matter, it sounds wonderful!

It’s hard to get good sound outdoors. Bass is also tough to get without walls.

And as has been pointed out, everything in the chain matters. My approach is to start with what I think is the weakest link, but even that is often just an educated guess.

What a simple question, likely with as many different opinions as people who post an opinion. My take is I’ve never heard my system sound as good feeding a source component directly into a power amp as when using a top shelf preamp. That statement itself is probably worth a new thread. So my perspective is the preamp is the central nervous system of any high end rig. I’d opt for the BHK Pre and build the rest of your system around it.

Question in regards to the BHK250: Is it recommended to leave it powered on? Or would that prematurely burn out the tube?

The root of my question is a concern that I would need to power the amp up for 30 minutes before using it, like a non-hybrid tube amp. I like the convenience of being able to listen at any given time.

Thanks in advance and for all of the quality responses to this thread.

Leave the main power switch in the rear always on, but use the front panel logo light to turn it on and off. That way the tubes will be preserved and the unit will stay in a state of constant readiness.