Pre and amp(s): same brand or not?

I was wondering how crucial might be in a system matching a Pre with a stereo or mono Amps of the same brand. Is it mandatory, recommended or not? In general and specifically for what concerne the BHK Preamp. Please share your practical experiences.

  1. If not M700/1200, BHK 250/300/600 have you experienced/compared a different brand matching able to bring the same or even better results?
  2. Can you articulate in which area and why it could be a worst or better marriage having tested with your ears?
  3. Is still actual the rule x10 between Pre Ohm out/Amp Ohm in impedance?
  4. What kind of specs do you consider fundamental looking at the correct matching between Pre and Amp, and why?

Just to learn more about the argument, as a newbie, not really in a hurry for any upgrades of my BHK Pre/M1200s combo in the near future.


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Hi Luca,
Regretfully, I am not sophisticated / experienced enough to give a proper response.However, I took the plunge from M700s to this :

I wanted to have a power amp with a hefty power supply, not a D class, with bipolar output transistors (not MOSFETs) so I do not end up with a power hog, nor a stove in my room. The 857 has11k Ohm XLR input impedance as opposed to 50k Ohm in the case of M700 and M1200. I do not know if that is good or bad, but to my ears it sounds great, though just 500W into 4 Ohm.

If I ever move from the 857, it would an integrated.


Still a fully balanced amp so the quirks of the BHK preamp are still mitigated…

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Decisions, decisions. Instead of having one preamp and one power amp, I have 3 of each. The downside is that I am always disconnecting and connecting components. The good side is I that I can :slight_smile:
My BHK Pre/M1200 combo sounds wonderful and fluid and is very nice overall. The BHK Pre/Parasound combo sounds nice and refined and clean but sometimes a little dry. The CJ tube pre/M1200 sounds out of this world for Jazz. The CJ tube pre/CJ tube amp sounds out of this world for female vocals.
Regarding question 2 I hope I helped. Regarding 3 I have no idea. Regarding 4 I would consider the type of music you listen to and what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to achieve a more tube-like sound, or less tube-like sound, or a cleaner but also smooth solid-state amp sound (like Pass Labs or Jeff Rowland or Mark Levinson or Michi or Classe) to go with your BHK Pre.



Based on my four years of owning the BHK preamp and trying it with at least seven different amps that I can remember as long as you stay with a fully balanced amp the sound you like with the BHK preamp will translate to the new amp. If I were in your location instead of looking at another American based amp I would look at the home grown Audia Flight FLS 4 which is a fully balanced amp.

I agree with you, among a range of possible solutions the sound flavor achieved matters. Actually I’m more interested in a selection based on simplistic good vs bad matching arguments. having said that, if I ever upgrade… the curiosity goes for:

  • more tube-like sound but without tubes
  • clean and detailed sound but smooth and liquid as possible
  • stereo better than mono
  • no excessive warm in the room (typical Class A issue)
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It’s been my experience that amps and pres should be from the same manufacturer. The system synergy improves IMO and thus the SQ is elevated.


Hard to beat the cj sound for acoustic music in general and as you say it excells with jazz and vocals. IME it is no slouch with piano, small chamber ensembles and large scale classical. I opted for the Audible Illusions Modulus 3A with a John Curl MC phono stage for a bit more oomph over the cj PV 11 driving a cj Premier 11a. As I continue to move away from tubes I’ll admit the cj is here to stay.

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I have no experience that directly addresses your question. However, what you describe as desirable sound qualities is how NuPrime characterizes many of there offerings, in particular the Evolution STA stereo or Evolution 2 mono blocks.
Their Amp Comparison and Sound Characteristics page details the sound profiles of each amp.
I don’t know if they have a presence in Italy. They have a limited dealer and support network in the US and their warranties are short by comparison. In spite of that their products are intriguing to me and I’m looking for the right excuse to try.

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Coming from the same manufacturer, you probably have a greater chance of them being designed to work together and being impedance-matched, which is certainly important. But my experience with an admittedly limited variety of different makes has me thinking that beyond that particular parameter, the SQ of the system is a function of the SQ of each component, which is in turn the result of its design and construction, and if those qualities are either diminished or enhanced to any degree by coming from the same or different factory, it’s to a very limited degree. Which I guess is a long-winded way of saying that, given acceptable impedance matching in the first place, I think SQ is driven much more by the individual components than it could possibly be by any synergy that comes from matching manufacturers.

Just my opinion. I could be wrong.


One of the advantages of going with separates is the ability to mix and match. I’ve never gone with just one manufacturer and I’ve experienced great results. Making these decisions is one of the fun things about this hobby.


I would respectfully disagree here. I’ve had many systems and have noticed the synergy between matching components for the best sound. On our latest system I actually wrote this:

Synergy of the Vitus Suite:

Hearing is believing. While each Vitus component sounds excellent in its own right, when each piece is paired together into a complete Vitus suite a beautiful dynamic synergy emerges. There’s a balance to the entire system, each component reaching its full potential without limiting the others. For us it’s engaging, natural, and relaxed. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And the sound you receive is nirvana - at least for us.

Perhaps using other some other components the differences won’t be as great, but I’ve noticed the synergy of matching in Vitus, Pass Labs, Soulution, and Boulder to name a few.

I think it really depends on what king of person you are and how much work you want to put into it. Some just want to buy something and use it.

But as @rkindel said, its part of the fun for some or should I say most of us here.

When you go with a single good brand you are pretty much set for knowing you will have a good synergy. You can most likely hear that combo somewhere and know you like the sound. But putting together a system can get you that custom unique signature you enjoy. And for many who just get bored, swapping out is a way to enjoy the hobby just a bit more.

Like half the questions posted here the answer is subjective.


You don’t need to limit your choices to the same brand to achieve synergy. That’s been my experience anyway.


Choosing components from the same series can certainly look nice to.


That’s very true. The N30SA streamer in sliver will be traded out soon for something in black.


The hybrid amp allows me to have tubes in the amp (plus of course the preamp) without wearing out an entire set of output tubes. The PS is also much quieter than the CJ. Although they’re not always in the system, am not getting rid of my EL34 tubes

We may have different listening preferences as I do prefer the cj over the PSA amplifiers. My cj is very quiet, it could be the tubes I use, or the capacitors, but detail retrieval is exemplary. The Premier 11a coasts along as my speakers, original Genesis V, are bi-amped with the lower end driven by a Genesis 400WPC class A/B amplifier crossed over at 84 hz.


I’m not suggesting synergy isn’t real, or even heard. Only that any improvement brought by it tends not to be as great as an upgrade to a clearly superior component from another manufacturer. But again, that’s just my experience, and it doesn’t invalidate your experiences at all.

I agree to a degree.

I think in higher tier electronics (Vitus, Boulder, etc) there is more done to make the synergy more complete. Higher end components are used in their manufacturing process and thus adding something of lesser quality influences the sound negatively. Thus I think here it does matter - a lot.

However, on mid to lower tier electronics it may not make much of a difference. I’m not as familiar with such so I can’t really say.

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