Preamps that work with the DS/PWD


#1

There has been considerable discussion of preamps in various threads: some people use them, some don’t, some want to try one . . . Paul tried one and look what happened. So it might be interesting to have a list of preamps that have been used successfully with PSA products. (I’m trying to be a good citizen by starting a new thread, not tacking onto another that wandered into preamp territory.) I’ll start it off:

I run a conrad-johnson Premier 17LS. It is sufficiently neutral that whenever I change other components, it’s easy to hear the differences. And, like most c-j stuff, it’s harmonic heaven–even more so if you upgrade the stock Sovtek tubes. Did I contradict myself by saying that it’s both neutral and harmonically rich? Well, that’s how I hear it–voices are sublime. I have not felt the urge to upgrade this part of my system for ten years. I have used both the PWD MkII and now the DS with this preamp.


#2

Trafomatic Audio Ref. One tube preamp http://youtu.be/qtvze1gXTM4

From John Darko, DAR;

http://www.soundkaos.com/styled-3/blog/files/archive-jul-2014.html


#3

Herron VTSP-3a does the trick for me. I think it has 12.5 dB gain into 91dB sensitive speakers. I need to up it by 10 clicks with the DS but I still have plenty of head room. This was a concern when I first contemplated the upgrade but I need not have worried. I have not tried direct to amps because I need to drive 4 power amps and a sub. Plus I need multiple inputs in my system.


#4

Pass preamps IME work very well with PS Audio DACs.


#5

Try using the BSG QOL.


#6

Yes love mine too.


#7

I use an upgraded Ming Da MC-300-PRE with the Directstream - sounds great.


#8

My Rogue Athena preamp works well with the DS. Plenty of gain.

Magister, I also have a c-j LS17, which is now in my second system. Several years ago it broke, for the third time, and my dealer, who no longer carried them, recommended that I replace it. Wonder why. I bought the Rogue but kept the c-j in the basement until I found a (relatively) local guy who charged me something like $150 to fix it (including shipping). It’s worked great ever since.


#9

Steve,

Thanks for that info. The LS17 has more than enough gain for all my sources; even with the DS I run the volume about 65 (out of 100) for most classical recordings. Have you actually compared the SQ of the Athena to that of the c-j? I’ve heard some interesting things about Rogue products but never owned one.

On occasion I’ve thought about trying a new preamp. But having instruments and voices sound like they do in real life (timbre, harmonics, etc.) is very important to me, and the c-j delivers that in spades–tubes, glorious tubes–especially after I upgraded the Sovteks. So I wasn’t sure if I could get anything better without spending more than I can afford. My LS17 gets used mostly on weekends and in the summer, which is perhaps why it has lasted so long without any issues.


#10

I’ve used my Decware CSP2+ (with the cryo’d Jupiter beeswax cap and stepped attenuator options) with great success on my PWD Mk II though after the PWD has been seasoned some years I now prefer NOT to use a preamp with it.

Remains to be seen how that will play out with the DS.


#11

Magister, I have not done a lot of head-to-head comparisons, in part because I don’t have comparable balanced and RCA cables (the Rogue runs balanced) of the right length and in part because I had the Rogue for few years before I got the c-j fixed. Also I’m lazy. I do like the Rogue but I would not say it’s a big step up from the c-j. If the dealer had just fixed the c-j I would probably still be happily using it. If it didn’t break again. Mine is also now mostly used on weekends and has been fine since its last repair. Also, apart from one or both channels going out three times, it would occasionally just go nuts, randomly and rapidly changing inputs, volume, turning itself off and on, etc. When I talked to c-j about it, they said it was some sort of “digital interference” and that I could send it in but they likely couldn’t do anything about it. They offered me a c-j tee shirt instead, which I took.

The Rogue uses 6H30 tubes, which I’ve upgraded from the standard Sovteks to the so-called “super tubes.” I thought the upgrade made a slight improvement. Other than the the volume control sticking sometimes (the only thing the remote changes–it’s a stepped attenuator and a motor driven remote), it has been very well behaved. The cost was similar to that of the LS17. Since I was unexpectedly without a working preamp when the c-j last blew, I didn’t spend a lot of time looking for a replacement. I have been pretty happy with the Rogue, though.


#12
stevem2 said Also, apart from one or both channels going out three times, it would occasionally just go nuts, randomly and rapidly chaining inputs, volume, turning itself off and on, etc. When I talked to c-j about it, they said it was some sort of "digital interference" and that I could send it in but they likely couldn't do anything about it. They offered me a c-j tee shirt instead, which I took
Wow! Adventures in pre-amp land. I'm imagining some perky customer service rep smiling as she says: "Sorry, sir, we can't fix your preamp. Would you like a tee-shirt?" At least if my 17LS ever goes crazy I will not get freaked out. Neither the 17LS nor its c-j predecessor ever did anything like what you describe.

And it sounds from what you say about the Rogue that I was right in my suspicion that I would have to spend a lot more to better the SQ of the 17LS. Well, the 17LS will probably have to be replaced someday, but meanwhile I will enjoy my system, which sounds utterly awesome with the DS. Maybe Paul can produce a PSA preamp for less than the 7K that his new world-dominating amp will cost. Of course it probably won’t have tubes. crying_gif


#13

Actually it was c-j’s head service tech (guy named Knut Ryerson as I recall). He was quite forthright about it. And it has been years since it has happened and never in my second system. Must have been something in my main system it did not get along with. It did not happen very often but I did freak out the first time.

I suspect Paul may be planning a preamp that will be based on the input section of the new amp, which does indeed have a tube. Just based on what he has said here and there on the forums.


#14

Wow !!! A lot of folks using a preamp with the DSD. How many have compared going direct to power amp?


#15

I did this test with the PWD. I put the PWD back behind the preamp. With the variability introduced by the different versions of FW, I think like it or not we may wind up “tuning” the end result with the FW selection. I suspect if, when I ran the direct to amp test, I had gone through re-evaluating the PWD FWs I may have picked something else for that configuration. Maybe. Maybe not.


#16

I use a Classe CP-700. It sounds great. It was an advantage in combination with the PWD.

I’m curious how the DS will sound without the Pre-amp.

Not sure if it is completely safe for noises to connect the DS straight to the poweramp?


#17
wijnand said Not sure if it is completely safe for noises to connect the DS straight to the poweramp?
The DS has a lower noise hump than a typical SACD player. If your preamp has a bandwidth greater than about 100k then you amp is already getting the modest noise hump from the DS.

#18
alcarp said Wow !!! A lot of folks using a preamp with the DSD.
On the other hand, I continue to be surprised by how many people don't use preamps. Putting aside issues of sound quality, I would find it difficult to go without my turntable, FM tuner, and SACD player. And I run a bi-amped setup, so it's not convenient for me even to do a test without the preamp since I would need some adapters or different cables. And it sounds so darn good with the preamp that I confess I am not motivated to get the cables.smile

#19

+1 on all counts.


#20
Ted Smith said The DS has a lower noise hump than a typical SACD player. If your preamp has a bandwidth greater than about 100k then you amp is already getting the modest noise hump from the DS.
Thanks Ted, but I'm not sure if I completely understand what you say. I have a sample of the specs of my preamp.

With the PWD I once had a pop that tripped my poweramp to protect my speakers.

CP-700-specs-1.jpg