hello all. what do tube preamps bring to the table compared to ps audio bhk pre and gain cell. read a couple reviews on a primaluna evo 400 preamp. i dont know anything really about tube preamps and amps, but would like to know. thank you
I owned Stellar GCD preamp, it had a great dynamic range. I upgraded to BHK pre. It has a lifelike presentation, cleaner bass, and better defined sound stage. Performers feel as if there are spotlights focused on them. My experience with full tube preamps is quite distant. From memory, I did not like their mild nature, but appreciated the broad sound stage.
Since I have nothing else better to do here’s my take:
If you apply tubes you better do it in the low power section, hence pre amp and below. Tubes are “friendlier” because they are slower than BJT’s and FET’s. There are also coupling caps involved that shape the music. The BHK pre amp is (as far as I know) tube only and fully balanced, so it would potentially make my shortlist. The BHK power amps use a tube (also fully balanced) as primary stage voltage amp. I guess for the same “soft sound” reason.
Tubes in power amps can become a problem with respect to output impedance and hard to drive speakers. There’s just not enough juice to drive them suckers… FET’s are way more better in doing that. Now if you have a separate sub and a real nice speaker with a ribbon (like I do) and you hook 'm up to a couple of MC275 drive by a AR LS22 sex becomes my second priority…
As far as Evo’s are concerned: To my knowledge they are NOT fully balanced. And they are made in China, although they claim they are Dutch. Their claim that point to point vs PCB is better is nonsense. I also don’t care about how many layers paint they used on the cabinets. It’s an amp, not a car…
Hope this helps… It was fun writing…
Good morning johnb33. I own both the PrimaLuna Dialogue preamp and PS Audio’s BHK preamp. Both are outstanding components in their own right. Both use tubes for voltage control. This is the first order contributor to the “tube sound.” From there, these two wonderful components diverge on design philosophy. The PL is unbalanced, it is tube rectified, and uses tubes to control current. The BHKs go solid state and are balanced. Distortion is slightly greater in any tube preamp, but more likable then an equivalent amount in a pure SS component due to the harmonics. (Others can expand/correct or better explain.) (There is also a significant weight difference if you plan on moving the PLs around. Not as bad as the BHK amps, but still a 50+ pound lift!)
In all fairness, the Focal 1028 be and Sopra 2s I have are very easy to drive with tube amps. I have no experience with harder to drive speakers.
The only other advise I could offer is to first match your speakers to your room volume and musical tastes. Then select your amp(s) and the preamps will follow keeping in mind whether they are balanced or unbalanced. Paul has a short Ask Paul youtube video on this subject you may find useful.
Enjoy the music brother!
Love my EVO 400 pre…replaced my BHK. Opinions vary.
That’s interesting… I tested a EVO400 pre and it didn’t work well, but the BHK pre did. It’s all about synergy.
I think it’s a bit unfair to make general statements about tube preamps vs solid state. I’ve heard tube preamps that go extremely deep, are super quick and not really “romantic”. Audio Research REF6SE for example. I’ve also heard solid state preamps that are almost “syrupy”.
Prima Luna has never hidden the fact that their product line is designed and engineered in the Netherlands and manufactured in China. There are some top quality audio components coming out of China for sure. Your quote sounded a wee bit racist,but maybe it’s just me.
Love my Audio Research Ref75 SE / Ref6 combo. Awaiting the latter re-tubed and SE-upgraded, should be ready next week.
And the manufacturing/assembly quality is superb. Many excellent products come out of China.
Here here. China makes a lot of cheaper stuff, but it also makes an enourmous amount of quality products like Apple products, seriously great audio products, most IT equipment in general, most TV’s… I won’t go on. You look at 90% of the quality products in your home and most of them are made in china, or at least the internal components are.
My PrimaLuna is a really beautifully manufactured, a real detail oriented design and assembly.
I have owned quite a few Tube Preamps and Amps over the years. I used to own a PL Integrated and LOVED it! To my ears the tube gear that I owned in the past just had a more smoother and relaxing sound which is what I like.
My advice is to see if you can get a PL EVO unit in your home for a listen. I will say I tried a BHK 250 in hopes of it replacing my PL Integrated. The BHK was very nice but just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I should have paired it with the BHK Pre instead of going direct from my DSD.
My PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium pre soundly spanked the pre I owned before the PL purchase. It was a ss design that retailed for 9k. Oh…and fully made in the US. Oh well…
Oh… And that doesn’t sound racist…?
I agree with Ronald but while chasing after a BHK Pre, I found a BAT VK-50SE which in my system makes more sense. I never understood why the BHK has only one set of Balanced Outputs and no fixed (“Tape Out”) also Balanced. The BAT is built like a brick shxxxthouse and sounds phenomenal. There’s no RCA’s on the back (all fully Balanced XLR). While I’ve never heard the BHK Pre in my rig, I’m sure it would not disappoint.
BTW…Ronald ain’t no Racist and I’m Brown and also dislike CHiFi (even though parts of my rig have crap from China/Asia).
Interesting video from Paul on Point-to-Point vs PCB:
TLDR: he fully reckons point to point would sound superior in any analogue system.
Not racist…just saying not all of the worlds decent audio is limited to any one nation.
Mine is point to point wired mainly and all opinions on that I heard were pro p2p, too, but I wonder if someone ever made the same preamp PCB and p2p for comparison.
That would indeed be a worthy experiment… I wonder in the DIY community if they have, that would be where I’d expect that kind of thing to be attempted.
I can only compare the BHK my current preamp and the SGCD which I previously owned. The tubes in my opinion sound better and the luxury of the tubes is you can roll them (change them out) and change the sound to your liking. I can’t compare to other tube preamps because the bhk is my first but comparing to the stellar it’s no contest the BHK is night and day better. I know the tubes play a big part in that but there is so much more quality of every little part is at a higher level then the stellar.
We need to get rid of this notion that stuff from China is crap. That is one of the many narratives that have spun up over the years. If your rig has crap from China does that make your rig crap? I’m sure you don’t feel your rig is crap.