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Help choose right preamp for my system

Rawlit

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Hello all,

Just joined this forum and first post for me here

I'm looking for advice on a preamp that synergizes well with my downstream and upstream components, current preamp doesn't give enough gain/volume output, I'm typically listening at low volume at min 25/60 steps and I tend to listen in normal conditions at 45-60/60 steps (#1 issue) and lacks imaging depth information (sounds flat)

Below specs for balanced inputs/outputs in my system today

I'd need a balanced design preamp (XLR), I'm considering second hand dual mono options such as Gamut D3i (reputed to be good at imaging depth), budget max 5k USD (used or new)

DAC output: 4.8V, 200 ohm
Existing preamp: Input: 20kΩ; Output: 200 Ω
Amp input: 2.83V output: 130mV, 100k ohm

My chain:
Streamer: iFi Zen Stream
DAC: Aqua La Voce S3
Existing preamp: Musician Monoceros
Amp: Mark Levinson 436
Speakers: Wilson Sabrina
 

JSmith

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I'm looking for advice on a preamp
Take a look at these and other reviews here;
first post for me here
Welcome. :)


JSmith
 
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Rawlit

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Thank you for your welcome JSmith!

I'm actually looking for a reccomendation based on my system specs, I'm aware of products shared and did read these reviews although I'm not able to judge which might be a synergistic fit to my system just based on reviews

I hope someone will actually take a minute to look at specs and advice accordingly, thank you
 

levimax

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Hello all,

Just joined this forum and first post for me here

I'm looking for advice on a preamp that synergizes well with my downstream and upstream components, current preamp doesn't give enough gain/volume output, I'm typically listening at low volume at min 25/60 steps and I tend to listen in normal conditions at 45-60/60 steps (#1 issue) and lacks imaging depth information (sounds flat)

Below specs for balanced inputs/outputs in my system today

I'd need a balanced design preamp (XLR), I'm considering second hand dual mono options such as Gamut D3i (reputed to be good at imaging depth), budget max 5k USD (used or new)

DAC output: 4.8V, 200 ohm
Existing preamp: Input: 20kΩ; Output: 200 Ω
Amp input: 2.83V output: 130mV, 100k ohm

My chain:
Streamer: iFi Zen Stream
DAC: Aqua La Voce S3
Existing preamp: Musician Monoceros
Amp: Mark Levinson 436
Speakers: Wilson Sabrina
Whats wrong with the pre-amp you have? Specs look good... not sure what you can gain with another pre-amp.
 

Doodski

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Yes, what is bad about the present pre-amp?
Pre-amp_04.jpg
 
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Rawlit

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As described in my post, I have 2 issues, not enough gain/volume and soundstage is compressed/flat
 

JSmith

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Doodski

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Hmmz. It does appears that your pre has not enough gain for the ML amp. I apologize for not paying 100% attention. Too much multitasking on my end.
... and here are the ML amp specs for reference.
zzzzzzzzz mark.png
 

UCrazyKid

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You can probably find an Audio Research LA28SE line-stage for just under $5k preowned.
 

Kal Rubinson

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Actually, the maximum gain from balanced output of the Pre90 is +16dB.
 
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Rawlit

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thank you, Pre90 seems like would be able to solve my gain/volume issue, although not sure about imaging depth

I understand imaging depth is determined by mulitple factors (source, power quality, DAC, speakers toe in, room treatment), but when it comes to preamps, key factors are usually transformers quality/dimension, ideally a dual mono (with separate transofrmers per channel) has less crosstalk and better channel separation as well as a blacker background (that's why I referenced the Gamut D3i)

appreciate everyone's input so far
 

raif71

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My current setup with a preamp now is

1) Denafrips Ares II (xlr)
2) Gustard X16 (xlr)
3) Audio-gd r2r (rca)
4) Singxer SA-1 (amp)
5) Gustard P26 preamp

So, I'm actually using 2 xlr DACs and 1 RCA dac to the preamp and then to the amp. The Singxer-SA1 is set at max volume and I only vary the volume at the preamp. Previously I found that I had to use high gain at the amp but now the amp is at low gain and the preamp is set at output gain +6db. I can also set the input gain of the preamp at +6db for overall gain of +12db but the the output gain setting at the preamp is already enough to drive most of my headphones.
 
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dshreter

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thank you, Pre90 seems like would be able to solve my gain/volume issue, although not sure about imaging depth

I understand imaging depth is determined by mulitple factors (source, power quality, DAC, speakers toe in, room treatment), but when it comes to preamps, key factors are usually transformers quality/dimension, ideally a dual mono (with separate transofrmers per channel) has less crosstalk and better channel separation as well as a blacker background (that's why I referenced the Gamut D3i)

appreciate everyone's input so far
The Pre90 is transparent without issues of channel crosstalk or anything else. So unless you’re looking for something that will actually add processing to the signal, there is nothing the Pre90 does that detracts from imaging whatsoever.

If there is some other concept that contributes to image depth, I don’t think you will find much agreement here. It just isn’t necessary to spend $5k to modulate volume with audibly transparent performance.
 

Eetu

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IMO your 2nd issue is speaker/room-related. It could be due to for example 1) asymmetrical speaker placement 2) room too lively/reflective 3) listening position close to rear wall

This may or may not sound heretical to you but I would recommend adding Dirac to your chain (via a MiniDSP SHD Studio or the upcoming digital-only Flex). You could use the MiniDSP as volume control too.
 

LTig

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You could replace DAC and preamp by a RME ADI-2 DAC, or I'm case you need an analog input the RME ADI-2 PRO. Both can output more than enough voltage, have a 5 band parametric EQ for each output, tone controls and a SOTA headphone preamp.
 
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Rawlit

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IMO your 2nd issue is speaker/room-related. It could be due to for example 1) asymmetrical speaker placement 2) room too lively/reflective 3) listening position close to rear wall

This may or may not sound heretical to you but I would recommend adding Dirac to your chain (via a MiniDSP SHD Studio or the upcoming digital-only Flex). You could use the MiniDSP as volume control too.
Eetu thank you

Appreciate your comment, I'm looking into improving my room, I'll be posting some measurements as I get them
 

LTig

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I understand imaging depth is determined by mulitple factors (source, power quality, DAC, speakers toe in, room treatment), but when it comes to preamps, key factors are usually transformers quality/dimension, ideally a dual mono (with separate transofrmers per channel) has less crosstalk and better channel separation as well as a blacker background (that's why I referenced the Gamut D3i)
I'd say what you quote are audiophool anecdotes which are just plain wrong:

Crosstalk / channel separation is absolutely uncritical. No phono pickup has higher separation than 35 to 40 dB and yet all vinyl lovers praise their soundstage. Any preamp with such a low value would be considered as a truly bad design.

Mono power supplies may improve a very high channel separation for a tiny bit but this improvement is utterily inaudible.

Blacker background is audiophool language for better signal to noise. This can be measured, and if 2 preamps have noise at such a low level that it's inaudible the sound inseparable.
 

LarryRS

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Rawlit - Boy, did you post your question to the wrong forum! Your first mistake is that you are trying to evaluate your system with absolutely the wrong equipment - your ears and the auditory, and associated, brain pathways you use for listening to music. Chuck all that and pick up a calibrated microphone and an oscilloscope and go from there. Remember - If it measures good and sounds bad, it is bad. If it sounds good and measures bad, you’ve measured the wrong thing. We really don't have a good handle on what we should be measuring, only what we know how to measure.
 
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Rawlit

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I'd say what you quote are audiophool anecdotes which are just plain wrong:

Crosstalk / channel separation is absolutely uncritical. No phono pickup has higher separation than 35 to 40 dB and yet all vinyl lovers praise their soundstage. Any preamp with such a low value would be considered as a truly bad design.

Mono power supplies may improve a very high channel separation for a tiny bit but this improvement is utterily inaudible.

Blacker background is audiophool language for better signal to noise. This can be measured, and if 2 preamps have noise at such a low level that it's inaudible the sound inseparable.
Thank you for your warm welcome and constructive help ))
 

LTig

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[..] We really don't have a good handle on what we should be measuring, only what we know how to measure.
... said the person who obviously has no clue what scientists have found out in the last 80+ years of research ... :facepalm:
 
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