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I have been on this never ending journey of looking for better sound for about 2 years now. After swapping quite a few items I am now with I believe is decent setup. A dual monu Hypex NC250MP amp, Audel bookshelf speakers, and for now only digital source - a recently pieced together music server running Roon into a Topping D90 DAC. 

The combo give me a very clean sound with a kind of 3D sound I was looking for. Still something is missing. Not sure what it is but somehow I feel that running the DAC direct into my AMP does not give me an optimal result. I have been thinking in many directions - was thinking on going for integrated but there after a recent listening session, my gut feeling is that I will need to spend a hefty amount to get a better result for my Hypex. Instead I started zooming on either going for a DAC that has a more "analogue sound" (or rather a proper descrete analogue section) or a pre amp. The second option appeals to me because it will allow me in the future to start my stage 2 of the project where I will add an analogue source. 

 

So open for recommendations? At this stage will be happy to go second hand and even not so recent stuff as my budget is rather limited after all the other recent upgrades 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think what you need are some tubes in a preamp. This is probably the right product for you: https://www.schiit.com/products/freya-1

"The combo give me a very clean sound with a kind of 3D sound I was looking for. Still something is missing. Not sure what it is but......." Now THIS is a good place to start!       While many will su

That would be much better!



6 hours ago, al2813 said:

Instead I started zooming on either going for a DAC that has a more "analogue sound"

Can i recommend the Musical Paradise dac?  This dac also has a seperate analog attenuator so you can go direct to the Hypex.  Plus you have the options to change the dac chip, tube and capacitor roll to change the sound should you need to.

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6 hours ago, al2813 said:

I have been on this never ending journey of looking for better sound for about 2 years now. After swapping quite a few items I am now with I believe is decent setup. A dual monu Hypex NC250MP amp, Audel bookshelf speakers, and for now only digital source - a recently pieced together music server running Roon into a Topping D90 DAC. 

The combo give me a very clean sound with a kind of 3D sound I was looking for. Still something is missing. Not sure what it is but somehow I feel that running the DAC direct into my AMP does not give me an optimal result. I have been thinking in many directions - was thinking on going for integrated but there after a recent listening session, my gut feeling is that I will need to spend a hefty amount to get a better result for my Hypex. Instead I started zooming on either going for a DAC that has a more "analogue sound" (or rather a proper descrete analogue section) or a pre amp. The second option appeals to me because it will allow me in the future to start my stage 2 of the project where I will add an analogue source. 

 

So open for recommendations? At this stage will be happy to go second hand and even not so recent stuff as my budget is rather limited after all the other recent upgrades 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

Your exactly right, less is indeed a lot more,  & sounds like keeping attenuation as simple as possible,  might work to reveal what is missing.  

 

 

 

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While class D power amps are very attractive (price/power ratio), finding proper  preamplifier is a nightmare. Once you find a good preamp , you'll realise it cost the same as integrated. I would be looking at preamps that are design to work with class D power amps.   

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I'll add my vote for a tube preamp.  :)

 

29 minutes ago, Irek said:

 

I would be looking at preamps that are design to work with class D power amps.

 

 

Wondering what is special about a preamp "designed to work with class D power amps "?

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr
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Schitt, I tell you. You are left with schitt saga or schitt freya would be nice add. Or perhaps one of those tube preamp from peachtree audio.

 

If you want a one box solution, you may want to take a look at NAD M33, this replaces your hypex amps, DAC and preamp with single unit. Yes it is expensive, but the journey that you are on does not end with a preamp, next comes the cables that connects your DAC to Preamp to Amp, then isolation of each component, and the lists goes on. The M33 may end up being cheaper in a long run and would do everything you want. 

 

The Hypex NC250MP amp are clean, and purifi amp in M33 are even cleaner.

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5 hours ago, andyr said:

I'll add my vote for a tube preamp.  :)

 

 

Wondering what is special about a preamp "designed to work with class D power amps "?

 

Andy

 

The trick is to create preamp that will transform the class D power amp into class AB sound (meat on bones) but at the same time keep the clean/detail and agile sound without adding distortion. 

Of course providing that somebody is not happy with DAC as a preamp. 

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12 minutes ago, Irek said:

transform the class D power amp into class AB sound

 

For heaven's sake why?  If you aren't happy with the accuracy of class D, then at least aim for something musical, like a SET :) 

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7 hours ago, demoiree said:

if you feeling adventurous at rolling tubes and caps , have a look at https://www.musicalparadise.ca/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=103

 

 

Rolling caps? now that's luxury.... bad for your wallet though

6 hours ago, andyr said:

Wondering what is special about a preamp "designed to work with class D power amps "?

 

Andy

Maybe because some class D has low input impedance like 10k. Most tube preamp with high output impedance is not really suited for not only Class D but any solid state power amp. However That musical paradise 5k output impedance will be ok for the hypex 100k input impedance. 

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2 minutes ago, mloutfie said:

 

Maybe because some class D has low input impedance like 10k. Most tube preamp with high output impedance is not really suited for not only Class D but any solid state power amp.

 

 

Aah, yes, understood Mahdie.  :thumb:

 

Indeed, it's hard to get a tube pre with a Zout of <1K.  Your 'Cornet 3' would suit a Class D amp, though?

 

Andy

 

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38 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Aah, yes, understood Mahdie.  :thumb:

 

Indeed, it's hard to get a tube pre with a Zout of <1K.  Your 'Cornet 3' would suit a Class D amp, though?

 

Andy

 

It goes through a preamp before the amp so it's fine for most but cornet does have 1k output impedance so not that hard to match

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6 hours ago, :) Go Away (: said:

Schitt, I tell you. You are left with schitt saga or schitt freya would be nice add. Or perhaps one of those tube preamp from peachtree audio.

 

If you want a one box solution, you may want to take a look at NAD M33, this replaces your hypex amps, DAC and preamp with single unit. Yes it is expensive, but the journey that you are on does not end with a preamp, next comes the cables that connects your DAC to Preamp to Amp, then isolation of each component, and the lists goes on. The M33 may end up being cheaper in a long run and would do everything you want. 

 

The Hypex NC250MP amp are clean, and purifi amp in M33 are even cleaner.

 

 

I disagree (being totally subjective). I think that for the 5.5k (EUR - almost 9K AUD) the M33 costs I can get a lot more. The C388 was the biggest disappointment I had in my very short audio journey. You can get great class D amps going DIY (or in my case buying from good DIYers). 

 

 

 

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Wow lots of great answers here. The Freya was on my list. Musical Paradise is interesting and I will have a look at them. I am also thinking of a second hand Electrocompaniet 4.6 currently on sale in my local 2nd hand marketplace for 600 Euros. 

My main doubt is the lack of a phono stage which means I will need to get yet another component the day I add vinyl to my setup (hopefully next year). 

 

Edited by al2813
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1 hour ago, Irek said:

The trick is to create preamp that will transform the class D power amp into class AB sound (meat on bones) but at the same time keep the clean/detail and agile sound without adding distortion. 

Of course providing that somebody is not happy with DAC as a preamp. 

 

I could have not summarized it better. Am not an expert in this vocabulary (again despite my 52 years of age and 40 years of having music as a big passion in life, I am very new to this)

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1 hour ago, mloutfie said:

Maybe because some class D has low input impedance like 10k. Most tube preamp with high output impedance is not really suited for not only Class D but any solid state power amp.

 

Too many generalisations.  Tube preamps made as separate components that need to drive other equipment will have low output impedances as required, and have no trouble.  Perhaps you are thinking of thos that came paired with their own power amps, and even drew their operating supply from it.  These could be made to match each other only.

 

53 minutes ago, mloutfie said:

It goes through a preamp before the amp so it's fine for most but cornet does have 1k output impedance so not that hard to match

 

Good example.  A simple cathode follower at the output and all is well.

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9 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Too many generalisations. 

Not really generalising that's why I said "Most tube preamp with high output impedance is not really suited" not "Most tube preamp has high output impedance". Most tube preamp with output buffer has reasonably lowish output impedance

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2 hours ago, Irek said:

The trick is to create preamp that will transform the class D power amp into class AB sound (meat on bones) but at the same time keep the clean/detail and agile sound without adding distortion. 

Of course providing that somebody is not happy with DAC as a preamp. 

Spot on or some alternative is using a class d amp with class a input stage. More and more manufacturers are going this path

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2 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

Too many generalisations.  Tube preamps made as separate components that need to drive other equipment will have low output impedances as required, and have no trouble.  Perhaps you are thinking of thos that came paired with their own power amps, and even drew their operating supply from it.  These could be made to match each other only.

 

You seem to have looked at the specs of different tube preamps than I have, av.

 

Then again, banana-benders are different.  xD

 

2 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

Good example.  A simple cathode follower at the output and all is well.

 

 

And yet ... there are not many examples of this in commercial preamps?  Perhaps bcoz, AIUI, a cathode follower is unity gain?  (I'm not tube-knowledgable.  :( )

 

Andy

 

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26 minutes ago, andyr said:

You seem to have looked at the specs of different tube preamps than I have, av.

 

 

I can't believe you are trying to imply a tube preamp cannot drive a typical power amp input.

 

21 minutes ago, andyr said:

And yet ... there are not many examples of this in commercial preamps?  Perhaps bcoz, AIUI, a cathode follower is unity gain?  (I'm not tube-knowledgable.  :( )

 

A strange statement you make.  The point of a cathode follower is to produce a low output impedance (i.e. handle more load), not to amplify the voltage (produce gain).  btw. It isn't just a valve thing, it is a technique used by SS as well - look up source and emitter followers. 

 

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The vast majority of Hypex based class D amps have a high input impedance and have no trouble being driven by a tube preamp.

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9 hours ago, Ittaku said:

The vast majority of Hypex based class D amps have a high input impedance and have no trouble being driven by a tube preamp.

 

 

Not just Hypex.     All those thousands of cheaper class D amps flooding the market from Asia are bound to be fine too.  I have a couple and both are just like any other power amp and easily driven from any preamp, including tube.  In fact, I use a slightly better one as part of my bi-amping.  My tube preamp drives both it and my SET amp in parallel.

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5 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Not just Hypex.     All those thousands of cheaper class D amps flooding the market from Asia are bound to be fine too.  I have a couple and both are just like any other power amp and easily driven from any preamp, including tube.  In fact, I use a slightly better one as part of my bi-amping.  My tube preamp drives both it and my SET amp in parallel.

Pretty much. I think that one discussion about the Purifi modules by default having low input impedance has somehow pervaded the general psyche and given people yet another unfounded reason for hating on class D.

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Just now, Ittaku said:

Pretty much. I think that one discussion about the Purifi modules by default having low input impedance has somehow pervaded the general psyche and given people yet another unfounded reason for hating on class D.

 

The thing is, there is absolutely nothing inherent in a class D design that dictates the input impedance.  It's completely the designer's choice, what input impedance he implements, and it's completely trivial to change it.  

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I really want to try out a tube pre amp on the cheap as I will not be able to get the Freya or the musical paradise in the next months (budget is tight currently). There are are a lot cheap Chinese options. Is there anything worth trying out on the cheap? 

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9 minutes ago, al2813 said:

I really want to try out a tube pre amp on the cheap as I will not be able to get the Freya or the musical paradise in the next months (budget is tight currently). There are are a lot cheap Chinese options. Is there anything worth trying out on the cheap? 

You get what you pay for. Save your money or you'll end up having less to put towards a real preamp.

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1 minute ago, Ittaku said:

You get what you pay for. Save your money or you'll end up having less to put towards a real preamp.

 

I guess you’re right. Let’s if I can make an effort for Xmas 🙂

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19 minutes ago, al2813 said:

There are are a lot cheap Chinese options. Is there anything worth trying out on the cheap? 

 

A lot of those cheap things are really an opamp preamp with a cathode follower tube running with starved plates.  That means, as the tube/valve is not providing gain, it's effect on the sound is lessened.  Also, as it is not running at the voltage it was designed to run at, extra distortion is being introduced, and what "sound" it does introduce is not really the sound that people look for in a tube/valve amp.

 

You just gave an idea though.  When I get time, I must look again at the latest stuff to see which ones are better than that and might be interesting to try, and tweak.

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11 hours ago, Ittaku said:

The vast majority of Hypex based class D amps have a high input impedance and have no trouble being driven by a tube preamp.

Or a passive,  where different to tube preamps, there is far less chance for adding coloration.  As example a simple capacitor adds reactance to audio signal.   http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-RC.htm

 

If you need coloration then that is entirely different, but best to know emphatically what you are adding, as the purity of the source audio then cannot be recovered, rather is then replaced by certain coloration in varying degrees.  Whereas passive systems use the properties of resistance, that has no reactance. 

 

 

 

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"The combo give me a very clean sound with a kind of 3D sound I was looking for. Still something is missing. Not sure what it is but......." Now THIS is a good place to start!       While many will suggest you try this, or that upgrade - this advice is probably potential solutions trying to solve a problem that's not defined.

 

I would suggest the place to start is to try to define WHY you feel your system is somehow "deficient".   What exactly do you think is missing??   Unless you can define this, then  you won't know what problem you are trying to solve - so your attempts at a solution may just frustrate you.     There could be many issues:

- Your room is not set up to make the most of the sound your system can produce - so the sound could be optimized by changing equipment location, furnishings, or even moving it to a better room!

- Maybe your system lacks true bottom end, so you get that feeling you are missing impact ad presence....so maybe upgrade to floorstanders, or get a sub?

- I see you are running Roon, so I assume your source if Tidal?    Have you tried playing with the DSP features in Roon to tweak the sound to see if you can "find what's missing".  It's free!

- Can you beg or borrow some other person's gear to substitute items in your chain to see if their gear makes that magic difference?

 

I'd suggest that you MUST be able to define the problem you are experiencing. Only then will you'll be much more likely to be able to solve it.    Good luck!    

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2 hours ago, aussievintage said:

I must look again at the latest stuff

 

Wow, I took a quick look, and there is some fantastic stuff out there at the low end - and I DO NOT mean that in a good way.  Be very very wary.

 

How about a description  "High Quality 10-30W Field Tube Preamp Amplifier HiFi DIY"  ?   It appears that 10-30W is the power drawn from the supply.  Also, there are no tubes in site - I guess they mean it uses field effect transistors. :)  

 

Mostly they are as I said, just opamps with tube buffers.    Your best bet is something based on a known traditional design. They often copy old good designs, but even then, the way they do it needs careful watching.

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Has anyone tried an Ifi itubes 2. I've got a Schiit Saga and it does add to that 3D effect. It's very subtle, the added "glow" of ? harmonics. I can imagine you could overdo this though, but I don't know how much is too much.

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

Wow, I took a quick look, and there is some fantastic stuff out there at the low end - and I DO NOT mean that in a good way.  Be very very wary.

 

How about a description  "High Quality 10-30W Field Tube Preamp Amplifier HiFi DIY"  ?   It appears that 10-30W is the power drawn from the supply.  Also, there are no tubes in site - I guess they mean it uses field effect transistors. :)  

 

Mostly they are as I said, just opamps with tube buffers.    Your best bet is something based on a known traditional design. They often copy old good designs, but even then, the way they do it needs careful watching.

What about all the Marantz 7 clones?

 

Here's one

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32560582892.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.55f249b3TJQnDz&algo_pvid=e8b667e9-8a2f-4685-bc57-e72f869e604a&algo_expid=e8b667e9-8a2f-4685-bc57-e72f869e604a-30&btsid=0b0a556816059243175982091eab7e&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

 

Edit: granted I wouldn't run something like these without using some better passive components instead of stock ones, apart from tubes, capacitors mainly, coupling and output caps definitely.

Although I'm a capacitor snob :lol:

 

A similar looking one using a different circuit.

Aliexpress

Edited by muon*
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Ming Da MC-7R would be a worth while investment. A solid performer for a very reasonable price. Send me a PM if you are interested as I am putting together a bulk order from Mexing.

You could save on shipping plus you would have a go to if there is any issues. 

 

image.jpeg.4b589ff86f684d9e13dcecc4c1a62add.jpeg

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