To Preamp, or not to Preamp?

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Hi folks,

Looking for your expert advice please.

Been quite the journey for me hifi wise and growing my knowledge all the time. However, there is still the mystery of pre and power amps to contend with.

Currently I have:
Monitor Audio MR6s (bi-wired)​
Beresford Caiman SEG DAC (upgraded). Not using it as a preamp.​
(System 1)Audiolab 6000A Integrated Amp (refurbed), but using as a preamp/selector with no speakers attached​
Rega Planet CD player or
(System 2)Rega Maia Amp (Integrated), but using as a preamp/selector with no speakers attached (flicked the small DIN switch inside to enable this)​
Rega Planet CD player and​
(System 1 or 2) Audiolab 8000P Power Amp (speakers attached to this only)​
I was fairly happy with the sound (on either amp...perhaps the Rega more than the Audiolab) before I added the power amp, but wanted to get a 'true' separates system, so wondered what improvements could be found. I'm looking to have just one system, not two and sell what I don't need/doesn't work for me.

As I've not had the Audiolab 6000a set-up to separate the pre and power amp in it (and concerned the soldering would be beyond me) I decided to put no load on it to use it as a preamp. With the Rega Maia it was a bit easier. I opened up the box and flicked the switch internally and it's good to go (after I searched the web for ages as the instructions with it are pants).

Questions

I have found the Rega used as a preamp muddier and not as detailed. I was kinda hoping it would come out tops. Can anyone tell me (and I know it's not ideal to mix brands when using pre and power amps) what they think the issue might be?

Think it could be the difference in Gain as the Maia is measured at 27, or such and the Audiolab at what, 18-20? I'd be grateful for your thoughts.

Also the Audiolad Power Amp hums. Not too audible (you have to be up close) and you can't hear it through the speakers. Is this normal? I've read various reviews saying either it shoudl be totally silent, or it does hum?? Opened it up and all looks tight inside and no signs of any burning etc.

Any ideas?

Many thanks,
A





 
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muljao

Well-known Member
Ya, sell it all, keep the CD and speakers and buy a decent single box with everything you need
 

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Mujiao, thanks for your response. What would be a decent single box in your opinion? The Audiolab 6000a and Rega Maia are pretty well rated and I also have a NAD 3200i too.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Mujiao, thanks for your response. What would be a decent single box in your opinion? The Audiolab 6000a and Rega Maia are pretty well rated and I also have a NAD 3200i too.
It's not so much that any of your gear is not good, but you are using half a section of either with a power amp and need to add a dac to enable required sources.

If you enjoying all that tinkering around great, but if you for example got rid of all the amps and dacs and used something like a nad c399 (just as an example) you'd cut down on all the messing and have a tidy one box solution
 

[email protected]

Active Member
I don’t see the attraction to a separate preamp. The more things you put the signal through the more opportunity for distortion. I’m assuming a good quality integrated unit, of course.

The one justification I see is if you combine streaming and the preamp. Streaming technology changes. A good power amp will likely remain good for quite a while.
 

shinobi76

Active Member
I had a similar problem with an active pre amp adding a veil to the sound. After a bit of searching I stumbled on advice given here Amp/Preamp Asylum
I changed to a a low capacitance interconnect (Van Damme Silver Series LoCap 55pF) and it solved the issue. I was skeptical but it worked.
 
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Khazul

Well-known Member
It you want 'true' separates, then the logical conclusion of that is is streamer, dac, pre-amp, active crossover+DSP, and a mono amp per speaker driver and potentially allowing different amp types for each driver to that each adds a unique capability/characteristic specific to the driver to give exactly the desired sound.

I get separating DAC from amp - pure analog amps tend to have a slow pace of change whereas DACs (and streamers) are still experiencing a relatively fast pace of change (I do this for this reason).

I get separating out a phono pre-amp in the case where you amp doesn't have a phono stage (because it wasnt needed at time of purchase), or you have a pressing need for something special for a particular ultra expensive MC cartridge for eg.

I also get separating amp and pre-amp when you want some mix of modern pre-amp convenience with perhaps old school tube amps or whatever. Ie you are trying to do something unique and personal, or maybe you want to insert a room DSP system between pre-amp and amp. I get that people sometimes have a need for a dedicated headphone amp too (but pre-out from an integrated amp serves that purpose if needed).

But for most common integrated amps where there are no unique requirements I really do not see the point at all. You are just making life more complicated than it needs to be and quite honestly probably gaining nothing audible from it.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Frankly I’d sell all you have and buy a Lyngdorf TDAi 1120.

It will very likely astonish you.
 

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Thanks for all of your replies. I've been experimenting with the preamp options and it turns out my old Nad 3020i actually matches the Audiolab 8000P really well; adding headroom and soundstage.

I'll keep one of the integrateds but still deciding between the Audiolab 8000a and the Rega Maia.

One of the issues is that all my gear is second-hand apart from the Nad which i've had since 1993! So, all in all, it's not cost that much. Another thing is that I also have a separate AV system (shared fronts with the hifi; the Monitor Audio MR6s). So I need to have a separate AV amp to fit all the speakers. I use a switch for the fronts between the hifi set up and the AV set up.

All my interconnects are the best quality I could afford and similarly all second hand; Van den Hul, QED 40is, Chord Chrystals and Crimsons and Van den Hul Clearwaters as speaker cables.

I would think about a one box solution as per Paul's reply above, but it would cost a third more than what've i've spent in total and I don't want to spend the extra just now.

The pre and power are an experiment for me as never had the combo before and wanted to see if it makes a difference. With the Nad 3020i as a dedicated pre (easy to pull the jumpers out on these old units) and the 8000P as a power amp, it'll let me experiment. If I don't like it, i'll shift the Power amp. It was only £130, so really great price and perfect condition. My belief is that it allows each part to do its own job. My existing amps (before I got the Power amp) aren't too powerful, in terms of reducing the load on the speakers (6 ohms nominal and 150W)

Also got an ifi mains purifier and tacsima power extension. Both seem to tighten the sound up and no inteference i'm aware of.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you keep a look out, the NAD 1240 and Monitor Series 1000 preamps are worth punt. I had the 1240 and it was nice but did have that NAD "warm" sound with slightly bloated bass region, 1000 should be a bit more neutral.

There are ways of connecting an AVR to an integrated/preamp usinf the front pre-outs if it has them. Ideally the integrated/preamp should have HT bypass or fixed level inputs but there are work arounds to get the volume matched after use if not.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
Another thing is that I also have a separate AV system (shared fronts with the hifi; the Monitor Audio MR6s). So I need to have a separate AV amp to fit all the speakers. I use a switch for the fronts between the hifi set up and the AV set up.

You really should look into an integrated amp with HT bypass then.
 

password1

Suspended
The Audiolab 6000a is probably more than capable for the MR6 speakers.

I had the MR4 with a budget Marantz pm5005 and CA 540v2 which sounded good.
 

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Thanks all.
Ugg - I'll keep a look out for those and see what turns up. I'm fairly happy with the sound of the Audiolab Power amp tied up to my Nad 3020i. Who would have thunk they would work together!? The Nad has been a loyal servant for about 27 years, never re-capped, but never pushed at volume.

Khazul - Thanks for your advice. I'll think about it. I did buy a Beresford switcher and seems to do the job well, so will probably stick with that for now. Also got the Beresford Caiman DAC modded by Musical Fidelity. Frank Beresford asked me to take a pic inside and reckoned it's got all the top mods he did aftermarket on its release. Coupled that with the Dorado power supply.

Password1 - Yes, it's a great amp; I enjoy it. Gets flaming warm though! Bought second hand. Outside a bit scruffy, but the guy had recapped and cleaned the inside, no burns (which are commonplace), so it's a 'sleeper'. What speakers you running now? I had an offer of £180, yep, £180 today for EPOS es11 speakers, original stands and biwired cables for them. Drove 20 miles to buy them and the guy refused to answer his phone....bar steward.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
The 8000P is a fine power amp indeed.

(You might benefit from removing the lid and torquing down the transformer a bit).

But it deserves a better preamp. The old Nad was indeed a good integrated in its time, but a modern, purpose built pre will be a big improvement.
 

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Paul, I seemed to be getting a loud hum with it connected to the Audiolab 8000a, so switched to the Nad (no hum). I checked the transformer previously and it is tightened down; no movement. I could give it a good spray with Deoxit maybe?

Yeah, was watching Audiolab 8000c on the Bay, but obviously fairly old now. Any suggestions for a more modern preamp second hand that won't break the bank but do the job?

Thanks kindly,
A
 

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Ah the Camberley Carrot? Unfortunately it is collection only. Thanks for the steer though. You're right, I would have money left over if I sold my other gear (well, apart from the Nad...sentimental value). It'd probably save me money on electricity too!

I'll check out the reviews. Might be worth considering. Any other ideas on pre-amps though, if i'd be too scared to pull the trigger on that one? I'm Scottish, so...tight.

Thanks,
A
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Ah the Camberley Carrot? Unfortunately it is collection only. Thanks for the steer though. You're right, I would have money left over if I sold my other gear (well, apart from the Nad...sentimental value). It'd probably save me money on electricity too!

I'll check out the reviews. Might be worth considering. Any other ideas on pre-amps though, if i'd be too scared to pull the trigger on that one? I'm Scottish, so...tight.

Thanks,
A

I think the guy could be persuaded to let you arrange your own courier for the 710 👍
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Paul, I seemed to be getting a loud hum with it connected to the Audiolab 8000a, so switched to the Nad (no hum). I checked the transformer previously and it is tightened down; no movement. I could give it a good spray with Deoxit maybe?

Yeah, was watching Audiolab 8000c on the Bay, but obviously fairly old now. Any suggestions for a more modern preamp second hand that won't break the bank but do the job?

Thanks kindly,
A

If there’s no hum with the Nad then the issue is not with the power amp. Have you anything connected to the 6000A that is not connected to the Nad when it is connected to the 8000?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you only have analogue (output) devices then I would suggest you try a passive preamp at some point.

I compared the preamp sections of a Rotel RSP1066, Nad 1240 and then the source directly into a pair of active speakers. The direct connection was by far the best sound, so I bought a passive preamp (only a single or two resistors in the signal line) that I used with my active speakers for a long time. I also added a passive ladder attenuator to the output of my DAC and ran them off that for quite a while as well.

I ended up with a SMpro M-Patch but the Tisbury passive pre (three inputs and two outputs) is more Hifi, others to look at are NVA or Khozmo (think they sell under Arekkallas on eBay). There are also some cheap ones on Amazon/eBay like the Little Bear.

Did you try the Beresford as a preamp, how did that sound?
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
As for a better preamp, then Cyrus are well respected, this one is a bit of a bargain.

 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
The Linn Kairn (with the Brilliant power supply if you can find one) was supposed to be very good in its day, these go for around the £400-500 mark and have a pretty good phono stage if that is important (the pro version does not have the phono stage). Reviews suggest this is more towards the Nad sound than the Audiolab/cyrus sound of that era.
 

Auralsaga

Standard Member
Haha, you're like an 'enabler'! I still feel though that i'd like to separate hifi and AV. Perhaps an old school thought these days. I see this went for £2100 RRP when new about 10 years ago, so I reckon £800 is a good deal. Are you getting a broker's fee? ;-) I also would end up probably having to upgrade all of my Monitor Audio surrounds to get the best from it, new cables etc. etc.

Any ideas about hifi pre-amps (this also allows me to switch rooms with it as I have quite a large kitchen)?
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Haha, you're like an 'enabler'! I still feel though that i'd like to separate hifi and AV. Perhaps an old school thought these days. I see this went for £2100 RRP when new about 10 years ago, so I reckon £800 is a good deal. Are you getting a broker's fee? ;-) I also would end up probably having to upgrade all of my Monitor Audio surrounds to get the best from it, new cables etc. etc.

Any ideas about hifi pre-amps (this also allows me to switch rooms with it as I have quite a large kitchen)?

😂

All brokers fees happily received sir.

Please don’t spend even a quid on different cables.
 

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