Tube Preamp Question.

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by TerryHub, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. TerryHub

    TerryHub Stunt Coordinator

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    I friend has a Counterpoint SA-7 tube preamp that has lost the right phono channel. The company that originally manufactured the preamp is out of business and the only way he can get it repaired is to go back to the original designer's company. This has my friend looking at some upgrade options as well. This will cost $2,000.00 plus for the repair/upgrade.

    The question is do you think he should repair/upgrade the Counterpoint or does anyone have a better suggestion. Obviously $2K is a lot of money and there should be a more economical alternative.

    Thanks.

    His equipment:

    Michelle Transception Turntable
    California Audio Labs Icon CD Player
    Counterpoint SA-7 Preamp
    Crown 2-ch Amp
    B&W 850 Speakers
     
  2. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    The SA-7 was an entry level preamp when it was introduced and IIRC, it sold for less than $500. I am sure any upgrades Mike Elliot has designed for any of the old Counterpoint gear will be the best possible, but for $2K you should at least examine some other options. I would take a serious look at some of the high end used preamps avaiable on AudioGon, you can get a lot of preamp for $2K. You might still decide to upgrade the SA-7, but at least you would know what alternatives are available.
     
  3. TerryHub

    TerryHub Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan,

    Thanks for the response. I showed my friend the audiogon site, but neither of us are versed enough to really know what to look for. Any suggestions?
     
  4. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    if i were looking at a tubed preamp in the $2k range on audiogon, i'd look for cary, conrad johnson, rogue audio, and audio research. out of those, i'd personally pick a cary preamp.

    kevin t
     
  5. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    It would help if we could know what the rest of your friend's gear is, what kind of music he listens to, what kind of sound he prefers, what is his room like, etc. Also, is $2K a hard limit, or can he spend more for the right peice of gear? If he can, what is the hard limit?

    FWIW, I like Sonic Frontiers tube preamps. They are also discontinued, but are of a much newer design and manufacture than your friend's SA-7. Here is a Line 3 for $2250, but recently re-tubed and worth the price, IMO. FYI, I have no connection with the seller.

    If you want to try an inexepensive, but high quality solid state option, with a MM phono stage, take a look at this Bryston for $250. In the interests of full disclosure, I happen to know the seller very well! [​IMG]
     
  6. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    If he wants a new preamp the Cary SLP-308 retails for $2000 new. http://www.caryaudio.com/products/audio/slp308.shtml It's a very nice preamp and very quiet for a tube preamp. I own a Cary SLP-88 which Cary doesn't make anymore but you could find one on Audiogon for less than $1500 and it has a remote and a nice tubed headphone stage if he's into headphones.
     
  7. TerryHub

    TerryHub Stunt Coordinator

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    Do you guys really think he should spend $2k on a tube preamp with the other electronics he has?

    Dan,

    I listed his other gear in my original post. He listens to light jazz mostly, but I'm sure he listens to a varity of stuff, nothing too hard and definately no hip hop / rap.

    He also said that he really isn't too proud of his amp. What do you guys think of a new Rotel RC-1090 preamp and a new RB-1070 amp? I suggested he look into it.

    Thanks.
     
  8. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    A cheaper alternative would be a AES AE-3 preamp. It's tubed and retails for $599 in base form though you can option it out for over $1000. AES is made by Cary and is very good for the money.
     
  9. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    That's a good question, the preamp would definitely be the top piece in his current system. IMO, if he doesn't intend to upgrade the rest of the system with comparable quality gear, then yes, a $2K preamp would be overkill. OTOH, building a quality 2 channel rig around an excellent preamp isn't a compeltely crazy idea. So if he intends to continue upgrading, then spending $2K now would be OK. It really boils down to what his plans and budget allow.

    If he does decide to splurge on a preamp, then I would be looking higher up the food chain than those Rotel amps. The 1090 is nice, but would be outclassed by a high quality tube preamp. I think I would want to pair a preamp like that SF Line 3 with some really good amps like these Goldmund Stellavox monoblocks, this Pass Labs X150 or maybe something like this Classe CA-301. The Goldmund monoblocks or the Pass X150 would be my choice, but lots of people like the Classe or any number of other high quality used amps in the same price range.
     
  10. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    Maybe have him take a look at an integrated and sell the crown amp.
    The DK Design VS-1 is pretty sweet.
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well that's one way of doing it. You can also search out the Yellow Pages for places that do electronic/TV repair and see if you can find an old timer still doing it. The problem may be as simple as a broken wire.
     
  12. TerryHub

    TerryHub Stunt Coordinator

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    Chu,

    There is no doubt a repair would most likely be inexpensive, but that is not the whole deal. When my friend checked out the web site, he was able to read all the great stuff this guy can do to upgrade his tube preamp. Bitten by the upgrade bug a little I guess, so he comes to me to see what I think. While I consider myself fairly well rounded in what I like and purchase for HIFI, I am completely out of my league when it comes to highend or tube stuff. That is why I posted here for him. If nothing else, we will get enough information and opinions to help him decide what to do. Well, that is the idea anyway...

    Thanks.
     

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