Passive Preamp

MikeT.

Senior Member
In my search for a “summer” solid state amp I’ve read several posts here about passive preamps and some I’ve seen are very high value, low price. Considering using one of these with a newer Class D power amp with high power, 100wpc.
So my question is, with a stand-alone phono preamp, CD player and DAC, all with outputs greater than 2V be a good match?

I’m just starting to understand the difference between active and passive and with the output voltages I’m talking about from my other components, selecting a good matching power amp I am seeing the benefits.

Any reasons NOT to go,this route?
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
In my search for a “summer” solid state amp I’ve read several posts here about passive preamps and some I’ve seen are very high value, low price. Considering using one of these with a newer Class D power amp with high power, 100wpc.
So my question is, with a stand-alone phono preamp, CD player and DAC, all with outputs greater than 2V be a good match?

I’m just starting to understand the difference between active and passive and with the output voltages I’m talking about from my other components, selecting a good matching power amp I am seeing the benefits.

Any reasons NOT to go,this route?
Not a huge fan of pure passives but I really like the Schiit Saga (passive with a single 6SN7 to lower the output impedance). Even has a remote control. ;)
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Could you briefly, subjectively describe why you’re not a fan @TubeHiFiNut ?
My set-up should be described as "Passives Hell" due to the long cable run from the sources and preamp to the amps. ;)

To my ears, pure passives lack drive and involvement. They don't allow me to connect to the music. I find them lackluster and boring - no "boogie" factor.

The main reason, in my opinion, is because they do not optimize the output impedance of the source to properly drive the amp.

Now, if you look at a TVC, Autoformer or a "passive" that uses an active device (like the Saga), all of these "passives" are optimizing the output impedance so that the preamp is able to properly drive the amp and the music is able to shine through.

If you want to try a pure passive, the Schiit Sys is an inexpensive way to find out what a passive will do in your system - plus you have 30 days to return it if things don't work out.

Just my opinions. :)
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
Thanks very, very much @TubeHiFiNut , David. Jibes with some of what I’ve been reading. I don’t need that kind of hassle in my life right now. I think I’m going to look at a DAC/preamp combo. There are some VERY good ones out there, reasonably priced too.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Thanks very, very much @TubeHiFiNut , David. Jibes with some of what I’ve been reading. I don’t need that kind of hassle in my life right now. I think I’m going to look at a DAC/preamp combo. There are some VERY good ones out there, reasonably priced too.
For $49, I'd try the Sys just to satisfy yourself - pro or con. ;)

If pro, inexpensive solution. If con, you have 30 days to return it.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
to give you another point of view...
I have not heard a better pre in my system than the slagleformer TVC. easy to build as well.
another great transformer based pre is the electraprint PVA; fussy about inputs is the only drawback--works best with sources that have low output impedance (100 to 300 ohms).
Pass B1 is a buffer that matches impedances; sounds great.
I don't look to my preamps to add sparkle, etc. I want to source material to come through unmolested!
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
to give you another point of view...
I have not heard a better pre in my system than the slagleformer TVC. easy to build as well.
another great transformer based pre is the electraprint PVA; fussy about inputs is the only drawback--works best with sources that have low output impedance (100 to 300 ohms).
Pass B1 is a buffer that matches impedances; sounds great.
I don't look to my preamps to add sparkle, etc. I want to source material to come through unmolested!
Thanks @rogerfederer , something I read suggested the high end came through like never before but it’s likely the author meant with detail previously unheard. A couple of folks here rave about the slagleformer TVC. I’ve got a lot going on in the next six months or so and keeping it simple without worrying too much about impedance matching or cables is likely to rank higher in my decision making. It’s got to sound good though. ;)
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
to give you another point of view...
I have not heard a better pre in my system than the slagleformer TVC. easy to build as well.
another great transformer based pre is the electraprint PVA; fussy about inputs is the only drawback--works best with sources that have low output impedance (100 to 300 ohms).
Pass B1 is a buffer that matches impedances; sounds great.
I don't look to my preamps to add sparkle, etc. I want to source material to come through unmolested!
Thanks @rogerfederer , something I read suggested the high end came through like never before but it’s likely the author meant with detail previously unheard. A couple of folks here rave about the slagleformer TVC. I’ve got a lot going on in the next six months or so and keeping it simple without worrying too much about impedance matching or cables is likely to rank higher in my decision making. It’s got to sound good though. ;)
And to clarify, the autoformer I did not lump in with a pure passive is the Slagleformer, the TVC is the Electraprint.

Absolutely agree on the Slagleformer and the Electraprint. These, plus passives with an active output buffer (like the Saga) are not what I consider a passive preamp.

My definition of a passive preamp is a volume control and a source selector - like the Schiit Sys.

In my opinion, the Slagleformer, the Saga and the Electraprint are highly recommended.
 
@MikeT. @TubeHiFiNut To gain success with a passive, a lot will depend upon the total Voltage Gain (dB) in your system.
We have owned the DJANGO with sought after S&B trannys, but as TUBEHIFINUT mentioned, you can lose frequency extremes where Gain is insufficient - or where there is an impedance mismatch. We ended up returning to a quality tubed preamp for those very reasons.
Having said that, we now run a mighty little TISBURY in front of most of our (older) integrated amps. The TISBURY doesn’t seem to suffer the above impedance problems so as long as there is sufficient gain. It is staggeringly revealing!
At the very low price of the TISBURY, if the gain is sufficient, I say give it a go!
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