I’m interested in testing out the “tube” sound in my current system but I don’t want to spend big bucks to try it. It seems like the consensus is that a tube preamp makes a bigger difference overall than a tube power amp. I have a NAD 326BEE, which offers a preamp out. I’m interested in trying tube-based amplification to see what (if any) differences there are compared to solid state. I have a limited budget so I don’t want to spend big bucks. I’m wondering what low-priced (under $1000) options exist for me to try a tube -based preamp to pair with the NAD. I know the Schiit Freya is an option but what else is out there that might be worth trying. I will be driving a pair of Tekton Enzo XL’s. My plan is that if I don’t like (or can’t hear) a difference I could sell the preamp on Audiogon/US Audio Mart and not be out a bunch of $$. I’m perfectly fine with buying used.
The only tube pre-amp that I am aware of at well under a grand is the Schiit Freya. And the tube stage is switchable so if you want to change it up, you can do so with the click of a button.
if you want to “see” what tubes sound like i would rather opt for the power amp than the pre.
Do you have a recommendation for a power amp that might be within the $1,000 budget (new or used)? I know that might be a stretch but the Enzo’s are fairly efficient, the room is smallish (15×18 feet), and we rarely listen above 90db.
There are a variety of tube “flavours” so it will also depend on what you expect from your rig. SET vary within the breed and are different from the higher power types.
For your price expectation i like Almarro, which should come in that range used. There will be others, so scout publications you trust for suitabel reviews.