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Tube Preamp Advice - Rogue, Schiit, and Vincent

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Aloha,

 

I have a DirectStream Junior DAC and a PS Audio S300 power amp (dual mono, class A input, class D output), connected by balanced XLR. I’d like to add a sub $2000 tube preamp.  Balanced is preferred, but not a deal breaker.

 

Lots of reading has led me to 3 candidates:

 

1) Schiit Freya+  $899, 4 tubes (6SN7), balanced XLR.  Excellent value, lots of glowing YouTube reviews, just not sure about Schiit’s tube pedigree, and their main designer seems grumpy (haha).  Made in California.   https://www.schiit.com/products/freya-1

 

2) Rogue Audio RP-1, $1800.  2 tubes (12AU7/ ECC82), no XLR.  Has a good Stereophile review.  Rogue has a great tube pedigree, made in Pennsylvania .  Just not sure if it’s the Freya at twice the price?  And with only 2 tubes, am I getting short changed on tube-ness?  https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=RARP1

 

3) Vincent Audio SA-32, $1200.  Audio Advisor product, no pro reviews that I could find.  4 tubes (6N16), balanced XLR.  I’m not a purist, and am drawn to the their tone controls, very rare these days, a tear came to my eye when I saw tone controls, took me back 😂.  German designed, made in China.    https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=VISA32&variation=SIL

 

The $2500 Vincent Audio SA T7 has 12 very positive user reviews on Audio Advisor, but no pro reviews I could find.  No XLR.  I looked at it just to get some idea of where Vincent fits into our audiophile universe.  Upscale Audio sells Vincent as well.

 

Would appreciate advice, or alternatives.  Thanks.

 

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I can only say that I have the  older Freya and it's very good.I think you need to spend a lot more to beat it. The 3 modes are also fun.

 


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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3 hours ago, firedog said:

I can only say that I have the  older Freya and it's very good.I think you need to spend a lot more to beat it. The 3 modes are also fun.

 

It's the three modes that would keep me away. IME products such as this tend to mediocre by way of trying to be too much. Does anyone know the B+ voltage of these?


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I am not a tube guy but I do have experience with the Rogue stuff over the years and they make very good equipment. Great company and their owner is a class act all the way. I am NOT biased at all being in PA.

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BTW, if you are only interested in tube output, the Freya probably isn't your best bet. IMO, it's active transistor stage sounds better (although I haven't heard the new version).


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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5 hours ago, davide256 said:

I would consider the Freya to be a waste of money with your system


Thanks for feedback.  I’m curious, why would the Freya be a waste of money?

 

My goal is to bring tube coloration into the system.  Darko, FWIW, in his glowing review of the Freya+, says the tube mode does bring pleasing tube coloration, holographic with what he calls “tube vapor trails”. 
 

Also, how is the Linear Tube preamp powered?  On the photos of the rear, I don’t see a place for a power cord.  Can it be powered by an SBooster?

 

And does being single ended only present any meaningful disadvantage to balanced XLR?

 

It’s a very intriguing option.  Thanks. 

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2 hours ago, davide256 said:

As best I can tell from the Freya's description, it appears to be a hybrid tube pre with solid state elements. Which is going to dilute the whole

tube experience.

As best as I can tell, the 3 modes are independent. Actual users who like tubes seem to be quite happy with the sound. Haven't heard of anyone saying the tube experience is "diluted", or something similar. Reviews of the tube section have been very positive, including comparisons to more expensive tube amps.

 

I'm not sure at all what your comment actually means. Please explain, and let us know if it based on anything other than assumptions.

 

And you haven't heard one, have you?


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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5 minutes ago, botrytis said:

I, myself would look used. Like an Audio Research, say SP-16 or other model. Can be had for the same as many of the ones listed.

A good recommendation. They make tube pre's that do transients right. Are they as sensitive to 12xx pre tube rolling as other tube designs?


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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5 hours ago, firedog said:

As best as I can tell, the 3 modes are independent. Actual users who like tubes seem to be quite happy with the sound. Haven't heard of anyone saying the tube experience is "diluted", or something similar. Reviews of the tube section have been very positive, including comparisons to more expensive tube amps.

 

I'm not sure at all what your comment actually means. Please explain, and let us know if it based on anything other than assumptions.

 

And you haven't heard one, have you?

I haven't heard one but after 40 years of watching the market and listening to tube designs, I don't see anything that shouts "this punches above its weight class". The only

serious review that I can find is from Positive Feedback. Exceptional buys attract reviewers like flies with  comparisons to other gear they like, I'm not seeing that.


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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23 hours ago, davide256 said:

you get the sub audible bass frequencies

Purely out of curiosity: if they're sub audible, how do you know they're there and what's generating them?

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11 minutes ago, bluesman said:

Purely out of curiosity: if they're sub audible, how do you know they're there and what's generating them?

the lowest bass is a felt pressure wave. Easiest way to experience the effect is drop a heavy textbook flat on a cement floor or be in the audience

when the concert bass drum is used. Two pieces of music I use for test, Reference Recordings, Fanfare for the Common Man, track 1 or

soundtrack to "Princess Mononoke" track 1, both have loud concert bass drum passages. A lot of gear seem to truncate these frequencies,

probably because smaller speakers can't handle them well.


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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20 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

You may have seen him here in the form of a person banned for outrageous behavior and using a couple different names. 


Schiit, I had no idea, sorry. 


No electron left behind...

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1 hour ago, davide256 said:

A good recommendation. They make tube pre's that do transients right. Are they as sensitive to 12xx pre tube rolling as other tube designs?

 

I do not know that information. I do my my SP-16 was a very well reviewed at the time but for the digital volume control on the low end, which is not linear. I also like this pre because of the use of 12AX7 tubes which are more common and easier to obtain than others. I bought my from a friend, who basically had it since new and treated it with kid gloves.

 

I only have the stock tubes (EH tubes) and a set of NOS 1950's RCA's. I am currently using the RCA's because, based on blind testing, they highs were much crisper and not as rolled off. According to what I have read on other sites, yes, the sound can be tailored by tube rolling. The Pre part has 3 tubes and the integral phono stage also uses 3.


Current:  JRiver 24 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an I5-2500K with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Audio Research SP-16

Amplification - PS Audio S300

Speakers: Wharfedale Linton Heritage

Cables:Tara Labs and DiMarzio Interconnects

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22 minutes ago, botrytis said:

 

I do not know that information. I do my my SP-16 was a very well reviewed at the time but for the digital volume control on the low end, which is not linear. I also like this pre because of the use of 12AX7 tubes which are more common and easier to obtain than others. I bought my from a friend, who basically had it since new and treated it with kid gloves.

 

I only have the stock tubes (EH tubes) and a set of NOS 1950's RCA's. I am currently using the RCA's because, based on blind testing, they highs were much crisper and not as rolled off. According to what I have read on other sites, yes, the sound can be tailored by tube rolling. The Pre part has 3 tubes and the integral phono stage also uses 3.

Ouch.  NOS 12AX7 tubes are hard to get and expensive, I could never afford NOS 12AX7 when I had the PV10A. You may want to try rolling in some new Tungsol tubes,

I liked them best out of the current common pre tubes vs the GL's and EH's. Telefunken remains my favorite NOS 12xx tube for neutrality and transient response or

the rare Holland Bugle Boys if you can find them. The Telefunken 12AU7's are still out there, I have 2 extra pairs squirreled away among the 50+ pairs of different NOS 12AU7/12AT7 tubes Ive tried. I have some NOS RCA clear top 12AU7's, 6SN7, they do have a nice top end. But I'm just not willing to pay $100+ for NOS

12AX7 tubes.


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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22 minutes ago, davide256 said:

Ouch.  NOS 12AX7 tubes are hard to get and expensive, I could never afford NOS 12AX7 when I had the PV10A. You may want to try rolling in some new Tungsol tubes,

I liked them best out of the current common pre tubes vs the GL's and EH's. Telefunken remains my favorite NOS 12xx tube for neutrality and transient response or

the rare Holland Bugle Boys if you can find them. The Telefunken 12AU7's are still out there, I have 2 extra pairs squirreled away among the 50+ pairs of different NOS 12AU7/12AT7 tubes Ive tried. I have some NOS RCA clear top 12AU7's, 6SN7, they do have a nice top end. But I'm just not willing to pay $100+ for NOS

12AX7 tubes.

I had a buddy who is a tube collector and I got 6 NOS tubes that tested new (and in boxes) and within 10% of each other (testing wise) for 75 USD. Not too bad :D

 

Well EH are stock for all ARC pre's, I think. 


Current:  JRiver 24 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an I5-2500K with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Audio Research SP-16

Amplification - PS Audio S300

Speakers: Wharfedale Linton Heritage

Cables:Tara Labs and DiMarzio Interconnects

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2 hours ago, davide256 said:

I haven't heard one but after 40 years of watching the market and listening to tube designs, I don't see anything that shouts "this punches above its weight class". The only

serious review that I can find is from Positive Feedback. Exceptional buys attract reviewers like flies with  comparisons to other gear they like, I'm not seeing that.

http://fairhedon.com/2019/10/08/listening-to-the-schiit-freya-preamplifier/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iAmj_ptVaw

plus users impressions

 


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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