A preamp recommendation

Hello everyone,  I'm looking for a "neutral" preamp that does not emphasize and de-emphasize any frequency range but has just a tiny bit of warmth.  Accurate harmonic information resulting in natural instrumental timbre, outstanding sound staging and imaging, solid extended bass without typical under controlled bass of typical tubes or over damped bass of transistors, crystalline smooth extended high frequency, excellent micro and macro dynamics, and clear transparent sound are all important to me.  I don't like hyper detailed sound typical of some transistor preamps or overly smooth warm sound of some tube preamps.  Currently, my favorite preamp is an autoformer passive preamp which gives many of the sound quality I like, but it lacks the drive and impact I get from active preamps. I have auditioned some top preamps from Audio Research, D'Agustino, Pass, among others, but was underwhelmed due to lack of transparency, inaccurate timbre, and/or significant deviation from overall neutrality.  I don't care if the preamp is solid state or tube, long as my requirements are met.  All of my amps have input impedance of 50KOhms or above. Which preamp would best fit my taste?  Any preamp new or used $15k or under would be on my list. Thank you.



Coincident Statement MK II. A genuinely superb sounding Line Stage that utilizes the DHT 101D.

I also feel strongly with regard to the Atma-Sphere MP-1 Line Stage. Both are truly upper tier excellent.


maybe @atmasphere can elaborate on their differences as well as the bass concerns you have from reading the MP1 reviews). Anyway, hope this helps and FWIW.

@dracule1 @soix The MP-1 does not lack for bass compared to any of our other preamps, and actually goes lower than most tube preamps made on account of a direct-coupled output for which we have two patents (which allow for a reliable and simple circuit). In the case of both the MP-1 and MP-3 line stages, they lack the typical mid bass emphasis that many tube preamps have simply on account of no output coupling capacitor. IOW they might seem a bit lean in the bass at first, but if your speakers can show off the bottom octave you'll hear information that most tube preamps can't acknowledge. Put another way deep bass is one of their strong points.

Both the MP-1 and MP-3 are intended for balanced operation (the MP-1 was the first balanced line preamp offered to home audio back in 1989). Both are fully differential and balanced from input to output and both support AES48 (the balanced line standard) and can drive loads as low as 600 Ohms.

I would look at two units in particular.  For pure SS, Bricasti M20 Preamp.  Big sound and extremely dynamic.  Bricasti is known for being neutral to a hair warm and is really a superb unit.  MSRP is $12.5K.  You should be able to find feedback in lots of places on this.  

For tube, check out the Canor Hyperion P1.  My unit is currently out on demo and I am thinking my customer is going to buy it.  Stunningly good preamp.  I used it as the center piece of my system at AXPONA where we did get positive feedback.  If you are interested, I am sure my customer would offer his POV.  It is also $12.5K.