Building a new system after many years away, need some suggestions ... !

Thanks for the help all.... All opinions welcomed !!!

I have been away from high end audio for 10+ years but my wife expressed intreest in collecting vinal. I bought my wife a turntable ATLP-7 and of course you know what happened... and here I am. The reason I was away for some time is I am a pretty accomplished musician and I have a recording studio with state of the art digital recording, Apogee Digital, Neve , Avalon, and API etc... class A preamps and speakers (top of the line Focals etc..) but man somehow records still sound so magical, almost like nothing is between you and the live analog microphone feed.

I used to own a Audible Illusions M3A, Quicksilver M60 monoblocks, silver audio cable and Vandersteen’s but sold it when I moved to buy my bigger house.

I have some active speakers and the turntable for her now need a real preamp etc...but want to put a full system together again with some floor standing speakers (full range not necessary) Polk r700’s ?

I was wondering if the tube pre’s were still worth it with tech coming pretty far in the last 10 years. I imagine the SS measures better now. Im open to differnt opintions. In the end for her and I it’s more about that enjoyment more than me feeling like I’m mastering something.


Of course I’m looking at the Audible 3B but it's a lot of spend on a pre but will.... I do think I want to go SS on the Power Amp this time but again open. Currently have an old Rotel here that may get used for a bit as I get the speakers and other pieces together.


Any suggestions welcomed !


Thanks !



Everything improves in incremental steps over time, but physics and marketing doesn’t really change much, so things aren’t vastly different IMO, other than that outboard phono stages and DACS are more plentiful than ever, and there are more digital options.

If you had a taste for tubes and high end speakers before, I’d suggest going with tubes again, and upping your speaker selection....even if you have to aim for smaller speakers to stay in budget and get the midrange/treble transparency right, then add a sub later on as needed. Not only have tubes been part of all the best systems I’ve heard over the years, but you can also roll different brands and types to fine tune the presentation exactly to your liking. That’s not saying I haven’t owned or heard SS electronics I’ve liked, but none that move me the way good tubes do on really transparent speakers.

As always, I’d be speaker shopping first for something you love. Vandersteens are still around and still very relavent.  I think you can and will want better than Polk after what you previously owned. Good used speakers might a valid choice. Once that decision is made, find your power. Maybe a good integrated tube amp with a good outboard phono stage would fit the bill. Willsenton, Rogue, Primaluna, Nighthawk, Vincent hybrid, among others, are popular choices in that league these days.



My advice is do NOT go down the traditional route of daisy chaining a system together. These days get a pair of active streaming speakers that you can hook your turntable to and you are done. You will have to spend MUCH more to get the equivalent SQ going piecemeal. For example:


So for me wireless speakers are 100% not an option. I have a turntable which made me fall in love with listening to music again. I have a recording studio with top of the line digital and Focals. I did go tube on the pre, I just order a Modulus 3B so now looking for amp/amps, speakers, cables, modest DAC and maybe a phono cartridge upgrade for my lp7. 

Solid state has measured better than tubes for 50 years.  😂

Do you want to LISTEN to them?  That's another story.

How complicated do you want to get?  Luxman integrateds are fabulous performers with unbearably great midrange and treble sweetness, and extension at the bass and treble the envy of most tube amps.

ARC now sounds very different than it did in the 1990s so if you've been away for a while they may be worth auditioning again. 

Just buy a sugden integrated and some tannoy speakers and be done. For a turntable, you cannot beat the new thorens td 1500, especially If you buy it from Europe at half the price of US. Dac? I would not go further than the musicical Fidelity v90, read up on it at Stereophile. $299, if still avail....a fantastic dac! speaker cables? Audioquest type 4 is all you need, also look at Stereophile on these....streamer? I would not spend any more than $179, such as the Grace Digital Link. Was on sale on Amazon for only $149. Yes, cannot do the highest res audio, but most cannot hear the difference in a blind test, fact!.... so don’t waste money on high priced streamers and dacs....I speak from experience as well as ownership of all the above.

@op What are the active speakers you have? And what do you use for monitoring in your studio? I have a studio and I understand the difference between listening for mastering and listening for pleasure.

You did not mention a price range per component. That would help you get better suggestions, and a more appropriate match.

I currently have three amps,  in price order low to high, Cayin tube, Naim SS, Vincent pre / power hybrid. My listening time in preference order is Cayin, Vincent , Naim. Solid stare amps have measured better that tubes for 50 years, absolutely but tube amps sound better, if that is what you like. The Naim now powers the TV the Vincent is for sale.

Thanks for the suggestions all.!!!

Preamp, I bought the Audible Illusions M3B

Whats left... need suggestions for:

Phono Cartage


Power Amps (I do like tubes but still not sure on the power amps. )



Ok on the topic of the power amps.... 

What tube power amps today should I look at ?

Never liked Conrad Johnson 

As above, it would be really helpful to know what your budget is. Also, your speaker selection and sound you are hoping to achieve will likely guide you on the appropriate amp. Congratulations on the Audio Illusions preamp. John Rutan at Audio Connection in Verona NJ sells Audio Illusion along with Vandersteen, Ayre, Rogue (solid state, hybrid and tube amps), Audio Research, Quicksilver tube gear, ProAc speakers. I think he would be a great resource for you. Do you like Focal or Vandersteen more? When it comes to both of these brands, I would look to solid state amplification over tubes. If you want a tube amp, would suggest brands like ProAc, Fritz, Klipsch, DeVore with high sensitivity or benign impedance curves or both.

What is most important to you in terms of the sound?  Timbre, tonal accuracy, dynamics (ability to easily transition from low to high volume), holographic soundstage, imaging? The answer to this question will generate better recommendations. 

I love holographic soundstage and imaging and which is why I like the tube preamp but I do not like soft highs or loose bass. My old Quicksilver m60’s with EL34’s had personality in the mids which I like but were a bit lacking in the extremes. I did not try different tubes which may have fixed that. I would say I overall I am not an EL34 kind of guy, a bit too colored for me possibly. Solid State when I had it in my system (old Rotel RB951 still have it) was obviously not as deep or holographic of course but it was a bit more neutral from what I remember which is why I was wondering what current Tube amps offer the best of both today. I know there are TONS of solid state amps now like the Benchmark etc... but I do not want zero personality either.


Thanks !

Based on your response, I would look at Prima Luna or used Audio Research (e.g., Reference 75 SE) for a more modern tube sound that approaches solid state in neutrality and handling the frequency extremes but offers the 3D soundstage of tubes, or maybe a hybrid Rogue amp.

AGD Audion. I heard them at the LA Audio Show.

Merger of SS and tubes. Dynamic & Sweet.  Surprisingly powerful.

Here’s a review.

Excellent suggestion by steakster.  These were very high on my list to hear at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest which unfortunately has been permanently cancelled. Another amp that has caught my and many others attention — while not tube but having a tube-like signature I think — are the new class D monoblocks by Atma-sphere. 

I’m not sure what the loading ability is for that preamp - but if you can do MC a Denon 103 may be in order for the table. It makes magic at a low cost with the right SUT, but that would add costs. If it only does MM - the Hana line is a good value. 

I’m a high efficiency speaker, SET amp kind of guy. I think the amp needs to follow the speakers. Decware makes great stuff - but thanks to recent popularity their build time is being measured in years. 

An old Rotel amp sounds good to me! Just add a pair of Elipson Heritage XLS 15 and you're done! You'll get the "full range". These speakers sound fantastic and they're 92db sensitive so the old Rotel won't break a sweat. The argument for tubes is brought up, but I doubt that it's really essential. 

Sometimes you can gain better treble/midrange clarity by getting your amp serviced. It's a night and day difference coming from a dark/warm sound to a more analytical sound. This happened to me with my 1979 Continental Edison amp. 


Have you purchased a power amp yet?

I have AI M3B and a new Quicksilver KT mono. I feel that they match pretty well. I think it will be a big improvement over your old quicksilver. 

I have another set of amp/preamp (upgraded Plinius SA102 and M16P). 

I like both setup. If I were to choose, I would say that Quicksilver + Audible Illusions is a tiny bit better overall.

Roger sanders sound, …..maxed out odyssey monos,


axiom speaker pair Dynaudio, KEF, Polk, SVS, Martin Logan, acoustic energy

always think of Energy, we all know what klipschi** did to them.

klipschi* was jealous they had a superior product, so they closed doors on them!🤬🤬🤬


Can you PLEASE give us an idea of your budget as was previously asked?  Sheesh.