Considering moving to separates with a tube preamp-appreciate recommendations

I currently drive Dynaudio Evoke 50 speakers with a Hegel H390 integrated amp. The Hegel also functions as my DAC and streamer.

I use an Elac Alchemy PPA-2 phono pre with a Technics SL-1200G turntable.

I also have a Denon DCD-A110 SACD player.

I've been pleased with this setup, but enjoy trying new combinations of gear, so I'm considering moving to separates for the preamp and amp. I'd like to try a tube preamp mated to a solid state class A/B amp.

I'm considering something used in the $3-$4K neighborhood for the preamp. PrimaLuna EVO 400, Rogue RP-7, and PS Audio BHK Signature are at the top of my list. 

Potential used stereo solid state amps in the $4-$6K range include the Parasound JC5, PS Audio BHK 250, or maybe Yamaha M-5000 or Rotel/Michi S5. I'd also consider something from Mark Levinson or Modwright if it was in the price range.

The Bel Canto EX-1 amp intrigues me too, but it's class D, and I'm not sure about it...

Appreciate input form anyone with experience with these options (or others in these price ranges).



The Bel Canto EX-1 amp intrigues me too, but it's class D, and I'm not sure about it...

@jpipes FWIW class D has evolved to easily compete sound-wise with any class AB or class A amplifier made.

I do recommend audition though- some class D amps are not nearly as musical as others I've heard, IMO.

What improvements are you looking for and what sound characteristics are most important to you?

@soix Thank you for asking. I'd like to experience what I can practically afford in terms of a wider and deeper sound stage, more of the holographic sound experience some reviewers describe. I'm not sure I hear that now.

I have learned that I prefer slightly warmer than neutral tonality and honestly just want to hear what a tube preamp brings to the experience.

Unfortunately like many people, auditioning gear is not easy in my area. I tend to buy and sell gear here online in order to learn what I like and don't like.

Based on reviews I tried a class D integrated, the Marantz PM KI Ruby, and it was very clean and articulate, but not as emotionally engaging for me as I'd like.

Then I went a totally different direction and tried the Yamaha A-S2200 integrated and found that I really liked it's sound signature, it was warm and exciting to my ear, but I felt I needed a bit more power for the Dynaudio speakers. The Yamaha would get a bit grainy at times to my ear.

The Hegel H390 is the answer for me to the perceived power need, and I think it is filling it well. It does not seem to have any issue driving the Dynaudio speakers with it's 490 watts into 4ohms and incredibly high damping factor. It is very smooth and articulate and provides good instrument separation, but I feel I took a step backwards in terms of sound stage as compared to the Yamaha.

The fun part of this hobby for me is hearing music in a way that I did not before. Trying something new to learn if there is something else in the mix that I missed up until now. Each change in gear has provided a new opportunity to learn. I think I'm ready now to learn what tube gear brings to the party.

I just today hooked up my PS Audio BHK pre-amp, used $3500, to new to me PS Audio M1200 mono blocks, used $3200. 

They sound really good. Lots of depth. Big sound stage.  I put in NOS  1958 Telefunken tubes in the amps & pre so after burn in it should just get better. 

Wait for a bit to stretch a bit your budget and treat yourself with an EAR 912in the used market that you see on sale for 4500/5000$. It’s an end-game type of preamp.

But to be frank, the types of improvements (depth, soundstage, fluidity) you are looking for are not usually linked to an upgrade on the preamp. Also if you would like a warmer presentation, the speakers might be the obvious issue. I don’t know the Evoke range but if what I noticed when listening to the Contour and Confidence range is true the Dynaudios are more of a V-shaped sound signature. The Hegel 390 is on the warmish side of neutral, another pair of speakers might be what you are really looking for.