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).



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.

If I was you I’d strongly consider pairing the Atmasphere MP3 Mklll tube preamp with their relatively new GaN mono amps.  They’re both available new within your price range, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ralph @atmasphere could arrange an in-home trial.  You could also look at the AGD Tempo Di GaN stereo amp that’s also in your price range, and I believe both amps are upgradeable for future tech innovations, which is really nice (I know AGD is but maybe Ralph can confirm his amps are too).  Don’t dismiss these new GaN amps as they’re getting lots of feedback as being end-game amps without the hassle of tubes.  Best of luck. 

Bel Canto rarely gets any mention here so I’ll weigh in. I’m running Bel Canto REF 600 monoblocks with Bel Canto E.One Streamer and 2.7 DAC. I stuck a little Schitt Saga + tube pre in the middle of all this (primarily for volume control) where I had been using the DAC as a pre. It works! With Harbeth C7’s. This is my every day system and I’ve had many variations of McIntosh, Sugden, Luxman in this chain and I like this setup the best by far. 

I have had a Rogue Audio RP-7 for about six months and am quite pleased with it.  Over the past 18 months I upgraded from an NAD C356BEE used as preamp feeding a McIntosh MC2120 power amp driving my Fyne Audio F702 speakers to an FP-1.  That improvement was so very marked and great, I decided to move to the RP-7, which was an incremental but substantial improvement.  A Benchmark AHB replaced the McIntosh power amp, and it was a great amp but I wanted to see what a tube amp would do in my system—and hard to audition in my area.  So, I opted for the Stereo 100 Dark from Rogue, and I am not disappointed.  Great sound stage, excellent tonal qualities of instruments, and three-dimensional sound. But, I must admit the switch from the Benchmark to the Rogue power amp was much less marked than the previous changes/upgrades.

So, I can recommend the RP-7 as a preamp, which as used should fall in your price range.  Alternatively, Rogue’s RP-5 is in your price range as new.    I may yet have to audition another SS power amp, because, as faulty as the memory can be with audio, the Benchmark SS amp was very close in sound quality to the tube amp I now have.  So, there may be something really good in the combo of a tube preamp and solid state power amp.  Best wishes in your hunt.


you have a terrific amp in the h390... it is hard to beat, but a tubed pre + a ss or hybrid power amp will yield a slightly rounder, softer presentation but perhaps one with improved soundstaging

i think you have excellent amplifier candidates, in particular the hybrid bhk...

as for the tubed pre, i would suggest a conrad johnson et5 (used around $4k) or an audio research ref 3 (same price roughly, used)... otherwise consider a used herron, these imo are superior to the primaluna or rogue (and perhaps also the ps-a)

modwright tube linestages are also excellent, but their popular swl9.0 is in a lower class of sound and build quality than the c-j or arc (i have owned all of them) - their ls36.5 is more comparable

good luck have fun