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).



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

I run a Luxman CL-38uC tube preamp and I just love the sound.  Currently I have it going into Lux MQ-88uC tube amps in parallel and it’s my favorite sounding setup I’ve put together to date.  but I had a Michi S5 for a period of time before that.  Let me tell you that with the S5 you will never want for more power, holy cow.  Such a robust and cool looking piece of gear.  

happy hunting! 

I had a Rogue RP-7 and in my system , while the soundstage was quite wide, I didn't get a lot of depth. I've had 2 other preamps in my system since then and I think both best it in terms of depth of soundstage and overall tone. The first thing I tried was a don Sachs Model 2. You could get one on the used market for about 2k probably. Alternatively, the guy that designed it at tubes4hifi will build you one to pretty much the same spec as don. That unit showed me depth of soundstage like I'd never heard. Also, for me, the 6SN7 tubes just have the sound I'm looking for from a tubed preamp.the issue I had with that unit is that there's no balance on it and I listen to a mostly vinyl. Old records are some times not worn evenly and sometimes I need to adjust balance to keep image centered. 

What I have in my system now is a ModWright ls100 and I'm extremely happy with it. I like the look and knob feel but most of all what I like is the sound of it. It has the same richness and depth that the Sachs had (also 6sn7 based) but now I have balance control. This is gonna be in my system for a while now.

The only preamp I have at the moment is an Erhard Aretha so I can recommend that if you want a tube pre with tone controls.