Don Sachs DS2 Preamp - too good to be true?

So I'm looking at trying out a tube preamp. Have always been SS but curious about tubes. Came across a lot of buzz on this forum and others for Don Sachs' custom DS2 line stage preamp, and it has really piqued my interest/curiosity.

I guess I'm wondering if the hype is too good to be true? A lot of people seem to favor this over commercial preamps that far exceed its price. 

Has anyone tried it and been unhappy? I guess the 2 main thoughts in my head are:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

2. Why couldn't any given established audio company, with I'm sure deeper pockets and more resources than Don S has, put out an amp that performs as well or better at a comparable price?

The normal answer would be to demo/try it for yourself, but that seems basically impossible in this case as there is no dealer network, demo units, etc...


I spoke to Don when I was looking for a preamp. He’s a one-man-shop and builds each unit as a custom order. There was a long wait so I moved on.

Everyone raves about the preamp and I believe the hype to be true. BTW, Don is semi-retired now and only builds a few amps and preamps per year.

I can only speak from my own experience, and I’m not about to say or suggest that the Sachs is better than every other preamp in the land.

What I can say is that in the almost two years since it’s entered my system, I have been off the preamp merry go round with no urge to go back. What the DS2 does,it does as well or better than any preamp I’ve heard. But I haven’t heard all of them, and its character may not be everyone’s cup of tea.   

In my system, it’s been magic. I keep an LTA MZ2 on hand for when I want something a little different, but the DS2 is my mainstay for now - and will be for quite some time, I think.



You better compared with same tube pre with Modwright and Atma-sphere and then talk.

There is slogan here" Tube amp are very difficult to make bad SQ"

This slogan is especially true for some one just coming from SS amplifier,as there are different league.

So You got compare and talk, that will be accurate.




Don is amazing. The DS2 is the culmination of his on the job learning. He didn’t exactly design it, though he certainly has the ability to design. What else he knows is circuit perfection. After decades of working on Citation and Macintosh modifications, he found a preamp which he was able to modify into probably one of the world’s best, yet he sells at nearly a bargain basement price considering the fit, finish, sound, and the quality of the components used. If I didn’t already own one, I would certainly buy one now!

I own the following:

Modwright LS-100

Don Sachs DS-2


Atma-Sphere MP-3

The one that’s staying is the MP-3. All of them are very good, but the MP-3 is best in my system; not surprising, since my amps are Atma-Sphere M-60s. It combines the great tone of the DS-2 with the inner detail of the MZ-2.

I could live with any of them; the differences are small but noticeable. So is the DS-2 too good to be true? Not at all; it’s very good. Are there better preamps? Of course. Are there better preamps at the same price level? Only you can determine that.

A larger company would have a difficult time duplicating Don’s craftsmanship, quality, customization options, and customer service at anywhere near his price, due to their far greater overhead.



If your DS-2 hasn’t had the latest mods, I have forgotten, and isn’t impedance matched to your amp, and are not using Linlai E-6SN7 tubes to drive your amp then you don’t really know which is better for your predilections. Not that it matters, if you prefer to stick to the atmosphere there’s nothing wrong with that. If however all the preceding conditions are not met, then who knows? I have each output setup for amps with impedances around 50K, and the other for 100K. The 50K has Myflex caps, and the 100K has ODAM capacitors. I only use the higher impedance out for critical listening. If I get another +/- 50K amp, I’ll install the ODAM caps. I wouldn’t have named them, but someone even posted pictures of them, so it’s irrelevant. Anyway, everyone has different tastes in their music, so the only real right or wrong is whether or not you derive enjoyment from your system without listening fatigue. I may run from your listening room covering my ears, or you from mine, but listening is a personal thing so there is no right or wrong when we speak about others. The biggest problem with trying to "grade" Don’s preamp is that it has undergone revisions. His latest preamp, or older ones with current devices in the audio path, are quite an improvement over older unmoderated ones. Just the rectifier and capacitor upgrade is likely a 30% improvement, then toss in a pair of E-6SN7s driving the amp and we’re looking at perhaps a 50% improvement for pennies when you compare that jump to the diminishing returns that you would have to pay for such an improvement over any other component in you system. It has always been a phenomenal preamp to begin with for the money. Anyway, not everyone is going to like tubes, this, that, or another thing about any given component. I am currently waiting to hear what a Lampizator DAC can do for my system.

@lous I like what you wrote and agree very strongly.


Try a search around here somewhere for a thread titled something like "Don Sachs vs. Supratek - Which way to go". In that thread I was discussing my thoughts that were running right along what you posted above.

There are a LOT of excellent pieces of equipment out there these days. You won't go wrong with a Don Sachs, an Atmasphere, an Aric Audio or a Supratek. They're all very highly regarded.