Entry Level Tube Preamp or Higher Quality Used Model?

Hi All-

Overall I have great system that I’m happy with. But I recently heard a tube preamp and am smitten. There appear to be some well reviewed affordable models from Schiit Audio and Rogue, etc. that can be had for relatively short money. However for roughly the same price I can get a used piece from a traditionally higher quality brand like AudioResearch, Conrad Johnson, etc.

I’d like to stay around $1500 or less. Balanced operation would be good too. No phone pre section needed. The Schiit Freya+ Seems to be a good economical option. Are any of the new Chi-Fi brands worth a look? Does anyone have a recommendation?


I have been running a Rogue RP-1 for years and like it, sans the cheezy remote. Support is good as well and these units can be had used for a little less than $1.5k.  I dolled her up with a set of matched Mullards and she sounds sweet.

If you want balanced in a Rogue you gonna have to double the budget.
Good luck finding anything with full remote that sounds better than a new Freya for <$1K.
I would get a used preamp. I looked at the listings on Audiogon and there are a couple of Audio Research preamps at or under your price. There is also an Aesthetix Calypso a bit over your range at $1,900. Great sounding and still current production. I used to own one, it was well built, reliable with an excellent remote volume control

higher level used, much much much much better for $ spent

buy the best cj you can afford, or if you must have balanced, then audio research