Fantasy or reality? Inexpensive solid state preamps that get you 80% there?

Recently, I posted asking about solid state preamps in the $4k region. I got some really good suggestions. Much appreciated. I have that list saved in a folder and will consult it.

I'm still a bit shy about spending $4k. So, lately, I've found myself reading about Schiit Saga and Freya S preamps. Why? Well, the idea of a non-tube preamp still appeals to me but these are much, much less expensive. 

I'm wondering if anyone has done some comparing of Schiit's Saga and Freya solid state preamps? Have you tried either of these preamps and come to some conclusions about their sonic worth compared to other more expensive solid state preamps? Were they worth it? Were they just a waste of time for you?

In brief:

Schiit Saga S vs. Freya S?
Schiit Saga or Freya vs. more costly solid state preamps?

The ultimate reason for asking is that this is a hobby where it's easy to plunk down small amounts of money (relatively) thinking that one can get 80% of what they want only to find that there's really no free lunch. If that's the case, I'll just keep saving for something better (Pass, Ayre, etc.). If not, I might just try a Saga or Freya (or something else — Parasound used? Etc.)


If you add at least 100% to the price of a piece of Schiit gear, you'll get a better idea of what it would cost at a retail store. They make well researched, great sounding stuff and have been in the business for a long time.

Just get the Benchmark La4. You will not be sorry. And they hold their resale value very well if you decide to move on. 

There is a Hafler DH 110 preamp on EBay for $325 + $32 shipping. Why spend more? I have one in my collection of preamps. Sonically as good as any four-figure preamp - contrary to what the "golden ears"  crowd claims.

A simple question but no simple answers, I afraid.

In the audiophile world, you get what you paid most of the time. However, the higher cost it goes the diminish return rule will dominate. I believe you will get 80% of the functions in a budget level SS preamp. The only question is if you will be happy to settle on 80% of the performance.

May be your implied question is this one: Is preamplifier not so important in the audio system, that you can put a small percentage of budget in it and not affecting much of the overall performance?