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.)


The VTA SP14 ( ) The basic kit is about $1050 and can be purchased fully wired for about $1600. You can add super spec parts like Mumford Ag/Au caps and Kuzmo volume controls, etc as you desire. In base form, it handily beat out my $3000 Classe solid state and every upgrade I have added to it since has made a clearly audible improvement. Very musical, detailed  and transparent. A little soft on the very top but still dynamic. Loved and HIGHLY recommended!

I have a very different set of experiences and have found that if your budget is low then its actually easier to get stellar sonics from tubes than lower prices SS.

The Audible Illusions or Musical Paradise 701 gets you much further than SS in their prospective price ranges. SS always seems to impart a grain or glare to transients until you really spend a lot. SS preamps gain structure generally requires a lot of feedback to reduce the loop gain as well vs a low tube count preamp.

I have several high end mega buck preamps and have sampled a lot of other lower cost units as well and there clearly is a trend in sub 2k toward tubes to me.

@coltrane1 I recently acquired a throwback from the mid 90’s. A Threshold T3i. It’s got a separate and full sized power supply. Likely Stereophile A back in its day. It’s been checked out by the great Jon Soderberg. ...

I was at Jon’s place last night picking up a 50w Class A SS Forte Audio amplifier I had checked and upgraded, fully refreshed. We talked a bit about some of the prior Threshold and Forte Audio preamps. A few of them sitting there. I might pick one up for nostalgia reasons, and growing up with it all around us. Have an eye on a few now. 👍 Doing some SS/Tube A/B comparisons with my custom speakers.