Help and opinions needed on pre-amp situation

For this one, I would like to hear from enthusiats instead of people who sell stuff. I’ve been using integrated amplifiers for all my years in this "hobby." I recently went to mono blocks- a pair of the class D Atma-Shpere’s to be specific. I’m using balanced XLR connections straight from a Lumin S1 streamer/dac/preamp into the mono blocks using Lumin’s LeedH volume processing deal. It’s a nice and simple setup with nothing else in the signal path.

The question is: am I missing out on better sound by leaving out an Atma-Sphere MP-3.3 tube preamp? Will adding a preamp improve, diminish, or retain the existing sound quality- as far as soundstage, imaging, depth, tonal balance etc is concerned? This preamp deal is not cheap (for me). Has anyone been in this situation? Did the preamp improve the sound, keep it the same, or make it worse? Am I better off just leaving it as-is with my minimalistic setup?

A couple of other things to consider:

My turntable is collecting dust since changing over to the mono blocks, I didn’t listen to vinyl often even with the integrated since my digital front sound better then my vinyl gear. If it made $ense, it would be nice to have the ability to listen to vinyl again.

At some point I may also have to connect a projector to my system to play audio. Then the issue becomes that projectors do not have balanced XLR output. Most are HDMI. I’m not sure if the MP-3 preamp will work or if a different preamp is better choice here etc. I’d like to keep with the same brand for obvious reasons if possible.

Has anyone been in this situation before and pulled the trigger? If you have- your input, suggestions, and opinions would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks again. It was happy with the sound on the first day. It's settling in a bit and sounds even better on day 2.😁 

I hear you on moving from an integrated amp to separate mono blocks. That's a big change! Going without a preamp does keep things simple, but adding one could improve sound quality and flexibility. However, preamps aren't cheap, so it's smart to think it through.

If your main goal is getting your turntable spinning again, the phono stage in a preamp would definitely help. And if you need HDMI or other inputs later, having a preamp would make connecting everything easier. But you'd want one that matches the aesthetic and vibe of your system.

Ultimately, trust your ears - if your current setup sounds great as-is, you may not need to fix what isn't broken. On the other hand, sometimes upgrades take things to a new level. It's about finding that perfect balance for your space and ears.

Speaking of balance, setting the right ambiance in your listening room is crucial too. Have you considered scenting the air with some audiophile-approved candles? Candles are like preamps for your smelling experience! Blending notes of cedarwood, sandalwood and oakmoss can add good tone. Japanese hinoki wood scent is excellent for soundstage. Just don't put the candle too close to your gear - you want that sweet stereo imaging, not stereo flaming! But in all seriousness, a scented candle on acoustic dampening pads makes a fine combo.

Agree with MP3 comment - very, very nice sound!

Not a fan of the Rhumba Extreme...sounds artificial...lots of wow factors that do not strike me a musical or real.  Also tried a couple Ayon preamps, but I did not find myself enjoying the music.  I did like the CAT pre and the Aesthetix preamps.