Help recommend a good tube preamp

I am looking for recommendations for a good, fully balanced tube preamp (< $4k - $12k) for my system:

DAC: Holo May

Power amp: Hegel H30 (input impedance (balanced / XLR) = 25k ohms)

Speakers: Focal Maestro Utopia III

Room: 20ft X 21ft

Music: mostly jazz / classical. Some classic rock.

Preamps tried before: McIntosh C2600, Hegel P30, Holo Serene, Rogue RP5

Constraints: output impedance should not be high (as my amplifier’s input impedance is quite low)

I tried C2600 (but with different amp / speakers).

Recently, I tried Rogue RP5 - sounded great but it does not have XLR out (H30’s unbalanced input impedance is a measly 9.6 kilo ohms). So, a natural recommendation would be the Rogue Audio RP7 - except that in the Stereophile review’s measurements section, John Atkinson recommends not using the pre with amps with less than 30k input impedance (affects low frequency response).



Ag insider logo xs@2xreg19

I also had a Rogue RP-7, which has balanced in and out, and it is a very nice preamp especially considering its price. But it's not in the same league as the Backert Rhythm.

@markmuse Thanks. I see the Backert recommendations here. Intriguing. However, apparently, my DAC sounds better in a balanced setup. Also, my amp's balanced inputs sound better than the unbalanced ones.

C2700 Is a very feature rich preamp. I have one and after tube roll it's one of the best I've tried for the money. 

@reg19 The Backert Rhythm 1.3 is fully balanced, XLR in and out. That is what I use.


Might take a look at the Bryston BP 17 cube. balanced impedance is 4.5kΩ. 

@jbuhl That is very high output impedance - too high for me to use

I just realized that is listed as input impedance.  Output is not listed :/

The Atma-Sphere has the output impedance you require, which needs to be at least ten times less than the amps input impedance. Too bad it's a boutique company though:-) CJ has been around a very long time.

@jtcf FWIW Dept.: Atma-Sphere will celebrate 50 years of operations next year, but perhaps you need it to be longer than that to be considered a 'very long time'?

The MP-1 was the first balanced tube preamplifier, introduced in 1989 and to this day is one of the very few that supports AES48 with the ability to drive 600 Ohms with ease. This means it (and our MP-3) can drive multiple amplifiers with no worries.