High Gain?

I've read in more than one thread that the First Watt SIT-3 should be used with a high-gain preamp. I'm wondering what the number is that determines whether a preamp's line section is considered to be high gain or not?
You know it will probably work with most.  This advice is probably to get you to avoid using passive preamps.

Almost all active preamps, in my mind, have too much gain, so they'll drive a FW just fine. Just avoid anything fussy or sold as low-gain.

garyalex High Gain?

I’ve read in more than one thread that the First Watt SIT-3 should be used with a high-gain preamp. I’m wondering what the number is that determines whether a preamp’s line section is considered to be high gain or not?

It will all depend on how much your source gives out, and how efficient your speakers are. You can clip the FW Sit-3 with just 3v in from the source

Try this put your source direct into your Sit-3 and play a known track that starts of very quite and builds up.
Then you’ll know how much "if any" gain a pre will need, you could get away with just a $49 Schiit Sys passive or low gain Schiit Freya pre

Cheers George
There is usually a spec titled Gain.  It is usually given in both preamp and amp specs.  It can vary from 3dB to 29dB and probably higher in preamps.

Most preamps are higher gain and, actually, having too much gain in our preamps and amps is more of a problem than having too little.  When you have too much gain you keep your volume control below, say, 9 o'clock.  This can result in detail being lost.

If Pass says to use a high gain preamp,  I'd look for one with a Gain spec of 20dB or more, and there are a lot of them around.


one can see from the chart that even among nelson's gaggle of fw amps, the sit3 is particularly low gain... so yes it would benefit from a higher gain preamp, line stage or direct source

It’s very simple.

If it goes loud enough for you with your gear, you don’t need extra gain.

Remember what Nelson Pass says about "added gain" that’s not needed. Your just adding more noise with it, by throwing away vital "source signal" to ground with the volume control, just to so you can make it back up again with that extra "added gain" stage, which introduces more noise and distortions.

Cheers George

Experiment. The suggestion using a Schiit SYS is very valid. I own two FW amps. An F5,and J2. I have two systems. One uses a passive pre,the other is an active tube. I have run both amps with the passive,driving a pair of not too sensitive Graham Chartwell LS3/5's. The cops will definitely not be called to my house for disturbing the peace,but the volume gets loud enough for my needs.
Here's an example of the OP's situation. I bought a Schiit Aegir power amp which doesn't have a lot of gain on its own. I originally purchased a Schiit Saga+ preamp to go with it, which uses a tube buffer in a unity gain circuit -- it adds no additional gain beyond what the source outputs.  

While it worked fine with most recordings, there were some recorded at a lower level in which having the volume knob all the way up on the Saga+ was short of the desired playback level.  I ended up switching to a Lyr 3 preamp which has low gain (+3.5 dB) and high gain (+17 dB) settings. It turned out the low gain setting was all I needed to fix my playback gain problem for all of my recordings.
1 watt, 3 watts.

    What a waste. 

     Headroom is NEEDED. 

 MY OPINION, for the people who get butthurt easily, too bad, get some skin.  

Yes, it’s sarcasm.  
Given what I've read and judging from some of the responses here I'm now thinking that perhaps looking at this strictly as a measurement isn't really helpful.  Listening and experimentation is.  The problem is that I don't own a SIT-3. 

I do have a new preamp coming next week, a Cary SLP-05.  By far the most expensive preamp I've ever owned.  I have a First Watt M2x amp.  This is the DIY version of the M2.  I love it and think it will be fine with the Cary.  Still, being an audiophile I can't help but wonder about that SIT-3 even though the M2x is great.  I'm sure most of you know just what I mean.  Anyway, thanks for the responses.  This helped.
Measurements aren’t really helpful. Right. Listening and trying is. Right. The problem is there is no problem. Simply stop reading reviews and comments as if measurements matter, and start reading them as if listening impressions matter. Audio judo, use your opponents strength against him. Ignore the techno-babble, watch the listener comments.  

Everything you need to know is already out there. I never come around here asking anyone what to do next, or what they think of anything I am considering buying. Never done it. Never will. No point. All you get is some random answer from some random person who randomly happens to be reading and randomly feels like blathering something, which usually turns out to be based on no actual experience. 

All the experience and listening impressions you could ever need are already out there written up and ready to go. You just have to go and find them. What I have been doing for going on 15 years now. Works so good you can hardly believe it.