Need a big favor picking a preamp

I recently tried out an Esoteric E-02 phonostage and have decided to buy one.  (It was a big step up from a Parasound JC3+, which surprised me.)  I'm working on my preamp stage now, and tried out a Dan D'Angostino Momentum HD preamp and the Exoteric Grandioso C1X


Dan's preamp was fantasic, but I makes me feel like I need to be wearing several gold chains when using it.  Perhaps also a toupee and some gold nugget rings.  "Gaudy" is the word when I look at it. 


I also tried out a Esoteric Grandioso C1X, which was fantastic, but a bit cold, and much of my system is already Esoteric Grandioso, and it's getting a bit fanboyish.   Unfortunately I did not have it when I tried out the E-02, but I assume the two would be excellent together.

I would say the D'Angostino preamp is "more musical", while the Esoteric more "more precise".

There's a third contender I have never heard on my system, but loved when I heard elsewhere on a similar system -- Nagra HD preamp -- it had the precision of the Esoteric and had just a tad bit of tube sound.  It's also startlingly expensive.

I tried out several others that just didn't fit my system: Pass Labs being one, which surprised me.

So, please advise:

D'Angostino Momentum?

Esoteric C1X

Nagra HD


The downstream are two Classe Delta Monoblocks, Bowers 800s, SVS PB16 ultras.  Upstream Digital: Esoteric K-03XD and Lumin U1  Upstream Analog: Esoteric E-02 and alternating between a VPI Titan and Esoteric Grandioso turntable.

Current preamp is a Prima Luna Evo 400, which I love the looks of, and punches WAY above its weight for the price, but it's time to go.




I second @stringreen,

I own the KXR-R (non Twenty) and love it.

But, do let us know how the Nagra performs.


Aric Audio Motherlode preamp is superb. Best preamp I have ever owned including my Supratek. It won’t break the bank like some other Audio eye candy will...

I’ve been researching a new preamp in the $5K-$6K range and was also having a hard time making a decision. Solid state, tube or hybrid and a lot of choices in this price range. Narrowed it down to a Pass Lab solid state for $6K and a Linear Tube Audio (LTA) microZOTL with Level  2 upgrade and balanced input ($5750).  After talking with LTA I decided to go with the small business with the interesting ZOTL technology and strong reviews. It will take about 4;weeks for them to build and test before shipping it out. It will be a long month.