Need Inputs on a Modestly Priced SS Preamp -

I need to upgrade my solid state line stage preamp. In looking at the market, I found there is a growing number of products that seem to offer very high performance and value priced from $500. to $600. They all have some good reviews. So, does anyone have experience with any of these products? Or can you suggest other products I should consider?

  • Schiit Audio Freya S
  • Singxer SA-1 (found on the website)
  • Gustard H16  (also found on the website)
  • Topping Pre90

I would prefer a unit with a balanced outputs and a headphone amp, but I am flexible on this. 

Thank you!


First I'll say that low priced pre-amps will not be your final pre-amp choice but they can work well enough for an enjoyable listening experience. I have a cheap tube pre-amp that I use from time to time and I just can't seem to throw it away even though I have/had some very nice pre-amps. Of your picks I'd go with the popular and US made Schitt Audio Freya S.  


+1 The Parasound zPre3 is a steal. Was in my main system as a pre for quite a while until I purchased my Belles Aria Signature pre. The zPre is now in my bedroom system and setup for all 2 channel sourcing there.

Can't beat Schiit in the modest price range.  

wrt some of the other suggestions:  Avoid the swiss army knife preamp.  It touches the signal too much.


Try to find a used ARC SP-7.  Not bad preamp. 

Also check with Musical Concepts / Musical Design to see if they have any modified early Hafler preamps,  They turned out good replacement boards that might be as good or better than the current crop of budget preamps.

If you are ok with the pre-owned market there are 2 pre’s listed on Agon right now that meet your needs and will sound miles ahead of anything you have listed (Balanced out as well).

Either the Krell Showcase or the Krell HTS 5.1. 

The 2channel Pre on these are extraordinary. 

I have 2 HTS 2’s that I use as 2 channel SS Pre’s and they really sound incredible. *with the caveat that they are in my room and my gear which sound good to my ears.

I have heard a bit better - but just a bit. And for the price pre-owned nothing can touch it.

My 2 cents - hope that helps (I have no affiliation with either of the listers for those units)

I have the Schiit Freya+, with tubes. I rarely use it in tube mode. It sounds fantastic. I'm using an upgraded Krell KAV 250 amp and a pair of Dunlavy SC3's. Well balanced, tight and luscious sounding. For the money, you can't beat that Schiit!