Preamp for a GaN-FET amp...

Hello everyone... I'm thinking of replacing my Belles Aria Integrated for a GaN-Fet amp. I would have preferred to purchase an integrated GaN-Fet, but they are either too expensive or of questionable quality. I therefore resign myself to opting for an amp/preamp combo. My question is the following :

Which preamp do you recommend for a GaN-Fet amp?

I haven't made my choice yet, but the only GaN-Fet amp within my reach is the Starkrimson (used). Please note that if I opt for GaN-Fet, it is to avoid tubes, so I would prefer a preamp WITHOUT tube (and not a class A).

My speakers are Altec 620A (100 db efficiency) and I mainly listen to digital sources through a Metrum DAC. I also sometimes listen to records on my Garrard 401... That's basically why I need a preamp.

Note: the Belles Aria Integrated is a superb machine with astonishing sound, but I'm looking for an amp whose midrange is as good as a tube. The Altec don't do any favors and they are a little harsh in the midrange, especially at high volume. For those who would like to understand what I am trying to express by "as good as a tube", I suggest you listen to this interview with Ralph Karsten who explains the limits of transistors much better than me.

Thank you ! 😎


What’s your budget, and are you looking for new or used?  BTW, many SS preamps run in Class A but only get mildly warm due to the low-level signal so maybe not much of a concern. 

Well. You are really just proposing a sideways trade. I have never had good luck with these. Typically you are trading one set of strengths and weaknesses for another. So, whenever I have done this, I have been really disappointed because I lost some qualities I really liked while maybe gaining one thing. Also, you’re fishing at the very bottom of the barrel. 

My approach would be to enjoy what you have until you can put 2x the investment in the preamp/amp. Typically if you are very careful and research well, you can get what you wanted, without the disappointment of loosing something you had.

@alaindexe I get trying to move away from tubes. But I think you'll find that the common wisdom is still to use a tube preamp with the solid state (in this case, GaNFET class D) amp. Our class D is designed to be easy to drive with any kind of preamp.