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 ! 😎


You might look at the Pro-Ject Pre Box RS2 Digital preamp. It offers dual DAC, a headphone amp and a selectable tube output stage. It has an I2S interconnect for use with the ProJect CD transport, but will work fine with any streamer or CD player.

A very looked over -and still very much loved by me - pre is an SPL Elector. Balanced clarity, really preserves the signal, great stage, scale, depth. Just a smidge of warmth, but not in any way that arrests the tonal character of the presentation.

it doesn’t have a company remote, but will learn the signal from an Apple type remote with zero issues.

TMR usually has them at great prices. 


Interesting that you’re looking into getting a Starkrimson, I was actually looking at maybe getting one for my SPL!

Still, so many great choices out there.

I found a Fabulous pre-amp for my Peachtree GaN 400 amp....The Audio GD HE1- SLR XE from Underwood Audio.....Synergy at it's best. Very Tube like sound because the pre has 10 tubes and it's own regenerative power supply.,..a $10 K value for 4K !

Solid state preamps that exhibit some of the smoothness and tonality of tubes tend to cost much more than your $2k budget, so I’d recommend buying used if you’re set on not sticking with your excellent Belles amp.  Here a some possibilities around your price target that skew to a more refined and smooth sound relative to cheaper solid state preamps.  FWIW, and best of luck.


chenry : thx... very interresting reflexion about the future of tubes in audio...
riccitone : I never heard from SPL but it does sound promissing...

mbmi : I've checked Audio GD and it seems nice but about twice my budget

soix : thx, but they all are over my 2K budget...
orchardaudioatmasphere : would a passive preamp be a proper match ?