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 ! 😎


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 ?

The Parasound is $1999.  A passive pre will not give you anything like the tube-like midrange that you seem to be looking for.

At your budget, and as @ghdprentice recommended earlier, you’re better off saving up $$$ to be able to purchase equipment that’s better able to achieve what you’re looking for.  Frankly, for what you’re looking for and at your budget I’d be looking at a hybrid integrated from the likes of Unison Unico, Pathos, LTA, etc.  The tubes don’t tend to get very hot in the pre section and have long lives.  Plus, you can obviously roll tubes until you find just the right match for your Altecs if needed/wanted.  FWIW. 

The GP crossovers (approx. $500/pair) are said to remedy what you dislike about the midrange (on some, not all, recordings I assume).