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 ! 😎


The tube preamp/class A recommendations come as a friendly guide to what ultimately will likely be a better sound compo. Sometimes in this hobby we ask the wrong question or believe we need to pursue a path that we don’t. A really good kit is a very complex group of choices. I feel, respectfully, that the ultimate sound is more important than the style of gear and if, at this concept level of questioning the op is willing to possibly expand their view, it will likely make them happier in the end. Of course all of us are free to follow whatever path we want, but when someone comes to a forum and asks for our opinion, you get what you get. I would side for a class A tubed preamp recommendation and have no other offering unfortunately. My apologies if this is not helpful or wanted.

soix : I live in Canada... 2K Canadian $ = 1,5K US $. The reason I want a GaN-Fet amp is because almost every reviewer said that the mid is as good as a tube. Therefore, if I plug my DAC into the amplier, it should sounds that way... I've had a passive pream before and it was very transparent. I sold it because I lacked power when I listen to vinyl. But class D amps are so powerful that I should have plenty of power...
dekay : l doubt that those crossovers would make a huge difference. If I change them, it would be for Werner Jagusch Crossover
r_f_sayles : you are so right... I tend to ask for impossible things (like many of us), and even if people don't take all the criteria into account, it feeds my thoughts...

No questions are inherently wrong. We start asking questions wherever we’re at and then we see what proves out. I come from an industrial design background, and in the ideation stages of development we just throw out ideas against the wall, to see what sticks, we work from a blank sheet of paper, or no paper at all, in the beginning. So all is fertile ground and we don’t close our minds to anything initially.

Ralph’s comment at the tail end of that SFAS interview that was recommended earlier in this thread, when he was doing Q&A. To his point, if you don’t get it right in the beginning of a sound system, you can never fix it at the end no matter what you do.

disclosure: I have now owned Ralph’s Atma-Sphere, MA-1s for probably the last twenty years and I have been sold on their philosophy and the OTL sound. I never thought I would come to this point but technologies has changed and I am now considering his GaN-Fet D class amplifiers to power my Classic Audio field-coiled T3s.

oh the times they are a changing


Why not try the Werner Jagusch crossovers then (improving the speakers first)?

Not much experience with the 17's, but used Vott's for 3 months decades ago and have listened to many 19's in both stock and modified form.