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 ! 😎


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.







I try and be helpful as possible and if I just can’t go along with the premises of the question, I’ll suggest something different. 


Something I don't understand...if GanF is the future of amplifiers...for a variety of reasons including the ability to get distortion close to zero and higher order distortion in a proportion so as to not cause the sound to be harsh...then why isn't GanF also the future of preamps.

Now granted that class a preamps use very little energy...but still, why not GanF in order to get the "best" distortion profile?

As for the OP's's going to come down to a matter of trial and error to get the amp/preamp  combo that result in the sound that is the most your ears, in your room, with your speakers....and since the Aria has a preamp out, your starting point could be to use it as a preamp for whatever amp you decide to may decide you like it as a preamp and decide to keep it.




I purchased a Belles Aria Signature preamp (from Johnny at Audio Connections) and very pleased with it. Connected to my older Belles MB-200 mono amps.