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 ! ūüėé

128x128alaindexe

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 question...it'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 pleasing...to 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 try...you may decide you like it as a preamp and decide to keep it.

 

 

@alaindexe 

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.

I built 3 Gan stereo amps from Gan Systems boards and a Starcrimson set of boards.

ASR had their typical reviews of Gan Amps which really has no listening / sound metrics. The Gan systems boards have the ability to turn off loop feedback and I preferred that vs the feedback even though it "technically" has a lesser spec.

I had several SS amps I owned at the time and sold all after getting the Gan amps. Gone are my Levinson 333, Burmester 956 and Telos 200. I kept 2, The Symphonic RG1 mk4 and a clone DartZeel.  

The Gan amps I have heard at shows as well as the ones I built all seem to have  a family sound. They have the atmospheric envelope that tubes get with low level detail clarity that tends to get lost with a lot of SS. The Gan amps are cool though, like a 6922 run with plenty of current vs the lushness of the 6sn7 octal tube family.

I have a DHT preamp based on the 201a which is not commercial but if I were going to get a commercial preamp for the Gan amps it would be a good 6SN7 based unit that has a bit of body. Dodd made awesome preamps w 6SN7's if you can find their Reference unit it is world class!

With your speakers and the clean lean Gan amp you are going to want a 6SN7 based preamp. If you had KEF's then a SS pre would be ok.

SPL Phonitor 2. Neutrality is it strength and it is a studio pre/headphone amp so it has none of the Audiophile bs markups. Best pre/headphone amp I have ever owned and I have chased the audio dragon for many years. Get one from Sweetwater and give it a try. 

@alaindexe Wrote:

 but I may consider a tube preamp after all... I live in Canada... 2K Canadian $ = 1,5K US $.

Maybe a Schiit Freya+ $1049 or Kara $699, from the Schiit site see below:

''Whisper-Silent Tube Stage‚ÄĒWith Tube Shutdown

Now, you can enjoy a tube preamp without the hiss and hum of classic designs. Freya+ offers super-quiet tube modes with DC heaters and semi-circlotron, noise-cancelling output stages. Better yet, the tubes turn off when you’re not using them! That’s right, both the tube heater and high voltage rails go away when not in use, so you can preserve lifetime of costly tubes.'' 

Mike