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 ! 😎


@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—With 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.'' 


@dekay : I will get my cross-overs recaped before doing that...

@snapsc : good question... yes, I might use the Aria as a preamp for a while

@dht4me : thx but a battery powered preamp is not an option for me...

@jeffrey125 : thx but I need single ended (RCA) jacks input...

@ditusa : nice suggestion... thx...

I own Ralph's Class Ds and pair them with his MP-3 preamp, a great match as you might imagine.

But out of all the other preamps I tried, the one I kept as a spare is the LTA MZ2, a steal at around US$1,100 used. Not only does it have the richness associated with the 6SN7, but the inner detail it reveals is amazing, probably because it's dead quiet. I tried it with a lot of amps and it shined with all of them. Highly recommended.

then why isn't GanF also the future of preamps.

@snapsc The issue is technical. The issue is something called Gain Bandwidth Product, which is important in amplifier design, if that design is using feedback. With conventional solid state and tube amps, its very difficult to get enough Gain Bandwidth Product to do the job needed. Class D offers a method of getting around that problem- and that's why some of them are sounding very musical.

But in a preamp, you can use opamps, which have had the values of GBP for a long time. So while a class D GaNFET preamp could certainly be made, there's not nearly the incentive from a designer's point of view.