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 ! 😎


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.

Ralph, thank you for providing an answer...much appreciated. 

I have one follow up question then as relates to the idea of wanting/preferring the lowest distortion and the proper remaining distortion ratios to optimize the sound.  Many people have commented that the strongly prefer the sound they get when pairing a tube preamp with a solid state (and now even more so, class d) amplifier.  It would seem that while tubes have the preferred distortion ratios, their total distortion is higher than all solid state preamps.  So, what is it that is creating this preference and is this something that solid state preamps can "copy"?

I don't see Ralph using opamps for his preamps, so I really don't know what he is talking about.

For the pre-amp DAC strength, I am using a Naim NAC 272. They retailed for $7,200, but can be had used for about $2,100. Great SS device that doesn't run very warm.