Preamp Input for Coincident system - Don Sachs, deHavilland, LTA, Joule Electra?

Hi all, I'm looking to spend around 2k on a pre-amp (either new or used) to pair with my Coincident PREs (currently using their Frankenstein mono-blocks as amps; input impedance of 100kOhms). 

I'm looking for something very natural sounding, with good body, some warmth, and -importantly- it must have a remote.  The PREs are very sensitive up on top, so I need clean highs. 

I've been reading a lot of threads and have a few contenders.  Am hoping to solicit some input from anyone who might have compared the following (with PROs / CONs listed):

1.  Don Sachs SP14 - good reviews, available in budget new / long wait to get a unit
2.  LTA MZ2 - some awesome reviews, available with 10-day trial period / some "meh" revies, perhaps a bit of a "clean" sound?
3.  deHavilland  UltraVerve 3 - good reviews mentioning the "relaxing" nature - a good key word for me / new it is out of budget at 3k
4. Joule Electra LA-150 MKII - in budget used, reviews mention strengths in "tone" & "texture" - highly desirable for me / a fairly old product  

Other things to note... 

I'm currently running a PS Audio PW DAC directly to my amps and listen to all types of music; perhaps currently tilted towards "modern" music with electronica and indie influences.  I stream Tidal via ethernet via PS Audio's Bridge II card in the dac.  

While I'm sure others will criticize the DAC, I really like the PWD and it has compared favorably to both a DirectStream (the music became less natural and more analytical) and Lyngdorf TDAI 3400 (the music was very smooth, but slightly less natural with a less well delineated soundstage). 

Unfortunately, the PWD has a bad volume control (throwing away bits at under 50% volume) and the new PREs really show that distortion off.  As such, I don't like listening at low volumes... hence the desire to add a pre-amp. 

Also, obviously I'd love to get Coincident's 101D pre-amp, but I need the remote, so it doesn't work for me.  I tracked the remote version for a long time and was hoping to save up money to purchase, but apparently it was plagued by technical difficulties and often needed service (presumably that's the reason Isreal discontinued it). 

Appreciate any input.

- Chris
I also own Frankensteins, along with the 101D preamp that you mentioned, the Coincident Statement Line Stage. I used to own the Joule Electra LA-150MKII. The Joule is a nice preamp and it might be a match with your listening preferences, given what you said about the PWD versus the Directstream dac. I really liked the Joule’s nicely textured bass, and its midrange presentation is more like the PWD, as you have described it. The Joule sounds like it has less inner detail than the CSLS, though; it is not as "lit up".

I just purchased The Truth preamp made by the Horneshoppe. It is excellent. Have you considered it? It sounds great with the Franks. I got a new one with a remote, 4 inputs, and 2 outputs for under $1500. It might be my "end game" preamp.
@thaluza Thanks for the suggestion, that's exactly why I made the thread. I will investigate...

& @mboldda1 Unfortunately I absolutely must have the remote. I've been trained by a lifetime of whimsical volume adjustment...
+1 on the TRUTH.It replaced my Coincident Statement line stage,now available with dual power supplies and comes with remote.Ed will tailor it to your needs.Stoopid good for the price.You're certainly welcome to pm me if you need to discuss further.
I didn't know about the Truth but it's now high on my radar along with Sachs.  The other two I was considering if you can find them used were the Backert Rhumba 1.2 or Atmasphere SP3 if you still want tubes and don't want to wait for the Sachs. Best of luck. 
I had been a dealer for both the Joule Electra and the deHavilland. The Ultraverve is so much better. You can use it with the finest gear, speakers, amplifiers etc. and feel confident you are listening  to the music as good as it can sound. I have posted some comments from my room at the RMAF with the deHavilland pre and amplifier. 

“Though I've heard the Wilson-Benesch Curve floorstanders many times before, I found that they sounded spectacularly good as driven by Kara Chaffee's amazing deHavilland tube electronics . Nothing I heard at RMAF, save perhaps for the far more expensive Vandersteen/ARC system, could touch this rig for sheer midrange purity, detail, three-dimensionality ." Chris Martens TAS on the 2009 show.

“I've always wanted to audition deHavilland Electric Amplifier Company's products. I was fortunate enough to do so at the show, with the very cordial assistance of Kara Chaffee, deHavilland's designer/owner. I went back to this room about half a dozen times. Kara probably thought that I was stalking her. Truth be told, I couldn't get enough of the sound of her Mercury III remote line stage and Model 50A, 40 watt Triode monoblocks driving a stunning pair of Wilson Benesch Curves. Their were far, far more expensive rooms at the show, off the chart expensive compared to deHavilland's very reasonably prices, yet none of them produced sound so sweet. Kara was available throughout to answer my dumb questions, and spin every special request. I wish that my picture would have captured the subtle beauty of this system. It doesn't get any better than this.” Ed Becker from
“Kara Chaffee of deHavilland Electric Amplifier Company demonstrated her relatively new KE 50A Signature monoblock amplifiers ($10,800 per pair) with her Mercury preamp, ($4,495) the $12,140/pr Wilson Benesch Curve 2.5-way floorstanders and Kubal-Sosna Research cables. Musicality reigned supreme here with the speakers completely disappearing in an expansive soundstage.” Steve March from

Best Sound: “Honorable mentions include systems from: Wilson-Benesch/deHavilland.” Chris Martens from TAS
The Best Room At The Show
deHavilland/Kubala-Sosna/Esoteric/Sounds Real room. "Oddly enough, I believe last year, this room was my runner up. The sound was largely how I remember, but even better. I have my reasons for voting this room "the best" and here they are. It played music for me. Its presentation was very big and wide and spacious, yet intimate. It was as if the music was being played just for me. The timing and pace were right on as was the instrument and vocal definition. No, I don't think this system could fool you into believing that an entire orchestra was right in front of you, but then I didn't hear a single system at the show that could. The front-to-back and side-to-side special cues were intoxicating. At the core of the system are the deHavilland KE-50A monoblocks, which were driving Wilson Benesch Curves. The CD player was an Esoteric X-03SE and the preamp was a deHavilland Mercury III with all cables by Kubala-Sosna (which is new to me). The sound was so damn good I told Kara that if they had a turntable there, it might just push me over the edge. Seriously, as amazing as this system sounded, I wonder what level a solid analog front end would take it to. Here's the icing on the cake for the whole deal - the entire system's cost: $50k. $50k! A lot of dough? Yes. Yet for "Best of Show" at an audiophile event - 50 grand is nothing. Kudos to Kara Chaffee and company for setting up an amazing system with amazing components. The system just shined."
Thad Aerts from The Hi-Fi reader
I like the deHavilland amps more every time I hear them. The smaller room seemed suited more to the Wilson Benesch Curves with the amps; last year this combo seemed lost in the room. Not this time; it was intimate and powerful. The 50A Signature Mono Amps and Mercury III Remote Line Preamp sang an enchanting song together. Previously I had felt the need for the Curves to be powered by bigger amps, but the deHavillands are challenging that conclusion. They startled me with their fortitude, as well as their golden toned dialect spoken through the Curves.

This was a room that I found myself returning to more than once when my ears were tired of all the noise. This is certainly not a cheap system, but it sounded better than some systems that cost three times as much. Most importantly, it was a system that allowed you to really enjoy music. The deHavilland room had almost the same system as last year, but in a different room. The big difference is that, this year the sound was perfectly beautiful. An Esoteric X-03SE CD player into the a deHavilland Mercury III Linestage was providing the signal to a pair of the deHavilland 50A Signature mono amps which was powering a pair of Wilson Benesch’s Curves, all the cables were by Kubala-Sosna.  
"deHavilland Electonics with Wilson Bensch speakers, the room we revisited most. Sound to die for." John Zurek from
As you're open to used, what about one of the Backert Labs models?  They have remotes.
Thanks again for the input folks.  A few responses:

1)  Lots of positive things about The Truth.  Given some of the similarities between my system and folks using that pre-amp (and that I have plenty of gain and am currently going direct from DAC), this might be ideal.  I just reached out to the manufacturer to find out cost and time.  Nice that it would be the cheapest option as well.

2)  I was looking into the Backert models... but did see them get beat out in a few competitions by the other models listed above.  Unfortunately no used units available at this time, although I'm not against waiting around and shopping (although I am motivated to move given that I can't fully enjoy low volume listening with my current setup).

3)  Thanks for all the positive information on the deHavilland units.  Perhaps that's enough to push it into the lead if The Truth doesn't work out or if I don't decide to order it.

Chris, where are you at? I've got both the Dehavilland and Don Sachs. I'm in Sacramento if you want to audition.


@4hannons Really appreciate the offer... unfortunately on the wrong side of the Rockies in Denver.

@thaluza & @markwatkiss Just put in an order for The Truth.  Dual power supplies, 3 inputs, & "new" photo cells = $1050.  Added a remote ($300) & the upgraded wire options (1 OCC silver & 2 OCC copper; $150).  $1500 total with a 3-4 week wait.  Money back guarantee "if not shocked" and "the warranty is 1010 years (990 longer than Bryston!)."  Given all the positive feedback, the no-risk demo, and the fact that that's cheaper than all other considered options, it seemed like a good place to start...

I'll report back, although of course my only comparison at this point will be the PWD direct.  Thanks for your thoughts.
Hi Chris,
Your short list of preamplifier candidates is a good one particularly the DeHavilland. The Atmasphere MP-3 is also very good. I must say though that the Horneshoppe Truth may be the way to go. I am an extremely happy owner of the Coincident Statement Line Stage (CLS) x 9 years.

According to all that I’ve read including Arthur Salvatore the Truth is as superb if not better! That’s high praise given the excellence of the CLS. I just love my CLS and Frankenstein pairing and won’t change it.

If I were however in your situation I’d give the Truth Line Stage major consideration. Savatore said it’s a fantastic match with the Frankenstein. He believes that the Truth can’t be beaten by other Line Stages..
I see your posted just prior to mine above 😊. I believe that you made a very wise choice and agree with your chosen upgrades. I look forward to your listening impressions when mated to the sublime Frankenstein. 
Thanks Charles, I'm looking forward to the listening impressions as well! It's been a long journey getting my PREs up and running and it's really nice to be finally getting there. Hopefully the preamp will put me in a place where I'm just tweaking the system to take it from great to even better.
You have had highly regarded components in your system recently (Atma-sphere amps and Lyngdorf) which have served the purpose of expanding your data sample base and point of reference . Adding the Truth Line Stage to the PRE/Franks signal chain will IMO cement your system in an uppermost tier in terms of purity  and natural sound quality. I believe that the level of sonic/musical realism will be exceptionally convincing in your system post appropriate burn-in and fine tuning  I believe the diminished level of electronic sonic artifacts will be 'very' apparent with your chosen components. 
I have the Sachs preamp in my Florida winter system....but have always been curious about deHavillland preamps. Can you describe the differences in sonics?

I've written about the differences at various times on this forum. The most complete description is found here

and here

Was looking through my old threads and noticed I had never updated this one. I lived with the truth for about 3 weeks. Unfortunately I didn't end up finding that it made much of a difference from my direct connection and I ended up sending it back.  

That experience talked me out of buying a pre amp for the time being, although I'm still very curious what adding an active unit would do to the system. 
No one has mentioned the Linear Tube Audio Micro ZOTL. It has made every amp I’ve used with sound better. I can’t gush enough about it.

Glad you came back! Maybe try a tube pre next?  I've never heard the Truth, but looking it up online it seems constructed similarly to a passive pre I own,  the Lightspeed Attenuator,  which has a super clean sound, very low or no  coloration. I like it, but I like the colors I get from a tube pre better for my current setup. I'm not too surprised you couldn't hear a difference between Truth and a direct connection.

BTW, I sold my Don Sachs pre because I just have too many. It was a coin toss between selling it and the UltraVerve; I really like both.

 Please keep us updated on your journey.



I received my modified DS2 last week with Don’s latest Polish made Deulund copy oil caps and 6BY5 rectifier and it sounds amazing! I am hearing more transparency, better sound staging and imaging, more depth, lower floor noise, more air/ambiance. Bass is tighter, midrange is purer/more organic but you are going to be knocked over by its ”HOLOGRAPHIC” presentation; sounds emanating beyond the boundaries of my loudspeakers…

It is astonishing how you are immersed into the music with Don’s DS2 Tube Pre; his original DS2 is Amazing but the updated version is “UNBELIEVABLE”! For those of you who are in the market for a new pre-amp, I highly recommend that you put this pre on your short list. If you already own one of Don’s creations, get this updated version done ASAP!

I am not aware of any mods that can radically change the sound of a system for a very small investment. Act now and get your units in or orders placed soon… 

Wig :)

Wow. Every once in a while you ask yourself the same question and end up running into an old thread.

As an update, I’m currently running a heavily modified don sachs ds2 6sn7 preamp. Over the past year and a half of ownership I’ve replaced the stock capacitors with Duelund tinned copper CASTs on my main output, mundorf supremes on the secondary subwoofer output, replaced the input and output RCAs with pure silver wbt connectors, replaced all signal wire with 99.999% pure solid core silver, and placed a copper shield over the power supply.

I love the presentation and find it much better than both dac direct and the truth. Due to the pandemic I’ve got extra time to listen and have been putting a good 3 hours a night into the system and really enjoying every album.

I’m also about to compare it to an eml-20AM dht pre-amp that I recently commissioned. I’ve long been attracted to the dht approach due in part to various 6moons write-ups and because Coincident uses this topology in their line stage. The EML tubes my pre is based on are advertised as the most linear, lowest distortion dhts available. Very curious to see how they compare to Don’s 6sn7 design. Parts cost before labor & commission is already higher than the DS2, so it’ll be an interesting comparison.
I'll also note that I have since replaced my Coincident frankenstein 300bs with highly modified (diy) first watt f4s (pure solid core silver wire on either side of the circuit boards, 1600Vs of outboard power supply with over 350,000uF of capacitors, naked z-foil resistors throughout the signal path, and precision matched transistors). The 300bs just weren't powerful enough for the Coincident PREs. I ended up with the f4s over a lyngdorf tdai-3400, pass labs xa-25, and atma-sphere m60s.

Hello. I only just now discovered this thread. 

Allow me to offer you a belated congratulations on acquiring one of Don's Model 2 preamps. I'm not at all surprised you've enjoyed its sound. I'd like to ask you for a little more information concerning the mods you made.

 "As an update, I’m currently running a heavily modified don sachs ds2 6sn7 preamp. Over the past year and a half of ownership I’ve replaced the stock capacitors with Duelund tinned copper CASTs on my main output, mundorf supremes on the secondary subwoofer output, replaced the input and output RCAs with pure silver wbt connectors, replaced all signal wire with 99.999% pure solid core silver, and placed a copper shield over the power supply."

Did you perform the mods all at the same time, or piecemeal so that you could hear differences each time?
If you made the changes one at a time, which mod made the biggest positive change for you?
Did any of the mods make little or no difference?
Which would you recommend as a first mod?

So here's a little background on my Model 2 preamps. Earlier this year, I bought Don's newest rendition because I was intensely curious about how it sounds compared to the one I bought in 2015. [I just had to buy it. I'm sure you understand.] The new one has the Polish caps in the first out to best pair to my Kootenay 120. [I have no plans to mod this unit.] I may be persuaded to make some mods to my older Model 2 preamp. It's got the left and right gain dials and the original 6AX5 rectifier tube. The main out caps are Jupiter Cu, and ??? caps for subwoofer out. [Yeah, I lost track of what they are, but I'll eventually open up the bottom panel to refresh my memory.] Anyway, I can ask a friend to help me with the rectifier change. I've wondered about mods like the ones above, but never actually got serious about it because I absolutely love its sound. I'm interested in the changes you experienced as a result of the changes you made.

I look forward to your reply.



Hi Chris,
Thanks for the updated post today as I find your comments very interesting (As usual). The Truth line stage has received universal praise over the years and an outstanding review from Arthur Salvatore (For whom I have much respect for). A friend of mine had the Truth for well over a year in his system. He enjoyed it quite a bit but has replaced it with a Backert tube line stage which he finds better sounding.

You have very similar results with your move to the Don Sachs tube line stage which of course is active. Both of these experiences are interesting. In theory the the simpler Truth unit or a direct DAC to amplifier should be superior by removing the more ’complex’ active component from the signal chain.

There’s no substitute for actually listening and comparing. Real life encounters don’t always correlate with theoretical expectations or predictions. No doubt there are circumstances where some listeners prefer a direct source approach or using a passive component. Numerous variables are involved.  I can understand and appreciate the modifications you’ve done that further improved the sound quality. I’ve had very good results using Duelund capacitors for example.

Chris I’m quite interested in the future comparison between your current upgraded/modified Don Sachs (6SN7 based) and the DHT line stage. Should be very informative (And a lot of fun).
@charles1dad Indeed, I first heard about the duelunds from you and as always found that I heard the same thing when I put them in my system. I've currently got them on my pre tweeters and as output caps in both my dac and pre. I've tried a number of different caps and never heard better. I'll certainly update with some details of the Radu Tarta (Shiny Eyes, simplepleasuretubeamps) build. Thanks for all your posts, you're one of the few people with whom I find perfect opinion overlap when I try the same equipment. So valuable to have that information.

@mresseguie I made the updates in a number of steps. The only one I can't totally disentangle is the impact of the silver wbt rcas (installed concurrently with the solid core silver signal wire).  The primary upgrade I'd suggest is the output cap upgrade. I know a lot of people like the miflexs, but I found the duelunds to sound better in every way. I also preferred mundorfs to the miflexs, which just sounded flat and two dimensional in my system. Both duelunds and mundorfs produced much better 3d imaging.  You can read a bit more about all my cap comparisons on my system page (I wrote a lot due to boredom). 

It's more involved, but next I would consider replacing the stranded duelund signal wire with a solid core alternative (I use vh audio solid silver in cotton). People correctly talk about the wonderful tone of the duelund wire, but I have found that stranded wire blurs the imaging. My three DS inputs have the vh audio silver, stock duelund, and a single strand of the stock duelund run through a Teflon tube (you don't need 16ga speaker wire for small voltage preamp signals and tiny wires work just fine, see phono hookup wire, for example) so it's easy to do comparisons. I believe anyone listening to my system would be able to immediately distinguish between the three and would prefer the silver wire, then the duelund single strand, then the 16ga duelund. Again concurring with Charles, the solid core silver sounds more real than copper to me. I replaced all my amp, dac, and internal speaker wire with solid silver too and have never regretted such modifications.

Hi Chris,
Thank you for your kind comments. I find your listening observations in regard to good quality solid core silver wire on the mark. For many years in multiple threads I’ve read where some describe silver as edgy or bright. I have to say this hasn’t been my experience by a long shot. I have found silver to actually sound naturally warm and displaying full body tone /harmonic overtones while simultaneously sounding open and transparent. Overall quite organic and realistic.
A further comment.  You re-wired your Coincident Pure Reference Extreme speakers with silver. When I visited Israel Blume (Coincident owner/founder) to audition the just introduced (2009) Statement Line Stage he mentioned he didn't care for silver wire. Now I have enormous respect for Israel but on this topic we respectfully disagreed.  I have no doubt that your Coincident PRE sound fantastic with the silver re-wiring.
@charles1dad Indeed, replacing the PREs' stranded copper with solid silver in teflon produced an immediately apparent decrease in distortion and increase in realism and naturalness. I attribute some of that to solid core vs stranded and some to silver vs copper. It's nice when science and subjective sound quality so clearly align. 

I've read some argue that the reason people don't like silver is that it is allowing them to hear problems that were previously masked. And indeed, the one time I preferred copper to silver, I later discovered I had a cold solder joint that was introducing distortion. Once it was fixed the silver path was superior.