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Over the years with Odyssey amps I have used Music Reference, Kora, Modwright LS-100, PS Audio BHK, Anthem Pre-2L,Sonic Frontiers Line 2 SE+ and W4S STP-SE. Never heard the LTA but have a friend who has used it with multiple SS amps and loves it. My experience with Odyssey amps and the description of the LTA from him and other owner makes me think it would be a good match. Also unless you are looking used most of the ones I have tried are either not available much anymore or over your stated price goal. As the Odyssey amps have low input sensitivities in the 1 volt range you need to be careful of tube preamps with high gain especially if your speakers have sensitivity ratings much over the mid-80's range.
Not sure I understand not posing the question there but that's up to you. As far as I can see from looking at the used units available in the various markets the safest bet would be the MZ2. With NOS output tubes, remote and the stock power supply you would be a few dollars over $1500 with new warranty. You can add their upgraded power supply or another brand later if you want.
gochurchgo OPNo not dumb, it’s said Odyssey’s are hi gain (low input sensitivity) this means they are the ideal candidate for a preamp with no gain, like a passive.
But! the problem is they are only 25kohm input impedance which is not great for a passive preamp, you need at least 33kohm or higher for a 10kohm passive to be impedance happy.
So what you need is a passive preamp with an active "unity gain" buffer, the closest I can think of commercially with trial period is the Schiit Freya preamp. at $699. designed and made by Mike Moffat of Theta fame.
It’s 3 preamps in one with a very good 128-step relay volume control, remote control, xlr and rca inputs and outputs,
Mode 1 passive with no gain
Mode 2 Active discrete fet buffer, gain of 1 ( your most likely one)
Mode 3 Active tube with gain of 5
And you can return it if no satisfied.
"Mode 2" could very well be a copy of the Nelson Pass B1 buffer, as it’s also just a couple of fets and simple like this, but it "looks" as if Mike Moffat has gone a step better and dc coupled it, which is better, as I can see what looks to be dc servos around those fets with no coupling caps.
@georgehifi I originally bought the Freya/Vidar and the Freya was kind of a mess. Horrible microphonics, the tubes we’re unusable, and I agree with some about the clicking volume.
As others said, and I echo this as well, that the JFET and tube stage sounded the same. I don’t see how they can sell a tube amp with obvious issues. But some people love theirs so...
i have no no doubt they will get it worked out and I applaud their quality to dollar ratio. I just had a bad experience and don’t want to do it again. I truly wanted to be in love with the combo and it didn’t happen.
That's a shame gochurchgo, I heard they did have a bad batch of Chinese tubes that were microphonic, but as you said it's the fet stage that would have been the one for your setup.
I suppose you can look for a used Pass B1, trouble is they are 1kohm output impedance not 75ohms like the Schiit, with no dc servo and capacitor coupled, I always prefer direct coupled, with no capacitor in the signal path, to me the best cap is no cap.
You can always send it back again, this time I would say to them "one more time as the first one was a lemon", to make sure "this ones spot on" or it will come back in a flash.
I can understand at their amazing price point, things aren't bench checked before being sent out, to keep costs down to a minimum.
I have had an Odyssey Stratos HT3 since 2006. It was first used with a HT pre-pro, then a Conrad Johnson PV-11. If you can abide the limited feature-set of the C-J, used units, when they come up, are in your price range. Great MM phono section, too. The sound was excellent, but since I needed more range in the balance control than the C-J offered, I upgraded to a McIntosh C220. Now out of production, used units are probably a tad over your budget. I bought mine used from Audio Classics. I recently upgraded the HT3's left and right channels to full Kismet status. The match is great, although the Kismet is a bit more neutral and less warm than the Stratos, and less forgiving of bad source material. Still, on good recordings, this pairing really sounds great. Spacious soundstage, excellent detail, decay, and explosive dynamics. I would try to get something with tubes in it if possible. If it's still around, there is a Croft preamp for sale here that is cheap. I haven't heard it, but Croft gear is highly regarded. Good luck.
@bondmanp Thanks, one of the things I have to compensate for it that I don't listen to "audiophile music". So, though I have seen CJ stuff used I haven't really given them much thought as I believe I read/am under the belief that CJ stuff is tube/mid heavy for jazz and vocal material. Maybe thats not correct?
Funny you mention the Croft as I have been reading about them lately. Ugly but all signs point to a great sound for the price.
@gochurchgo - I do listen to Jazz, and classical, and thrash metal, and punk and lots of 80s rock...etc. I would not have been happy if the C-J was incapable of doing rock well. I think the C-J preamps that were older, like the PV-5, had the softer sound you were referring to. That said, the C-J would probably not be described as ruthlessly revealing, either.
@bondmanp Thanks, thats good perspective! I am not after ultimate fidelity (HERESEY!) but rather a nice sound. I have tons of badly recorded + mediocrely pressed reggae albums, I don't want to render them unlistenable. I like detail and dynamics and speed but will give up some resolution for warmth and a "safer" sound to help those bad records out a touch.
I'll take a look at the PV11
@gochurchgo - I would think the Candela would work. Just be aware that it has no balance control. Part of enjoying poorer quality recordings, many of which have soundstages that skew to one side or the other (even varying within the same album!), is being able to adjust the L-R balance. The CJ-PV11 offers a little bit of balance control, the Candela offers none.