Tube preamp: Cary SLP-03 vs Schiit Freya+

Hello all.

I realise it’s a slightly odd comparison, given the age gap, but I’m looking to add a tube preamp to my all-SS chain (Mytek Brooklyn Bridge going straight into ELAC Navis powered speakers). The Schiit Freya+ has been getting rave reviews, especially for its price point and its versatility (passive, buffer or tube), but is currently back-ordered and also it is said to feel a bit flimsy (no miracles). As a result I have been looking at older, formerly more expensive, tube preamps that can be had for a similar price today, leading me to the Cary SLP-03. I have also looked for ARC, BAT, etc but they all tend to be well above my price range (max 1500). 
Would you, we’ll-read and listened fellas, have any views on the above choice or any other recommendations? I’ve been scouring forums and used gear websites for literally tens of hours and I need a bit of advice at this point.

Many thanks in advance!


The Freya+ is as good as it gets at even twice its price. Unfortunately it comes with some cheap JJ tubes. You have to do some tube rolling to unlock its true potential.I went with ken rad by-231tubes and they took the Freya up to a whole new level! This of course brings up the overall cost, but is worth every penny! Keep in mind that you only have to change the tubes on the right side. The ones on the left are for the cathode follower and do not effect the sound. The Sylvania 6sn7GTA tubes are also a excellent choice at a lower price point. Keep in mind that the GTA is pre 1955 and are a better choice then the GTB. One other suggestion is to use tube buffers because the Freya’s case rings like a bell and the tubes pick up the vibration. Brad



Thank you to @wturkey, @ditusa and ​​​​@bjw54 for the ringing endorsements of the Schiit Freya+! Much appreciated.

I understand the need for tube rolling, which confirms what I have been reading, and I have no doubt I would revel in scouring marketplaces for the best NOS tubes (and I read new productions like Shuguang/PSVane CV181 can give good results too). Clearly tubes are getting increasingly expensive and I wouldn’t mind investing in that considering the base price of the unit vs my budget.
Could you maybe tell me where you saw the greatest improvements when adding the Freya in your chain? Does it help with sound stage and imaging? Is it more in refinement? Or mids? Does it tame and round out the sound? Many thanks!


You could also check out Quicksilver’s preamps. They’re tube based and are around $1,500 with excellent build quality. Good luck!

The Cary SLP 03 is not balanced but will give you a stunning tube based sound including eerily realistic tones, superb transparency and a wall to wall floor to ceiling soundstage. it will be difficult to find that in a balanced preamp unless you spend more. A Modwright LS 100 is good and has 1 balanced input but not as transparent as the Cary.

I just looked at my post and saw that I said to use tube buffers on the tubes. Obviously I meant to say tube dampers LOL. If you are looking for the pure honey sound that you get from some all tube preamps the Freya is not for you.It retains the focus of a high end ss preamp, but injects a lot of that sound that tube guys love. I have used a few different ss power amps with the Freya and have had the same overall experience with all of them. It tames the high end if you are using a hot speaker and provides a very open life like mid especially with female vocals.The bass is very solid and well controlled. The sound stage and imaging are not the best I have heard, but is top notch.This is of course with the Ken rads.With  the JJ’s I was not impressed by the sound. I am now burning in my new Voyager GAN 350 amp and after 200 hours I will pair it with the Freya. I believe that this combo on my Legacy Focus speakers will be a match made in heaven.