Tube preamp match with Solid Stare amp

I'm looking for recommendations for a balanced TUBE  pre amplifier..preferably one that also has a phono input.. with a low output impedance.  I'm currently using an Coda No.8..which was designed with balanced in mind.. but it has a pretty low balanced  input impedance of just 10k ohms. Price.. I wouldn't like to spend more than 6k. 

Thank you all :)


Would this work for you?

Output impedance = 250 Ohms from 2Hz to 400KHz

Line stage input impedance = 100 Kohm Ω single-ended / 200 Kohm Ω balanced

You can get with/without phono stage

I might add a used Cary SLP 05.  Cary offers upgrade is not current model.  I use one with AGD Audions and really like the combination.  

The LinearTube Audio preamp with Lundahl  transformer xlr balanced upgrade

with6sn7 tubes , and 12au7, or 12ax7 tubes a excellent preamp 

A David Berning design ,then upgraded further 

Mike at Audio Archon sells them and offers a fair deal 

excellentindepthbeakdown on YouTube , and their website.

@audioman58 I don't believe any of the current LTA preamps are truly balanced designs even though they accept XLR connections. You don't say what exact model you are recommending. At least a few years back when I contacted them that's what they told me.

The Linear Tube Audio top preamp retail before discounts around $6 k 

with the Lundahl transformer upgrade it maybe true balanced give them a call 

parts quality top notch !

Look in to Backert preamps. Transparent sound and a great preamp for my Pass XA30.8. Wonderful people to deal with, American made and beautifully crafted.

The LTA has no balanced outputs and is not a truly balanced design as @willywonka stated. I own the microZOTL and it is a great preamp, but does not fit what the OP was asking about - plus it is a line stage preamp.


Thank you for the Backert reference.  I am now familiar with a great product!


Get a Schiit one you are too far off to get much in that price range that is better unless you get a 20-70k VAC that is the best.

Post removed 

I love my Cary SLP-05 but it has too much gain for the Coda and the 10Kohms is borderline.  

This Rogue Audio RP-9 is my recommendation for you.  

Rogue Audio RP-9 Stereo Tube Preamplifier; RP9 - The Music Room ( 

Products_RP9.htm (


Aesthetix Calypso would be my suggestion. I've used mine with Chord, Ayer & Plinius amps with much success. No phono but, find a good preowned one, plug in your choice of phono pres and stay under the $6K cap. Just my opinion...

How enlightening @pennfootball71 at least with the Schitt products you can get service here stateside. Had couple of Lampi DACs and will never go that route again. Rogue RP9 is also on other great recommendation OP is you need more flexibility. 

+1 for both the Backert Labs and Rogue Audio recommendations. I've run both and it's hard to pick a winner. The Rogue RP-7 (balanced but no phono) seems fuller and warmer, and that Backert just has magic inside. I'd be happy with either so get both and rotate them 😊

+ 1 for Aric Audio recommendation.  You can reach out to the owner, designer who has a passion for his work, he’ll listen to what your needs are, match those needs to one of the current designs and he’ll also redesign one of his offerings to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for.  All with top notch, high quality parts and a history or really happy customers that rave about the quality, attention to detail, value and most importantly the sound of the gear. 

OP, I have a solid state amp (Krell 300xd Duo) and matching a tube Pre was a challenge, the amp is designed fully balanced with the XLR inputs providing the best sound.  The amp is also sensitive or better put, designed to use with pre’s that don’t have a really hot signal coming in (gain). I found that it was more common for Tube Pre’s to either offer no balanced options or not be a truly balanced design.  When I found truly balanced Pre, finding a pre that matched the gain for the amp was also challenging.  I landed on a PS Audio BHK Preamplifier and it’s been great so far.  Picked mine up used.  I tied various other Tube Pre’s but none had the right synergy with the Krell.  I’ve also had a Coda Integrated CSiB, Coda makes great gear, I used the Pre in that unit for a minute with the Krell, paired really nicely.  It’s not tube based but you might find the either Coda’s top of the line Pre or the pre that sits below that would give you some of the best attributes of a Tube Amp.  I almost went with the 0X7 pre.  Coda makes unbelievable gear, the quality of parts, design and build quality are second to none and rival gear costing multiples more, silly how underrated or really under the radar they are.  Best advice would be call Coda,  you’ll get one of the owners, designers and they are extremely knowledgeable, I’m sure they would offer up Pre suggestions if you were stuck on Tubes, they don’t make any Tube gear but would still point you in the right direction.

Good Luck, 

Aric Audio without hesitation! I have the Coda Model 16 paired with the Motherlode and the combination has kept me from chasing the audio dragon for the longest duration in my nearly 30 years of,"upgrades". Call him!

Also a Backert Labs fan...currently have a Rhumba Extreme 1.3 and sounds beautiful with either my Pass Labs or Levinson amps.

Audio Research Ref5SE should be a decent pairing. But 10k input impedance is minimum and borderline. I think you may actually be better off upgrading to a very good solid state preamp in your case. 

I am using the Rogue Audio RP-7 balanced tube preamp with excellent results; I previously had an RP-1.  I was using it with a Benchmark AHB2 SS power amp which gave excellent results, but switched to a tube power amp (Rogue Stereo 100 Dark), which I believe resulted in a modest "downgrade" in the overall sound quality .... perhaps too much of that good tube stuff.  So, I am going to switch back to SS power amplification, most likely with Odyssey Stratos Extreme ("plus some added upgrades) mono bloc amplifiers.  The RP-7 is excellent, with the low impedance you seek, and at roughly $5K new it fits in your budget. I have had several questions that I directed at the folks at Rogue Audio and received prompt and helpful responses.

FWIW, I run a McIntosh C220 (discontinued) into an Arion Audio S500 switching amp. Love this combo. The C220, which you can find used without too much difficulty, has the features you want and more. It’s very good tube phono stage is MM only. Moving up to a used C2300 or C2500 will get you a MC/MM phono stage, but might bust your budget. I think my C220 has balanced ins and outs for everything except the phono stage, which is unbalanced. Also not sure if the C220 is internally balanced or not. Also, I have about a 14 foot run of interconnect to the amp with no issues. My amp is neutral and very clean. The C220 is just a bit on the warm side of neutral.

Buy a BAT. They’re truly balanced design’s, and they have many different preamps available in your price range. Research Balanced Audio Technologies. They’ve been around since the early 90’s and have an excellent reputation with fantastic customer service if you ever have a problem. 

I’ve used BAT preamp’s with nary a problem and each was a joy to listen to. For up to $6k you can acquire a VK51 with the Russian Super Tubes and still save some money. 

I thought I would chime in. I also own a Coda #8 amp and coincidently am also looking at tube preamps. I have no phono so that's not an issue and have no plans of ever buying a turntable again. Either way you could always buy an external phono box. I'm currently using a Holo Audio Serene KTE preamp. I am looking at the Prima Luna EVO 400 preamp as it checks most of the boxes for me. Also was looking at the Audio Research REF6 (Used) but that may be more than what I want to spend. If you find something with excellent synergy, please post about it.

Save yourself money. Sell the Cary and buy the Rouge Audio Pharaoh II Integrated. $5,000.00 buys you an ENGINEERED SS Amp with a Tube Preamp that, according to Stereophile's Herb Reichart's Dec 9, 2022 review;

"Forgive me if I am overworking the Pharaoh's phono stage. I can't help myself. And I just hit major paydirt: As I type these words, I am listening to "33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli" (Op.120) from volume 5 of Artur Schnabel's Beethoven Piano Music (EMI 3LP, HLM 7338), and it is sounding super solid, with just the right tone. I can't imagine Pharaoh II users wishing for a better phono stage."

Herb continues about the Pharaoh's power with, "The extraordinary scale of presentation of the Pharaoh II and Magnepan .7 reminded me of the Maggies powered by LKV's Veros PWR+ class-D amplifier, which I reviewed in September 2020. Both amps played the Maggies with class-A tone and texture. Rogue Audio's Pharaoh II integrated amplifier delivered enough quiet, clear, clean, effortless class-D power to drive the hard-to-drive (under 4 ohm EPDR) GoldenEar BRX and the current-sucking Magnepan .7 panel speakers. It also excavated some of that extra data; class-A atmospherics and barely discernible nano-energies to make me forget it was class-D. But it did more: It showed me the best phono stage I've ever found in an integrated amp. No question, I got more than what I asked for."

Designed to be this good, deliver what you're seeking, and save money? What more could you ask for? BTW, yes I own the Pharaoh II and could not be happier!

TMAC, I also have a Coda 8. Previously had a Don Sachs Model 2 preamp and they mated well but I could never eliminate the tube noise even with help from Don and using balanced cables (even though his xlr connectors were not balanced).

I then purchased an Aric Audio Motherlode 2. This eliminated the tube noise but the soundstage still wasn’t being delivered. It was rather blasé and uninviting no matter the tubes I rolled.

While the Aric was extremely well built, it didn’t make any magic for me.

I sold it at quite a loss and replaced it with an ARC Ref 5SE and whalla!, that was magic. Now I am focused on eking out additional soundstage through cabling. The match between the ARC and the Coda with xlr cables is about as near dead quiet that I have ever experienced. Music comes out of a black background. You can check my system page for me info.

Best of luck in finding the match that delivers the goods. Happy new year.

I had been using a VAC Renaissance II for many years with my Pass Labs X250.5, it was a very pleasing combination.  Recently got the upgrade bug, VAC is one of the few high end manufacturers here in Florida and I really wanted to stick with them but each step up in their lineup is another 10 grand (new).  So I'd read about Backert Labs on these forums.   When a Backert Rhythm 1.3 came on the used market I jumped on it.  I sent it off to Backert to upgrade it with the new circuits from the 1.4.  I also installed some Amperex Bugle Boys.  It has surpassed my expectations.  Bass goes deeper, twangs sound twangier, soundstage is wider, placement of individual instruments is more precise.  I had multiple conversations with Andy of Backert labs as I initially had an annoying and very loud hum when trying to use it in cinema bypass mode.  Finally with Andy's help it was found that I needed to run the pre and my pre/pro from the same outlet and no hum, who knew?   I don't need a phono section so can't advise about that issue.   Both VAC and Backert are great sounding and pair with my solid state, Backert is better value IMHO.

@bugredmachine I wish you would've reached out and let me know this was your experience with my Motherlode, as there's things that could have been done (possibly changing out the coupling caps to something more lively, or relaxed- depending on preference), as well suggestions that could have been made including specific tube recommendations based on what you were hearing/looking for. Subsequently the new owner of your preamp enjoys it and commissioned me to build him an amplifier so apparently it was a fit to his ears. I just wanted to point out that I stand by my gear and would have offered help if it was brought to my attention instead of seeing it on a public forum. Best regards, Aric