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Thread: Hello from the spanner in the BREXIT works (Northern Ireland)

  1. #1
    Join Date: Dec 2018

    Location: Bangor, County Down

    Posts: 3
    I'm Achim.

    Default Hello from BREXIT Central!


    I just joined to get some insights on a suitable new preamp for my system which didn't change much over the past 20 years until we moved from London to Northern Ireland at the beginning of this year (change of life style). I listen to rock, jazz, and classical music and value transparency, soundstage and fast, extended bass.

    Until the move the system consisted of a Meridian 502 pre-amp, Meridian 605 mono blocks, Meridian 506.20 CD player, Pink Triangle PT Too, Alphason HR-100S tonearm, Audio Technica AT37 MC, Nakamichi RX-505 cassette deck, Revox B77 reel-to-reel, B&W 801 Matrix S2 speakers, Titan Audio mains distribution block, Titan Audio and QED mains cables, VanDamme LF-OCC speaker cables (biwired). I was very happy with this.

    Just before moving to NI I bought a Krell KSA250 (because I'd always wanted one). In the new house I've got a dedicated music room (aka The Man Cave), which is about three times the size (5x10x2.6m) our living room in London was. I very quickly discovered that the Meridian 502 preamp was not a good match for the Krell: there was a distinct lack of bass. After playing around with speaker positioning to no avail I then tried swapping the 502 for an Arcam FMJ A19 integrated amp with preamp outputs that I had sitting around. Better bass response but still not perfect. The 506 CD player went to join the 605s and the 502 upstairs in the living room and was replaced by a Denon DVD1930 that's feeding a Shiit Modi 2 Uber DAC.

    The PT Too needed a lot of work so I bought a new Funk Firm Vector 5 and installed the Alphason arm, replacing the AT37 with an Ortofon 2M Black at the same time. Both sound great, even through the Arcam's nothing-special phono stage.

    A couple of weeks ago the Arcam's display started acting up (losing the first segment of the LED display occasionally) so that's now packed up to get repaired under warranty. As a temporary fix I installed a Denon AVR3313 AV receiver (currently not in use on account of building works) and connected its preamp outputs to the Krell. Low and behold: all the lost bass is back! And its phono stage is surprisingly good...

    As a temporary solution I can live with this but I do want a dedicated preamp which needs to tick the following boxes:
    - remote control
    - MM phono stage (if switchable to MC even better)
    - at least one tape monitor circuit, two would be better
    - XLR outputs (not strictly necessary)
    - no silly price (budget about 1,500)

    Most new preamps have no provision for a tape loop. Only a few have a built-in phono stage and the ones that do don't come with remote control. I like the look of the Parasound Halo P6. Is there anything else I should consider?

    Many thanks for your input!
    All the best,

    PS: if anyone has a suitable used preamp for sale, feel free to ping me a PM.

    Last edited by Achim; 14-12-2018 at 11:56.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Dec 2018

    Location: Torquay, Devon.

    Posts: 849
    I'm Shane.


    Howdy! Welcome to AOS.

    Have fun.

    Shane Lonergan.

    Home Hi-Fi Chat UK (Facebook Group)

  3. #3
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 25,947
    I'm Martin.


    Hi Achim, welcome to the forum.

    Regarding the pre-amp put up a wanted ad in the private exhibitions section, I'm sure someone will have something close to what you are after.

    I'm surprised the Meridian was not a good match but you never know with these things until you try.
    Current Lash Up:

    *Sony SCD XB790QS* Nelson Pass DCB1 / Krell KSA100 mkII * JM Lab Electra 926 *

    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  4. #4
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 9,237
    I'm Oliver.


    Hi Achim,

    Welcome to AoS!

    Great choice the Krell, I have a MK2 KSA 100 and it's superb.

    In regard to the preamp:

    I am using a Nelson Pass DCB1 preamp with Khozmo stepped attenuator. It has far surpassed anything I've heard anywhere else and although I haven't heard everything, I can say with some degree of certainty, based on opinions here that you'd struggle to do better at anything below 1.5k

    It's a DIY kit But a guy on here called Alan (Firebottle) would knock one up for you and if you asked him he'd fit a MM/MC Phonostage in it too. He's very much our resident Valve guru but Solid state isn't a problem. His (currently in development) OTP3 Phonostage is a joy and knocked a couple of 1200 phonostages into touch here. They will remain nameless btw.

    I'd be very inclined to give him a shout and ask about him building a Nelson Pass DCB1 Pre with OTP 3 inside.

    He may be able to configure it in a balanced out configuration but that's beyond my knowledge.

    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & Firebottle LPSU with Volumio & JRiver
    Amplification: Nelson Pass Derived DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Neurochrome Modulus 686 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 40,789
    I'm Geoff.


    Hi Achim. Welcome to AOS.

    I had a Meridian 502 pre-amp as well and didn't like it much. I'm sure you can do better.

    If you want opinions on pre-amps you could start a thread in the Blank Canvas area, I'm sure you'd get useful feedback from members.

    Enjoy the forum,
    "when common sense, logic and plausibility are excluded. All that remain are foolishness and lies"

  6. #6
    Join Date: Dec 2018

    Location: Bangor, County Down

    Posts: 3
    I'm Achim.


    Hi all,

    Many thanks for all the suggestions. Currently investigating Nelson Pass DIY kits and considering a post in the Wanted section.

    All the best, Achim

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 20,685
    I'm openingabottleofwine.


    Welcome to AoS Achim.

    That's a good sized listening room, but the acoustics look a bit 'live' with the wood floor and largely bare walls. Do you have any problems with the acoustics?

    You ought to be able find a preamp that meets your needs for 1,500; though preamps fitted with balanced outputs are rare at that price.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Dec 2018

    Location: Bangor, County Down

    Posts: 3
    I'm Achim.

    Default Success!

    Just a quick update: I bought a used Restek Vector in Germany and had the seller ship it to Restek who completely rebuilt the unit, adding remote control in the process. Restek changed all relais, capacitors, op amps, the volume pot, and any other parts outside of their specifications. They also upgraded the MM/MC phono stage to the latest spec. They then bench-tested the unit and shipped it to me. It comes with a fresh 3 year warranty .

    The Vector ticks all my boxes:
    excellent switchable phono stage
    two tape loops
    remote control
    XLR and RCA outputs
    Not a silly price

    It arrived this morning. I have just hooked it up and on all inputs it sounds amazing. The soundstage is now three dimensional with excellent depth. It helped that I moved the speakers about 30cm closer together. That has also improved the bass response. Apologies for the rotated photo!


  9. #9
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: North Down /Northern Ireland/ UK

    Posts: 18,683
    I'm Neil.


    Welcome to AoS Achim from another audio enthusiast located in Bangor Interesting system.

    Got to wonder is there enough Bangor/North Down based folks to start an audio club?
    Regards Neil

  10. #10
    Join Date: Dec 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 129
    I'm Dave.


    Welcome to AOS, forget Brexit music is music
    Amp Yamaha A-S500
    CDP Denon DCD 520
    Tuner Cambridge Audio T500
    Music Player Pioneer N30 Network Player
    DAC Beresford SEG
    PSU Linear 15v/Baresford Dorado
    Speakers Dali Zensor 3s
    Speaker Cable Fisual S-Flex Studio 2.5mm / Ortofon SPK 100
    Stands Audio Visual Twin Pillar
    Interconnects Van Damme Silver Plated OFC Pro Classic XKE & Klotz MC5000 Dac To Amp
    Headphones AKG K550 mk3
    SUB BK XLS 200

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