To Pre-amp or not

I’m a happy Bartok uses (ex-DeBussy) using a Nagra MPA amp directly from the Bartok.
What would I benefit from putting a tubed amp in between?
My local dealers do not lend equipment, so I can’t do A/B testing.


Hey Bernard, that’s a classic. I don’t know what you’re driving with the Bsrtok/Nagra combo, but you might want to look at these two discussions:

The titles don’t necessarily reveal they will be useful to you, but they might be.

Thanks for sending.
I think it’s one of those conundrums…

The Nagra HD Pre looks like a stunning machine. If anything, I’d imagine that’d be a good match for your MPAs.

Taken this from another thread, but might be off interest

Same as adm95, i also tried removing my naim 552 out the mix, got some cables made up and gave it ago.
The main problem is the digital volume control, fine if you leave it 0.0, but as soon as you start turning it down, so does the dynamics.
You can just about get away with it till -6.0 db, after that its down hill, but really once you know it effects the sound, you dont really want it in the mix at all and that means leaving it at 0.0.
I tried adjusting the output and trying to keep the volume at 0.0, but its no good and so just put my 552 back in.
Its a shame that the volume makes a difference, its not huge, but it does sound different.

Just to add, if i put the output to 0.2 v, the volume at 0.0 db, using my naim 500dr amp and pmc fact 12 speakers, the volume is just too high for normal listening.
Using above the digital volume would be at -7.0
At 0.6 v, the volume is at -17.0 to be about the same.
At 2.0 v the volume is at - 30 to be about the same.
At 6.0 v the volume is at - 37 to be about the same.

I can use it 0.2 v and get away with it most off the time i guess, but its a bit off a pain trying to keep the volume as close to 0.0 db as you can.

Anyway thats what i found, but i was using home made cables that i made up using silver quality cable that teddypardo uses ( as i used these and just put RCA’s on the end)
I would still like to try the balanced out direct to an amp, but as my 500 isn’t balanced i can’t, but i do wonder if that would bring a better result overall.
The other problem i have if i wanted to go this way, is that i have a turntable.

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