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What kind of preamp do you use?

I've been told that I don't need to use a preamp with an SSE. But if I wanted to can I? Are there any specs for the preamp I should look for?

I have a John Broskie designed Akido Tube Buffer that I've used with my VTA ST-120. I sounded good but I went back to the Cary SL100. I also have a Parasound preamp.

I'm actually thinking the tube buffer would be the best match.

What do you guys and gals use?


Paid Member
2005-11-24 4:10 am
You shouldn't need much or any gain with the SSE unless your source has a lower-than-normal output level. I ran mine without a separate pre-amp, just a line-level output through a volume pot. If what you have is one of the cathode follower boards, that should be dandy. A full Aikido preamp might have much more gain than you would need. That's certainly true of my Curcio Daniel 2 pre, I haven't needed the line stage since I went to higher efficiency speakers.

i use typically lower voltage sources like zone 2 out from a HT receiver streaming pandora or from my digital collection. With my speakers ~90dB i need a preamp.

I run a noval aikido, an older 5687 rectangular board. I typically run 6CG7 on the output for gain of ~10 if I remember correctly. Its perfect and sounds great with any amp I run whether tube or SS or class D.

The 3 amps that typically run on this are the SSE, Dx Super A with TO-3 outputs, or a custom TPA3116 running PBTL mode - really nice amp!!!


2013-03-02 9:16 am
Co. Clare
The output (50hz sine wave) from my sound card which I intend feeding into my SSE reads 0.6 volts AC on my DMM.
I read on another thread that it should have around 1.5 volts to get the best from it.
Is this correct?
Will I neeed some kind of preamp (or a better sound card)?
Yes take a decent CD player it will have an output voltage around 2V RMS - that will drive the SSE nicely. 0.6V will struggle to reach "loud" output....A preamp would be desired.

I dont know that much about sound cards but i would presume you can find one with a higher output comparable to a CD player.


2013-03-02 9:16 am
Co. Clare
I don't have my transformers yet so I'll have to wait to try . I ordered them from Edcor last week. But I tried a -3db 1 khz and it gave me 1 volt which made me realize that the other tone was just not very loud. Duh. My speakers are 90 Dbl also.

Sent from my HTC One_M8 using Tapatalk


2014-10-28 11:45 am

I have found this build to be neutral as far as introducing any flavor to a tube amplifier. I use a simple tube pre with generous 2nd harmonics for SS amplifiers. I am in the process of building another tube pre that is more neutral just to keep everything tube. You will not go wrong with the Nelson Pass BA3 front end built as a preamplifier if your tube amplifier requires a pre.
I just built an Aikido Cathode Buffer recently. Haven't used it with my SSE, but it sounds very good with my other SET amp.

The SSE doesn't need voltage gain in many cases. A buffer preamp with a 2V signal from a CD Player is certainly fine. The sensitivity of the amp varies based on what configuration and tubes you're using. Triode mode with CFB needs more voltage input than UL without feedback. George designed the amp so that the needed input for full output never exceeds 2V though.

I regularly feed my amp under 1V signals from a phono pre in triode mode (no CFB). The volume control is rarely, if ever, maxed. This is with 92db speakers in a modest size room. Don't make the mistake of increasing your available gain if it will never be used.