I am falling out of love with my pre Amp

Discussion in 'Everything Audio' started by S0und Dragon, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. S0und Dragon

    S0und Dragon Junior Member

    My Juicy Music Peach II is One of the most musical and dynamic Pre Amps I have ever owned. Super versatile and able to match every Amp I have owned. I really believed that this pre would be with me for the long haul.

    But lately one aspect of it has begun to annoy me to the point of distraction and disatisfaction. Tube hiss. I have isolated the source of the hiss to the 6dj8 tubes which I have always found to be noisy, but tolerable. I have spent good coin for quality tubes but the hiss always returns. Right now the hiss is just starting to surface.

    But in my current system which despite my stated goal of musicality over reference analytical sound is just too damn revealing. And I have to face the fact that I have fallen into the same trap that I swore I would avoid. Chasing after this illusive sound and the gear I think will get me there.

    I find myself daydreaming while perusing Audiogon. Krell and Pass Labs Pre Amps. Fantasizing having them as my next pre. All the while, my faithful pre is still in the system proud to be there and doing its thing as if nothing's wrong. Maybe its not my preamp but me?
  2. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    It's you. And I don't mean that in any sort of derogatory way. I say that as somebody who's taken the better part of this year off from the hobby, while still listening to music. No forums (this is my first post in months and months and months, and maybe my last for the same amount of time), nor gear purchases, just a cold-turkey, over-it, split with the insanity, the over-think, the constant self-criticizing of my system. No more "It's great...but could it be greater?"

    But honestly, it really is. Its you. It's me. Its all of us..

    I quit the hobby and something happened. I started to enjoy ALL of my gear again. And I started to enjoy my music more. And things like a subtle tube hiss stopped bothering me because, with audiophile-thinking off my plate, I realized it had nothing to do with the music. Nothing. Not one thing. My VAC Vintage MKIII has a similar noise-floor thing going on. And..who cares? It's not noticeable while the music is playing 99% of the time and the preamp, other than that, is wonderfully musical. If I didn't also have the wonderful transformer-volume-control preamp I could spend what is a now absurd to me price to try something else to get that 1% of quiet time and then soon enough I'd be missing the body and weight music had with the old thing I found a different fault with.

    OR....or...I could just realize that none of this stuff has anything at all to do with the enjoyment of music.

    Others here can argue the point all they want. But it doesn't. You are listening to the gear, not the music, whether you admit it or not. If you cannot enjoy your music because of the subtle differences brought by 9 out of 10 things debated on audio forums, you have done that to yourself. You have spent thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of dollars to ruin your enjoyment of music.

    So I say keep the Juicy Music Peach II. I have a Juicy Music Tercel II, it's about the most musical phono pre I've ever heard. I imagine the Peach is no different as far as musicality. You'll get something different, that has a different set of problems, because nothing is perfect. The reason being, this is a hobby where perfection does not exist. It's basis seems to be entirely built upon dissatisfaction.

    The Juicy Music Peach II is a better preamp than, I'd guess, 999,999 out of 1,000,000 people are listening to. And you cannot say that those other 999,999 aren't being moved by music. To joy, to tears, to whatever place they want to go. If you sell it, you'll miss it as soon as whatever isn't perfect about the next preamp starts to be noticed. If you keep it, but spend $3000, $4000, whatever, on a Pass Labs or (god forbid, yuck) Krell you'll have a very slight noticeable improvement (and a new set of small annoyances) for the price of an amazing European vacation that will fill you and whoever you take with memories that will last a lifetime, to inform the music you listen to in ways that are far more in line with what music is about than whatever a slight hint of tube hiss takes away.

    My $2.50...as I wonder away back into hiding.

    I'd offer to trade my Vac Vintage MKIII for it but it has a tube hiss as well...
  3. Try1256

    Try1256 Very Special Member

    Welcome back John, we have missed you.
  4. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    If memory serves, the Krell does not have gain controls.

    Before climbing on the preamp "merry-go-round", I humbly suggest getting (or building) a passive volume control to insert between the Juicy Music and the Krell?

    Adjust the gain on the passive to 50% to start and see if it mitigates your concerns. :)
  5. Audionut

    Audionut Next Round Is On Me

    50% of me agrees with @JohnVF while the other 50% has not come to terms that he’s actually right too.:)

    @S0und Dragon It sounds like this preamp does more things right than wrong. Is there any other fix than a tube swap for the hum? We have great minds here that might chime in.
  6. Punker X

    Punker X Junior Member

    Quite a bit of experience with Blueberry, and my Blue Circle uses 6922's and went through the same issue with noisy tubes. Finally found some Refectors that have been dead quite for over 5 years now. Sound damn good too.
    Celt likes this.
  7. S0und Dragon

    S0und Dragon Junior Member

    I really do like what it does overall. It might very well be the final .5% that I am chasing. Last night I started taking my system apart a little to trace where the issue is coming from. It would appear that the DSPeaker antimode 2.0 is increasing gain in the system. I suspect that my cabling may be adding to the issue as well.

    I am using RCA to XLR to the Dsp and full balanced cables to the Amp. I believe that this is adding to the increase in noise. I lowered the gain on the antimode which is placed between the amp and the Pre amp and it helped some, but knowing the hiss sound is there makes it stand out. I really feel that a solid state Preamp with balanced outs may be the answer.

    But that puts me back to chasing gear instead of buying music, which is what I really would rather be doing. Maybe @JohnVF is right, and I will never be satisfied. I have to accept that it may very well be true. The Preamps I am looking at are all pre owned but would still be a significant investment. One that could and maybe should be invested elsewhere.

    I have also been going back and forth on trying out a Schiit Freya. A much lower investment, but still tubed. It does have balanced outs however and I wonder if it will solve at least part of my problem. Just not sure at this point.
  8. Try1256

    Try1256 Very Special Member

    When I was using the single ended output of my BAT preamp I got quite a bit of tube hiss. Now that I am using it balanced, everything is much quieter.
  9. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    The Almarro A205a has a built-in volume pot (can be used as a single input integrated).

    When I use the Quicksilver Line Stages, there is so much gain that I end up with the volume pot at 50% to eliminate some residual hiss and so I can turn the volume pots on the Quicksilvers up 6-8 clicks (~35% - 40%).

    With the passive/buffered Schiit Saga, I can run the volume pot on the Almarro at 100% with no noise or hiss.

    If I were you, I'd figure out which issue you are chasing before spending big chunks of cash only to find out you were chasing the wrong thing.

    If this were my system, I'd spend $49 on a Schiit SYS and insert it between your Juicy Music and Krell (right next to the Krell so the cables are short). Just reduce the gain until the hiss is no longer apparent.

    If you still don't like the sound, then spend the dollars on another preamp.

    Just my opinion. :)
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  10. Try to look for a friend that have a VTV tube tester. It test the balance between two triode and you can listen how noisy each section. Very helpful to select very quite tube.

    VTV tube noise tester.jpg

    Attached Files:

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  11. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    Despite my rant above I was and probably still am a self-confessed preamp snob/obsessor. I ended my search with a transformer volume control/slagleformer based creation from Redboy...

    Though I still think you should figure out the Juicy Music one rather than spend a ton of money for the last percentage that still might leave another percentage out... something like this (no relation to me, and I haven't heard it) might be an improvement:

  12. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    TO me, it comes down to whether or not the issue you are having is interfering with the fun you should, or could, be having with your hobby. Whether that is your music hobby, or your audio hobby.

    Personally, I'd try to sort it out first. Maybe something is a bit off? Any quality techs near by? Or talk to someone like Kevin at Upscale audio, and see if he has any thoughts on dead quiet tubes for that piece.
  13. J-ROB

    J-ROB Senior Member

    Doesn't that Juicy preamp have a mode where you can bypass the 6dj8 buffer and take the signal right off the plate of the voltage amp tube?

    Output impedance is higher without the cathode follower, but the input Z of a KSA-250 (if that is what you are suing) is 47k , so you shouldn't have a problem driving that.
    TubeHiFiNut likes this.
  14. S0und Dragon

    S0und Dragon Junior Member

    Thanks guys. I took a few days to mull it all over. Tonight I lowered the volume on the DSP unit and reset the gain vevels for the Peaches volume knob lower. This is helping some, but I will need to reach out to some of the recommended sources for better matched tubes.

    When the music is playing, this preamp represents the best that tubes has to offer. I usually use my annual bonus to splurge on my hobby and have decided that I will revisit purchasing a new pre then. Until that time, I will try to mitigate the issue as best I can with the recommendations presented. Thanks for all your suggestions.
  15. marantzfan

    marantzfan Administrator Staff Member

    I think you’ve made the right decision. Glad to hear your getting things straightened out.
  16. Try1256

    Try1256 Very Special Member

  17. ICTWoody

    ICTWoody Junior Member

    I had a Juicy Music Blueberry Xtreme 2... Mark’s latest version that used the 6H30 super tube. I loved that preamp, but the need for XLR outputs and the fact that I too had kinda fallen out of love with it lead me to Modwright preamps. I bought an LS100 which used 6SN7’s and the preamp was AMAZING. I couldn’t believe how good it was compared to the Juicy. BUT, the noise floor was MUCH higher, similar to what you describe. Also, it was a bit TOO warm compared to the Juicy and it’s 6H30. I finally sold the LS100 and popped for a Modwright 36.5. My hope was that it was as magical as the LS100, but with the linearity and quietness of the 6H30’s, which it also uses. Well long story short is that is is FUCKING AMAZING and I stopped looking or even thinking about my pre. I love it so much I finally popped for the matching KWA150SE power amp. That system is incredible.

    I also scored a great deal on a Modwright SWL9.0SE preamp and it is almost just as good but it uses 5670 tubes. If you don’t need the true balanced output, you could grab a 9.0 for about the same as you could sell your JM for.

    I’m currently running the 9.0 with my Dennis Had Inspire HO SE amp and it’s a whisper quiet system even on my Onkens with their Altec drivers.

    What I’m saying... look at Modwright... but not the LS100.

    - Woody

    51EF0E33-0601-4A7C-94C5-1E0C7C1BA1E0.jpeg B4F855EA-2C2C-42C6-B3F9-D8967829C57A.jpeg
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  18. S0und Dragon

    S0und Dragon Junior Member

    So I decided to make some changes to the system. The Tube rush sound was becoming worse and really audible even during quiet passages in the music. As an experiment and because I wanted to change up the layout of the system I took the Juicy Music preamp out to swap out the noisy 6DJ8's and put it back in the wooden cabinet. I had a pair of NOS Japanese 6DJ8s that I was hoping will do the trick as both the Ei and vintage Amperex tubes have become noisy in this pre. I need to source better tubes.

    I decided to try the DSPeaker anti mode 2.0 in preamp mode as it does offer that as an option albeit with less than optimal connectivity. It did not sound all that great in this configuration. I ran another room sweep thinking that it would need to recalibrate to the new configuration. To be honest my system had never sounded worse. It had me missing my JM Peach badly, even with the tube rush. I have come to understand that this is just the nature of 6DJ8 tubes. I am wondering if 6922 would serve me better. I may try these ( http://tubeaudiostore.stores.yahoo.net/69suplownois.html) when I am a bit more flush. For now, the Matsushita 6DJ8s are holding up and sound pretty decent. This experiment also has me crossing off the new X4 as a preamp option.

    While the new Antimode X4 may have more (much needed) inputs, I hated the sound from the 2.0 as a preamp enough to jade me from trying a much higher end model. Only an in-home demo could dissuade me from trying one at this point and I am not ready to take that path at this time. Please do not take my harsh judgment of the DSP unit to mean that it is not a good product. For Room correction, it has become almost indispensable. As a preamp though, I find it lacking. The same thing goes for the Peach II. It is without a doubt one if not the most musically pleasing Pre Amps I have ever owned. When it is quiet, I prefer it over many highly regarded preamps I have had the privilege to own or borrow.

    I am almost positive that my next Pre Amp will be Solid State at this point. This would cross off both the Schitt Freya and the Above recommended Modwright unit. I have my Scott amp for my Tube fix and it is so quiet and just works. A true testament to vintage tube design and build quality that over 50 years later, I get to enjoy music through it. If nothing else I have figured out what I need, what I want and most of all what I do not want. That in itself is a worthy lesson. For this setup, I need a remote. I need at least 4 unbalanced inputs. I need at least one set of balanced outputs. Balanced inputs would be nice but not a deal breaker as would 2 balanced outputs as opposed to one. A tape loop for the DSP would be nice. I do not want to Roll tubes in this setup. My audio ADD just cannot take it and noisy tubes distract me from my listening pleasure.
  19. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    If I may suggest?

    Try the Schiit Saga.

    One 6SN7 to buffer the volume pot and lower the output impedance.

    DEAD quiet on 104db efficient speakers.

    Remote control.

    Multiple inputs.

    $350..... :)

    Just my opinion. :)
    S0und Dragon likes this.
  20. S0und Dragon

    S0und Dragon Junior Member

    Well, no time to unbox it. But here is the next pre! All 75 Lbs of her!!!


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