A few days ago I was browsing Audiogon.com for a piece from my audiophile adolescence. It was a Decware single ended triode tube amp that I owned once upon a time that, despite it’s low power and homely looks, I wanted to own again-for its sound quality still holds up to this day. After a few days of searching and a few failed negotiations I found my Decware amp and purchased it at a substantial savings, which got me thinking; how many audiophile ‘classics’ still measure up today? Better yet, how many of these cost no object giants can be had for what can now be considered real money?
I put together a list of my five all time favorite preamplifiers from back in the day that I could only dream of owning yet because of sites like eBay and Audiogon.com these once unobtainable gems are now more affordable than the products that have come to replace them.
Hovland HP-100 Tube Preamplifier (Discontinued)
Original MSRP: $4,995 w/o phono stage, $5,595/$6,495 w/ phono stage
Audiogon.com Price: Mid $2,000’s depending on condition
Mark Levinson No. 32 Reference Preamplifier (replaced by No326S)
Original MSRP: $14,950 w/o phono stage, $17,450 w phono stage
Audiogon.com Price: $7,000 – $10,000 depending on condition
Krell KCT Preamplifier (replaced by Krell Evolution Preamp)
Original MSRP: $8,500
Audiogon.com Price: Low to mid-$3,000
Conrad-Johnson ART Preamplifier (replaced by Conrad-Johnson GAT Preamplifier)
Original MSRP: $14,995
Audiogon.com Price: $6,000 – $8,000 depending on condition
Audio Research REF 1 Preamplifier (replaced by REF 5)
Original MSRP: $8,495
Audiogon.com Price: $3,500 – $4,500 depending on condition
Have a preamplifier to add to the list, tell us about it by leaving a comment below.