2024’s Best Preamplifiers | Buyers Guide 2024

2024's best preamplifiers

Welcome to 2024’s Best Preamplifiers from the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide.

We’re not saying that these are the “best” preamplifiers or that these choices somehow overrule anyone else’s favorites. We’re saying that these are the products we’ve reviewed, owned, or have had extended experience when it comes to performance and sound quality. This is the gear that we, the staff of Part-Time Audiophile, recommend.

2024’s Best Preamplifiers


Parasound Halo P 6 2.1 Channel Preamplifier and DAC ($1,999 USD)

Despite a tendency to sound slightly dry with different sources, the Parasound P 6 contains so many features for the money that it becomes impossible to ignore. It contains a DAC and a surprisingly enjoyable MM/MC phono stage and a plethora of subwoofer hook-up options that explain why this is a “2.1 Channel” preamp. “If you want honesty and accuracy with a big dollop of flexibility, then definitely take a listen.”

marc phillips system

Audio by Van Alstine FET Valve CFR Preamplifier (starting at $2,299 USD)

Starting at a mere $2,299, you get one of Frank Van Alstine’s handmade flagship tube preamplifiers, with a killer headphone amp included, and the option to add an internal MM/MC phono stage for an additional $349. Most importantly, you get a crisp and dynamic sound that will energize your entire system. Old school in appearance–it looks like it was built in the ’80s–but you won’t be able to deny it sounds fantastic. Because it does. A Reviewer’s Choice award winner.

van alstine dva
Audio By Van Alstine DVA (starting at $2,499 USD)

This digital preamplifier is designed to get the most out of your digital sources, which means the five inputs included are only USB, S/PDIF optical and digital coax. That said, the DAC–with its now endangered but excellent AKM chip from Japan–sounds killer and has a wonderful user interface. “My entire system sounded faster, cleaner and more powerful with the Van Alstine DVA digital preamplifier,” we concluded. A Reviewers Choice Award winner and one of 2024’s best preamplifiers.

2024's best preamplifiers

SPL Elector ($2,599 USD)

Despite its compact design–it’s only 11″ wide–the German-made Elector is an all-analog preamplifier with a ton of features such as XLR and RCA inputs, variable and fixed outputs, a tape loop and much more. It even has backlit VU meters and a choice of three faceplate colors (including a striking red one). “The Elector has given me the versatility that I’ve always craved in well-designed and implemented modern preamplifiers,” our reviewer concluded just before he decided to buy it. “It’s quite simple on the outside, but it sure does seem to do a lot!” A Reviewers Choice award winner.

The Best Preamps

Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL Preamplifier ($4,450 USD)

We get a tad giddy whenever we use LTA preamplifiers—these David Berning designs, based on his ZOTL topology, offer such a pure and beautiful window into the music. The MicroZOTL offers push-pull Class A operation and can be considered as a truly full-featured preamplifier. It even has a headphone amplifier, and if you know LTA you know it’s gotta be special. (It is.) Still one of 2024’s best preamplifiers.

2024's best preamplifiers

Musical Fidelity M8sPRE ($4,999 USD)

It was fun re-acquainting ourselves with Musical Fidelity’s products in 2023, as the big-as-a-power-amplifier M8sPRE is a feature-laden unit with excellent sound quality. You’ll find a low noise MM/MC phono stage, two balanced inputs, three unbalanced inputs, home theater bypass, a tape in/out loop, and much more. It’s a fully balanced preamplifier, with pure class A circuitry.


Jeff Rowland Design Group Capri S2-SC (starting at $5,900 USD)

This tiny preamplifier with the jewel-like chassis is loaded with features, and it provides the clean and in-control feel of other JDRG designs. Inclusion of the $1150 HP (high-performance) phono card, the same one in the lofty Conductor phono pre, is a wonderful gift–it’s already one of our favorite inboard phono stages. The SC stands for super-capacitors (there are four inside), and the sound was so satisfying that we awarded a Reviewer’s Choice to this “diminutive yet stellar performer.”

2024's best preamplifiers

Pass Labs XP-12 ($6,100 USD)

Like the matching XP-17 phono preamp, the XP-12 is incredibly neutral and does an impossibly great job at allowing you to hear what everything else in your system is doing. Features are abundant, and yet the Pass Labs XP-12 is still incredibly easy to set-up and use. The single-stage volume control is a dream, by the way.

atoll gamme pr400 signature

Atoll Gamme PR400 Signature ($6,600 USD)

“Nothingness, in audio, speaks the truth,” we discovered with this French preamplifier in the system. As part of Atoll’s flagship Gamma line, the PR400 offered such a neutral sound that we “never got that feeling it altered the signal in any significant way.” Best described as “clean,” we found that “music leapt out from between the speakers from a silent backdrop.” A Reviewers Choice winner.

backert labs

Backert Labs Rhumba Extreme 1.3 ($7,500 USD)

A tube line stage that uses a pair of new Mullard 12AU7s, the Backert has dual power supplies, an auto-bias circuit, balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs, and sound quality so enthralling that our reviewer bought the unit as his new reference. “It pairs well with tube and solid-state amps, it’s great on vinyl and digital, it images like a beast going deep and wide without it feeling artificial or gimmicky.” A Reviewers Choice award winner and undoubtedly one of our choices for 2024’s best preamplifiers.

luminous audio technology axiom III

Luminous Audio Technology Axiom III ($7,999 USD)

From the mind of Michael Bettinger and the manufacturing brilliance of Tim Stinson, the Axiom III preamplifiers possessed “extreme detail along with its phenomenal low-level resolution and effortless display of dynamic contrasts.” It’s streamlined and built for speed–no phono stages, DAC, balanced inputs or fancy casework–so the Luminous Axiom III is all about “sonic bliss.” A Reviewers Choice winner.

pass labs xp-22

Pass Labs XP-22 ($9,975 USD)

The matching two-chassis preamplifier for the XP-27 phono preamplifier, the XP-22 carries over that models dedication to reducing distortion and lowering the noise floor. The new single stage volume control is borrowed from Pass’s reference line of preamplifiers, and the larger output stage is designed to work with longer runs of cables. Extremely versatile, the Pass Labs XP-22 has an amazing amount of features and leads us even closer to absolute neutrality. A Reviewer’s Choice winner.

2024's best preamplifiers

Classe Delta PRE ($9,999 USD)

The DELTA PRE is and all-in-one preamp with DAC, phono, home theater bypass, parametric EQ, subwoofer outputs, headphone jack and more. The DAC is “shockingly good” on these preamplifiers, qualifying as one of the best inboard converters we’ve heard. Digital was clean, with superb imaging and soundstage. “The PRE flexibility/connectivity is bonkers,” we concluded, citing that it’s one of those preamplifiers that has more features than you’ll ever need. A Reviewers Choice award winner.

2024's best preamplifiers

Audio Research LS28SE ($10,000 USD)

The new design aesthetic for Audio Research preamplifiers isn’t about heavy casework made from solid aluminum billet, but rather slim profiles, simpler construction and “an earnest, detail-rich sound” that hews to ARC’s legendary traditions. “All attention here is on great functionality, ease of use and the sound.” A Reviewers Choice winner.

McGary Audio SPA-1 ($12,000)

This purist class A tube preamplifier, Mike McGary’s first, hits the ground running–no feedback, Nichicon and Mundorf caps, Vishay/Dale resistors, point to point wiring, and a superb ELMA 47-position attenuator. Based on extended auditions, the SPA-1 has that ineffable quality of the greatest preamps where it can improve the system as a whole and make everything sound more natural. Review forthcoming for one of 2024’s best preamplifiers.

mola mola

Mola Mola Makua ($12,200 USD)

Designed by Bruno Putzeys, these preamplifiers have “an eye towards futuristic functionality and a ultra high-end sonic pedigree.” The razor sharp sonic definition led us to reconsider our views on “total sonic purity,” and the Mola Mola app was one of the most thorough control apps we have seen in high-end audio. It even includes an astonishingly good inboard phono pre! A Reviewer’s Choice winner.

2024's best preamplifiers

Allnic Audio L-8000 DHT ($22,900 USD)

These Korean-built preamplifiers use directly heated triodes in the line stage paired with Permalloy conductors, using this old-school Western Electric-style technology to create a sound that was magical. “This soundstage was positively massive and not in a fake audio-gear-on-LSD kind of way,” we concluded, “but a real sense that everything in the music extended twenty feet beyond the sides of the speakers and forty feet above them.” The Allnic earns a Reviewer’s Choice Award.

vac preamplifiers

VAC Master Preamplifier ($28,000 USD, $40,000 with phono)

We quickly fell in love with Kevin Hayes’ Master preamplifiers as soon as we realized they met all our expectations: “refined to the extent of being clean and quiet with wide bandwidth, and subjectively and dynamically responsive, if not more, as solid-state brethren.” Don’t go hear a VAC Master Preamplifier or audition one in your system unless you have the cash or can put up with the constant dreaming.” Optional inboard phono stage is well worth its substantial cost. Reviewers Choice award winner and one of 2024’s best preamplifiers.

tidal audio

TIDAL Audio Prisma ($40,000 USD)

We felt the TIDAL Audio Prisma towered over most preamplifiers and blew such a hole in our PTA awards system that we had to invent a new one, the Summit Award, to put a spotlight on its excellence. Everyone loves turning that incredibly sexy volume knob, but that’s only the beginning of a design that we called an “end game product.”

d'agostino preamplifiers

D’Agostino Momentum HD ($40,000 USD)

We fell in love with the D’Agostino Momentum Phono with its new input stage and ultra-quiet circuitry. As a follow-up, Dan D’Agostino has now brought many of these advances to the new D’Agostino Momentum HD Preamplifier. We can’t stop listening to the combination, and it may be one of 2024’s best preamplifiers we have auditioned, bar none.

2024's best preamplifiers

True Life Audio SSP-1 ($46,000 USD)

The TLA SSP-1 preamplifiers, built in Greece, are a true class A dual mono design with completely separated power supplies. Its tube rectified, with two separate chokes and a distinct power transformer for each channel, all made with OCC copper. At the heart of the preamplifier sits a pair of G.E.C. 6SN7 tubes in parallel configuration. “Achieving this delicate balance between the warm and the neutral, the mighty and the intimate is a rare feat, one that sets apart the True Life Audio SSP-1 from the pack.”

If you would like to hear even more on our choices for the 2024 Buyers Guide, check out our tips, picks and highlights in our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunesAndroidGoogle, Deezer, SpotifyiHeartRadio and more.

Check out the rest of the 2024 Buyers Guide:

Best Bookshelf Speakers

Best Floorstanding Speakers

Best Integrated Amplifiers

Best Power Amplifiers

Best Preamplifiers

Best Turntables

Best Phono Preamplifiers and SUTs

Best Cartridges, Tonearms and Headshells

Best Digital Playback

Best Headphone Gear

Best Cables, Power Management and Grounding

Best Hi-Fi Accessories

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