The SA-1000 is sort of like Counterpoint’s entry level preamp. Its hybrid design allowed for a lower MSRP – $1,200, which was much cheaper than its other preamps in the thousand series lineup. The two 12AX7 and single 6DJ8 are the only three tubes used in this preamp. The 12AX7 handles the phono stage (MM) while the single 6DJ8 provide line stage voltage gain for each channel with MOSFETs buffering it.
Sonically, it has all the warm attributes of tubes but with a faster and more revealing sound. Resolution was a tad brighter than other all tube design preamps. Tube rollers will relish the opportunity to tube role as it does change the sound signature of the preamp. We tried some old Bugle Boys and it became “fatter” and smoother in the mid-range. So some careful experiment with different brand of tubes will be required to marry the sound to your system and your taste. But overall, we like its quick and revealing sound. At a price where many tube preamps are Chinese made, the Counterpoint is a refreshing alternative (albeit an older model at that).
Cosmetically, the preamp looks really good for its age. Just minor scuff marks here and there but nothing major. Output jacks have been upgraded to gold plated ones. We don’t have the original box but will securely pack this for safe shipping.