Larry, it would help to know what sonic profile you're looking to achieve. Would you consider anything less than $4k, or are you convinced it will take a minimum investment of $4k to achive your goal?
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Find a used Essence, Thore, or LAMM. The Essence is the best I have ever heard and is so good that it is not handcuffed by system matching. Only problems are that it is very heavy, (100 lbs) it has a left and right volume control, and it is so over the top that there are only a couple of people in the world that could repair it if it ever broke or if the designer died. (he is in good health)
I would agree that the Macintosh synergy would probably be excellent and in keeping with the warmth you desire, although I'm not speaking from experience. I have heard the VAC preamp in my system, and it's outstanding...warm yet detailed in a musical way, and the VAC is made in the USA by a company known for superior customer service.
I would recommend the VAC also. I also have N802's and use a Renaissance preamp which I found to be a huge step up from an Audio Research LS15. The infinite remote volume control is a big plus. The stepped controls always offer a level too loud or too quiet but with the VAC you can get the volume just right. Plus it has great versatility with balanced inputs and outputs. The fit and finish are excellent and it just has that satisfying quality feel to the operation that one used to find in the older BMW's. I have been using a VAC PA100 amp and now I'm working with a PHI 110.