$3K used balanced I/O preamp suggestions

I'd appreciate suggestions for a stereo preamp with balanced and single-ended I/O. My budget is circa $3K used. There's so much out there that I'll never be able to listen to, so I hope to benefit from others' experience. Gotta have remote control.

The preamp will be used with two sources: a Teac VRDS-25X (optimized as a transport with a kit from ASE-Audiotuning in Germany) feeding a Lavry Black DA10 DAC and a modded Luxman T-117 tuner. Until I decide which I prefer, I am switching back and forth between two different amps: a B.A.T. VK-200 and a (relatively unknown) MC2 MC750. I also use two different pairs of speakers, both of which I plan on keeping and both of which are high-sensitivity coaxial designs: Tannoy System 15 DMT II and Iconic 704-8A in DIY "Stonehenge V" cabinets with custom crossovers.

I'm currently using a Meitner PA-6i with the John Wright "Plus" upgrade and custom balanced outputs. I am very partial to this preamp, but it lacks the transparency and dynamics of my Bryston BP-26. Except for a slighly flabby bass and that "tube rush", I also really like another preamp that I have--the Wyetech Coral linestage--but I find it loses something when I use it, as I have to, with RCA-to-XLR adaptors on the power amp inputs.

The Bryston BP-26MC in my other system I am happy with and it may be that for what I can afford, I should just get another one. But--of course!-- I'm wondering if I can get the same transparency, dynamics and black noise floor with perhaps a more holographic presentation and a slightly "richer" sound.

I'm considering the following, though for some I may have to keep saving for awhile and sell some of my other gear.

Ayre K-1xe--seems to be highly regarded, but used prices are circa $4.5K.
ARC LS25 MI II--but requires at least 20K input impedance on the power amp which would rule out my MC2 power amp, which has the standard pro audio 10K impedance.
Krell KRC-HC with or without phono stage--but it's a 10-12 year old design that might be no more satisfying than the BP-26 and could require expensive service in the not to distant future.
BAT VK-31SE--but quite a few posters describe it as somewhat rolling off the high frequencies.

So...if you can compare any of these preamps with the Bryston BP-26 or the Wyetech Coral or can recommend any others, I'd very much appreciate your comments.

And thanks for wading through this long post!


If you can find a BAT VK50SE. It's a little more richer that the 51se, and certainly more dynamnic and well balanced than a 31se. A 51se plus your vk200 is a killer combo...I did own the 50se/vk200 combo at one time. (I've kept stepping up in the BAT line)

Good luck
I have a Ayre K5XE. It is wonderful. Demo this preamp before you decide.
I would recommend for tube pre amp Atmasphere; for solid state
a Klyne series 6 or 7.
Well with an amp with a 10K input impedence, I would rule out a tube preamp. If it were me, I'd change amps and go for the tube preamp, probably the VK-31SE. That's just me though, as I'm not much of a SS fan.
The VK-50SE that Jfrech recommends is a bit warmer, but darker than the VK-31SE, which is more dynamic and powerful, as well as extended. I've owned the 31/50/51SE's, though I currently own a ARC Ref 3. While I was not a big fan of ARC's earlier work, their latest series is great. If you are even considering a Ayre K-1xe, which is a great SS preamp, I'd consider a ARC LS-26 at this price point.

For SS, a Klyne is a great sounding unit, but I don't know if you can find one with balanced I/O's. I'd scratch the Krell KRC-HR, that was pretty dissapointing. An oldy but goody is the Threshold T2 preamp. Sounds great, balanced I/O's and should be able to find one well under your target price. If you can swing the big price tag, and want SS, the Ayre K-1xe is a very good preamp too. I'd buy the T2 though, and spend the other $2.5K elsewhere in the system, or on more music.

Happy hunting,
sorry, meant to say above 50se + your vk200 will be a killer combo for 3k...
I own a Bryston BP-26 and the only level matched comparison I've made with it was to a Pass Labs X1. I found them to be virtually indistinguishable. I sold the X1 and kept the BP-26. I found both to be quieter than my previous solid state ARC LS12. So you might want to consider a Pass Labs X1.

My only comment about preamps is to be watchful of high output impedance that can roll off bass with low input impedance amps.

Just a thought, but speakers may have a better chance of giving you the sound you're looking for than electronics.
is it possible to measure hi or lo impedance with home tools?