A great full function preamp. for Berning 270 ??

I have just buy a Berning 270 amplifier to drive my Merlin VSM-M. I need a good amplifier with a wonderful phono section. This way I can use the BAM and my turntable, My budget is 3000-3500 for a used preamplifier. I have think about Hovland HP 100, Cat ultimate (may be out of budget), VAC standard. Any experience with the Berning?. Thank you very much.
I have a Berning ZH270 and until recently ran my two sources (cd & TT) directly into it. I just acquired a Bent Audio transformer volume control (tvc), which to me sounds better than using the Berning volume control. The tvc has minimal sonic signature of its own, and would allow you to use the BAM with multiple sources intputs and it should sound the same as though it were in between a source and active preamp. Budget about $1000 to $1500 for the tvc, depending on configuration (which is set up for what you need - i,e number of inputs and outputs, balanced or single ended, etc.).

This is, of course, a different approach from using an active preamp. I don't use an active preamp because I don't need the gain - a cd source has plenty of juice for the Berning to drive, and the right comnbination of phono stage and cartridge should also give you plenty of juice. In my opinion, the Berning sounds just fine on its own and I have felt no need to try to match it to an active preamp. That is not to say that the right active pre would not sound great, but I suspect the cost would be pretty high to get the quality to compete with the tvc.

So, this is an alternative that would allow you to spend between $2000 and $2500 on a separate phono stage in addition to the tvc.
I have ZH-270 that I use direct with my SACD player. I have read a lot of posting about the Supratek Syrah preamp. It would be my first choice if I wanted a preamp.

For $2500 you can order a Supratek Syrah which would give you a good phono plus the additional inputs.

You can order it with a remote for $100 - 150 extra.
I have used my ZH270 directly with a SONY SCD1 and with a WADIA 850. I then bought a Pass Labs Aleph P and used it for a while. I now have a BAT VK30SE. I actually like using both preamps over the direct connection. The direct connection is of course more transparent. But, I think both preamps actually added some body to the sound. The Pass is a bit more transparent. But, I like the BAT better overall. I also need to switch sources; and like the convience of remote volume and mute.

You might find a VK30SE with phono within your price range on the used market. Earlier BAT preamps can be upgraded.
Bobby at Merlin recommends the Joule LA150 to be used with the Berning 270. He feels this combination along with his VSM-ME will produce "one of the finest systems in the country". His words, not mine.
If you have the patience to wait and are willing to purchase something sound unheard you will not be sorry waiting for a Supratek Syrah, an exceptional value from down under at 2.5K. I also have your set-up and the Syrah was the missing link. I was using a CAT SL-1. It is unquestionably a 5-7K pre-amp. I'm sure the Joule is also a great choice as well.