Adding a preamp to HT setup

i Have been convinced that adding a good preamp with HT bypass to my system will improve my 2-channel listening experience. I have read multiple threads here, and reviews all over, and there is an overload of information.

the 2-channel system is Aerial 7T’s, Odyssey Stratos amp and Oppo UCD205 player (I still use discs), and I’ll feed streaming in to the Oppo from the Marantz pre-pro. No vinyl.

the room is 19x12x8, and ‘live’, hardwood floors with a rug, drywall all walls. The rear of the room is open to the kitchen.

the improvements I seek are in soundstage focus and solidity, along with depth. Greater resolution of detail (love the little things that come out of recordings that make it real), and air around performers. All the things that draw us into a performance and involve our emotions.

i have an interest in what tubes would bring to the party, but I have no interest in spending all my time swapping out tubes to tailor the sound, I just want to listen to and enjoy the music. 
HT bypass is a must, obviously, and I’m curious about the lifespan of tubes given that my ‘normal’ everyday use of the system includes tv/movies where the pre won’t really be involved, except to pass the signal. I don’t know if there is an option for a pre amp to pass the signal through when not turned on, but that would be my preference.

Music interests range from Dire Straights, Pink Floyd to The Tenors/Josh Groban, to instrumental guitar...vocals and instrumental realism are big for me.

im comfortable buying used to stretch dollars, and would like to keep it below $2K, but would double that if convinced it was worth it.
You want great stereo sound while doing home theater right? Look no further.
I recently added a Modwright SWL 9.0 Line Stage from Dan Wright that had just been rebuilt with upgraded power supply, new tube board, and MWI caps. Remote volume control is included, it has HT bypass, and there are only two tubes in the unit.

This unit is hooked up to my Arcam AV-9 Preamp-Processor. 

I absolutely love the sound of it, it was just what I was looking for.

I would check out the Prima Luna Dialogue Premium. I had it w/my older Aerial 6's. was an excellent combo. Tubes are auto bias and they last a long time. Currently w/my HT setup I have a Luxman CL38U-SE. w/my Aerial 5T's. Best preamp I've ever owned. Doesn't have HT pass through but I hooked up my Bryston Amp w/balanced cables to my HT processor and the RCA outputs from the same amp to my Luxman. I just flip the switch on the amp for movies or music. Woks well. So you really can work around a HT passthrough giving you more choices.
Could you mean the switch on the amps input? Is the Bryston the 2-channel amp?
I agree 100%!  I have the same Modwright preamplifier and Wyred4sound monoblocks and the sound is awesome. My high end Denon receiver is fine but worlds apart in sound. 
Could you mean the switch on the amps input?
Yes, do not let HT passthrough limiting your preamp choice, a simple line level A/B selector on the power amp input can get the job done.

HT AVR pre-out
                                        -------> Line level selector -----> power amp input
Stereo preamp output

Yes you use both outputs. The Bryston SST2 2.5 on the back of the amp. Switch up the balanced outputs are active. Switch down the RCA connections are active. I wrote to James Tanner about this and he said it's perfectly acceptable to use the 2 channel this way.

My amp won’t work like that. It’s an Odyssey, and IIRC, the RCA and XLR connectors are wired together inside the amp, so it’s not a true ‘balanced’ amp, and doesn’t have the least that’s what my foggy memory is telling me from a couple years back when I was trying to determine if there would be a benefit to going ‘Balanced’. Open to correction if someone else knows better, which is likely :)
Luxman I also heard the new EVO400 at my local dealer and the system sounded great. It just didn’t have any of the equipment attached that I have, so who knows. They will let me trial it though...I’d rather narrow down my choices before taking them up on it. 
Any input on tube life if the preamp has to be in for HT bypass? I read in the EVO400 manual that it does.
I had my Prima Luna for 3-4 years and didn't have to change tubes. They build their products w/lower gain to preserve tube life. My current Luxman CL38U-SE is 2 years old and as quiet as the day I bought it. The only tube preamp I had a problem w/was a CJ ET-3 SE. Has about a 26 gain factor and just ate the 6922 tube very 6-8 months. Was like clock work and it got noisy. Like sitting on a time bomb. That was my personal experience.
By the way give Klaus a call see if it's ok to hook up both the balanced and RCA. You can also try it if you borrow the Prima Luna.
I’m interested in trying tubes, but not hellbent on it. I found a Hegel P20 used that would work too. On this thread, the recommendations seem to be heavily on the tube side. So the consensus is that tubes will sound better?
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I read a review on a Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL preamp last night, the guy was over-awed by it. I know reviews aren’t what we should buy from, but anyone here know anything about them?
When I decided to make the same move you're considering, I ended up with a Modwright LS 100.  You can find them second hand around your budget.  I couldn't be happier.
From a usage standpoint, it would need to pass the HT signal even when turned off. The system is used daily for tv/movies, and needs to operate the same way for my wife with the new preamp. I would turn it on to use only for music, and I’m fine with the ‘extra step’ of turning it on. Alternately I suppose I could swap cables, but why even have HT bypass then.
The Prima Luna I’ve heard would require this extra step, according to the manual, unless owners in the real worl know otherwise
The HTBP doesn't work on my LS 100 or my Audio Research LS 26 unless they are on. Most are like that. 
There’s a Rogue RP-5 available at US AudioMart for $2300 and is one of the few tube preamps I’m aware of where the HT bypass still functions with the unit turned off.  Best of luck. 
Millercarbon, interesting system, but not everybody wants their system/room to look like a mad scientist's lab. Especially if it is a shared space which so many of us have to accommodate. 
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