affordable tube preamp-AE-3 vs. Pre1L?

Hello, I am thinking of adding a tube preamp to my system. Have about 500$ to use. A used Anthem pre1L, new AES-3 ,come to mind. Anyone compared these two, or offer other suggestions. Looking for some tube mid magic, without a loss of speed and clarity. THANKS, Clearsound
Just purchased a anthem Pre2L and so far so good. Still in the process of burn in but what I am hearing is the magic of tubes without the typical tube sound. Look up Jeffs Sound Values on this site and tell him what your looking for. Good Listening!
I purchased the Anthem 1L, it was the well worth the 900.00 I paid for it. I see them listed for 600-700 dollars online. I have now,and have had previously, better pre-amps, but for under a grad brand new it is an excellent buy. (IMHO)
I just went through the same decision as you. I bought the AE-3 from Kevin at Upscale Audio. You might want to give him a call since he sells both and can probably give you the pros and cons. He also is one of the most respected "Tube Heads" around. I absolutely love my AE-3. Best purchase I've made.
To, Kevperro, Did you have the chance to compare it to anything else? I hear its mids are real good, how about speed,transparency,extension? Is it discounted of list? Did you get the oil caps or other options? THANKS-Clearsound
Clearsound: Got the oil caps. I'm going to tinker with improving the diodes on the power supply and put a shunt resistor on the volume potentiometer. Also will eventually get around to getting different tubes to play with but I'm just enjoying it for now. One of the great things about it is the fact that you can tinker with it with the manf. blessing. Kirk from AES is very helpful. The only equipment I compared head to head was a B&K solid state pre-amp and there was just no comparison. I bought it basically on the recommendation of Kevin at Upscale Audio. Like I said in the last post, he handles both brands so he should have some idea of how they compare. Judging equipment is so subjective that I rarely give recommendations like "it is the best" or "it is better than brand X, Y and Z". I can say this about the AE-3, it is better throughout the frequency range from top to bottom than my B&K by a large margin. The mids are lucsious and I just love what it has done to my system. I had some concern that it wouldn't match with my amp (Aragon 8008BB). Some tube pre-amps have troubles with low input impedance amps (don't ask me why because it is outside of my range of knowledge). The AE-3 is a very simple circuit design and their is a definately advantages to keeping things simple. Not just from a cost perspective but for the obvious sonic reasons.
Also consider the Conrad Johson PV-10
I had a Anthem pre2L for a while which I liked. It had a silver faceplate and a remote, and I really wanted a black unit. I sold it and picked up a new Pre1L for $500, and I couldn't be happier. It's just a real sweet and accurate preamp. And I really like using it with headphones. I use it with the Amp1. Great combo. Look around, there might still be some new Pre1L's for a good price. might find a new Pre2L for under $800. Good luck.
Has anyone had experience with the Musical Design SP-1? Comparisons to Anthem pre1L, AES ae-3? Thanks-