Another Variable Out CDP or a Preamp

For all intents and purposes my variable output CDP seems to have really bitten the dust this time. It was/is a very early version of the Audio Aero CDP. I used it direct to the amps with good results. I really don't have a fortune to put into a front end about 1K and have several cheaper options for non variable ouput CDPs. OR should I just get a cheap preamp which I kind of like the idea of since I am considering adding additional sources but have not committed (analog).
In my opinion, if you are even serious about considering analog, among other sources, you're probably going to need a full function preamp at some point. Rather than mess around and take two or three steps to get there, bite the bullet now. You can choose from a pretty long list of used preamps on your $1000 budget.

Then again, I'm not much of a fan of preamps. So, if you happen to stay CD only, another good CDP with variable out is what I consider the best option. Second to that, a CDP with fixed output, with some sort of variable attenuators is something to think about - presuming the CDP has enough drive to handle the cables and power amp you use.