The Classe Cp-50 is a smoking pre amp for the price range. I think tit might be a little more then 1k but I think it would be worth the extra investment
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I have a sale pending on my Classe Four so this is not a shameless plug.
I purchased my Four as a DR-4. It displaced a Berning TF-10, which was a highly regarded tube preamp and I never missed the Berning.
I had the DR-4 upgraded to the Four, which resulted in greater clarity and a bigger soundstage. The tonal balance did shift and lean out a little, but I was able to compensate by changing cables.
The only direct comparison to the Four I have recently done is to an Audionote hybrid and the Four won-smoother and richer.
Unless you want to get into tubes, I would suggest you look into a DR-4 or a Four. You may be able to get a Five for less than $1k also.
I currently have a Classe CP45 in my system, and have owned Krell, Conrad Johnson and YBA units over the past 10 years. I cannot comment on the newer Classe units, but the late 1990's vintage are second to none in their price range with regard to price/performance.
I have "under the hood" pictures of all my Classe' equipment (CP45/CDP.5/Tuner 1) if you are interested in seeing the build/parts quality.
I agree with Fuente. The CP-45 is an outstanding preamp. I owned one a couple years back. It did not have a full-function remote with the ability to select input sources but the basic preamp was outstanding. I also owned the lower end CP-35 (older style) with full-funtion remote and digital display. More convenient but not quite up to par with the CP-45. Over all, Classe offers outstanding value and very good sound throughout their product line. I haven't used any of the more recent Classe gear as my electronics are now all tube.
CP-45 is one gem of a pre-amp. Cp-50 pales in comparision. Cp-60 is only slightly better in terms of transperancy, but musicality across the full band, CP-45 is more complete package, for a very low price. I have SSP-50, which is CP-50, and I still prefer stereo listening thru CP-45. The word (my dealer)is CP-65, the new one has musicality of CP-45 and transperancy of CP-60 , but then you are talking lot more money.
SSP-50 I like for movies and listening to TV in my Surround set-up. I was planning on to sell my CP-45 when I got SSP-50, but listening back to back for stereo, both run balanced mode using same cables. CP-45 WAS MUCH MORE SATISFYING. SSP-50 had more high frequ repsponse, tad more laid back, but little grungier and little less defined lower mids and bass changing the overall result by significant amount. Needless to say I kep CP-45.