I need a new pre amp to use with a pair of Krell fpb 350 mcx mono amps through B&W 801 Matrix Series 2 speakers. Right now, I am thinking of one of these two pres but I am open to other suggestions. I can get a new 5SE for about $13k and a slightly used GAT for a little less. Which pre amp would you go for and why? Thanks...
I looked into both of these to replace my Wyetech Opal, and chose the VTL 7.5 Mk iii. Astonishing neutrality, imaging and soundstanging; great remote; and exceptional flexibility (RCA and XLR, among many other features). If you find one used (and they are rare as hen's teeth, which should tell you something), I would grab it. You will be happy.
BTW, I use the VTL 7.5 iii with a Krell FPB 300cx, so if you were wondering about compatibility with Krell, there it is.

The Krell(s) tend to be more analytical with great bottom end extension. I would look for a pre amp with more warmth. At your price point you pretty much can choose anything you want, so I wouldn't be too hasty about a choice but would try several tube units before making an important decision for your system.

An exception to this would be to try a comparable Krell pre amp just to see what synergies may exist given that the Krell designers probably used their own products for final testing before releasing the amp to the public.
If you can live with the GAT's single ended RCA connections, I vote GAT. I've looked at and owned other preamps but have always been the happiest with my GAT. Great 3D and layering with an ever so slightly sweet top end with great width and height. I love it. Also, only two tubes to replace and relatively inexpensive to re-tube. At the prices for the used GATs right now, I think they are a bargain.
CJ GAT is the best preamp I have ever heard bar none.
Great query and tough question(s) Wemfan-

I have heard the ARC Ref5 SE w/ both ARC and Bryston power amps. I liked it best w/ solid-state power. On the C-J side, the highest model that I demo'ed and rather enjoyed was the ACT2 SERIES2. It also sounds outstanding w/ solid-state power. On my short-list to demo is the CJ ART3 and GAT. The ARC performs at its best w/ Transparent cables/cords. Audience is a natural, sonic match for CJ gear. Audioquest is a 3rd match. Tara Labs is a 4th.

Stated, VTL is an excellent performer-I do not know how it will compliment the Krell mono blocks?
VAC is another consideration for a tubed pre-amp.

PLease keep me posted and Happy Listening! =JA
cj because I like the sound of their components and they are reliable and they back them well. But at this level it is personnel preference.

Here is my situation. I am a musician and not really an audiophile so I have just been feeling my way through and acquiring some gear here and there trying to improve my home stereo systems. I live in an area where I can't find audio gear at this level to try out so I am going to have to just make a decision and live with it. I want to buy new or nearly new and want something I can use for many, many years to come. I have never heard any ARC or CJ but narrowed my search down by just reading on audio forums. I have been using a Mac C2300 which sounds good but it is also easily the best pre amp I have had the chance to hear.

I will look at the VTL 7.5 MK.iii and VAC. I am not familiar with either one of them. I don't think the XLR inputs will matter to me as I will only have a very short cable run. I appreciate the responses, all were informative. After reading them I am going to look a little harder at the Gat.
? Doshi Aalap full function preamp
or new Doshi separate line stage and phono
I have heard the ARC Ref5 SE w/ both ARC and Bryston power amps. I liked it best w/ solid-state power.
this sounds like trouble to me because it indicates to me that the output impedance of the preamp is too high to use with the lower input impedance tube power amp. S.S power amps usually have higher input impedance thereby making the electrical impedance match better. I've found over the years that one of the 1st things you need to get right is to ensure that the electronics match up electrical impedance-wise otherwise you will end up with sonics that have bloated bass &/or shrill treble, recessed or over-emphasized mids, etc.
Gear that is so specific that it matches with only s.s. or only tube or best with XYZ cable, etc should be avoided, IMO. It leads to trouble down the road because if you change one variable later on (electronics or cable or speaker) your whole system is likely to fall apart & you will be on another search for good sound which will entail buying all-new equipment or most of the components will have to be changed out.

The ARC performs at its best w/ Transparent cables/cords. Audience is a natural, sonic match for CJ gear. Audioquest is a 3rd match. Tara Labs is a 4th.
same deal - this sounds like nothing but sonic-trouble to me.....
the design of the equipment is such that it has a dependency on the cable parasitics (C & L) that is altering its performance as you switch in/out different cables. Not good! :(
One more advantage for the GAT is that its output impedance is under 100 Ohms vs 600 Ohms for the Ref 5se. System matching is easier with the GAT.