ARC SP6 or 9; Audible Illusions M3A;Couterpoint 5

Which of these preamps would provide the best match with VPI JMW, ARC d-75, and VANDERSTEEN 2CE'S? Any other suggestions welcome. What about the EAR/Yoshino? Anyway I need suggestions in this price range. Any help appreciated.
I've had experience with all three units. I've owned an Audio Research SP-6C and now have an Audible Illusions L-1 line stage, a close relative of the AI M3A. My best friend buddy has a Counterpoint 5.1. I can tell you that the L-1 is clearly superior to the SP-6C. We're talking an early 1980's design vs. a mid-nineties design. The Counterpoint was never in my system but in listening to my friend's system I was pretty sure it was superior to the SP-6C. The Counterpoint vs. an AI M3A? Don't know for sure. The Counterpoint, another 80's design, was way ahead of its time.
Maybe the ARC would provide synergy. The Vandersteen's are warmish speakers and the Counterpoint is a warmish pre-amp, it depends on what kind of music you like. If it's rock-type stuff, you might be better off with a preamp such as the ARC.
I think the Counterpoint is more than comparable with the AI M3, at least on acoustic music. It is outstanding.
I have owned the SP-6 and the M3A. I have heard (but not owned) the Counterpoint. To my ears there is no comparison. The AI is easily the best of the 3--and not by a small margin.
I have owned all three and I think Tacs comments are right on the money; it's all about synergy. I disagree that the AI is definitely better; it all depends on what tickles your fancy sound wise.

Both the ARC and Counterpoint were used with Berning 2100, Moscode 600, BEL (original 50W class A), and PS Audio 200, the AI with Manley Reference 200's. The front end and speakers remained the same: VPI/ET, MGIIIA's.

To my ears the Counterpoint offered the most natural dynamics(very lively), and the most natural tonal colors; but I found it to have a funny "phasey" quality that kept me from enjoying listening whenever I wanted to indulge in "audiophile" aproved soundstaging. Beware! I found it very expensive to keep it in quality tubes. It's an all tube design and the three or four tubes in the power supply had to be of premium quality and fresh to sound best, as well as the signal tubes of course.

The AI had the best soundstaging by far, with very stable imaging; but I find it way too dark in a greyish kind of way, and it never really moved the way that it should. AI's have always sounded kind of slow and lifeless to me. Pretty hassle free tube wise.

The ARC is pretty natural tonally, a little on the lean side with very good imaging if not in the same league as the AI; but much better dynamics however.

Your system could probably use a less warm and corpulent sounding preamp to balance it tonally. If your listening is not done "in the sweet spot", my choice would be the Counterpoint. If it is, and you also want good tonal colors, the ARC would do it. If you value soundstaging and image stability above all else, the AI is the one; but IMO you would end up with sound that is too thick, dark and sluggish. All MHO.

Good luck and let us know what you decide.
I have a Counterpoint SA3000, fully modified by Mike Elliot (orig designer), and have to say it is clearly better than all the above mentioned preamps in every regard. However, it took almost $3,000.00 to make it so. It seams that a large part of the improvements, as with most preamps, lie in the quality of the individual parts list itself. Take a look at the different models between the same manufacturer. The relationship between the price and sound are relative to the price and cost of the parts. Design has to figure in the equation; however, from my experience, the quality of parts outways the quality of the hype. Look through the hype and you'll find the quality of parts to be the biggest factor. Therefore, my 2 cents would be to find a used Counterpoint SA5000 (good luck) and pay the extra dollars to Mike Elliot to have it transported into a world beater. No hype, just the truth.
I owned an SP-6B, one of the more highly acclaimed of the
SP-6 series. I thought it was OK, but not spectacular. The
background noise level was too high, the bass ill-defined
and the highs rolled off. For its day it was excellent, but
many more current preamps are its better.