Are there used/mint balanced pre-amp with a few unblanced inputs under $2000??

Need recommendations for a used balanced pre-amp with approximately 3 balanced input  One for a CD player and another  for hooking up a fully balanced amp.  And, possibly, one additional balanced input  I don't need a processor HT loop, nor DAC input and output. I do need a remote, and a very good headphone feature would be great  Phone box or stage could be added. 

Unfortunately, many balanced or mixed balanced and unbalanced pre-amps or line stages offer multiple balanced inputs, and also  several RCA inputs and outputs

They usually lack remote, phone stage and headphone features.  The back of some look like a recording console and the front, a cuckoo clock.    Not for me!!.

I prefer simple and usable  features,  but outstanding sound quality. I have a BAT VK200 amp

I am NOT hopeful such a component is available. However, I have looked at the Copland CT305, Cary SLP202, and a few of the BAT pre-amps in a cursory search     Thank you  


Cambridge Audio Azur 851E
Jim,  BAT would seem to fill the bill perfectly so not sure if you're leaning away from them.  If not, there's a VK-31 with phono and remote on AG right now for $2000 (no relation to the seller).  If interested, better hurry as someone's (maybe you?) is already asking questions. Dick
Parasound P7 only has 1 balanced input, but good phono stage and 7.1 balanced outs.  2 multi-channel inputs and 7 line level + 1 phono.

Bryston BP 26C has 2 pairs of balanced inputs, not sure the used cost.

Both include remote control.



Looks like that you have mainly concentrated on Tube Pre's.  I'm sure that you'll bet a lot of options..

In Solid State, here are 3 Huge value pieces,  all 3 can be had for less than your budget.

Audio Research LS9

Coda CP (has phono)

Bel Canto Pre 2 Or Pre 3

BAT would be my choice.

Thanks to those who responded so far.

To timlub.,  Thanks for the recommendations. I actually owned a Bel Canto Pre 3 about 4 years ago, and loved it, especially its finely calibrated remote control. It did not have a phono stage, or ( I think) head jack or amp.  Its only drawbac is:: when using a fire hose girth speaker cables, they torqued up the pre-amp. off the shelf  rack by an inch or so.  I had it hooked up to a pair of Red Dragon mono blocks class D amps which overtime sounded bright and edgy. I often wondered if "some" of the glare and edge were produced by the Pre 3.  Nevertheless, I decided to downsize to a integrated amp after selling the pre-amp and amps. I will check out the ARC LS-9.   BTW, BAT VK-200 is SS all the way


To djohnson54. I  checked a few BAT pre-amps on e-bay l, including the VK-31. Supposedly VK-31SE sounds better. However, i will definitely check out the ad on AG .  

To djohnson: The BAT VK-31 you indicated with remote and phono stage is gone.  Strange because I was on AG yesterday, I did not see a listing for an BAT VK-31. This must have been the quickest sale in the history of AG.  Thanks anyway for the heads-up
My experience buying, selling, and watching sales on AG is that items that are sought after and priced right often sell within the 1st day. 
@sunnyjim You're welcome.  It did look like a good deal having both the phono and remote options installed and, like mesch said, they go fast.  I use a BAT VK-3i with my McCormack DNA-0.5 Deluxe and it sounds wonderful.  My only problem is the sensitivity of the McCormack which was really probably designed for Steve's passive line stages.  I don't get to use much of my volume control. :)  Always wanted to try the VK-200 though, I hear it's a fabulous amp.  Best of luck.  Dick
Krell KAV-280P
Sunnyjim...if you can find an Ayre K1xe used, grab it.  It's what you're looking for.  ..may be more money than you want to spend, but its a great piece.
Sunnyjim.....Did a quick look

If it doesn't have remote, phono, you can get Ayre to install them.

 To herndonb. 

Thanks for the heads up about the Krell 280P pre-amp.   Did you own one??    If so what did you like about its  features, and more importantly its sounds quality??. 

 I prefer pre-amp that has no HT or processor features or a build in DAC.  However, I will check it out.


      I didn't say before, but the Coda that I recommended is as good as the Audio Research or Bel Canto... Another that I thought of is the Muse Model 3 Signature. 

@timlub That I would really like to hear. The last time I heard a Coda preamp, ages and ages ago, it was flat and lifeless sounding.


  1. @erik_squires   Oh my, flat & lifeless. I would have to think that you were dealing with an impedance problem with the amp being used.  I've heard the CL, the CP and the 07X as well as a couple of preamps that Coda has made for Sanders and Innersound.  All were musical... I know that SGR (Steve) here on Agon compared the CP with a Pass (don't remember X10 or X20) a year or 2 ago and purchased the Coda.  I've not heard the 05X.  The are all single ended, balanced, remote, nice pace, rhythm soundstage, grainfree and detailed. Not sure that we heard the same thing....
  2. Have you ever been to a Legacy Audio booth? Bill uses a CP or an 07X... All these people that rave on hearing Legacy speakers at shows or at the Showroom heard them on Coda....

@timlub It was a very long time ago, back when Roger Sanders still owned InnerSound, and before he began Sanders Sound.

We demoed the Coda preamp with the Electrostatic Amp, also made by Coda. They were in two different leagues I'm afraid.

I'm glad to hear they've overcome that, I was a big fan of Threshold and like to see that legacy go on.


@erik_squires  Well that makes sense,  the ESL amps were out in 1998 and all but maybe one of the amps that Coda did for Roger have been nice....
I own a CL,  it has been in its box for over a year now,  but I plan on cracking it out again... My system had a huge stage and completely disappeared with the CL in the front.  Dynamics certainly weren't a problem.  Of course, there is always better and that doesn't make a Coda right for sunnyjim,  but I do think that they are worth a listen. Especially a CL, CP, 05X or 07X....  I can comment on any other models. 
@sunnyjim If you haven't made a choice yet, a VK-31SE just popped up for $2,100.  Dick

dpjohnson54,  Thanks,  Yes I saw the ad.  Take a look at the photo of the inside??  I think the insides look somewhat yellowish and aging. However,  It does have a remote, but no phono.  .

Nevertheless, I am also considering CJ  ET3 that was  recently listed on AG,  and includes an extra set of tubes, but only a remote. However,  it  has all RCA connections. A few reviews claim the SE version sounds better. I waiting to here from CJ what those upgrades cost. Knowing CJ's tendency to inflate pricing, I am sure the upgrades will be out of my financial reach. It also has no phono. 

*****BTW, the ET3 spec sheet claims a 25 db gain. Does that mean it will be loud even at the lowest volume setting, possibly the consequence of  connecting it up to the BAT VK-200 amp, and also result in wide swings in volume using the remote control??   Thanks to all. .  

@sunnyjim Sorry, I forgot about the requirement for phono.  The last one went so fast I wanted to alert you before this one went too.  The yellowish cast could be the result of the lighting - the photography skills of many sellers are not the best (certainly not up to Albert Porter's standards!) - but this preamp would be several years old at this point.  A quick internet search didn't reveal the gain for the VK-31SE, which should be a match for your VK-200 and could be used for comparison, so I can't comment on the ET3.  Dick

To djohnson54. Thank you for the reply and info.  A new BAT candidate is in the race, the VK-20r pre-amp listed on AG.  I have found only one review on it.

Therefore, do you ( or anyone) know where it might stand in the BAT pecking order of pre-amps??  It has both a remote and phono stage, but the seller does not know if it is MM or MC, though the former owner used a Transcendence Axiss low output moving coil.  

So if anyone has personal knowledge of the VK-20r pre-amp's performance and sound quality, please let me know.   Thank you. 

@sunnyjim Not sure about the pecking order but (and you may know this already) the VK-20/40 series are BAT's solid state preamps.  That said, the VK-20 is probably in the same performance range as the VK-3i/VK-30 although I've never heard the VK-20.  The only thing I could find on the BAT phono cards comes from a review of the VK-3iX so take this with a grain of salt - "Options for the VK-3iX include a solid-state phono preamplifier that is factory set for moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC) phono cartridges."


To Mr. Johnson.   Thank you for the information. Unfortunately, the dealer who had  the VK20r on consignment sold it.  His first deal fell through a few days ago.   However,  it is good to know about the BAT phono stage should I find a similar BAT pre-amp

As you know, the VK-31SE on Audiogon  sells for $2100, whereas the VK-20r was $1495.00, and had both phono and remote which added to its value.for me.

I am sure the VK-31 SE is up there with BAT's best pre-amps. I have read all the reviews on both version of the VK-31. The seller is open to a lower offer, but I am not sure of spending between $1800-$2100 for the piece.  I  would still need to buy a  outboard phono box or stage at least equal to the one in Rogue Sphinx integrated which is very good..  

BTW,  A  member also recommended the Rogue "Athena" tube  pre-amp which is fully balanced. I will check it out on their website and see what is available    I 'll keep you posted.    


For anyone still following this thread.  Let me humbly submit a few more candidates for pre-amp consideration 

Coda CP pre-amp with  phono stage  No remote.

Audio Research  LS-12 (remote only)..; Conrad Johnson ET2 (remote only) 

The Coda CP is a very nice looking unit, but if no remote is available as an add on,. I not interested, despite its supposedly very good MC phono stage. I could not find one review on this pre-amp which is still current Any  information on any one of the pre-amp will be much appreciated

Thanks to all. Have a good holiday; drive safely, or just stay home and watch pre-season NFL.    Jim.