Why not just let your own ears decide. Audio Horizons has a money-back guarantee if it doesn't work out in your system.
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As Sherod says, you should hear it in your system and let your ears decide. We all have different systems, rooms, ears and preferences.
However, since you have actively requested opinions from those who have heard one, I'll provide mine. I auditioned a TP2.1 with full upgrades and balanced outputs (I don't recall the official nomenclature of the model). I listened with stock tubes and with Siemens and Mullard NOS tubes.
To me, it was very similar in sound to solid state, with a fairly flat image. It did have good tonal balance, and good extension. However, I much preferred a Lamm LL2 Deluxe. At the time, I was using it with Belles 150A Reference monoblocks running in balanced mode, and the speakers were Silverline Sonata III. Cabling was Purist Audio Venustas and Oyaide PA-02. Power cord was a Purist Audio Dominus Ferrox.
For about $1K NOS Upscale and Audio Advispor you can still pick up the AE-3 a Cary sub brand. It uses a rectifier in the mkII and a pair 6SN7s. They are the least expensive tube and easiest to roll. It has remote but only rca inputs and no phono.
The one thing it does superbly is image like mad. It's really a great little pre. If you want a phono then you have to use a seperate phono stage. That might be a deal breaker for you.
The used ones are less than $500 bucks mine is a mark I no remote cost me $300 used here and couldn't be more pleased. I found that it responds very well to using different tubes but they all sound good just some are better than good.
I'm very happy with Audio Horizons. I use the tube pre-amp and the tube DAC. Generally, as you see from the chat threads, users love the products. There are exceptions to the rule, such as Tvad, but they are the exception.
Since there is a home audition program, I think you should take advantage of it. In more than 1000 posts, and across several threads, comments about the home audition have expressed satisfaction, even those who may have chosen a different pre-amp ultimately.
One thing about this thread that I do regret is that someone who reads the title but not the thread may get the mistaken impression that you are saying that you are unhappy with Audio Horizons, and why. Maybe you can correct that situation?
I also thought about the poor use of wording in the OP thread. It does seem to give an initial impression that he already doesn't like it. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing other viewpoints. In the over 1000 post thread, Victor mentioned when someone asked him that the average return of preamp demos was about 10%.
Well he does say try to steer him away from the Audio Horizons, no reason given. He asks specifically for alternatives to think about.
I am not commenting on how good or bad it sounds.
He is suffering having to make major decision. Perhaps your reassurances is all he needs. I simply told him of the pleasure I now have.
Lots of great preamps for under $3k. Heck, I just found two under $500 that compete well with other preamps I've owned that cost 5 - 6 times more.
Considering the generous trial period, as well as the many happy users, why not listen to the Audio Horizons and decide for yourself. Maybe try and get a couple more preamps on trial at the same time so you can compare.
Not sure why you would want to be talked out of something that has very little risk to begin with.
I tried a full (with all the options) Audio Horizons Preamp. At the same time they also sent several of their interconnects.
I thought wow , Great Service from a great company.
Alas, I like Tvad was not impressed with the sound quality. And the sound quality is what it is all about.
The Preamp had very little left, middle, right,channel seperation. Everything seemed to come from the middle, between the speakers.
I really wanted to like the unit because of the great customer service.
I agree, you should try it for 30 days in your own system and then you decide.