Audio Research LS9

Looking for a preamp with same type of performance of the LS9 but without the stepped volume control, tubes excluded as I already have a tube preamp. I use a Classe CA400 amp.

Used? The Classe matching pre-amp from that era was also very good. Give more details about what you liked about the LS9 and maybe folks can help you. I owned one and loved it for many years, but even I don't quite know what you like about it, or why you object to the stepped volume control.
It was a real info retriever at almost no volume, you could still hear all the micro details including low end bass, excellent for an apartment @ 3am in the morning listening, but when I could increase the volume say early in the evening with the stepped volume control it was either to loud or not loud enough. It was so good that I could not really here a difference in sound between a Krell Showcase DVD and a NAD T587 thats how good it was. If it would have had more steps in the volume like the higher models I could have micro tuned the volume better.
Please excuse any misspelling it was a 16 hr work day.
The volume control can be replaced with a non stepped type.
The gain could also be changed internally to allow for more adjustment range
Classe CP60, Muse 3 Signature..... Similar performance/features, good luck, Tim
A LS9 came up @ $550, it's mine baby.
Congratulations, nice pre, great price