Ayre K-5xeMP vs. Electrocompaniet - EC 4.8 MK II, or others?

I am looking to add a preamp to my current set up (Kef reference 1, Coda continuum TS power amp and Exasound e62 DAC  - Kimber hero balanced cable) and wonder if anyone could provide advice, opinions or other options in the $3,000 range?  The current set up is the best I've ever heard the kef's sound, however I feel am missing something.  I am considering the Ayre K-5xeMP or the Electrocompaniet - EC 4.8 MK II.  Open to tubes as well and curious about EAR, audiovalve and the Modwright LS 100.  

I used to have a hegel h360 and found it laid back, thin and detailed.  The Coda is warmer, with a more forward presentation and great macro and micro dynamics - this is a huge improvement for me over the hegel, but again something is missing...

I had a K5xeMP.  One of the few items I have ever been really sad I sold.  It is an excellent preamp.  There are better preamps, but not at the $1900 to $2200 that you are going to pay for it used.  Not sure you will find a unit for under $3K that will top it.
Based on what I've read I think you may be right.  

I am definitely leaning towards the Ayre.
Another +vote for Ayre. Pass Labs would be a sonic match as well.

Happy Listening!
have many hours listening to products from both firms, my choice would be Ayre...but since you mentioned tubes...please also consider an ARC line stage, most modern you can get for same $ as the Ayre. I currently own components from Ayre and ARC.
How do the KEFs sound with no Preamp?
If you are still feeling as though something is missing
I would be shopping for something else.
Hi Chorus,
The kef's sound very good in this setup, however I am missing the big deep soundstage I have heard the Kef's capable of and I think I can get more out of them.

I have an opportunity to get an EAR 864 at a fairly good price that I may consider as well.  

Do you have other options you would consider?

I own the Modwright LS 100. It's one of the few things in my system that l never think about upgrading (though I'm sure there is better, maybe someday). My Ref 1s sound amazing and holographic, with great imaging. The LS 100 is very neutral to my ears and responds well to tube rolling. 
I have always wanted a piece of Modwright gear, so thank you for the LS100 recommendation.  

Have been wary of tubes, but the more I read the more I think a tube pre could be the way to go.  
I haven't listened to the other pre but I can say if you go with the Ayre, you will love it.  For the $2k range that they're selling for, they'd be near impossible to beat.  And if anything goes wrong with it, you're in great hands. 
So down to the Ayre and the Modwright...

I've read the modwright has tube rush.  No idea what that is, but I don't think I want that.  Can anyone comment?
I have a Modwright 36.5, it’s great.  Tube preamps don’t require the attention power amps do.  Once you “hear” tubes, SS simply won’t do.
   “Tube rush” refers to a faint “whooshing” sound, white noise, that you can hear if you turn the volume to max while no music is playing.  Or maybe if you play solo piano of orchestral music really loudly.  Not really a problem.   Quieter tubes can help. 
Well, I bought an Modwright LS 100 and could not be more happy with my choice.  

Injecting tubes into my kit really underlines lloydc's comments:

Once you “hear” tubes, SS simply won’t do