Balanced preamp with HT pass-thru needed $2K

I just took the plunge on a mint Bryston 4B-SST2 PRO, and I need a preamp to mate with it. I'm replacing a Cambridge Audio 840a integrated amp. I use my system in conjunction with an HT rig, and take the L/R pre-outs from my little Yamaha receiver into my "good" system to watch movies, so ideally, I'd like my new preamp to feature HT pass-thru. It's probably not an absolute necessity if I can get better sound for the same $$$, especially since the Bryston has switchable (and variable) gain. I could probably get my HT rig to "play nice" at a reasonable spot on the volume knob. At any rate, 2-channel performance is by far my biggest concern.

I very much want to use the balanced inputs on the Bryston, so balanced outputs on the preamp are a must, along with at least one pair of balanced inputs, as my Cambridge Audio 840c CD player does better through the balanced outputs.

I am not against tubes per se, but the Bryston has a fairly low input impedance (20 Kohm in balanced mode), so a tube preamp must have very low output impedance to work. For this reason, I don't think passive preamps are on the table right now. Frankly, I would prefer a SS active preamp if at all possible.

Subwoofer outputs would be great.

My listening preferences lean towards:

-- absolute tonal neutrality
-- great imaging and soundstaging
-- great dynamics

i.e., great "everything" without undue coloration.

For $2K or less, what would you suggest? Gently used is fine. There is a Bel Canto Pre-3 on A-gon right now for $1,100, and it seems to fit the bill. Any thoughts on that one? How about McCormack?

Anyway, I'm rambling. Thanks in advance!

I'd suggest that you take a look at the Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE. I've been using one in my two-channel rig for a year and a half now, and I couldn't be happier. It's got balanced inputs and outputs, HT passthrough, and is as transparent as all get out. And, best of all, it costs $2k.
I've got no affiliation with W4S -- besides being an exceedingly happy customer.
Good luck.
-- Howard
Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE. New for $2k. Excellent pre.
The Emotiva USP-1 would seem to fit your needs very nicely. It has gotten rave reviews and is very sanely priced: $499 delivered with 30 day trial. Also has 5-year transferable warranty...

Thanks, RW. I actually owned that preamp a while back, and while it did meet my needs and sounded fine, I returned it because it was so garishly styled and visually "loud". Perhaps not the most rational decision, I admit, but especially when it was pulling HT duty, it just called attention to itself. I couldn't figure out how to dim the blue LEDs. I don't think it's possible.

That said, I'd also like to aim a bit higher in terms of performance. Any other thoughts?
Try to find a used Pass Labs X-1. I know it has balanced inputs and outputs and I believe it has a HT pass through. It is pretty neutral and a great value IMO. You could contact Mark at Reno Hifi. I have no affiliation. I owned this pre amp and Mark is a great dealer.
Parasound has a couple of pres w/ HT pass thru and balanced connections.
Yeah, that W4S model had hit my radar. It doesn't look very sexy, but if it sounds as good as they say, then I could live with it. I was worried about the output impedance in "passive" mode, but apparently the buffering tames that spec all the way down to 113 ohms, which should work just fine with the 4B SST2 PRO. It's gonna be tough to not try it out.

That said, do any of you have any experience with the Pass Aleph P?
I owned one of the later model Aleph P with remote, then the X-1 and now the XP-20. The Aleph P was quite good in my all-Aleph system (Aleph ONO, Aleph 2) but it was not quite as transparent and neutral as the X-1. I'm also not sure it had a HT pass through. I did like its ergonomics, tank-like build quality and separate adjustable L/R gain and volume. The minimalist remote was also very cool, but not very popular.

For sonics, I prefer the two-box X-1, but considering the cost, the Aleph P might be a great option for you.
I can live without HT bypass if the sonics are stellar. I just need to spend some time getting the gains right in the HT application.

My biggest fear, which I have encountered in the real world, is a situation where the required volume setting for HT is high relative to my normal listening levels for CD, etc. It's just too easy to flip the input selector switch over before cutting the volume, and speakers (and ears) suffer.
Bought the Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE preamp. We'll see how it works out. I'll sell it and try the Aleph P if it isn't what I need. Thanks for all the advice.
Post your impressions of it. Give it some break in time
It's used -- hours unknown -- but it should be broken in. I also bought a set of Thiel CS2.4 loudspeakers, so I'll update my thoughts on the system once I get some time on all the new gear.

No scientific method here!