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 e.one 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!