or even the BAT VK-5 preamp?
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I think any preamp above the 5i will mate up well. I wouldn't bother with the VK5 because the 5i was an upgrade. I had the 5i at two different times and really liked it. I borrowed a buddies VK-55 for about 3 months and absolutely loved it. Stereophile did a review on the 55 and VK3ix and gave it a very good review. I haven't heard the 3ix but I am sure its a good one.
For what it's worth, Dgarretson and I have modified our VK amps (he has a VK-75SE and I have VK-120 monoblocks) extensively. The VK-120s are excellent stock, but a few modifications transform them into amps I'd put up against monos costing $25k a pair....no joke. If you wanna hear the details of the mods, let me know....