Pass Labs X 2.5 for $2k used. Excellent sonics, bass, dynamics, etc.. XLR connections are dead quiet (not all can boast this).
The Innersound Preamp is one of the very best and is available for $2,000 at audiogon. Also, consider the Plinius CD-LAD I or II (II has HT bypass); several available in your price range. Now this next one may surprise you, but consider the Citation 7.0 for your stereo preamp; its 2 channel bypass is as good as any preamp I have heard, including the Innersound. A 7.0 is currently available for $500 at audiogon. Best of all you can experiment with surround sound at its highest level if you so desire.
Sorry To Butt In.... But, I'm in the market for a good Pre Myself. Are Those Placette Units Really "All That"? I keep seeing these mentioned here as well as AA. How long have you guys had them, and what have you compared them to? What Type of Sonics do the Placette units bring to the table, if any? any NEW reviews of these that I could go read?
I owned the 3-input passive, ended up selling when I went to an integrated amp. Still regret it a bit....even though I'm not using a power amp !
I've had Counterpoint, Krell, Pass, and (briefly) Audio Research preamps. This was the best for clarity and letting more music through. It had very good, deep, fast, and punchy bass - a rare find in passives. And basically was neutral from top to bottom.
The ONLY negative - and it's nit-picking, believe me - was a very slight dryness added to the lower treble. A slight recession perhaps that gave a slight darkness to that frequency range.
Still, it was better than anything else I had before.
One technology I HAVE been curious to try is transformer-based passive pre's. Bent Audio supposedly has some nicer, less expensive units, one even offering remote control. But I have no experience with it/them, hence the Placette recommendation.
Todd - chams_uk
The Placette and a TVC aren't even playing in the same league. A transformer based passive is laughably better in all respects. This is especially true in the midrange, where the Placette can be wiry and dry. Not so the TX-102. Much better in my opinion, and in the opinions of a few audio buddies of mine as well.