Best phono preamp in the $ 1000 to $ 2000 range ?

Which do you think is the best preamplifier in the mentioned range (it can be second-hand price) ? Is it tube or SS ? For a MC, would you configure a transformer step-up or you would go with a full active solution ? Thanks for sharing your experience and opinions.

Pass X-ONO they come up used near your price max, possibly $200 more!!
I have owned a Vacuum State JLTi w/power supply for several years and still enjoy it. The one thing I wish it had were adjustable gain settings, but it does sound good to me.

I have considered a Pass XONO and a Cullen modified PS Audio GCPH. All three should be <$2000 used.

Unfortunately the Pass takes up more room than I have on my rack and the Cullen does not come up often.

Good luck with your search!

I should say I wanted the adjustable gain settings for doing needle-drops. I ended up getting an E-MU 1616 which has a preamp so problem solved.

I use the JLTi with a Dynavector XX-2 MKII, Shelter 501 MKII, and a Denon-304 with great results.

Would you recommend the JLTi standalone or allways in the company of the external PSU ? That raises the price substantially.
Also as far as I know it is quite rare to find it in the used market. I have a Shelter 501 mkII, so your experience is most valuable.
I'm also looking at the x-ono suggestion.
Thanks so far. Would gladly hear more suggestions.
I third the JLTI...I also own the ASR Basis Exclusive...and I'm just as satified with the JLTI as the ASR which is 4 times the price. Buy the unit sans the power supply, then ask to audition the power supply.

I have a BAT VK-P5 which sounds very good in my system, even though it is roundly criticized as second-rate by many. You could also pick up a Audio Research PH-3SE in that price range which I have not heard but so many rave about that it deserves mention here. Based on the several other Audio Research components I've owned, I'm sure it's deserved.
Would you recommend the JLTi standalone or allways in the company of the external PSU ?

I have only used the JLTI without the power supply a few times. From what I remember the highs seemed to be more prominent and it sounded thinner with less weight.

It could be that changing the loading would help or depending on the rest of the system (dark sounding) it might be better.

I think you should be able to find one with the power supply used for ~$1200-1400 maybe less. Shipping a SS unit that is this small is relatively risk free and you save yourself the wear on your cartridge while burning it in.

They are not that rare just watch for one over the next few months spring is a good time to buy.

There is a used ZYX Artisan for sale now @ $1500. Comes v., v. close to some top notch phono stages like Doshi Alaap, Manley Steelhead, or top end VAC. Battery operated, accepts MM or MC (active gain, NOT SUT), and was dead quiet w 0.25 mV LOMC. It's a very small, ss unit w no fussing or adjusting. Plug in and play. A steal IMO. No relation, etc, etc.
Thank you for your post as well as to the other posters.
The ZYX is described as a step-up device, not a phono pre.
Is it wrongly described ?
a Jasmine LP2.0MK II + Bob's Device Cinemags and nice shielded cable for in between is a great option. I use that with a Zu103 cartridge on a Well Tempered Reference and its seriously musical.
So, my friends, with the products you suggested and some else, my list now includes:

Pass Xono
JLTi mkII (PSU optional)
ASR mini basic
Sim Audio LP 3.5 (PSU optional)
Herron Audio VTPH-MC
Jasmine LP 2.0 SE

Aren’t there any more tube phono preamps to add to the list?
I’m kind of biased against integrated circuits, preferring discrete components (tube or transistor), I admit it’s a bias and probably unfunded.

The Herron is the only tubed component, with a FET front end, I don’t like that it is either mc or mm, not both, so it limits your options in the future, anyway I think it’s a good candidate. JLTi has great reviews, but I don’t know how often it appears second-hand. I’m currently leaning to one of those two options (as I read more I might change my mind).

It would be great if you comment on the list, maybe add some components or perhaps some step-up device as long as it adds to the assigned budget.