Don't know any of the units you've listed, but consider the Levinson 380S. IMHO superb in every way and available used in your stated price range.
4 responses Add your response
Hifimeomy: it depends on what qualities you are seeking from the preamp. Sure those are big names but what do "you" want. The preamp creates buffering, tonality and gain. The CJ is going to have a different sound from the BAT VK50SE, probably on the opposite ends of warmth - you can guess which is which, can't you. Speaking of names did you forget about Lamm ? The ARC is the tube that's not a tube sound. If you say which characteristics in the music you like, then it becomes just a tad easier. But then, it is also system dependent. What type of amp ? Speakers ? Remember the finalt result on your brain - the music - is the result of a synergy of factors, balanced ofcourse by your bank account.
Thanks Lovescotch and Et. I hear what your're saying Et. I wish I could try these in my system, but I want to buy used off the web and I don't want to demo at a dealer and not purchase. The rest of my system is: Levinson 31 transport -> Audio Logic (tube) DAC -> Levinson 38S -> VTL MB750 amps -> Magnepan 3.6 speakers with Cardas Neutral Ref cables. You're right Lovescotch, maybe I should just update the 38S to the 380S. Since I can't audition, I'm depending on what others have owned/heard. What do you guys think?