best preamp for a MC-252 for under $1500

I am new to this. I know nothing. Is tube better than ss? Am I correct thinking that tubes produce distortion? My McIntosh MC-252 has a THD rating at .005%. Does anyone make a preamp under $1500. with a low THD rating? What would be the best preamp for my amp and budget? thanks.
Ok, well you are new indeed. Here is the quick rundown on my answers for you: THD doesn't mean much (I am an electrical engineer). Tubes do indeed produce more distortion than transistors but your ears hear it differently. McIntosh makes some great preamps with their customary 0.005% THD and you won't ever have any tube hassles - but you will have to buy used though as new Mc preamps are way more than $1500. I would suggest the C41 but it doesn't come up for sale often.

Tubes are really cool. I used to only like transistors but now I have warmed up to tubes and have 2/3 of my system using them. If you have the desire to do a little homework on the subject, I would highly recommend a tube preamp in your future. Knowing what speakers you have would make it easier to be more specific as to models. Also, do you know what type of sound you like i.e., warm and involving or cool and analytical? Arthur
Thanks Arthur for your time and knowledge. I am embarrassed about my speakers, but okay-dont laugh, I have 4 901's...
But only 2 are being used for obvious reasons. Also, using a Yamaha 1000W powered sub. My speaker selection really shows my newness! Yes I plan on selling all my speakers, but that is next weeks project. Do you have speaker recommenations? Actually, the 901's do sound good if you have the room for the 87% reflected sound they spew. Also, they need the right amp. But i digress.
I do know that my recent upgrade from an MC-2205 to an MC-252 made a world of difference. Of course, the price difference was world's apart. Being new, I only can know the meaning of 'warm'= 'fat', and I guess 'cool' is meaning 'thin'or 'bright'? But 'involved' and 'analytical'are descriptions i do not yet understand.
I do like warm. I dont like harsh, ear fatigue boxes. But love the highs. I guess I want it all. Right now, I have the CDP straight into MC-252. Using, nervously, the CDP's remote control volume to attenuate gain. Carefully making sure the CDP volume is at minimum before powering up the amp. (no gain control on amp). Will failing to do this bring amp to max gain when switched on? Anyway, again, I thank you for bearing with my newbieness and you help.
Your best bet would be to spend the money on speakers. Running your cd player through your amp shouldn't be a problem. Do some reading and ask for help. Forget about distortion specs on amps and preamps as most are so low as to be a non issue. The Mac amp you have is a very good amp and some Vandersteen, Theils, Rocket, PSB and numerous other brands will sound better than the 901's. Different speakers sound different even though one may be as good as the other. Your ears will have to decide. There's a number of small companies that have speakers that are great for the money at Ask questions as people love to help. Bottom line is your speakers should be the most important component to replace imo.
Yes, I agree with the post above - get new speakers first. If you like highs but not harshness (you chose a great amp for this), I would suggest you try JM Lab speakers. They have some for all budgets and McIntosh amps complement them VERY well. Thiels are also a good choice.

Once you have speakers nailed down, a preamp should (IMO) improve the dynmaics significantly. I have yet to find a Mc amp that likes to be run directly - unless your cdp has tons of gain which I doubt it does.

Let us know what you find that works for you. Good luck and have fun! Arthur
Thanks, Aball and Warnerwh. I will take your advice on the speakers. Wanna buy some 901's? JK. Also, my power is really bad, i think. I live in a 40 year old house that has old 2 prong outlets. I have installed a grounded 3 prong box for the system, but i know that is not enough. Sometimes the same program (audio) will not sound the same. Distorted. I have not noticed with the new amp, though. I used to run front of house P.A. (very large rig) for 10 years for a heavy metal band. I always used ear plugs except during a show. I am aware that different factors in the enviroment and the state of your being can alter the percieved sound. So my question is does this happen to anyone else? is it me or the system. or the power? Thanks again.
It could be your power. New power lines usually only cost 2 to 400. Only you'll be able to tell if it's the power. You may consider getting a power conditioner like a Powervar or Oneac for the cd player and see if that helps. The power supply in the Mcintosh is no doubt excellent and may be why you're not hearing the problem with that amplifer.
When it comes to speakers you'll find alot of different tastes. Many companies these days make great speakers for the money. There's a few at that are standouts as well as other companies that sell direct so they have no advertising or middle man markups. You'll have to find the reviews on these stars yourself. Ask here as well as audiocircle and audioasylum and then do some research. Most importantly take your time.
Great advice-hardest to heed. I looked at the JM Labs and the Thiels. Thier flagships were the ones that fit the requirements. The rest were 100w-150w or less, which would not be a good choice. I am afraid to ask what the prices were. When I hear something that sounds crisp and clean highs and tight, quick, full, lows...I want to hear it as loud as can be, without feeling that I am stressing any piece of eqiupment. One thing is for sure though...I CAN study.
Don't get hung up on the power requirements for speakers. The 100W-150W numbers don't really mean anything as long as your amp doesn't clip - which your won't (power guards keep it from ever happening).

The flagship JM Lab and Thiel speakers can get very VERY expensive so you may want to consider some of their lesser modesl that are actually higher value. Arthur
First let me qualify this by stating I've been a dealer for 2 mos but have owned VMPS speakers for 9+ years and have been recommending them as a must listen for years. Rather than take my word for it here's a list of current reviews:
Also the RM 40 won Best of High End at CES 2002 and runner up in 2003. These will handle all the power you have from the RM2 on up and sound excellent doing so.