Best Preamp under $5k??

I think around $5k is the reflection point of value/price ratio for preamps--or mostly any audio equipment maybe except speakers--where beyond this point, you would have to spend thousands more to improve just a little. What is the best preamp under $5k--tube or solid state?? Some popular ones are sf line 3, bat vk5i, arc ls25, simaudio p-5, plinius m16. Personally I have a cj pfr which I like quite a bit, but sooner or later it will be upgraded...
My vote is for either an arc ls25 or bat vk30se.
madnut (fascinating screen name--are you a long-time reader of ae newman?): i'd be interested in learning the basis of your contention that $5k is the "value/price" point of all audio gear other than speakers. is this a guess or an experiential observation? BTW, to make this fair, i think you should know that my experience does not support your view.
Corfedboy--I suppose the price of inflection is really relative. For the 95% of the audiophiles, perhaps $5k is the price/performance value point. Of course I cannot speak for others, this is just my observation with no hard data to prove. With my limited experience (I've only heard gear costing up to $20k), I've found that under $5k I can hear major differences between gears. With gears above $5k, most of the time there are definite improvements, but these improvements are not really "cost justified" from my perspective for the performance the way what do you recommend as the best preamp under 5K corfedboy?
My vote is for the Joule-Electra LA-100 Mk III linestage, a truly musical reproduction instrument.
i like my melos music director - this listed for $4600 w/o fono, $7400 w/fono. i picked mine up (w/o fono) for $2k used.
Muse 3 w separate power supply is the best preamp I have heard for under $5k, Together with MUSE 9 sig CDP it makes great music in my system
Once again, I second the ARC LS25. Just wish it had detachable power cord. Power supply in this unit is incredible. Mated with Music Reference RM200 tube amp it is the best of both worlds...for now.
ARC LS25 or LS25mrk2.The mrk2 is warmer in the midrange but thay both are sound staging champs. Thats my vote.
I'm with you Gasman. The Joule is a real sleeper. It rivals preamps costing thousands more.
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Bezeemya; the LS25 does have a detachable power cord. Do you have a different preamp?
I agree with Cornfedboy. I think you can find significantly better preamps than BAT or ARC at the >5k level, although I must admit to not having heard the VK-30SE. If you can, listen to an Ayre K-1 or K-1X, a Hovland HP-100, an Aesthetix Callisto, or a CAT, and then let me know if these don't offer "significant" improvement. To me, although these products all sound different, these are the top of the line in preamps and set the standard for tonality, neutrality and musicality. In the right system with otherwise excellent electronics, they will make a huge difference which, in my opinion, is worth it regardless of the difference in cost. The Hovland is quite "cheap", especially if you don't need the phono section. I think without phono, it comes in just at 5k new. There are many people who have heard it who consider it the best of all. At this level, what is best is pretty subjective. I would definitely try to at least A/B the Hovland under the best conditions possible before buying ARC or BAT.
If you already have an PFR and like it, you might find the sound of the ARC's a bit thin when compared with the warmth of the CJ. If it suits your tastes sonically, then it'll likely make a fine addition to your system. If not, I might suggest giving the CJ 17LS a spin. It has the notable CJ sound but is a sweeter than the PFR and has much larger soundstage. Cheers...
My vote is the Hovland HP100. The sound is simply liquid and musical. Looks wise, IMHO it betters the CJ and Joule Electra. Just wish that it has remote control.
Klyne.Fabulous sounding, meticulously well made.
The EAD Ovation costs $4500 and cannot be beat for simple stereo listening and is a phenomenal surround processor w/ video switching. It has a clear upgrade path (Ovation+ and Signature). I'd highly recommend it. Their website, with a slew of links to reviews by Stereophile,etc is
Atmasphere MP3.
If you need a phono stage... Hovland HP-100

If you only need a linestage... Emotive Audio Sira
Not sure about SS gear but I agree that 5K will get the job done when it comes to tube preamps. My vote goes to the SF Line 3. I never feel that I am missing something or that I wished that it sounded different. At less than 3K for a mint used unit it is a best buy IMO.
7p62mm, i *hope* ewe can get a mint used unit for <$3k, as ewe can buy a brand-gnu, unopened-box unit for ~$2750, shipped to your door! ;~) i strongly considered this unit (coulda gotten one used for $2.1k), but took adwice of someone who owned the s/f line-3 *and* the melos music-director, & i went for the melos. like ewe, i'm happy & don't wish for anything else - *that's* what's important w/audio gear, imho!

regards, doug

You're right Doug. I bought the line 3 used for $2700 last May on auction. Right after my purchase new units came out of the wood work. I chalk it up to my bad luck. I don't have the warranty but I have never had any problems with the Line 3 so far. The Melos may be better don't know as I have never had a chance to listen to one. Not being able to audition before making a purchase is a big disadvantage to the used/internet market. I am curious about what your opinion is about SS preamps. I know that SS units would not have the background hiss and lower maintenance than tubes.
Traded CAT Ultimate in for Aloia pre. Definite upgrade at half the price. You may find one at 3K. A steal
VAC Standard Preamplifier LE retails for $4000.00,might could get a better deal, if you can find one used. mistake, I meant the arc LS10. ss pre. A little quirky re: switching inputs so as not to feed +-2v signal thru speakers when used for theatre.
First Sound Presence Audio Delux Mk II. Tube without the haze, brings everything to life with a dead quite backdrop. And its under $4K.
Spectral DMC-12. Neutral and hi-rez. Great if you have
hi-rez speakers/source/amp
Morrison ELAD!
I am a CAT Ultimate owner and I auditioned the Hovland for the first time last Saturday. I found the Hovland to be very neutral, very smooth. Its dynamics are present, but not world class like the CAT. Its midrange was quite liquid and it showed very good presence in the mids but still less than the CAT. It did throw a decent soundstage both side-to-side and front-to-back but significantly less than the CAT. It did have a beautiful high end which was better than the CAT. It is not bright but it is right up to the limit. It is extremely detailed and the highs sound "spotlit" in a most engaging and attractive way. The deep bass performance of the Hovland is disappointing. On my deep bass test, the Hovland did not really move air. If solid deep bass is important to you (40hz and below), you will find that this preamp cuts off those frequencies. All in all, do you have to ask which preamp I found to sound better?
BAT VK-30 or 30 SE. I personally preferred the BAT sound versus CJ and Ayre. Currently running with a VK-200 into Aerial 10Ts. Great vocals, and the bass is fantastic in terms of texture and depth. Tube smoothness with no sacrifice in the bottom end or the highs.