The question should be how many people post here for that will be the number of best preamp recommendations you will receive.
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Audio Research Reference 10 linestage, Dan D'Agostino Momentum linestage preamp, Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage preamp.
I have owned all the above 3 preamps and currently using the Naim Statement NAC S1 preamp paired with the Naim Statement NAP S1 monoblock amps.
First I had the D'Agostino Momentum linestage preamp paired with 2 pairs of D'Agostino Momentum M400 monoblock amps driving the Wilson Audio Alexx speakers, then later on I traded in the D'Agostino Momentum linestage preamp for the ARC (Audio Research) Reference 10 linestage pre and preferred this latter combo better on the same Wilson Alexx speakers.
And early this year I went through significant upgrades with my 2ch setup and decided to trade in both the ARC Ref 10 linestage pre and the D'Agostino Momentum M400 monoblock amps for the Naim Statement gears, which consist of Naim NAC S1 linestage preamp and a pair of Naim NAP S1 monoblock amps driving my new Magico M6 speakers.
My Naim Statement gears have great synergy with my new Magico M6 speakers. They pair really well.
The Naim Statement gears are in different leagues and is a significant step up sonically and performance wise from the ARC Ref 10 preamp/D'Agostino Momentum M400 monoblock amps combo but the increase in prices are also significant. The Naim Statement gears are cost-no-object design gears and cost a fortune, and if you have the budget I would highly recommend them.
Everything depends upon your ROOM. All the pre-amps mentioned here are wonderful in some ways and not so much in others--see the qualifying comments supplied with the recommendations.
Your ROOM is the main determiner of how your total system sounds to you.
Have your dealer loan you several with your existing system, should you be happy with it, and you will figure out what is the "best" pre-amp FOR YOU in YOUR ROOM with whatever you have in the rest of the system and with the music you like to listen to.
Kind of like asking, "which tires are the best for my car?"
Answer: It depends.
The world today is a bit more complicated than it used to be. A person has to be willing to read and study and then experiment to find the "best" of anything. Naturally, tires are a bit easier to pick than pre-amps, which don't cause you to crash your car. Tires either perform under given conditions on a given car or they don't. Pre-amps, on the other hand, can be measured for performance, but "sound" is subjective.
Some of the preamps that have been mentioned have output impedances that are too high at some frequencies to be optimal (or even suitable) for use with some power amps. Some of the preamps that have been mentioned have input impedances that are too low to be optimal (or even suitable) for use with some source components. Some of the preamps that have been mentioned have too much gain to be optimal (or even suitable) for use with some combinations of source components, power amps that have high gain, and speakers that have high efficiency. Some even have too little gain to be suitable for use in some systems.
An indication of what associated components the preamp would be used with would result in answers that are more focused.
Good luck. Regards,
When you said unlimited budget, how far do you want to go? Are you looking to get just the linestage preamp or the entire setup and system? What are your current setup and system? Did you already have a setup or trying to start from scratch?
Without knowing the rest of your gears, If you already have a setup, it's hard to make recommendations.
Audio Note and Audio Note Kits L3 with upgrades built in like this one with upgraded transformers, volume control, wiring, and capacitors.
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649444090-audio-note-ank-l3-pre-amp/This is the personal unit of the ANK US Rep and was professionally built.
Supratek makes some very good preamps as well.
I was only referring to the preamp. At that price level, you would be able to get a 1 off custom project. CAT is especially known for doing custom.
I like Soulution and Boulder for amps but not much else.
Other than speakers and very large power rated amps, there's not much benefits beyond $10k per component anyways...
Building a good room, assuring good clean ample electrical, and matching components are all that's needed.
All the extra money gets you is a little room to mess up and sound decent...
Oh, or status...