Best sound-using passive or active pre-amp?

Hi All,
I'm just interested in the "best sound" and MUST us some type of pre-amp, even though I have only ONE source (SACD Player).
Can an "active" pre-amp sound "better" than the best passive? (Cable lengths and impedance is NOT a concern)

It's my understanding that a signal, once in the analog domain, can only DEGRADE from that point on. It CAN't be bettered anywhere down the line. So if gain is the only concern, and you want to hear what's on the source, how can an active be "better"?? What makes the most sense?

With that in mind, I'm looking at the EVS Ultimate Attenuators to use as a passive pre. They seem to have the shortest and cleanest signal path. Looks good on paper! Any reason these wouldn't give the "cleanest" transfer of the original signal from my source? (all other items being equal)
If there is a better way to get the "best" sound, please share your experiences and help educate me?

As always, your comments and suggestions are appreciated.
Happy Listening!
If EVS attenuators are convenient enough for you, I don't think you can go wrong with them. On degrading the sound, I used to use a CAT SL-1 III with factory-simplified signal path, and it was SO much less transparent that a DIY passive using Shallco switches, Holco resistors and Stealth internal wire that I sold it, kept the passive, and have never looked back. Others would disagree, and there has been much discussion on this Forum, some of it even useful, going past a mere expression of preference. I'd do a search for it.
lot depends on how gain or output you one source has, if it has plenty, and is of quality, passive preamps are great. Its when you need output for transients and don't have enough from your signal source is when the active desires begin.
I recently purchased a Placette Passive and a Blue Circle BC21 to compare a passive and tube pre with the SS I had been using. While, I am not really in a position to compare it to the best of the active pre's (one of which is certainly Placette's active), but so far I am very impressed with the Placette, its dynamics, detail, timber, and transients. I have compared it to feeding my DAC directly to my amp on some passages I know very well, and it is closer to this direct link than the SS pre's I was using. Quite close in fact, despite my earlier concerns that my amp's 23K input impedance might not be the perfect match with a passive.

I also considered EVS's ultimate attenuators because I liked the idea of dropping a set of IC's, but in the end I bought the Placette after reading that they use Vishays throughout, including the ground which they feel is a significant improvement over not doing so. It is hard to know which is more important without listening to each in the same system. Something to consider.