My list had trickled down to:
VTL 7.5 or 6.5
It seemed the VTL would be a better value overall, but man, it looked like a 1980s VCR. I was seduced by the German Eistein MKii looks and the amazing reviews that were out there about this preamp. I was not able to find anywhere to audition these where I live, so I had to go with what people have been saying about these and my own liking, mainly down to the looks in addition to the performance.
Long story short, I pulled the trigger on a used Eistein MKii that was listed here in Audiogon. This is going to be my firs high-end component entering my system, curious to see how it will change things. I hope I have not made a 8k mistake.
My next move is to send my Oppo-95 to Modwright to get the tube upgrade. Meanwhile, I can't wait to get my new preamp. Will post some first impressions when it arrives.