Best tube preamplifier for under $15k


Let’s hear it guys, what’s your favorite. 
keithr
Didn't even know there were any good ones for under $15k?
My favorite is the ARC SP6, for which I paid less than $1K a few years ago! I find it musically satisfying and no urge to change!
CJ ETJ or McIntosh C2700 are both worth a look

VAC jump on one ASAP!!
I should add, the two that interest me right now are:

Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL
Vac Renaissance V w/ phono

Seeing what other options to research
The VAC Ren MKV is fantastic and it's the one I use in my main rig right now.  Got mine used (w/o phono) for $5K.  I've read a number of others, including dealers, that you have to move up a significant amount to the Master ($27K) to get a meaningful improvement up the line.  The MKV borrows much of it's DNA from the Statement.  Great value here IMO.
Hi Keith,

I think the "best" will depend on your amplifier and preferences (sonic, aesthetic, and ergonomic), but these came to mind in ignorance of those preferences (in alphabetical order):

Audio Note UK (Whichever model is within budget. They have many models...)
Lamm Industries LL2.1 Deluxe (especially with NOS tubes)
New Audio Frontiers Amati
Thomas Mayer 10Y
Thoress
VAC Renaissance Mk V

I haven't heard the Atma-Sphere MP1 outside of show conditions and can't comment but some people seem to enjoy it.

disclaimer: I sell Lamm and NAF
https://gestalt.audio
Eastern Electric Minimax Phono - $1000
ARC Reference 6 was, but now it's become the SE version at $18K.
+1 Audio Note they make great sounding preamps $15K would get you into an M3 I believe. Also look at Shindo preamps there are a few in your price range. Both AN and Shindo give what I would describe as a more natural sound.
keithr
Best tube preamplifier for under $15k

The best preamp will be the one that sounds the closest to a piece of wire.
Guess what? that's what direct source to power amp does, (if your source has a volume control).
If not then passive pre is next inline, if your system is impedance friendly for one (90% of systems are).

Cheers George   
Shindo Monbrisson, VAC Renaissance, Herron VTSP, Jadis JPS2 or JP80MC (used) and Lamm LL2.1 would be my short list, depending on your sonic preferences.
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Who are you people! Best preamp under $15,000.00 dollars. That's dollars. This hobby has been hijacked by people with more money than sense.
I love my LTA MicroZotl
I just got a Linear Tube Audio Integrated amp at home and it’s balls out amazing. Superlatives aren’t sufficient to cover how dead quiet it is, how much musical information it reveals, and how much tube magic it imparts without being in any way veiled, warmed over, or syrupy.  
Well worth checking them out and at about a third of this price range. 
Tried the PS Audio BHK and the Stellar preamps which we’re both kinda meh so I decided to check out an integrated from Linear Tube Audio to see what the fuss was about on the Berning circuit.  It’s the real deal. 
Don't count me in.
LTA sounds like it might be OK.
OR might not be. 
Your ears are different than mine.
Or anyone's here, brianiac.
Why not trust biased reviews?

Another LTA fan here.IME it really does give you the best of both worlds - clean,quite,fast,but also the 3D tube magic.
Audio Alchemy DDE v1.0

its awesome


oh 15,000 not 150

never mind
I have McIntosh pre amp c2600 and amp MC302 and I am happy with its performance. I expect the C2700 with the improved 2nd generation modular DAC is worthy of consideration. 
What amplification are you using?
My preamp sounds better than any of the above previously
mentioned units. It is a lot less money too.

Yep, I do not use one. 

If I change my mind I will use a Supratek.


Shindo Monbrison....one of the very best I’ve heard under $20K range. 
Nelson Pass Korg Nutube B1 will offer a Performance that is worthy of being experienced in any system
https://www.stereophile.com/content/recommended-components-2020-edition-preamplifiers

All under 15K

Ayre Acoustics KX-5 Twenty

Pass Laboratories XP-22

PrimaLuna EVO 400 Tubes

PS Audio BHK Signature Preamplifier
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EAR-Yoshino 912, a favorite of Art Dudley.
Consider Modwright LS300. Very capable peace with a lot of options and it in your price range ($14k)
https://www.tweekgeek.com/ls-300-balanced-tube-preamplifier/
Atma Sphere MP-1 and MP-3. I prefer Atma Sphere gear over any other tube manufacturer including Yoshino, Mcintosh, Jadis, Audio Note etc. I live in France. We have many great tube manufacturers here in Europe. However, I ended up purchasing american product. 
McIntosh C2300 before they included a DAC. Then you can have the flexibility to include a DAC of up your choice. BTW some amprex medical grade tubes and you’ll be in heaven. 
No love for Rogue RP 7 or RP 9?  I have the RP 9 and very happy with it.  It’s half the price of your budget ... or half way between a bare wire and the budget you have.
Manley Labs neo Classic 300B
At least in a single ended system, the Art Audio Conductor is pretty great.  I replaced a PS Audio BHK with it and it was a noteworthy step up.  Not sure if it is the best under $15K but is fabulous and a good value at $8500.  

I am sure in a balanced system the BHK would be better, single ended though...


AR Ref 6.  I've not heard the upgraded SE version yet.  But the AR Ref 6 is a fantastic pre and you could pick one up used within your price point. 
I am with @roberjerman--I bought an SP-6 for less than $1000.00 recently and it is awesome.

Of course, the new Audio Research stuff may be better, but you will pay a lot more for them.  I would certainly audition one in my system.  They started out with the best of the best pre-amps back in the 1970's, and continue to produce better pre-amps than most.

Cheers!
Bought my ARC LS 15 back in 1995 and still using today and love it's musicality  Can't really remember,  but I think I paid less than $3,000
Audio by Van Alstine Transcendence 10 SLR - $1299. Replace the stock EH 6922s with a pair of platinum grade National/Matsushita 7DJ8s for $120. Enjoy.

Oops, I read it as best tube preamplifier under $1.5k.
I posted a power amp by Jadis in error but it's still a great amp and the one I would have.I remember Richie Favia's system in the 80's at Longplayer Stereo where hr had a Jadis preamp into a Defy 7 amp with Martin Logan CLS's with Kinnergetics subs which were six feet high.I think he had a Sota Sapphire turntable and I can't remember what CD player he had.Great sound.
Linear Tube Audio MicroZotl 

Since no one else has mentioned them, VTL makes some great sounding preamps under your budget. You don’t say if you want a built in phono stage, but they offer with or without. 
Lots of MicroZOTL fans - very interesting. 

I should add that I require remote. That probably takes half the suggestions off the table.

To those making fun of the price range, I just wanted to be all-inclusive and the ARC Ref 6 lists around that much which most consider a standard-setting piece. I actually own a Music First Baby Reference TVC that doesn't cost half that and sounds amazing - but it doesn't work with a particular amp in my stable. Hence the need to acquire another preamp.

VTL 7.5III hybrid tube preamp. It's a linestage with one pair of 12au7's in the gain stage. Fantastic sounding pre.
With a 15k budget, I would seriously consider the Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature Preamplifier.  Perhaps a demo/used can be had for less than your budget.
+1 for the Vinnie Rossi
Have loved Vinnie’s work since Red a Wine Audio. He really knows what music sounds like and is able to infuse that.
My other very high recommendation is Audible Illusions.
A rare company that has specialized in only making preamps for decades. They have kept improving and have been listed in TAS at “the best at any price” forever. I happily live with mine. Ultra neutral with only one tube pre channel in single ended with an external power supply. 
I listened to a number of tube preamps in the $7K to $10K range ($15K is outside of my budget) and landed on Balanced Audio Technology (BAT).  What a fantastic design philosophy, and sonically it delivers a phenomenal soundstage with imaging that is a mile deep.  Sonically I find that everything about it is, well, just right.  The VK-33SE is $10K but you can go up from there to the VK-53SE at $15K.
They do operate with a remote, which comes in the box.  A very well made, all aluminum remote that is not cluttered but has just the right amount of function controls.  A very cool feature on the remote is a "fade mute" function.  One touch button and the volume fades away rather than a hard mute (though there is a total mute function, too).  You only realize how wonderful that feature is once you have it.  The preamp features are great, but it's the sound quality that got me.  I am surprised not to have seen others mention the BAT brand.  It's very well reviewed and regarded in this industry.
Don Sachs new custom line pre.  It bested my Pass X-22, ARC-6se, and PSA-BHK... in my system.  Your mileage may vary.