Cary SLP-98 v. Manley Shrimp

I know the Shrimp is somewhat of a "giant killer" but is the Cary leaps and bounds ahead of the Manley i.e., worth the extra $?
In my opinion, the 6SN7 octal base tube utilized in Cary preamps is the best for a gain stage application. The miniature nine pins used in the Manley shrimp just cannot capture the real magic.

If you are considering the above two, don't forget about the AES preamp, especially the now out-of-production DJH model.
What? No more S2K??

I had an SLP98 and it was fantastic. If I didn't already have 18 tubes in my system, I would have kept it. Its imaging was totally captivating and its treble was always natural. I am not familiar with the Shrimp but I agree the 6SN7 is one of the best tubes so the AES DJH might be the best place for you to start, at least cost-wise.

The SLP-98 has silver wire in it. I'd be sure you like the sound of silver wire before investing in it. I don't, myself, and was disappointed with the 98, and unloaded it relatively quickly, as I have everything else I've tried with silver wire.
I never knew it had silver wire. Sure sounded sweet to me with those luscious Cary mids. A favorite among preamps for me.
Clio09 - I didn't know either until I looked closely at the specs in the manual (after finding the sound somewhat unsatisfying). And, indeed, one of the interesting things about silver wire is that it sounds sweet in the highs. But to me at least, the lower mid-range and bass are weak and somewhat bodiless; hollow. Over a period of time, I get fatigued by it, and, in every instance, have switched out to copper wire and been surprised at how much more robust it is.

Just my ears, I guess (although I've found a few others that hear it similarly). Many people think it's a great pre-amp.
The SLP98 I owned briefly did not even sound remotely as good as a stock Ming Da MC-2A3. The Cary has a very artificial mid high which works well for certain kinds of music. Bass is worse than the Ming Da despite my attempts to change out the caps inside (Kimber) to things like Dynamicap and Mundorf M Supreme. Tube-rolled it with many NOS 6SN7s but only got marginal improvement. Never changed out the high voltage filter/bypass caps before giving up.