Classic preamp for Plinius SA-102: need advise

I have the newest (and the best, for me) Plinius power amp. The SA-102. It is an expensive amp so my budjet for a preamp is therefore small (1000-2000 US$). BUT, reading some commnents on old classic preamps I found out that I may
get a used preamp which is as good or even better than the ones that are manufactured today.

Could you please give me a hand on this? Here it goes:

1. I do not have a turntable (so phono is not an issue).
2. The Plinius has lots of punch, impact and an extremely open sound. So I am looking for a tube preamp with a liquid (but not too much coloured, of course), soft highs and good bass, plus with LOTS of air.

I thought that maybe an older Audio Research (the SP-10 seems to be bad for CD; maybe the LS-5?) or a nice Jadis might be good mates for my Plinius. What would you advise me (brand and models)?

I would definitely consider the Sonic Frontiers SFLine 2. You can go to the Sonic Frontiers website ( and find all the info. you need. It's a tube pre. incorporating six 6922 tubes, no power tubes, SE and XLR, and seperate power supply in a small chassis. If you have the room, and can find it for a good deal, try the LINE 3. It has 10 6922s and 2 other tubes I'm not sure of. It also has a seperate power supply, but in a full size chassis. Make sure you get the LINE 2, it has the famous puck remote.

You should also look at B.A.T Balanced Audio Technology. I don't know as much about them, but my brother has a VK-3i.
Agree with tube options above.
You can also spread yourself over passive preamps that can realy integrate good with Plinius 102.
I used to own a SA 100 mark 3 and I tried it with an old VTL delux pre amp ($ 600 used maybe less) and it sounded pretty good, smooth and airy and a little sweet. but not the last word in definition, thats something I'm always willing to sacrifice for involvement. I like S.F. gear too but it is a little dry for my taste however its quite accurate and might suit your needs. Conrad johnson gear used with this amp resulted in a rather dark sound. Experiment and enjoy!
On the other hand the Plinius CD-LAD mates well. I have a CD Player (Res. Ref.) that can drive my SA102s directly very well (using Cardas Golden Reference ICs). When I insert a CD-LAD between the CD and amp (using a second pair of Cardas Golden Reference) I get a fuller, deeper, slightly darker sound with better bass speed and weight and smoother treble. Which seems to me to be the direction you want. A second-hand CD-LAD is well within your price range. The big advantage you will get over a classic tube preamp is extension and speed. I would tend to tailor the sound with cable choice not components.
I would definitely look for a used BAT VK-5i over any of the SF line. I love SF amps, but their pre-amps sound kind of lifeless and dull to me.
Meanwhile, I have received this message from Plinius:

"Please have the preamp checked to see that is has no DC at its output before you use it as the SA102 is direct coupled."

Can you explain me (slowly...) what this means?
It means that there is no output transformer or capacitor that separates DC-component out of the signal.
There are two devices that separate DC off the signal: transformer and capacitor.

Preamps can also be as SA102 direct-coupled.

The risk of having DC is high in all direct-coupled output stages whether it's preamp or amp and in case with Plinius you can only pray for its unsinkable performance that will only depend on quality of preamp. So far I heard of no failures whatsoever happend with Plinius gear in general but some of preamps do have a DC-component in its normal operation that you should be aware of and check DC-voltage with voltmeter if any at the output with preamp on and volume control at minimum or mute.

The largest danger of DC when it's present at the speaker since the voice coil will work as water-boiler and increase its temperature and than burn even taking away diffusor.
I had the CDLAD and tried the Classe CP 47.5.
If you compare these two you'll notice the CP 47.5 will show you how much potential the SA-102 really has.
You will also gain a better calm and control to the overall performance. Further the CP 47.5 has a good compatability with the SA-102 (impedance match well!)

The CDLAD's bass seems further away, it also has less body in the upperbass/ midrange. The soundstage and dynamical impact will also be bettered with the CP 47.5.
With CDLAD, vocals and guitars will seem much closer and drums and basslines will sound lesser/ thinner without there appropiate weight and richness.

I had 3 friends in and and performed a blind test, no-one prefered the CDLAD before the CP 47.5.
I can also tell you that there is an uppgrade kit avaible for the CP 47.5. With this uppgrade done you will notice a better blackness/ a better background silence, and some improvement of (especially inner) resolution
and microdynamics.
I had the CDLAD mark 1 and it had such an excessive gain through the XLR connection, the noise levels severely disturbed the pleasure of listening. I had mine sent back to Plinius for this.
I've heard the Plinius SA-102 with the AR LS-5, and it was definitely a winner combo. If you talk to avid AR fans, many think the LS-5 is one of the best reasonably priced preamps ever made by AR. I would agree based on my limited experience with their models. Good luck finding a used one though because I rarely see people parting with them.