Conrad Johnson Premier 17LS vs. VTL TL-5.5?

Has anybody had a chance to compare these 2 preamps? I'm considering going "tube" for the first time, and am having trouble finding a place to audition these. I have a Krell KSA-200S amp, Krell KRC-2 preamp, and B&W 801 Series 3 speakers. I listen only to CDs (probably will buy the Esoteric DV-50 or new Sony SCD-XA 9000ES), and only to classical music and hard rock. Thanks for any opinions!
I once owned a 5.5 a while back. What I remember the most about it, in a positive way, is its bass performance. Imaging, soundstage, tonal balance was good too. But for my own taste and preference, I found the midrange to be too laid back. I had to exert effort to listen to the music and found my mind wandering about if I did not. It was unengaging for me.
I replaced it with a Conrad Johnson Premier 10, which did not have as much bass output and control, however in totality, it was more engaging and involving. I use it with a Premier 11 amp, so there may have been some synergy there.
In fairness, the 5.5 I had was the original one and VTL has since upgraded it without changing the model #.
FWIW my musical taste and system leans towards female vocal performance and not optimally for large scale classical music or hard rock.
Good luck
I owned the 17LS. It has a very lovely, pure, delicate sound. Microdetail was awesome. It was somehow very linear and yet very musically sweet at the same time. I like that piece a lot and recommend it strongly.

My favorite preamp is the First Sound Deluxe II (I never get the name right, it's their $4000 model). It has jaw-dropping dynamics, amazingly black background, and you just sit there and hang on the beauty of every single note that you hear. It is mezmerizing. I don't remember if it gets the microdynamics like the CJ but there is something about the FS that just reaches out and grabs you and won't let go.

FS is a small company - perhaps even just one person - and while he offers great customer service, you need to make sure you are comfortable not buying from a major vendor like CJ.

Also there is no remote on the FS, and I've heard that you need to carefully match the impedence of the amp to this preamp. Still, the FS would be my first choice.


ps: I've heard that CJ is coming out with a new replacement for the 16LS mk II in January. You might want that new one, or, you could pick up a used 16LS mk II when people sell them to get the latest from CJ.