DOGE 8 Clarity - Is it in the running, really?

OK, I've seen the comments on the DODGE 8 clarity line stage, but haven't seen a real solid answer to MC output hiss. Is this unit a real contender as far as tubes go, and with the "right" tubes?

I'm also interested in peoples experience using the DODGE 8 Clarity with an extenal step-up device (I use a SimAudio MOON LP-5.3) into an AUX input. This would use LP's on the line stage only.

Also, are the tube upgrades from Pacific Valve & Electric any good? Or is it best to just get the pre amp and buy tubes of a different flavor elsewhere?

The web site states; The Doge 8 Clarity uses high quality Clarity and Musicaps throughout, so it seems more than just the phono section is changed over the standard DOGE 8.

This is an interesting unit for the price, and I'm curious just how good it really is. True, it's going to depend on the tubes, but do you all feel this unit compared to SS or tube units is in the running sound wise, and especially if you by pass the MC stage with an external MC amplifier?

What about the volume, is it course, fine, or abrupt in character with the remote function, and manual operation?

The lack of a balance is somewhat disappointing. Small changes in my system can improve the solidity of the image (one speaker is near a wall, the other open to a room).

I'm somewhat leary of the price, although this alone is no where near a sign of inferiority or excellence of sound.
I can't speak for the preamp, but IMO, the Doge6 CD player competes with players in the 5K range in the areas of accurate portrayal of acoustic instruments, soundstage and overall "realness". I say this having owned several players in the 5K range and one in the 10K range. However, that's my opinion of the player in my system. As Pacific Valve offers a 30-day money back, less shipping, the obvious course would be to try one in your system. IMO, should the MC input be objectionable to you, but you otherwise love the preamp, at that price, it would be worth it to purchase a decent outboard phono stage and you'll still be ahead of the game.
My friend recent bought the Clarity preamp. First thing he did was replace the tubes with some quality NOS Radio Techniques for the line stage and Amperex for the phone stage. He noticed a big improvement. I've heard the preamp through his system an I'm impressed with the line stage and the phone stage fed from a Denon 103 cart.
Very nice preamp.
I already have a SimAudio MOON LP-5.3 headamp that is pretty darn good so, the option is there to try either MC input path (Clarity MC or SimAudio MC) and use the better of the two. I'd like to try tubes, and this seems like a pretty decent unit. So, I'm trying to define what all the fuss is about with tubes.

What sort of tube life can be expected as "normal"? I'd have the unit in standby mode (0.5 Watts) most of the time. Some report 10,000 hours on these tubes! So if I buy a decent set of tubes (I'd listen to the MC inputs noise level before I spent money on the MC tube upgrade, just do the line-level tubes if I use the LP-5.3 on an AUX input), what's the vote on tube lifetime?

Even harder question, what tubes? I use DynAudio C4 signatures. These are pretty fast and revealing speakers, not to be called "colored" or "warm", really. My ears say they can be "bright" with some digital source material. If they get color or warmth, it's from the electronics.

The other option from Eastern Electric, Mini Max pre amp, is pretty spares on features but also gets nods of approval. The lack of features just makes this option harder to live with.