How about a used Mac preamp. They sound good and are very reliable. Some are priced much less than 1000 dollars and still compare favorably to todays preamps.
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OK, a friend pointed out a deal on an Acurus R11 preamp and RPC 120 ac controller online. Got them for a great price that was no risk effectively and it made a world of difference in the sound. The detail increased significantly, the sound is much cleaner and it is not fatiguing. The instruments sound more realistic and transparent. Interestingly, some cds I thought sounded decent now sound a bit more detailed but also less real...not sure if this is giving me a better insight into the actual sound but so far its mostly good. Wasnt familiar with the brand but did some quick online research and it came up as something many audiophiles like and at the price I got it I dont think I would lose if I sold it. I am set....at least for now.