I used the LS-2 with my No. 23 (and the No. 27 before that). It worked fine. However, to be honest, my Ayre K-1XE is much better. More refined, better frequency extension, imaging and NO tube rushing. (However, the Ayre SHOULD be much better given the difference in price.)
I agree with Nsgarch that you should save up a bit and give the ML 26 a shot.
Or perhaps the Ayre K5X preamp, although I have not personally heard that model. (This is based purely on my experience with the K-1XE, so take that with however many grains of salt you like!) There is a K-5X for sale via an Audiogon Auction right now. It is currentely @ $550, and should go for around $1000-1,500, my guess being $1,200. You could buy it and give it a shot, and if it does not work out, sell it and be out very little money. And no, I have no affiliation with the seller of said K-5X.)
Good Luck in your search!