Good preamp for Levinson 23 w/Gershman X1/SW1

I would appreciate some recommendations for a preamp to match well with a ML #23 amplifier and Gershman Acoustic X1/SW2 speakers.

Would like to keep it under $1K and am looking for that nice airy, smooth sound.

Was thinking perhaps ARC LS-2. Any thoughts on that?

Prefer to use XLR between the preamp and amp as the Levinson has either CAMAC or XLR, but not RCA inputs.

Thanks in advance.
See if you can find a ML 26 preamp used. It should cost around $1500 +/_ including the power supply. (The 26S is better, but will cost almost twice as much) An ARC line stage is OK but not as good a match to the 23. BTW, although I totally agree with using balanced ICs between the preamp and the amp, the 23 will accept RCA's using the appropriate RCA/camac adapters at the amp inputs -- about $50/pair.
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!
The 26 is a nice preamp, and you might also consider the
ML-1. It's an older Levinson preamp but very smooth,
tight tuneful bass, clean highend. It occasionally
is available for ~$1000. I've owned both and they are
Who: I ran across an ML-28 on Ebay. It's sort of a stripped down 26 (no phonostage or tape loop) but similar vintage w/ balanced and SE outputs. Worth up to $1200 I'd say.
a FS Presence MKI will do the job nicely, that is if you can find one...they run between 1k-1500. It bigger brother the MKII goes for $2500+. I own the X-1s and the SW-1s as well and have been driving them with the FS preamps since a couple of years back. My latest FS preamp is the Paramount Deluxe MKII Hot Rod with just one input and separate power supplies.

PS: What sort of amp do you run the Gershmans with?