High Output Preamp for First Watt SIT-3?

I'm new to the audiophile world and recently purchased a First Watt SIT-3 with Magnepan .7s.  I have a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge for streaming, though I prefer to play vinyl with my Mofi Ultradeck.  The Mytek serves as the phono stage (69dB gain for MM?), and I don't use a preamp;  the Brooklyn is connected directly to the First Watt. 

I understand that the SIT-3 is only 11.5 dB of gain, and that's extremely low compared to most amps.  I like most everything about the system except for the fact that I have the Mytek maxed out volume-wise many days.  Certain LPs are cut quieter, and I wish I had more power.  There are times streaming where the Maggies aren't getting to their sweet spot.  I realize the Maggies are a lower sensitivity speaker. 

What should I look for in a preamp to fully drive the SIT-3?  Eventually, I'd like to replace the phono stage instead of relying on the Brooklyn.  Is there a tube preamp featuring a phono stage with sufficient output to drive my amp in the $4k range?  Otherwise, I'm eyeing the Modwright PH 9.0 and a linestage preamp, realizing that this will probably be costlier.  I'm looking for a warm sound, not analytical but engaging. 

Any help is greatly appreciated.  I'm a working musician with a basic understanding of related electronics but little experience in this world. 

Hi kinara,
I understand your point regarding the straying away from the original thread inquiry about high gain preamplifiers. I just believe that people were trying to point out that this wasn’t simply an issue of additional ’gain'  to solve the problem expressed by the OP. In fact he (murphbass) later in this thread came to the realization that adding more gain to his system via a preamplifier wasn’t the course he wanted to follow.

BTW kinara I do happen to share your appreciation of high quality low power amplifiers. I’ve been a very happy owner of an 8 watt 300b SET amplifier for over 10 years. I do readily acknowledge that it (terrific as it is) is not the right choice for everyone and speaker selection requires thought and scrutiny.
Murph, if you are still looking for a preamp I would suggest going back to Herb's review of the SIT-3 in Stereophile. He did indeed find a good match with the Maggies.

"The SIT-Maggie combo generated a distinctive, liquid, ribbon-tweeter clarity that also flattered sopranos in a way not bested by any other amp-speaker combination I've tried. Voices and instruments were no less there than they were with the Pass Labs XA25 or the Bel Canto Design e.One REF600M, and that's saying a lot—those amps make really SOLID sound with the Magnepan .7s. Wilder still, the SIT-3 generated more relaxed, natural detail and a bigger, better-mapped soundstage than I'd previously thought possible with these humble planars."

Given that success, look to Herb's preamp choices. He uses two -- the Rogue RP-7 and the PrimaLuna DiaLogue. He did not say which one was better in this case. You might send him an e-mail and ask.

- Robert
Chiming in late here, but would like to add that I have a SIT-3 that sounds wonderful with my Maggie 1.6.  Of course, I do not listen very loudly but at moderately high levels (guesstimating 90-95 dB) the SIT-3 sounds significantly better than my former 400 WPC Bel Canto Ref 500S.  Currently, I mainly use my Maggies with a 250 WPC McIntosh MC252 and don't appreciate any loudness or dynamic differences and in fact would ultimately prefer the First Watt.  

In OP's case I would audition the Pass Labs XA25 to replace the SIT-3.  I also had that amp and would switch back and forth between it and the SIT-3.  The XA25 sounds similar but plays louder at 20 dB gain.  It also opens up an easy trade-in option with Reno HiFi.
Thanks for adding to the thread, @eugene81 .  That's useful information.  I suspect that most of my listening centers around 85db, or at least that's were it sat on the day I checked.  I listen in a nearfield position because of the size of my room and so that I may mitigate some of the room's acoustic problems.  Of course, much of it is highly dynamic classical or jazz, so I'm getting up to adjust my preamp frequently.

Thanks to advice from @mglik , I purchased a used but low hours/refurbished Audible Illusions M3B.  I can't overstate the difference between my Mytek Brooklyn Bridge connected directly to the SIT-3 and the new arrangement.  Hard to say the objective sound of the M3B because my only reference point is my previous setup.  Perhaps a bit darker sounding?  The tubes do impart their magic.  I find myself turning the system up a little louder than previously when playing vinyl to reach the sweet spot- and the separation/clarity of instruments.  Streaming never requires the gain controls above noonish, but I can get close to the extent of the knobs' travel when playing quieter records.  Overall, a great improvement.

Still, a Linear Tube Audio microZOTL is on my list for the future.  I went with the M3B because the price was right, and the phono stage is good.  When I make the move to a MC cartridge, I will weigh purchasing the gold phono card vs a whole new preamp. 

@eugene81 I'm glad you mentioned the Bel Canto Ref 500S, because that unit and the mono block 600M were enticing.  I think the one you had actually delivers more current than the monoblocks, and Maggies seem to be current hungry.  But, I guess I can scratch those off my list! 

Thanks for the recommendation of the XA25.  I purchased the SIT-3 first because I was motivated by the limited supply (initially only 250?).  As a collector of all things music, I rarely sell back instruments/amps, etc.  The SIT-3 is special, and even if I temporarily take it out of the system, it was my first high end audio piece and will probably be with me forever.  I will consider the XA25.  If I change anything, or add options, it would probably be a high wattage amp.  I know conventional wisdom is Bryston with Maggies, but I think I need a more engaging/magical/euphonic amp.  So, that hunt continues, but I should reiterate that I'm pretty happy with where I'm at, thanks to advice received here. 

I took a power amp from my live bass guitar rig-  a QSC CX302- as an experiment.  It's 325 watts/channel @ 4 ohms- 10 times the power.  The fan was so ridiculously loud that it was laughable.  It was nice having more power on hand, but upon switching back to the SIT-3 after a few weeks, it was no contest.  I may not have the best tonal memory when switching pieces in and out, so quantifying differences is difficult.  Upon its return to my system, the SIT-3 thrilled me from note one, and it pulled me into the music, compelling me to listen for hours longer than I anticipated.  One lesson for me is that I will hear a clear audible difference between gear, sometimes showing distaste when it is outside what I'm familiar with.  It is through subsequent, in depth listening that I can truly value the swapped gear.  The first hours of the M3B were such a shock that I was unable to discern if I liked it! 

Thanks for all the input- you guys are the best!  I'm realizing much like life, this is a journey rather than an ultimate destination.  I'm geeking out on Quad 57s (haven't seen much anecdotal regarding the SIT-3 and Quads) and to a slightly lesser degree, Spatial Audio.  Most importantly, having fun and deriving much satisfaction from listening. 
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