Only tube preamp I’ve owned in that price range that I really enjoyed was a Sonic Frontiers SFL-1. It’s a hybrid with only one tube so easy to play with and tube roll. With the right NOS Mullard it’s a nice pre. I had a ARC LS7 previously and the SFL-1 to my ears was a much better piece. The build quality on the SFL-1 is very nice as well. No remote is the only drawback but still a fine preamp for the money.
A Dynaco PAS-3 nicely restored is another good affordable choice! I have one!
You should be able to find a used Quicksilver Full Function tube pre in that price range; nice unit.
Welcome to the dark side. ;~)
About speakers: I recommend Ascend Acoustics. I've tried LOTs of small stand-mount speakers in the last few years, and the Sierra-2s are far and away the best I've heard. That ribbon tweeter is very good.
+1 for the Quicksilver Pre, well within your range
Do you plan to listen to vinyl?
I have had three Audio Research preamps. The three and six series are probably over you spend limit, but a SP9 MKlll might be something to look at, and it has an MM phono section.
+1 ARC SP9 vI, II or III depending on your budget. I just sold one that I used with a Threshold amp of similar vintage and, I suspect, sound profile to your P300. The combo sounded great with several Vandys and Thiels over the years.
SP9 has two tubes, one each in the line and phono stages so easy to roll if you decide to go down that rabbit hole ;)
Schiit makes good products for the money with positive reviews. I think you should stick w/ you original idea of a Freya. The Saga+ would also be a good option for a bedroom system. I have the Mani, soon to have the Modi3, with their pre and power on the horizon.
+ on the Freya there's a lot in those for the money.
@curiousjim I do plan on vinyl! I have a new Marantz reference Tt and a vintage dual Tt.
@bhkati-rider I will definitely look at ascend! I’ve been looking at some used snell ($150!!) and some Zu Omen bookshelves ($1800)
@bbroussard Thanks! I’m excited
The dynaco is easily in my price range and looks very upgradable @roberjerman
If you want to add phono to a Freya or other preamp the Schiit Mani is outstanding!
The Freya is a lot of fun and unlike any other preamp out there at any price...3 operating choices of tube, passive, and FET, fully balanced, makes you a better person...
If you can find one, a used Audio Research LS-7 is great sounding. Also, tube rolling won't break the bank, as it only uses 2 6922/6dj8 tubes. 1 per channel. I loved mine. As for tubes, it even sounded great with stock Sovteks. I tried Mullards, warm and full. Telefunkens, clear and clean. And Amperex bugle boys. My favorites. Room filling sound.