Line stage preamp to use with ASR Basis Exclusive?
A friend made me an offer on his 2010 ASR Basis Exclusive (Gold Board) phono preamplifier that I could not refuse. He brought it over to my house, and I compared it to my current preamp, (an Ayre K-1xe with the phono boards), and it definintely was an inprovement. (Of course the retail cost of this unit equals the entire cost of the full function Ayre, so it dang well should sound better! The phono boards on the Ayre are an incredible value, as they almost held their own against this great phono preamp.)
However, I am running out of money, so I have sold my Ayre K-1xe preamplifier to fund both the purchase of the aforementioned phono preamplifier as well as to help pay for a new, (well, new to me anyway), line stage preamp.
(And I will be selling some other items, if necessary, to help pay for it also, some of which I don't mind parting with, a couple of RCM's and a NOS MFSL Rolling Stone vinyl Box set. I'd rather not sell these, as I would rather keep them for various reasons, but if I have to, I will. So if you can offer lower priced suggestions, I would apprectiate it!)
So, my budget is approximately $2,000-$3,000, (and I'd really like it be be on the lower side of that range, as I already had to buy a XLR cable to connect the two preamps -a Nordost Valkryja in case you're interested.)
So, what line stage preamplifier, (bought used of course), would you recommend?
1. Remote control (that controls at least the volume)
2. Must be fully balanced - my entire system is set up that way.
Highly desired, (but not absolutely necessary), requirements:
1. Tubes (would be nice for a change from the solid state Ayre). And preamps that use the 6H30 tubes seem like a good idea, as they seem to be quieter than most tubes, based upon my cursory research, and listening to them in my friend's system.
2. A large number of inputs, (both single ended and balanced, would be nice). But I could live with as few as four balanced inputs.
3. A balance control. (My Ayre did not have one, so I could live without it, but I'd like it if possible).
My thoughts so far include:
BAT VK-51SE (I almost got one for $2,600 at an auction here on Audiogon a couple of weeks ago. I lost by $30 to a sniper! Argh!!)
Atma-Sphere MP-3 mk 3.2 (line stage only, as I, obviously, don't need the phono boards.)
Solid State preamplifiers:
Ayre K-5xe mp. (Should sound almost as good as the K-1xe according to what I've read.)
Jeff Rowland Synergy II. (Don't know that much about this unit, but it was good competition for the Ayre when I bought that.)
And perhaps even another Ayre K-1xe, but without the phono boards of course. (Although now that I've made the change, I'd rather have something different - just because. And I am not sure I could get the xe version, as the cost of that version seems to be closer to $3,500.)
Any other ideas?
(I was not really looking to upgrade, so I haven't done much research, and I'm not sure what is really available and what the good preamps are now. The last time I did this was several years ago when I bought the Ayre.
There are some Audio Research Line Stages that seem like a good match, such as the LS26 and LS27, but I have not seen any used pop up yet. My friend used the ARC Ref. 5 (and before that the Ref. 3), both of which I liked a lot, but they are too expensive. He also had the Ref. 1 and 2, but both of those were kind of noisy, as least to my ears.
Perhaps even the BAT VK-31SE or 32SE would work well, as I do like the fact that they have a mix of single ended & balanced inputs, (versus the all balanced inputs of the VK-51SE). Any thoughts on this preamp and if it is really good enough for this phono preamp?
In case it matters, the preamp will feed my Lamm M2.1 monoblocks via Nordost Quattro Fil cables (XLR of course).
Thanks for any suggestions you care to make!