Looking for a Preamp up to $3K

Need balanced in X2, balanced out X2.

Own a Pass X350.5 amp.
GCPH phono pre with gain.
PerfectWave DAC with Bridge goes balanced into Pass (no pre)
GCPH goes RCA into Pass.

I'm tired of swapping cables as one could imagine. Who knew I'd get back into vinyl - but I did.

Been seriously considering building a Audio Note L3 with some really good parts.

The Wyred4Sound SE looks intriguing.

Both offer connectivity that I seek.

Currently have no preamp but had a Cary SLP-05 (great pre, don't ask).

Any help or experience would be appreciated.
2eeda076 7443 48cb ae88 ec8656ee7cd8desalvo55
Are you happy with the sound of the direct connections? If so, you might want to try passive with something like a Bent TAP or a Placette.
Aestetix Calypso used about $2200.
Ditto the Calypso... will need to account for NOS tubes ($300'ish).
The greatest bargain in balanced tubed pre-amps is the Doge 8. At around $1,500 at Pacific Valve, its performance is amazingly good and it also has a good phono section. Another very good pre-amp in the $2,000 to $3,000 range is the battery powered Dodd. But it is not balanced.

Another excellent pre-amp is the Audio Horizons 2.2. It starts at around $2,750 and there are a plethora of upgrades available to the buyer as budget permits. The starting price is $2,750 and the unit is fully balanced, both in and out. While it doesn't have the great looks of the Doge 8, it is an excellent performer.

Last night I compared my Perfectwave DAC Bridge (lossless FLAC files)to my PS Audio GCPH phono preamp going straight to Pass amp. I've been not listening to files for a while and wanted to compare sound quality between the 2 formats.

The vinyl medium scored a TKO in the first round. I was actually surprised how bad my digital setup sounded vs the vinyl rig - VPI Scoutmaster Dynavector XXV mark 2 cart.

What's this have to do with needing a preamp?

In some ways I'm surprised at how, for lack of a better descriptor, precise even the vinyl rig sounds. The digital gives me the obvious leading edge transients and infinite highs but at the expense of sounding fake. I think a preamp can provide some realness to the digital rig while adding some 3 dimensionality to the vinyl rig.

The MBL's won't hide any shortcomings IMO.

If I had more budget I would go with the Pass XP20 for sale down the street. Coupled with the X350.5 it probably wouldn't get much better.

The Aestetix Calypso is a well regarded pre. Have to add that to my short list.

Thanks for the suggestions.
Allchemie, the Doge 8 has a set of balanced outputs, which are probably there just as a convenience, that is, it's not truly a balanced design. And no balanced inputs. Not saying it wouldn't be a good choice for Desalvo55's system, just that it probably doesn't really stand up as a balanced preamp.
Pass XP 10, just a bit above your price range as demo/used model.
Looking at the MBL 5011. I know I know, it's nearly twice my budget.

Having the MBL 121's I can certainly appreciate the stellar quality of MBL line. It really is amazing. I have one speaker that sustained damage to its finish - not done by me. I cannot find someone who can fix the deep mirror like finish. Is that a downside?

The preamp IMO is sort of the "general" of the system. I'd like to own the Patten if I could but maybe not so aggresive :)

Looks like one can be had for around 5K. Is it worth it?
If your gonna double down get the Pass XP-20. Reno HIFI treated me like gold, and the pre is a ABSOLUTE JEWEL. I'm using it with my PSA DAC/Bridge with "tent pitching" results. 2X bal in 1 bal out & 2 single out, simultaneously.
A used CJ PV-15 goes for around $1,600, and it has an excellent tube phono stage. Very neutral and dynamic.
The Pass, well yes that would solve the preamp search. Wonder if anyone has compared the MBL and Pass side by side?

Not to familar with CJ components. Hum.
Audio Research LS-10. A monster of a preamp for about $2k. It is the best solid state preamp they ever made. It sold for $5,500 new. They rarely come up for sale, if you see one, grab it quick.