One big question would be: do you require a remote? I know I did, and i was approximately in your same price range. It limits your selection a little.
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You could try this, for the best transparency from source to poweramps, if your system is passive friendly, this $99usd passive with 4 x input selector which has an ALPS Blue Velvet pot (very good) for the volume which you can pick the value of (10k, 50k or 100k) to suit your system.
If your not sure which value to choose, give me the ouput impedance of your source and input impedance of your amp/s. If you don't know these let me know which make and models they are and I'll try to find out for you.
I concur with Schubert. The EE Minimax posted here on Agon is a no brainer for $600. I had a TAD Signature 150 preamp which is also a great preamp for its price point. I sold my mint unit several years back for $675 if I recall correctly. There's one currently posted on Agon but at $925 its over priced. The EE preamp is a great choice. Worse case you try it and flip it for close to the same price if you are not satisfied with it.
b&k has been my my go-to for inexpensive preamps--i've owned at various times the cs117, pt5, ref30 and pro10. i find 'em less colored and more transparent that adcom/rotel/nad and better built as well. can be had really cheap. per georgelofi, if your system allows a passive can be very cost-efficient--i liked the luminous audio axiom.
Maybe it's the former Audio salesman in me, but when I see a thread like this, I want to know much more about all the other gear the original poster has, the room it's going to be in, what types of music he/she listens to, how loud, and what type of interconnects he/she is using and what are their objecives, and whether they prefer tubes or solid state and do they want new or used. Having that information would be a lot more useful to recommend a preamp that would best fit your needs. Please advise, thanks
I would give a nod to the passive if you can work with what it offers but I would buy the one they have for 135 with the smd attenuator. It is a bit cleaner sounding than the Alps plus you get cmc RCA'S for all inputs and outputs. Actually I bought one for a second system and it is now my gold standard for an inexpensive pre.