My suggestion would be to find a used Classe CP45. Great sound quality for the money.
There are several preamps in that price range that I either currently own or am very familiar with. For something on the warmer side, the Audio Mirror T-61 is excellent. An older Classe (DR-5) for instance, sits on the other end of the fence; not quite "clinical", but more neutral with a little more detail. A notch toward warmth from the Classe is a Musical Fidelity A3cr, and another notch toward the Audio Mirror is a Marsh p2000t.
All are excellent preamps, and can be had used for about your desired price.
hey Splittie - how sure are you your preamp is the problem? It very well could be that what you are hearing is coming from your source and/or cables. Transparency can play tricks on you - I had that happen to me. Remember that you are looking through a window and once it is clean, you can see everything at the same time so it can be hard to distinguish between components.
Just a thought.
How does the c-33 compare to modern preamps in the same dollar range as the c-33 such as a used musical fidelity preamp, and classe? I find the build quality on the classe and musical fidelity gear to be sub par. Any suggestions? There has to be a $600 preamp that will have the sonics and looks I am looking for.
Regarding Aball's query, I am using Kimber PBJ's for the my amp-preamp, illuminated audio monarch cable for my cd source, and monster cable that goes into my computer for itunes.
Splittie, you find "the build quality on the classe and musical fidelity gear to be sub par"? Have you seen the two models that I made reference to (Classe DR-5 or MF A3cr)? They are built like a tank, and some of the better built components to have ever graced my system. The MF A3cr preamp weighs as much as my current POWER AMP.
I've never had a McIntosh preamp, so I can't compare it to units that I have owned or heard, but I will defend the build quality of the Classe and Musical Fidelity preamps.
Have you ever heard a CJ pv10- I have never heard it described as clinical or edgy- quite the opposite actually. Warm and musical are usually describe it. The looks might not fit your tastes, with a clean, 3 knob, thick, gold tone aluminum faceplate. Sound and CJ quality both attractive, don't knowh ow it would look in the Mac family. Hard to beat in the $500- range
How will the musical fidelity preamp mesh with the mcintosh 2155? The 2155 is typical MAC- laid back, tube-like, with a hint of solid state edginess.
Does anyone have a musical fidelity preamp that is interested in trading with my Mcintosh C-28 (original box, mint aesthetics, cannot find a scratch on it).