Musical Design or Van Alstine for new preamp?

I am thinking of upgrading from my current AR SP9 MKII. I must admit neither of these companies make a very good looking preamp, well on the outside. I have been reading some very good things about what is inside.
I like the return policy if I try a Van Alstine.

Any thoughts or suggestions sure be appreciated.

WOW I coudn't disagree more, I think those two tubes glowing through that slightly tinted black grid on the fron looks real good, but hey what Do I know. I have had the Musical Design sp-2B now for about 6 years now and I have loved this pre-amp from day one. It has a relaxed natural tone to it. I think you will like it, try it for 30 days and if don't JH will give you your money back.
I agree with the above response. The SP-2B is excellent both in looks and sound quality. Not a diamond in the rough but a polished jem! Tube types are everything and the sound can be greatly improved with tube rolling.
Phd, please explain tube rolling. I have the original SP-1, which still sounds good. I tried some NOS tubes, but ended up with a high-pitched noise in one of the channels. I would love to tweak this old preamp without spending an arm and a leg.
Hi, 2chnlben, your tube rolling will more than likely be restricted to to the types of tubes that John Hillig sells at Musical Design that he has tested extensively with these units, that not only deliver superior sound quality but eliminate microphonics otherwise it can be a shot in the dark. Because of the zero negative feedback employed and the sensitivity of the circuit, careful choices must be made but once done it is sonic bliss all the way! Definately consult with him for advice.