What kind of music do you enjoy? What is the range of your budget? What kind of sound improvements do you expect to get?
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If you're on a budget, a passive preamp is a serious option if you run shortish interconnects and your source and poweramp match. Passives, if made right, are transparent. So, they may change your previous sound, depending on whether and how your previous preamp colors the sound. If your previous preamp is hiding some flaws in your other components, the change may be for worse. But don't blame the passive for that!
Look into Odyssey's new passive preamp (ca. $350, but it's not on their US website yet; Google "Odyssey Etesian" and call Odyssey) or a used FT Audio Little Wonder (hard to come by used, though). Demos of Creek OBH-12 can be had cheap (ca. $250); the new OBH-22 is a bit more expensive (ca. $450).
Also search the AudiogoN amp/preamp forum; I remember reading older threads recommending good preamps, passive and active, of older vintage that can be had cheap used.
Can you use a soldering iron? Check out the Raleigh Audio Line Stage at www.kandkaudio.com This unit has been the subject of a series of articles in AudioXpress magazine; the last in the Nov. 2004 issue. This preamp kit (also available built) uses an innovative bridged differential parallel feed circuit and is transformer coupled on both the input and output using the excellent Lundahl transformers; insuring complete galvanic isolation of components (no ground loop problems). The power supply is a unique "low reactance" design that uses two CCS (constant current sources) to reject AC ripple and set the B+ voltage. It includes a fixed volume cinema input for home theatre fans, a remote volume and mute, one XLR and five RCA inputs and both a RCA and XLR output. I finished mine the other week and even though it hasn't had the time to fully break-in, the sound is incredible. More detail, clearer and sharper transients, more solid imaging and more sense of the "space" around the performers. If $1.8K is in your budget, you should look into this.
How many sources do you have? If you only intend to use one source...and if your choice is digital, then a CD player with volume control would allow you to do direct to your amp and result in potentially better sound since you'd be eliminating a step in the signal chain. Audio Aero Capitole and APL HiFi Denon 3910 are two options for CD players with built-in volume control. Otherwise, consider an Audible Illusions Modulus 3A ($1100-$1300 used) or a Stello DP200 ($1995 new).
My first inclination is to recommend that you dump the Onkyo and the Pioneer and put the Denon DRA-685 receiver in front of the PSB's. While it's not the last word in musical tranparency, it will make your PSB's stand up and talk.
If you cant quite afford the $500 for the Denon, then look for a Luxman receiver in good shape. There is a new R-105 on the 'bay right now with a BuyItNow price of $300. Snag it... People who own Luxman stuff seem to never want to part with it. Include me in that category.
If your heart is set on a preamp, then you should go after a Bryston BP-5 (also on the 'bay right now but only if you can live without a remote) and start keeping it Canadian (which means that you'll eventually want to get rid of the Onkyo and replace it with a Bryston amp).
Thanks for the feedback. I need to spend no more than $400. I pretty much listen to all types of music. Also, I would need a remote. I've got access to a Marantz AV-600 from a friend. I think I am going to test it out soon at home and see how it sounds. I think I could get it from him for around $150.