Why go low end? You can get a used Adcom GFP-565 for under $500. It is a very good pre-amp and it has a headphone jack. I also suggest using Kimber interconnects.
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Would it be best to stay with a Carver preamp to go with the carver amp? Because the two options for Carver amps are the 26TV for 239 or the 29Tv for 499. That Adcom does look good, but how does it compare to the Carvers? I think the Anthem may be a little more than I want to spend. Thanks for the advice. =)