There is a Classe Six on here for $750.00. That is one killer preamp and the price is a steal!!!!!!
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"Unfortunately no local dealers so can't listen to any of these. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!"
The single biggest mistake you can make in audio, is to pick the wrong preamp.
"Would like to have balanced outputs since I have those cables."
That's not a good enough reason to buy a balanced preamp. And that's assuming your balanced cables are really balanced.
Some people will recommend a tube preamp, while others will tell you to get SS. Others will recommend balanced, while others will say its a waste of money. Feedback vs 0 feedback... And the list will go on. My recommendation is to just get the right preamp, regardless of design. If not, your system will never sound quite right, and you'll end up spending a lot of money, only to walk away from audio due to frustration.
+1 re the Classe CP-60, although the $1600 price seems a bit high. Seven years ago I purchased one here for $1350, in perfect condition, and with the original remote control (in contrast to the one that is presently listed). And the $1350 was the asking price.
Among solid state preamps, at least, I doubt that you can do much better in that price range than a CP-60, assuming it is in top condition. I should add, though, that during the 6+ years I owned it (I recently replaced it with a much more expensive DEQX model) I only used its unbalanced outputs. So I can't attest to the sonics of its balanced outputs.
Also, of course, it is a line stage preamp, so you would need a separate phono stage for the vinyl playback you referred to.
Good luck. Regards,
Thanks all for taking the time to respond. Would like to spend less than 2k and the Classe pre's that were recommended look good. Already have an old sonic frontiers sfp-1 phono stage so the phono isn't really needed. Also will rethink the balanced vs single ended. Never ran anything but balanced into the levinson.