Parasound JC-1 amps. Preamp advice??

I'm looking for a preamp with phono stage in the $4-5K range new or used to go with my JC-1 mono blocks. SS or tube. I want to run my table through it so phono stage is a must. Also need balanced inputs and outputs. So far Mac c200 and Ayre K-1x are at the top of my list. The rest of system is...
VPI Scoutmaster with Dynavector 17D2MKII cartridge
Sony SCD-1
Audio Aero Prima SE DAC
Legacy-Audio Signature III speakers
Cabling is Siltech and LAT
Thanks for any help.
From my experience, the preamp is the make or break component when it comes to bringing on a 3-dimensional musical presentation. If this is what you seek, a tube model is a must. Unfortunately, many tube preamps fail miserably here as well. Since you want this to have a phono stage, the BAT VK-31SE with the built-in solid-state phono board is an excellent choice here. For a little more, I have seen the Atmasphere MP-1 on the used market in the $5k range and this would be superb. When I heard the Atmasphere MP-3 (borrowed from the local Atmasphere dealer), the BAT 31SE destroyed it in literally every way.

The CAT SL-1 does not quite have the portrayal of space and decays like the BAT but it has an awesome extension and resolution in the trebles and is incredibly dynamic with great bass extension ..... and it has an optional tube phono stage. This may be too much in the same direction as the JC-1s.

If you're after the utmost in resolution and detail, I would suggest investigating the Spectral DMC20/30 models which also have optional phono stages. This too may be too much in the same direction as the JC-1s.

Just a few things to investigate in your price range.

I added an Ayre K1-X preamp to my JC-1s and it's the best purchase I've ever made. I can't reccomend it highly enough. I get a smoother more tubelike sound then most tube systems I've heard.

I've never heard the Ayre phono stage, I use a Whest with my Nottingham table. The Ayre phono stage is supposed to be pretty good.
I was on a similar exploration for a preamp with a good phono stage because I'm upgrading my turntable (and it appears everything else) in the near future. I actually got the preamp before getting a new amp, which ended up being a BAT VK-250 w/Batpak, but I had seriously considered (and still am) the JC-1s.

I ended up getting the Aesthetix Janus, which I have to say is simply an amazing preamp for the money. Finding a good preamp to match your gear can be somewhat challenging, and finding one with a phono stage which isn't a total afterthought is even more difficult. The phono stage on the Janus is a seriously good phono stage, which I feel easily bettered the other phono stages I auditioned: the ARC PH 3SEI and the BAT Vk-p5 to name a few. It has load settings to suit most cartridges and a built in demagnetizer function both of which can be accessed with the remote.

I find the sound to be very neutral. I'm new to tubes, and was a little wary that I was going to hear the so-called "tube rush" or that it would sound muddy in the bass and overly romantic in the mids. Man was I wrong. A lot of Aesthetix owners have gotten into tube rolling and have had success with Telefunkens, which I may try when I have the money, but even stock this is a very open, accurate preamplifier with stellar imaging and soundestaging capabilities, and a hell of a good phono stage. Seriously.

I also have an SCD-1 which I find mates very well with the aesthetix. I know there are two other agon members using the line-stage version of the Janus, the Calypso. Perfectionist's system used the Calypso with JC-1s, and from what he's written he loves the combo, and Jadem6 uses the Calypso with his SCD-1 as well.

Of the other preamps you mentioned I think the Ayre sounds interesting and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to hear it. I haven't heard the Mac, so no help there, but in response to Jafox's post I think the Bat Vk-31SE is a great line-stage preamp, but have heard only mediocre things about the phono section, although it bears looking into. I don't think you _have_ to go tube, because the Ayre is supposed to be great, but I do think that the Aesthetix Janus, which you can pick up for around 4,000 used is a great option. It also looks f-in sweet. If you do end up getting one, let me know how it sounds with the JC-1s.

Good luck,

I'm going to concur with Mimberman, as I am using an Aesthetix Calypso with JC1's to great effect. Unfortunately, I can't talk to the phono section of the Janus, as I don't do vinyl. From a technical standpoint, the Calypso mates beautifully with the JC1's. I will mention that I'm runnin' GE Longplate 12AX7's. I will also mention that the break-in time on the Calypso is quite lengthy, but no where near as bad as the JC1's. I will not be parting with either of these fine audio gems anytime in the near future...
I am a dealer for both Parasound JC-1's and Einstein. The Einstein tube preamp is a perfect match for the JC-1's. The Einstein as balanced out, the JC-1's have balanced in. The combination really opened up my reference system. The Einsten has great dynamics, detail, focus, soundstaging, etc. I highly recommend this combination. If you live in the Houston,Tx area, please call and come by for a listen.

Thanks everyone for your input. I have tried the Aesthetix Calypso, and the BAT VK-31 (not SE) in my system and liked them both. But for my tastes thought the Aesthetix was better. I guess I'll keep my eyes open for one of the Janus, or Ayre K-1x used and go for it. I've read both offer great phono stages.