I know the sound of most of these components fairly well. They're all very good. It really comes down to your personal taste more than anything. If you can't audition anything and have to take a chance, the Ayre is probably your safest pick. It does everything right and will work with just about anything. I've stated before that I don't care for Pass preamps. Take that bias into consideration as well. Many people really like them. (I do like Pass amps very much.) The CJ is another great pick but its not balanced and depending on your source and speakers, that may be a factor. AR may also be a good choice but they do have some reliability issues. (In all fairness, AR is very good about fixing your gear if something does go wrong.) More importantly, though, results with AR can vary greatly. I would only consider it if you can demo it in your system. Otherwise, its just too risky. If you are thinking about tubes, Aesthetix would really be a great preamp to consider. Its similar to the Ayre in that it does everything well and works with a wide variety of equipment.
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