Passive line stage? New cd player? Opinions please

System below...

I'm trying to find more transparancy/nirvana in my digital front end. I currently have my preamp in bypass mode when listening to cd.

I'm wondering if a passive preamp, like the Placette Line Stage, would be the answer. It has 3 sets of inputs so I can use my HT preamp through it for movies/TV (and match volume levels). I'd prefer a passive with a remote volume control.

Another option could be a new CD player or DAC. The Cary 303/300 looks good to me (I want HDCD). I coud go directly to the amp with it, but then that cuts out HT and radio, so that's out.

I guess I'm wondering if bypass mode on my preamp is truly bypass; a clean path. Or can I do better?

Thanks in advance for opinions!

relevant equipment:
Music Hall CD-25 modified
Outlaw 990 preamp
Eagle 7A amp
Hales Transcendence 5 speakers
VH Audio DIY silver interconnects w/Furutech RCAs
VH Audio power cables
Audioquest type 4 bi-wired
I doubt the Outlaw in bypass mode can give you the transparency you seek. It may also be the weak link in your system. When i first started I had an Emotiva pre/pro running in Bypass which I thought sounded good. But using the Aux channel and using the L/R of the 7.1 outputs made a huge difference over Bypass. Something you may want to try.

FWIW I went to a Promitheus TVC Ref 4 passive pre and if transparency is what you want, that's what it gives. i'm very pleased. But passives require more careful impedance matching to the amp, and of course source through to amp needs to have enough juice to sufficiently power your speakers as you want have an active line stage anymore.
Sorry, I meant setting the Outlaw to Ext 7.1 or equivalent, not Aux. Try it, you'll likely be surprised at the improvement.
Will try - thanks.