I have 2 passive amps, the placette and the EVS attenuators.
I also have had the BAT, Thor TA-1000, Cary slp-50 and now the blue circle BC-3 Galatea line stage.
The passives need to be matched with the right source and amps. You have to drive your amp to life. I could not get either passive to drive my Bel Canto SET40 to my liking. There was volume, but no life. Yes it had bass too, but it was missing something. Paired with the Evo, the sound was very detailed but on the lean and sterile side. Very detailed, but to the point of distraction.
The way to go is with a quality active linestage. The BC BC-3 did it for me. The stepped attenuators, simple circuitry and great design make music. The sound is detailed yet doesn't distract. The bloom and presence are all there.
Great pace and it sounds alive. A drum kick is felt, not just heard. Vocals have air, depth and a pleasant natural presence.
There is no right or wrong in what you prefer. Everything matters in the audio chain. Keep things as simple as possible when dealing with the source signal. An active linestage is a great way to manage the type of sound you are looking for.
Look for a simple design in an active linestage. The Cary SLP-50 is a good eample. The BC-3 is more refined with a very well designed power supply. Don't ignore the volume control. You would be amazed how many $8K preamps use a $25 volume control. Go with a stepped attenuator setup if possible.