There is a Thor TPA 1000 Linestage ( upgraded to mk2 ) on Audiogon right now..For the asking price ( $2600 ) its a steal...
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Instead of specific models, here are some companies that produce excellent sounding, and extremely well made tube (pre)amplifiers. Find a used one made by them within your price range and really cannot go wrong.
Art Audio - dm-vps
BAT - VK-31
Cary - SLP 98L
EAR - 834L
Modwright - swl9.0se
These are all very, very, good tube preamps still in production and made by great companies with excellent customer support. All a larger, well established, manufacturers.
The Thor mentioned above is guaranteed to a be great unit, but the creator just shut the company down unannounced 2 years ago and walked away hanging everyone, from dealers to customers, out to dry. It was bought by the two guys that own HighEndAudio.com and they have reintroduced the brand and (I suppose) service legacy products. You can read about it here - The Return of Thor Audio: An Interview with Ted Lindblad of High End Audio
My gear is all Audio Research Corporation (ARC) and I am extremely satisfied with the sound quality, build quality and cutosmer support. As I have mentioned in other threads, I try to shy away from making specific recommensdations. However, I mention ARC only as an addition to Darkmoebius' list of recommended companies.
I would also like to add that when investigating tube pre possibilities, it may be helpful to know what will get plugged to and out of the pre. I am specifically referring to electronic gear compatibility issues. You can research the issue yourself by checking spec sheets of the plug ins/outs and the pre you're interested in.
Alternatively, you may be able to obtain some good advice from a friendly and knowledgeable hi-end audio retailer. The dealer may even let you take home some equipment and try it out. That would be a real good thing to do. I've read quite a few posts from A'gon members mentioning the same.
Another idea to consider is calling the pre manufacturer customer service department. I can't speak to the customer service folks at the other fine companies mentioned above, but I am pretty sure that Calvin or Chris at ARC would be happy to help you work through some of the compatability questions relating to your gear.
Before u spend your money check out the Musical Concepts website to see their Chameleon preamp. It is in your price range and can be configured with many different tube plug in circuit boards. It is a very good sounding preamp and is in your price range. Ask them if they give a money back guarantee if it doesnt suit you.
I use the same speakers with ARC gear, but I have also used the Bel Canto integrated (briefly) with my Ohms. I'm not so sure that a tube pre will get you all the way to where you want to be. Both Bel Canto and the Ohms strike me as pretty neutral sounding, so sub-par (particularly tipped up pop and rock) recordings sometimes suffer. I'd guess that "dialing in" some added warmth might make such a system a little more "program material" friendly. Doing so via a tubed pre might be a good idea, but it might also be a tough job.
You could try an older C-J, Cary, Audible Illusions, etc., but a tubed power amp might make a more dramatic change.
Just my own experience FWIW.
Would anyone characterize modern ARC preamps using the 6H30 tube as "warm" in the traditional sense? I'm a little on the fence about that one.
Of the ones mentioned, I'd say Cary is closest to the warm, lush, type of sound. But, that is really my impression of some of their power amps more than their preamps. Art Audio would probably be the next.
Of course, most tube preamps are going to warm compared to most solid state.
Interesting comment Darlmoebius about ARC pre's that use the 6H30 tube. I've read numerous posts here and there that seem to make the point that the 6H30 tube makes ARC amps and pre's sound more analytical, almost "SS-like." At this point, the only piece of ARC gear in my rig that doesn't use the 6H30 in the audio circuit is my PH-7 phono pre. Can't honestly say that I've heard enough ARC gear to express a view one way or the other.
I own an LS-25 and agree that it doesn't have a trace of "tube warmth". That said, it doesn't have any SS "edge" either. This particular piece might be the most extreme ARC pre in that regard, but I still wouldn't call it SS sounding. Just "pretty neutral" and quite revealing. Later versions from ARC may have backed off a bit, but none that I've heard sound at all tube-like.
Therefore, I'd agree that these wouldn't be on my personal list of preamps appropriate to the OP's stated desire.
I was going to suggest the BAT 3iX, but the VK-31 mentioned earlier has a better user interface (the 3iX is very basic), while also allowing tube rolling. I don't know what the VK-31 users for power tubes (the 3iX uses two 6V6 tubes), but I was quite surprised that most of the improvements in warmth came from replacing these tubes.
I have an Joule LA-100 and it's great. IMHO, a better choice for the OP's needs than any of the recent ARC preamps that I've heard. However, I'd try to go even further down the "tubey" road to get the result he's seeking. I suspect that an older Cary or C-J might do the trick. There probably will be some cost in bottom end control, however, if this is the chosen route. Ah, trade-offs.
Used VTL 5.5. I am one of those people that read all the Richard Hardesty journals on components as a way to shortcut my system build efforts. This pre-amp is very well regarded and very quiet and has a HT bypass thru. It is easily in your budget (used). Mine is paired up with a Sherbourne SS Amp and Vandersteen 2CE signatures. Great sound but makes me want to move higher up in the Vandersteen line.
Dante, addressing the room first is the smart move. If you still want a warmer sound after doing that, at this price point (used) you really should consider the Aesthetix Calypso - but know going in that you must replace the stock tubes to get what the unit is capable of delivering. If you want warm, with the correct tubes, that is very achievable. When you want more detail, change the tubes, there are lots of threads already with tube recs, so you really will not go in blind.
Already some great recs listed above and I am not trying to short sell any of them, just wanted to add one of the best preamps I have ever heard, that also happens to fit your budget.