Given your budget and the other equipment you have, I would suggest that you consider an Odyssey Audio Tempest preamp.
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Many all tube or tube hybrid preamps will give you better sound and a nice balance w/your ss power amp?
If you're tube-shy, remember that tubes in preamps don't need biasing, last years, and are no harder to replace than swapping power cords.
All the guitarists you're listening to have tubes in their guitar amps!
Consider Audible Illusions, Audio Research(e.g. LS7), Conrad-Johnson(made in nearby Binghamton), Rogue Audio. Lots to good stuff that beats most ss in your price range.
I would avoid the B&K. You can do a lot better. For something cheap check out the Aragon pre-amps. They have a few good SS models. For something better, used but still in your price range, see if you can find an older Klyne pre-amp.
They have a great sound for not too much money. I defy you to find anyone who really dislikes them. Although most companies seem to have thier serious detractors, Klyne seems to be somewhat of an exception. Some models are line stage while other contain a phono stage. Make sure you know what you're getting.
I started into this addictive hobby about 6 years ago with a Rega Planet. Great choice! Since that time, I've done a significant upgrade to my CD playback, but you didn't ask about that. As far as the pre, you may want to check out Naim, as they are set up to accommodate lots of upgrades as your budget allows. Naim is very musical, although I passed on purchacing it. Personal taste has SO much to do with your selection. I'm looking for a balanced pre right now, and my head is swimming with options. Good luck to you!
thanks to all for your responses so far. After further listening to this input, I think I'm headed for a tube pre-amp. This opens up a whole new world for me. I see so many options, as previously recommended, such as Audible Illusions, Marsh, Anthem, Odyssey Audio, etc. I'd really like to try to stay under a grand (new or used) and I'm looking for something that will add rich and full mids to the SS amp. No decision yet on interconnects or speaker cable either, although with my budget, I'm considering AudioQuest Jaguars and Type 6, respectively. With this cabling in mind, what type of tube pre-amp may be a good "first-jump"?
If you can swing a few extra bucks, look into an AVA (Audio by Van Alstine) Transcendence 7 SLR tube hybrid preamp for $1200.00 new. It is anything but tubey-sounding. It has (2) 12AU7 tubes in it used as voltage gain devices only. With the stock tubes, it is quite analytical, has great detail, AND has great bass slam. You can always roll tubes to taylor the sound to what you want, i.e., make it more euphonic. Go to audiocircle.com where there is an AVA circle. I own one, that's the best endorsement I can give.
Analog Shop in Victor has a CJ PV10B w/phono stage adv. on the website for $799. This is probably close enough to you based on the roch.rr. address. A nice shop with low key guys. Haven't been there in a couple of years, but they seem to be in the business for the right reasons.
Plenty to be said for a home demo...
Ok, with all these wonderful suggestions, my head hurts!! But here are two deals that I am currently considering: Quicksilver Line Stage Preamp with options on tube types, for half the price of MSRP (no remote) or Odyssey Audio Tempest for the list price from Factory Direct. Also offered was a Aragon 28K MkII for 650 and a Marsh pre-amp for 725.00. What does everyone think?
Audio by Van Alstine has:
Omega Star, SS preamp in two different configurations:
SL, (Straight Line) and EC (Enhanced Capability with tone controls).
Transcendence 6, hybrid preamp in SL.
Also, Trancendence 5, which is all tube. I own the AVA Super Pas 3, one of the all tube precursors to the T5. Can run it 24/7. It just smiles back. Sounds great.
All can be had for under $1k. each.
AVA quality is the highest. Bang for the buck cannot be beat. I have owned AVA gear for over 25 years. Never a hiccup. Never a regret. AVA has a VERY faithful customer base. Real value for real listeners.