You might consider the Kora pre-amp. A sonic bargin at $2,100 new. It is remote control, all tubes & sounds great! Give Joe a call at JC Audio for input. He is a real tweaker! I am sure he can help you.
After much hunting I am extremely pleased with my purchase of a Rogue 99 (uses 4 x 6SN7 tubes). Mine includes remote control but I have a separate phono pre-amp. Count me in the crowd of very happy pre amp owners. Very quiet, beautiful, variable gain, mute and mono switches. By the way, it drives a Plinius SA100 Mk III (100 watt solid state) amp, and very beautifully I might add. Price new is around $2,000, and used (a very rare event) around $1,200. I think those that buy them realize what a great sound/great price they represent, and do not part with them easily. Give it a listen, and enjoy!
I have heard most of your suggestions and the recommendations of the respondents to your thread. In my opinion, the CAT Ultimate would beat all comers. I have to admit that I haven't heard the Kora, nor that particular model of Rowland, although I have experience with other Rowland's. Again, in my opinion, the CAT would beat any BAT by a country mile. The CAT is, to my ears extremely musical, smooth, with excellent dynamics, soundstage and extension. It had tremendous synergy with the Plinius amps when I had them in my system. Even though there are better amps out there other than Plinius on an absolute basis, those two went together in my system like a match made in heaven. Thia pairing will give you super-clean, dynamic midrange which really introduced me to Class A sound and what the fuss was all about. Don't know how the Wadia 850 will interject itself into this match. I have heard 850's and 860's on several occasions. While dynamic and impressive sounding, I have found them a litte too midrange forward for my taste. Balanced CAT preamp? As I understand it, whether you order a CAT with XLR outputs or not, it is always electrically a single-ended preamp. Therefore, unless your amp doesn't have RCA inputs, I don't see any advantage in paying the extra expense to get the CAT fitted with XLR's. I do know that the Wadia's sound signifcantly better when contacted to a balanced preamp. On that basis, you may want to bypass the CAT as your choice, but do listen to one under its best conditions. At least, you'll know what you are trying to beat in selecting a truly balanced preamp. If you are restricted to the highest level balanced preamps, you might want to look at Klyne 7 series (solid state) and the Atma-spere MP-1 Mk II. I have not heard either, so cannot vouch for the sound.