pre-amp upgrade bug...MF A3cr to a ???

I'm currently using a MF A3cr pre-amp (Pass X150, Von Schweikert VR2s downstream). No major complaints with the sound just the typical audiophile wondering if I could do better. My only real complaints of the pre-amp are a slightly veiled and closed in sound, a touch of mid bass emphasis, coarse volume control and closely spaced RCAs on the back.

My ideal preamp would have or include most of the following;
1. Addresses my complaints as listed above
2. Balanced outs would be nice to feed my X150
3. Internal phono stage is preferred if it can perform equally or better than a Lehmann Cube SE and work with a low output MC cartridge while still offering some flexibility for future carts. If not, I’m willing to keep the Cube and stay with a linestage only.
4. Tubes are ok as long as the sound is neutral. I don’t want to get into the whole biasing tube rolling thing.
5. Will consider used if it’s from a reliable company willing to back or service the unit with little to no hassle.
6. Be able to stay in my system for a few years and survive surrounding component upgrades.

Budget new or used around the $2k mark give or take a few hundred. Of course the giant killing $1k pre-amp is ideal.

Units I’ve at least thought about or considered; ARC SP16, BAT VK3i, McCormack RLD-1. Beyond that I’m really stumped thus the call for help. Any thoughts or considerations to help a brother out?
ARC LS25MkII, LS5MkIII so you can get your balanced connection and ARC offers excellent service and tube assistance so you don't spend more time with your gear down versus listening
Pass X-1 old cosmetics
Pass P preamp
Based on your ARC CD1 I wouldn't do the McCormack or any passive as the output voltage is low... I would also do a Placette over the McCormack any day, especially an used Active Placette (Single ended only)
The ARC SP16 is a nice unit also, as one of my friends has it, but no balanced.
If you could stretch you budget $3,000 then the Rowland Syngergy IIi is an incredible preamp with seperate power supply. Running it off of batteries makes it a giant killer and saves you the cost of upgrading power cables!
The BAT VK3i also meets the criteria stated by Cytocycle. BAT customer service is best I have ever experienced and of course it runs "balanced" I think it is a giant killer $1K pre. No biasing of tubes in this (or any other that I can think of) pre. Phono stage is OK, but the Lehman is better.
If you would like to keep the pre, the mid bass emphasis can be mostly corrected by replacing the output coupling caps with larger and better quality electrolytics. There are also 2 inter-stage coupling caps near the motorised volume control, but these are more difficult to get at. If you can get someone to replace all 4 of these with HQ electros then the bass will be perfectly tight and rock solid, but replacement of just the output caps will give you an 80% fix.

See also my reply to the question of distortion.

Hope this info helped.