McIntosh c220 - Great preamp. It might be right around the $2500
never considered a McIntosh before, I owned McIntosh MC501 before and they were just not my cup of tea. how do their pre sound in general? I like extended, transparent, and organic all at the same time.
IF you can do without the remote... There are/were two Audio Research SP-15 preamps for sale here now. (I already own one. and it is NOT one of the ones for sale.) the asking prices listed are a bit high. I would say you should be able to get one for $1,750. tops. (it was $6K new in 1988 through 1994... about 20 years ago.)
The Sp-15 has a built in 3 tube phono section. the rest of the pre is solid state. One thing about the SP-15 is it sounds best if the volume control is in the top 30% of the range. IT has a separate gain reduction control.. Just the sound you asked for.. but! no remote. It has only single ended inputs, but does have balanced outputs as well as single ended.
I am sure ARC SP-15 is a very fine sounding piece, but part of the reason I sold off Atma Sphere MP3 was lack of remote. Also, I will prefer an all tube pre intsead of solid state or hybrid unit.
I think I will have to go with a separate phono stage to find my tube pre with remote and XLR out.
When you say transparent, it could be other things, usually speakers and cables have a lot to do with transparency. I heard the Harbeths hooked up to McIntosh gear and it is close to the most transparent sound I have ever heard
A couple of the Bat pre's have remotes and phono sections and can be had used for under 2500.
If solid state is an option, Jeff Rowland Capri. XLR and RCA in/out, remote, and a very underrated phono stage.
I am a big BAT tube amp fan, have owned many amps and BAT is really special. Listened to a 50SE once, don't remember much any more. Forum seems to have polarized view on BAT pre, maybe I need to get one to try in my own system. what will be a good model to try? 3iX or something higher? what about the older BAT like 3i or 31SE?
as for Rowland, I spoke to a couple owners and they thought Capri was average like most Rowland products, good look but average sound. I owned 8Ti HC once, even the old Pass X350 beats its pants off so I soon sold it.
you might try the Doge 8 from pacific valve for $1350. Remote, balanced out, very good MM phono. Has embarrassed many amps costing many multiples of its price.
I have a VK-30 with remote and phono, Rega p3 for a source. I really like the sound. That being said, it is one of the older models along with the 3i and doesn't have much of an upgrade path. If I were you I would try to find a 32 0r 32SE.
I guess you can get a used vk-31 + remote + phono card at the price.
I recently got vk-30 with phono card and vk-200, all at under $3000. The sound is amazing. (I have Tyler LSS speakers and Arcam CD23 cdp)
Just looked up Pacific Valve, looks like this is another china stereo which has no proven history or reliability.
I am trying to find a BAT to listen to.
Some of the finer pre amp with phono all lack remote, Hovland, Atma Sphere, CAT, and AI. If I can live w/o remote, I will have many more choices.
Pacific valve backs up and services the products they sell. Several of the above mentioned companys have had QC problems and failures in the field. The build quality of the Doge is comparable to any of the above. Im not selling anything here just sharing my experience.