Preamp dillema for McCormack Ultra Platinum

I've had my eye on either a McCormack TLC-1 or the RLD-1, to possibly replace my Ref 50. I've tried the VTL 2.5 but I believe the gain is too much.

Some have recommended the CJ preamps, I don't have to go with tubes, but since this DNA-1 amp has transformed my system, I was thinking of going with the RLD-1.

I would liken to stay under $1500, even $1K but depends on what's avail. I would like to end up with something like a Pass XP-20 but that's a bit of a stretch right now.

Thoughts on an older RLD-1 stock or upgraded vs. similar pre's?
It's hard to go wrong with either a CJ or ARC preamp in your budget.  

Both brands have remotes and retain their value when you buy them used.  There are other brands of course, but those two have quite a legacy and performance standard that make them safe pics.

A used Aesthetix would be another brand that is up there with the best, but I doubt you will find one in your budget.  Placette made a really high-end passive preamp that would be a notch above the TLC1 unmodded, but those are even rarer to find...especially with a remote.

Personally, if you're using the preamp for TV and game consoles, you might want to avoid tubes.  You're likely going to have to keep the preamp on a lot more with all those uses, and you will go through tubes much faster.  You may not find it worth the extra cost, heat, and higher noise floor of tubes with some of those applications.

As I mentioned, ARC makes a SS preamp in your budget (used) and the RLD1 would be a quality budget option for SS too.  I really don't see anything blowing the RLD1 away in your price range, but the ARC and CJ options would be first choice.
Long awaited update but I was able to find a RLD-1 in excellent condition  for just under $500....should be here tomorrow.

I would like to find a good tubed pre again that matches my system but I want to wait and save some more and get what I want.

I'm sure the RLD-1 will serve me well and I plang to discuss upgrade options for it. I'll report back once I have spent some time with it.
Sorry for the lengthy wait on the update....I’ve spent quite a bit of time with this preamp and can say it’s definitely a welcome addition having full analog pass-through.

The transparency and detail quickly became apparent and mates well with my gear.

However, I can tell the RLD-1 and the DNA-1 Ultra Platinum together are just a touch on the bright side and this is very slight. When I say bright, I also want to speculate it’s also a slightly thin midrange and my last tube preamp (VTL 2.5) tended to fill that slight void.

My question is ..given the age of the RLD-1, should I mod the RLD-1 to a platinum or ultra platinum, or maybe look for a used Pass XP-10, or maybe even a XP-20?

I could likely sink $1500-2K into this RLD-1 but I’ve never heard either a modded RLD-1 or any Pass Labs preamp.

Tough call given the cost to modify the RLD-1, but I really like the DNA-1 so I’m not uncertain SMC could make it shine..just a fair bit of coin that could go either way.
I owned the platinum RLD and while it had tons of drive it didn’t sonically touch my modded TLC-1 that you can see on my system page and on the SMc website.  Steve can work wonders with the TLC-1, which can be set up for unity gain (like mine) or to have +6 dB gain, if needed by your system. I have owned quite a few mid to high’ish end preamps and none of them were equal to my SMc Audio TLC-1.
@dyl71 ,
I had many products modded by SMcAudio. All turned out to be improvements.
I would call Steve or Pat, describe your system and they can do a custom upgrade based on what you want to spend.