Why not a VTL 5.5 then?
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Its almost midnight here in this part of the world and i am now auditioning a vtl 5.5 and a hovland hp 100. The vtl lent to me had telefunken 12ax7 nos tubes and the hovland on stock tubes.Both preamps are excellent but the hovlands imaging is more pin point and you can picture the accurate separation of instruments. The vtl had a more wider sound stage but the richness of the sound makes it difficult to pinpoint instrument placements. A friend who was with me when we compared both preamps mentioned that the hovalnd had a more elegant sound. If only the hovland had a remote control, my search would have been over.
I have a system consisting of Snapper driving Tannoy. I searched for a preamp and all my longings ended with a Leben RS-28CX. It is a fantastic synergistic match. I compared it up against the Steelhead and Leben have more magic with Snappers. I see that you want a remote and only a line stage. You will not get this with Leben. There are rumours of Leben comming these days with a new down scaled preamp for half the dollar. Anyway, I urge you to check out Leben. It is one of those fantastic matches with Snapper.
The Manley 300B preamp is wonderful. It is virtually the only product I've heard that conveys the emotion of the music. The device is scary quiet, but once the music begins, the sheer accuracy, warmth and vibrancy leaves every other preamp I've heard for dead.
I'm going to save my shekels to buy the Neoclassic 300B monoblocks and then, I think, my hi fi journey might be nearing its final destination.