try a Plinius M-8
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I am a very strong proponent for passive attenuation. I have had some very well reviewed and expensive active linestages and I always end up coming back to the passives.
In my situation I have sources with high output and I am able to keep my cable runs very short (1m or less) and I also use unshielded cable from source to passive and passive to amps. I also have high sensitivity speakers so system gain is not an issue at all for me.
I currently have a couple TVC units, a buffer and the lightspeed attenuator....none cost me more than $750 used and IMO, in my system and based on my taste they perform as well or better than the several $10k-$18k active linestages I have owned or tried.
They genrally don't have the flexibility and/or cache but they provide what I feel a linestage should as well or better than anything else I have had.
YMMV but if you haven't explored this route and your system and needs spec out to be compatible with a passive, I strongly encourage you to try this route. The risk is low and the rewards potentially very high
Look at the Coincident Statement Linestage.
I've used it with my 300b monoblocks. At 5k new you will be amazed at it build quality.I am astounded that it does not cost more. That seems to be a trademark of Coincident. Based on what you outlined,it has what you are looking for.
See my review on audiogon
Thanks for the input! I am beginning to audition what I can here around NYC and I listened to the AMAZING Shindo preamps and amps today. My search may be over (albeit at a price tag slightly above what I had intended to spend)...
The Monbrison full function pre was just remarkably musical and produced a sound so close to live music. I also want to hear a CJ CT5 and the Tron line but hard to imagine anything at that price point topping it :)
You might want to check out Joule Electra. I've used their 100 pre with Cary 300b momoblocks into Merlin VSM SEs with great results. On the budget side, Audible Illusions barks up the "tubier" sounding side of the tree. I had good results with this pre in the aforementioned system, as well. Got to be careful with reliability on the AI stuff, though, service problems are legendary.
I heard the Tron Seven Reference phono last weekend at Highwater Sound and my search is now over. The Tron, paired with Tron Telstar and driving Horning Eufrodite speakers produced the most dynamic, natural and effortless music I have ever heard. Frankly, Jeff's system has me completely rethinking the path I plan to take with audio.
I placed an order for the brand new Seven Reference full function (line and phono in one box) unit on the spot. He also had a Syren set up and can only imagine what that must sound like! Many thanks to Jeff who I found both very knowledgeable and helpful.