Conrad Johnson PV11L can be had used for your budget. Great sounding tube preamp that would compliment your setup.
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Meyvn, I would highly recommend you put on your audition list a used Placette passive line stage, new it goes for $1600.00, however you can find used for around $900.00,
yes, a little over your budget, but a killer that competes sonicly with line stages up to thousands of dollars more.
The kind of sonic virtues you are looking for are offered by the Placette, take a look at the numerous threads regarding it's performance here on the GON for much more details.
I cannot reccommend anything more highly than a Placette RVC linestage if you only have the single input device. It's right in your pricerange on the used market, and performance is superb! I can't say I know how well the two synergize, but based on the 23K input inpedence of the Pass you should be fine. I would do some research to check compatibillity to make sure before making a decision. I use a Placette with my Odyssey Stratos Dual Mono and the results are stellar. It does everything right and nothing to really fault at all. Soundstaging and mids are astoundingly good (I only mention those qualities since they are important to you, but it also does many other things right...I'll spare you the verbosity). It is definitely a very system-sensitive component. It does not work anywhere near as well in my SET system which has a 300K input inpedence. Your Pass system is much more similar to my SS system which is why I think it would work there. If you bought a turntable you would need a phono preamp as the RVC is only a linestage. The 3-input version is identical in performance, but has 3 input jacks and goes for around $900-1000 on the used market. Do more research - if it can work in your system I don't believe you will find anything better anywhere near the price, or for many times more for that matter.
Sounds like the making of a great sytem...Great Phones. I would forgo the pre-amp, sell the Rega and upgrade to a Wadia which has a built in volume control. The upgrade is not subtle...I was in a similar predicament with a Cal Audio player-I bought a Placette but ultimately opted for the clarity and staging of going direct.
Adcom GFP-750 would be a good match and a used one is easily within budget.
Not the only reason to go for it, but this pre was designed by Nelson Pass for Adcom.
The pre is flexible in many welcome ways. Sonics are the priority, but the machine is also a functional tool. As the hub and traffic director for the system, its logistical tasks shouldn't be dismissed. Full remote that controls just about everything (example, balance via the remote is nice to have). There's a processor loop, can run passive or active, single-ended or balanced XLR's (for one input), can reverse stereo speakers with a knob (handy for trouble shooting) etc.
And its a very good sounding preamp. Typically best run passive, but you'll have to trial with the Aleph 3. My guess is that you'd end up using both in different circumstances. For some music you might want the quite and delicate purity, say for sparse vocals, or you might accept the slightest of hardening (not much at all really) to get the extra punch from running active.
Another alternative... you are very lucky, you might find a non-remote Aleph P preamp, for not much beyond the budget?
Bottom line though, I'd keep the Adcom on the shortlist - and don't be put off that Adcom doesn't typically suggest the same kind of high-end equipment as Pass, it is a very good machine.
The relatively low input impedance of the Pass can be a potential source of performance compromise with tube preamps that have high output impedances, which many do. Doesn't mean you won't find bliss with a tube preamp, just something to be mindful of.
I also think the Placette is an excellent suggestion.
Forget all of the above and look at the Maple tree tube preamp for under $700. Comes in a kit also if you want to save a few bucks. I recently hear one and it was musical as all get out. Fast, clean, slightly tube warmish but real musical. COmes witha 10 day trial offer too. If I wa starting over, I'd put in my system and laugh all the way to the bank. Paired very nicely with the Channel Island D-200 digital mono amps.
I highly recommend the Ray Samuels Emmeline CA-2 solid state preamp. If you can live with just 2 inputs this preamp competes with units in the 5K range. A brand new CA-2 is only $695. There is an excellent review on this unit from Dick Olsher that provides plenty of information. Very transparent and tonally accurate. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
haven't used Placette but passives lack dynamics.CJ (older stuff) is noisy.Adcom is OK but not quite up to your Pass piece.Others up there can't say I have experience with them to offer 2 Cents.I see that there is a compact digital Bel Canto up for sale today that might work well.But current "overachiever" is the Dan Wright Modwright pre for $2500 list.Has tubes but great greives saying it isn't soft or mushy.You could grab a used one for $1500.It would be my current choice.Check out the www.modwright.com site for yourself.
"passives lack dynamics" is one of the biggest misconceptions in all of audio. That is a load of bull perpetuated by those who either have only heard them in systems that weren't compatible with them, or just parrot what other misinformed individuals have said.
These individuals insert one in a system that isn't a good match, get poor results, and declare that all passives are inherently flawed.
In the right system they are wonderful. In the wrong system, like any other component, they are not.
I recently replaced my CAT SL2 Ultimate ($8,000) (a "dynamics" champ)with the Placette RVC ($1,000). I did not make the move for financial reasons. The Placette does not lack dynamics when paired with my CAT JL2 Amp (100Kohm input impedance and .85mvs sensitivity). IMHO, in the right set up the Placette can compete with just about any preamp out there. If you want to know if the Placette will work with your Pass Aleph 3, call the owner of Placette - Guy Hummel(?) - he will tell you the truth. Better yet, try the 30-day trial and make up your own mind if it works with your amp.
Eastern Electric Minimax is always a good choice. They go for around $550-700 used, depending on the vintage. I have been running mine for about 2 years with great results (NOS tubes are a big upgrade). Much better than the C-J PV10a it replaced. If I was going passive, I would get a CDP with volume control and skip the preamp.
Chazzbo, which passive have you heard that lack in dynamics? That information would probably be a useful qualifier to your statement. As pointed out - The Placette absolutely positively does not lack in dynamics, nor does the Placette fall short in any other way in my experience. I've also heard the Sonic Euphoria and the Bent and neither of those choices in passives lack in dynamics either. I prefer the Placette in my system, regardless of price (have not tried the Bent there though - heard it in someone else's rig). Good suggestion to give Guy a call if you want further information and to check on synergy. He has no interest in selling you a product that won't work with your system. If it does work, and I do think it will, you will be in for a big treat for some small change.