Recommend me a prepro/amp combo for zu essence

I'm planning on purchasing a pair of zu essence speakers, and would like to build a prepro & 2ch power amp combo with them. Plan to setup in a home theatre environment (ie. connected to ps3, plasma, etc.) Plan to start with 2.1ch & go to 5.1ch later. Have heard the Pass Labs x30.5 with the essences & was blown away, but it's obviously an expensive option. Is there anything else you would recommend? I'm fairly keen on sticking to solid state. I've heard essences with Peachtree audio & thought it sounded fairly unimpressive. Also heard them with a Naim amp, which was quite good. What can you recommend in the way of a prepro for this type of speaker? Maybe Emotiva UMC-1? Or would the preamp be too poor? Budget $7K for pre/pro & 2 ch power amp
My suggestion to you would be to purchase used, and skew the cost heavily in favour of the pre/pro. A good amplifier is a good amplifier, but lower end pre/pro's with all of their processing and extra connectors,and such, have to be compromised somewhere, and that somewhere is usually the two channel performance. A good, well designed analogue output stage is expensive to implement, and most lower cost pre/pro's will skimp here. I have not heard the Emotiva specifically but I have also never heard a stand alone two channel pre in the Emotiva's price range that was capable of really good sound,so just think of all the extra expense that went into the DAC's and multi-channel outputs and everything else and think how much more compromised the two channel performance must be now. There are a plethora of very high quality pre/pro's on the used market from well respected high-end companies that are capable of good two channel performance, although many still feel that no multi-channel pre/pro can offer state of the art two channel analogue sound. I disagree. It will be rather expensive to do but it can be done, especially when these older pre/pro's are now available used for pennies on the dollar in comparison to their original selling prices. No, you won't get the ability to decode the latest hi-rez surrouind codecs, or the ability to switch video via HDMI, but so what? I would never switch video through an audio component anyway, and as long as the source component can decode and output the surround codecs internally all you will need is the analogue pass-through inputs to enjoy these formats. I would look for pre/pro's from the likes of Krell, Parasound Halo, EAD, Classe, Cary, NAD Masters Series, and so on and so on. Pre/pro's from these trusted high-end companies, and others, are more carefully thought out as far as two channel performance goes and can come very close to, if not equal, the performance of current new two channel pre-amps in the same price range as the current used prices for the pre/pro's.
Thanks for your help Rcrerar, what about another option: could I get a quality integrated amp (ie. preamp & power amp), & join this to an average but up to date av receiver via pre-outs? That way I play music through 2 channels with quality amplification, but play other stuff (tv, movies etc) via the preamp of the avr & the power amp of the integrated amp? Is this a realistic & practical option? Thanks!
I own them and would suggest a great integrated with a very very good DAC. Depending on room size I suggest a Melody i2A3, Astro Black 22 (Push-Pull 22 Watts) or an Audion 300B Silver Night (probably a little weaker). I use a Moon i-3 and am happy. I will purchase either a Eastern Electric DAC+ or an AudioNote DAC. They are radically different from each other but both will make your digital experience much better. Hope this helps.
The speaker is very easy to drive and 30 watts is often a lot of power on them (depending on room size of course). So you have a fairly wide range of tube powered amplifiers that can easily do the job.
Having owned the Essence before, I would normally recommend the Atma-sphere S30 or the First Watt J2.

However, you're planning to use this in a HT environment where you may be watching hours upon hours of television, and, well, OTL and Class A solid state are typically pretty power hungry, it seems such a waste to do that just to watch the latest episode of House.

Having said all that, given the HT application and the way I personally feel about it, I recommend as a preamp the Modwright LS-100 which has HT bypass and as power amp, the Modwright KWA100 which operates in Class A/B.
Oh my, I just noticed the original post was from July and August of 2011. This is an old thread. The OP has long since moved on I'm sure.