Seeking PreAmp for 2-Channel Home Theater

Decided to upgrade my media system, and move my current 2-channel HT kit: Linn Wakonda/LK85 w/ Linn Kan IVs to the bedroom. HT System is intended just for 2-Channel Movies & video streaming. All sources except the tuner are plugged into the Sony XBR2 40" TV via HDMI.

Currently I'm test-driving a Classe CA-2100 into the Kan IVs (which will eventually become either a pair of B&W CM5s or 805s). Initially, the CA-2100 was paired with a Classe SSP-300 which I returned b/c I thought the SSP-300 was way too laid-back in 2-channel for movies.

I brought the Wakonda back to the HT kit and paired it with the CA-2100 with mixed results; The Wakonda is very bright in combination with the Classe. I'm now looking at swapping the Wakonda for a Linn Exotik (currently in my primary living room system and paired with an Akurate 2200 2010 w/ Harbeth Compact 7es-3s).

At this point, I'm looking for a preamp that's somewhat warmer than the Wakonda and somewhat more forward than the SSP-300. The dealer selling the CA-2100 suggested either an older Meridian (circa 56X era) or a Linn Majik. Budget for the Pre would be $2K or less, preferably much less.

Alternatively, I can bring the "bedroom system" back into the home theater and return the Classe CA-2100 (priced on clearance) to the dealer and try something else entirely. The current short list includes the Meridian G56, Arcam 360 or 400, the NAD 375BEE, and the Denon Anniversary integrated. Happy to hear about other alternatives within reason (also, No Krell, No McIntosh, No Luxman, No Plinius, and no Linn Classik Bricks).

I think the Wakonda/LK85 works nicely in the bedroom, and budget-wise I don't think that I need the HT system to be at the same level as the living room system. I like the CA-2100 and am happy to keep it if I can find a good preamp pairing at my price range. Thanks!
For 2K you have some good can definitely get a CJ Premier 17 (there is one on AGon now). I have owned CJ preamps for 12 years consecutively. I nearly went with ARC, Wavac, Shindo, Zanden, and ended up with CJ in the end each time.
Thank you for the response.

I ended up returning the Classe CA-2100 amp as it had a manufacturers defect. The RCA Mount for the Left Audio-In was misaligned slightly. The toe-in was slight, but was enough to require pliers to disconnect my ICs (AQ Cheetahs, which were not inexpensive).

Took the amp back to Definitive Audio, who compared it to their other CA-2100 in stock. They both had the defect. Definitive was kind enough to let me do a DOA return, and they are advising clients that the Classes need to be run as "balanced only".

This was a shame, as the CA-2100 had a great sound. Unfortunately, both of the preamps that I own only run unbalanced RCA, and the thought of possibley destroying my ICs simply made keeping the Classe impractical.

Sorry to've a very good system in any event...that is the important thing. If you wanted, i am surprised Definitive did not offer to just fix the RCA out on the back of the Classe? Not hard to do at all.