Simple, small footprint tube preamp ?

Please be kind. I'm pretty ignorant about computer audio. My source is a laptop, into a Sabre DAC, to the amplifiers. 
I'm wondering if there is a more simple, small footprint tube preamp that could be set on my desk near the laptop? I'd prefer to be able to tube roll, but know NOTHING about this really. I'd prefer to spend less that $500, but $1000 is okay. Normal sized chassis will not work in my application. Kits are okay too. Thank you
Check out the Schiit Saga+. It meets all of your criteria -- small footprint, has a tube that is easily changed, and is only $400 new. I have one in my system and have been very pleased with it -- extremely quiet, very low distortion and a good frequency range. It also comes with a remote.  It is direct order only, but Schiit offers a two week trial. They do charge 5% if you return it.

Schiit for sure. Eastern Electric made some that have lots of flexibility to try different tube types if that's the way you roll. (ha!) Cheers,
We started 'making' one recently. Actually I built it to be a small amp for my bedroom system. It make 5 watts per channel. I didn't want a cheap SET; I wanted something that was low distortion to full power (SETs aren't), wouldn't be making a lot of heat and would fit on a sheet of paper with room to spare. This started as a one-off but it was almost the same money to get 10 chassis built as it was for one. So I guess we've got a small tube amp now. Mine was done in blue; we're also doing chrome and black. Here's a link:
We've not announced this as a product. My goal was to make something that wasn't made of cheap parts so it would be reliable- I didn't want it to be getting into trouble if I fell asleep listening to it at night. So its built with nice parts throughout, unlike a lot of the inexpensive fare coming from China at this point. Its also low distortion, and I've compared it to SETs of the same power; in a nutshell SETs are physically larger and don't sound as musical.
atmasphere9,154 posts02-15-2021 10:26amWe started 'making' one recently. Actually I built it to be a small amp for my bedroom system. It make 5 watts per channel.


I really like your approach, cute little unit. Your getting 5-8 watts with 3 12AX7s and they don't run out of gas like a SET... That is cool.. My biggest complaint about SET, they sound great until they don't.
 If you keep turning them up.. I continue to loose more and more interest..

Single ended is ok, BUT I'm still a push pull guy. Some I like a LOT more than others and inherently, run cooler..

Compliance and heat are the issue for sure with SET.. If your gonna sell the stuff, anyways.. 

What about a cool dozen for the driver valves..  15-20 watts? Be a looker for sure, SR71 stuff... Desk top V24? :-) Now I got an Idea.

A 5U4 and OA3 valve (glow tube) for a quieter ride yet? Might have to do that twice, but I bet with a 12 pack of 12AT, X, Y, Z or 12BHs, Things could get lively.  I think I would like the look and idea V12 or 24. Be nice to be able to bias lower for a lower valve count, like Cary does. Great idea. Can run 2, 4, or 6 valves per rail, just by re-bias. Maybe in quads.
50.00 - 100.00 quads are quite plentiful. 3 sets of quads per side.. or just 1 set with a re-bios. Sure look cool!..

Wow volcano mouth, eruption!!! Clear the joint out...:-)

@ atmasphere, are you saying I should use you amp as a preamp?
@ oldhvymec, I apologize for my ignorance, but you lost me.
I may not have made myself very clear. I should have said, I am inquiring about the really small, and cheap tube preamps like sold on Amazon under $100. These pretty much fit in your hand almost. I'm wondering if there is anything like these, only truly well made with quality parts? They are perfect for a laptop system, in size.
Hi, flaxxer.
Check out the Schiit Saga+ as mlsstl suggested.
atmasphere and hvy are simply having a friendly side chat.
I’m a proud owner of an Audio Note system, and today I bought a Musical Paradise tube amp for 450 dollars as a back up amp. Bought NOS tubes on eBay and Upscale Audio for a total of 680 dollars. I’m pretty exited as a sound engineer told me two days ago it was fantastic.
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Thank you SO much. You helped me realize, what I really need is an all tube gain stage. I'm assuming a small preamp works the same way.
I believe what you need is a all tube integrated amplifier (pre+power amp in single chassis). 
@flaxxer, since you want something smaller in chassis size and want to tube roll, would suggest you try out the Chinese clone of the Marantz 7 tube preamp. Its a line stage only, has excellent sonics and you can tube roll and capacitor roll to your hearts content.

Remote PRT-07B stereo 12AX7 Tube preamplifier base on Marantz M7 preamp L12-46 | eBay
@ atmasphere, are you saying I should use you amp as a preamp?
@flaxxer No. I completely misread something and thought you were talking about a desktop amp, not a preamp. Sorry about that.
Oops, my amps just changed. And my preamp needs MAY have because of this. So i need some advice on the best way to go about getting volume control for these Icepower ASP1000 amplifiers. I've read about the high input impedance. I use a computer for my source playing Flac, wav or hi-res audio files. I'm using a very simple dongle Style USB DAC that sounds okay. I have choices, but do not know what my best bet is. For simplicity, it would seem I should just buy a better desktop DAC, such as and SMSL M500 and use the volume control knob on front. Or ANY other DAC with a volume control for that matter. I know I can use my volume control the USB. Provides through the keyboard on my computer. But with amplifiers this powerful, I figure I should have a volume control to prevent issues such as full volume noise blasts, which have happened before when the computer glitches. My second option would be to purchase a regular preamp. This would be the most expensive option, as I would want something at least as good as the Schitt Freya +, and that is $900! I would still need a decent DAC upgrade. This gets expensive with my health issues at hand. The last way I could go, is something like an all tube gain stage. I would still need a DAC, but a simple gain stage kit should only be a few hundred at most. The other two options I can think of, would be the pass B1 buffer clone kit preamp for 150 dollars, but I don't know if it would play nice with a high input impedance of the icepower amp. The most simple and cheapest route, would be be using the Sure digital volume control option. But I do not know how high fidelity that would be. I could really use some help. I've been out of this hobby for about 10 years now. I feel a bit lost and appreciate everyone who has helped so far.