Solid State Preamps

I have a tube preamp and a recently acquired Herron tube phono pre. I am thinking that I want to go to a solid state preamp because my sound has gotten a bit too pretty. Other equipment includes a Basis table and arm, Dynavector XX mkii cartridge, Marantz MA9 amps, Magico V3 speakers, Transparent cabling. I could spend up to $5000--what are some choices? I am already thinking about Esoteric C-03 and Simaudio P-7. Suggestions appreciated. I would really like a balance control with a new unit too.
Teeshot: I would suggest you take a close look at the new Herron VTSP-3A RO2. I wrote a rather lengthy "review" when I got mine so I won't repeat all that here. What I will say is I have lost NONE of the enthusiasm I had when I wrote months ago. I seriously do not think I will ever own another preamp--it is that good. Don't worry about the tubes--this is a very linear pre that will make perfectly with your VTPH-2 and would be very comfortable in a system as nice as yours. You may need to stretch your budget a little to get one but I think you will find it well worth the effort. If you don't have a dealer local Keith will allow a trial purchase so you can see for yourself.
I have the VTPH-2 and just ordered the matching amps and pre-amp. They should be here next week; Can't Wait.
The balance control is going to be difficult. Also, what kind of preamp do you have now? Maybe you can try some different tubes.

That said, if it must go I would consider an Ayre K-5 or possibly a used K-1. BAT's SS preamps are very nice as well.
Running the output of a tube component into the input of a solid state component makes it particularly important to consider impedance relationships. I seem to recall reading that Keith recommends against loading the output of the VTPH-2 with relatively low input impedances, although I don't recall the specific number that was mentioned.

I suspect that the Simaudio P-7, at 22K, would be marginal. The balanced inputs of the Ayre components that Zd suggested, which you would not be using to connect to the Herron's single-ended outputs, are spec'd at 20K per phase for the K-5xe and 10K per phase for the K-1xe. That suggests the possibility that those numbers may also be the unspecified input impedances of the unbalanced inputs, which I suspect would be too low to be a good match.

Good luck in your search. Regards,
-- Al
Since you have the Marantz amps, you may want to try the Marantz 7S2 pre-amp. If it had HT pass-thru I would have strongly considered keeping the one I sold close to 3 years ago.
Out of curiosity what tube pre are you currently using? I'd recommend a Bryston BP26. The reason is I'm using a BP6 and find it very uncolored and open sounding, but most importantly it allows the strengths of everything that comes before or after to come through it intact without stripping or adding anything. Personally I think the Bryston preamps are a bit overshadowed by their amps and perhaps a bit overlooked, and a BP26 may work very well in your particular situation. Also has a balance control. Best of luck.
I am currently using a Modwright 36.5 for a preamp. I spoke with Keith at Almarg's suggestion and he opines that the 22k impedance of the P-7 is marginally OK but that the 40k impedance C-03 will be fine.

I have tried the Marantz preamp in my system and have to say I did not find it very transparent. As to tube suggestions, I think I want to try a solid state preamp to see how it works; my favorite systems I have heard for vinyl have always only had one tube component--usually the preamp.

I will look at the Bryston--thanks for the suggestion.