Sonic Frontier, Joule or Counterpoint Tube Preamp?

I was looking to buy a tube preamp to try in my system and see that the older models of SF 1, Joule 100 and Counterpoint seem very reasonably priced. Can anyone recommend one of the other and why?

Thanks and Happy Listening.
At least one key factor will be finding a unit in good condition. I have a early-80s Counterpoint pre and it performs well. Actually, repairs for any of the brands you seek are not much of an issue. Both the SF and Counterpoint will be low priced due to their manufacturers being out of business. However, each is supported by repair facilities operated by the same people that manufactured them, so it shouldn't be a worry. In fact, I had my pre restored by Mike Eliot and it has proved trouble free. Also, it's easily tweakable with tube rolling and shows the characteristic of whatever tubes I try--a sign that the pre is transparant enough to show such differences. Another thing to consider is that you may have matching issues with your amp. I have a Counterpoint pre and SF amp and can't get the volume knob much above 9 o'clock before things really take off! YMMV as amp gain/effeciency of speakers will dictate that interaction.

Haven't tried the Joule, but their power amps are something special.

I can comment on sonic differences between the SF and Counterpoint "house sounds"--Counterpoint adds body with more lushness while the SF is more precise and better extension at both ends. Either one gives a good showing of why tubes rule. In short, I think you're barking up the right tree with any of the brands you mention.
I concur with Doug,I personally can attest to the excellent qualities of the Counterpoint units,plus Mike is good to deal with,Bob
I have the Sonic Frontiers Line 1 which I bought off a fellow A'goner. I am very happy with it. Parts Connexion does mods and repairs of these units. I would stick with one of the Line series pre's if you are going with SF as I've heard tell that they are much better than the previous generation of SF pre's. The Line series of preamps have a more graduated volume control than what Doug describes above. It goes in half dB steps from zero to 95. Average listening for me is around 44 to 60 depending on the source CD and my mood. Would like to have taken it higher but I live in an apartment and don't wish to move yet. Good luck.
I love my counterpoint SA5000. For the price in the used market, it is by far the best value/sound. You get top of line MC/MM phono stage with excellent line stage. Works wonderful with my VDH Black Beauty cartridge, Marantz CD17 player,McIntosh MR-71 tuner and both high/low power amp in two different systems. I used to own a lot more expensive preamps and with a seperate MC step up.
Never had any issue with the unit.
I love my Counterpoint SA-5000A, and totally concur with what Doug, Bob and S23chang said above^. Mine is stock also, so if Mike did the upgrades,..........look out!! Owned quite a few in the past. Another I'd consider of course, would be one of the Supratek preamps. ........Pat