AirTight hybrid STC1 very detailed not expensive
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I would do more research about the difference between using XLR and RCA inputs on your amp before selling the VTL. Virtually every component I have owned was supposed to sound better using one set of inputs rather than the other -- that applies to my Perfect Wave DAC, my VAC Phi 200 amp, and a McIntosh MC275 amp I used to own. The only component that sounded significantly better using the XLR inputs was the MC275...and this was the component that a lot of owners say sounds better using the RCA inputs.
In any case, your budget is pretty tight, certainly not high enough to allow you to buy a good balanced preamp used. If you buy a new "budget" preamp like the Wyred 4 Sound, you are going to lose money if you decide to resell it because it is too dry compared to a tube preamp.
One idea would be to demo a new tube preamp with balanced outputs from a manufacturer offering generous return privileges. Audio Horizons, for example, comes to mind. There are probably other preamps sold manufacturer-direct that have similar return privileges.