Tube Buffer

Despite using balanced XLR output from DAC to Peachtree Grand Pre, I find digital harshness remains until I engage the Peachtree's dual 12AU7 tube buffer section. However, the Grand Pre sucks as an analog preamp and needs replacing for that reason. I love the functionality of the Musical Fidelity M8Pre, which also has a good phono section, but I fear that as a solid state device it will simply pass the harshness down the chain. Rogue Audio RP7 is a tube preamp which would presumably kill any digital glare, but has no phono stage. The Rogue RP5 is a lesser device overall, but does include a phono stage plus, of course, tubes. Questions: (1) sonically, how much better is the RP7 than the RP5 (considerably, according to TAS)? (2) Does there exist some relatively inexpensive tube buffer device which can be placed between DAC and the solid state M8Pre? Really not in the market for an outboard $2k phono preamp.
Really not in the market for an outboard $2k phono preamp.

Right. But at least this shows you can see where this is going. When you find yourself at last finally good and tired of fighting inherent traits, literally built right in, then you know what to do. I wouldn't go $2k though for the usual middle of the road, not when one of the best in the world the Herron can be had for only about one grand more. When you are good and ready. 
Herron. Hmm, not familiar; will read up on it and be ready when the time arrives. Thanks.
There are other great phono stages out there that are not $3 K

the Herron is on my list to audition and Keith Herron and I have been talking of late on a quasi local demo vs just ordering one.

an ARC PH 5 or better is a fantastic pre, those will fit your budget w plenty of gain
I owned a Rogue RP-5 tube preamp and it is a great preamp. The phono section is very versatile and TAS also LOVED the RP-5 which they tested a couple of years ago. Unless you run all balanced, I see no reason to get the RP-7. I had great results changing out the 4 JJ stock tubes with Mullard CV4003 tubes per recommendation of Rogue. The preamp was always dead quiet, even with the Mullard NOS tubes. It is a very musical preamp and it even has a remote.

The problem is the Peachtree Audio you have.  My friend had the 225wpc integrated and it sounded cold and harsh unless he used the tube buffer output.   He ended up trading it for something else but I don't know what he bought.
Maybe I missed it but what power amplifier are you using? Aside from the general tube "warmth", what you might be experiencing is an impedance mismatch between the preamp output and the amplifier input and engaging the tube buffer could possibly correct this potential mismatch. Do you know what is the preamp output impedance with and without the tube buffer and the amplifier input impedance?
Just a thought... 
tomic, stereo5, kalali, many thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I'm pleased to know the Rogue RP5 beats the Peachtree sonically. I had been thinking more of functionality, but this is more than a bonus. And I will never quite be ALL balanced in the RP7 or Musical Fidelity M8Pre sense.

Impedance mismatch with Parasound Halo A21 power amp had occurred to me, but I haven't the technical knowledge to verify one way or the other. Parasound disclose the input impedance. Peachtree out, with/without tubes, I don't think so. How do you suppose the RP5 would match up with the Parasound?
uber, what a find! Will definitely check this out. At last a wager one could afford to lose. Thank you.
YW Hickamore!
I think $399 new, I picked mine up for $300 as an open box demo from a dealer.
Now there will be plenty will say that introducing another point in the signal chain is just another possible avenue of sound degradation.
Not something I hear and any possible small degradation is far outweighed by what this buffer brings to the table for me.
Obviously YMMV but as agreed at this price point not much to risk.
I used the ifi one and it too was a great addition.
But I moved up to the Black Ice model for more control and it can handle 3 separate inputs.

Still it's a worthwhile product for sure
Dan Wright of Modwright will have a tube buffer coming, presumably at some point soon. You can find a thread on it over on AudioCircle in his circle. 
Thanks all. Obviously some worthy and affordable options for the purpose I had in mind.

Further reflection leads me to see that, needing a new preamp anyhow, I might as well just go Rogue and be done with it, much as I admire the M8. RP7 changes the problem from tube buffer to phono stage, but there's no urgency on the phono side, so first things first.