Tube preamp for about $1500?
I am working through the system purchasing decisions for a new system, and I currently have decided on a pair of Totem Fire speakers, and a Pass Labs XA30.5 amp. I was originally going to go tubes, but the old Pass sound has been pulling me back...
Anyway, I want a good quality preamp with tubes, to keep things sounding too SS. I used to have a Sonic Frontiers SFL1 with an Aleph3 and felt the combo was quite good...
I want to use XLR interconnects from the pre to the amp,so that limits the options, and of course, the price target does as well.
I know that ARC, BAT, SF, A-S all made balanced pres, but who else should I be considering?
Finally, I have listened to SF and ARC some, but have no exposure to the others listed. I'd like to hear how people characterize these various pres, and are there specific recommendations to consider or avoid?
I want a neutral sound, not terribly lush, with excellent imaging, a large, wide soundstage, and very dynamic response to the music. I'd like to keep it around $1500 of so, but if there is a really compelling reason, I could go up to $2000 or so.