Tube preamp for under $3000

I am looking for some suggestions for a tube pre to mate with my Pass 250.5 amp and Ascendo C8 Renaissance speakers. I would like it to lean toward the tube sound side. Any suggestions?

IMO you should check out the Manley Labs Jumbo Shrimp it has remote and uses 3 sets of tubes (no XLR connections). Usually you can find a demo or a preowned unit for around $2200-$2500. New they cost $3800. At the used price this is an amazing deal. If you need XLR outs I would look at Modwright 36.5 that is a awesome preamp as well.


Matt M 

I wanted to add that I am looking at under $3000 used.
AR Ref1

This would be my first choice - no affiliation with listing party

Good Listening

Do you need phono,remote,balanced,etc? List what options you need!
I would like a remote and prefer balanced.
Aesthetix Calypso with NOS tubes
EAR 868
Thanks for the suggestions. Since I have not heard any of these pre amps can you give me a sonic signature of them? As I stated I would prefer a more tube like sound.
If you mean a warm, more forgiving tonal balance, then I think something from Conrad Johnson Premier series has to be in the mix. Perhaps others can compare models.

Also, rolling tubes will help you fine tune according to preference so something with common tubes 12AX7, 12AU7 or 6922/6DJ8 would allow plenty of tube choices after purchase. Cheers,
how do you like the pass 250.5 I'm trying to get either a new modwright or a vtl 2.2 my self
I love the 250.5 and really would like to hear how it sounds with a tube front end. Anyone have an opinion on BAT preamps? There is a VK 51 se and VK 5i listed now.
You can sometimes find an Atma-Sphere MP-3 used for that price range.
I've got a VK51SE and am impressed with its sound, build quality and ergonomic design. Honestly I never prioritized remote, but having full control with a quality hefty remote is a plus I can't deny.

Having paired it with lots of gear and compared it to many preamps, it's hard to beat at current price. You can see all the other preamps I've owned listed on my system page, some of which are mentioned in this thread. Feel free to contact me by PM if you'd like more specifics. Cheers,
Vincent SA-T8.

Tube pre-amp. Fully balanced. Remote.

Dynamic, transparent, superb dimensionality, massive soundstage, fast transients, has great ability to draw you into the music.

Own 4 pre-amps and heard many more. Competes with pre-amps many times it's cost.

Read Dick Olsher's review in Absolute sound, says it all,"An absolute steal at it's asking price."Nothing else at this price point comes close".
BAT is the worst sounding......Dry, unemotional, and very forgettable highs. On the other hand (and I'm speaking of the 6H30 based BAT's) the BAT has great solid bass and of course they are built like a battleship and the remote could be used as a weapon.
Having had an Aesthetix Calypso, I would not recommend it. I thought it was great at first but as my system and ears matured I could clearly hear the faults. Most notably noise. Not from the tubes, as I rolled many. The best way to describe it is when it's stated "a black background". The Calypso does not have it especially when you hear your system without the noise.
There are many good preamplifiers out there. In your price range I would encourage you to take a look at an Audio Horizon. It has all the bells and whistles including a remote. 
Good luck and enjoy
"BAT is the worst sounding......Dry, unemotional, and very forgettable highs. On the other hand (and I'm speaking of the 6H30 based BAT's) "

Funny, that is exactly the opposite of the feedback I've received from many members of my local audio club. Paired with a van den Hul Colibri/VPI, Lamm amps, Nola speakers I've been told that treble (e.g. solo violin) is some of the most lifelike many've heard.

The point is so many of these conclusions need to be taken in the context of the system. In most systems I've heard the BAT preamps would err towards the darker, slightly warmer sound hence being a good match with neutral transparent gear like the Colibri. YMMV Cheers,
My BAT VK-300SE integrated (6H30 front end/SS power) is wonderful.
There is an Audio Horizons 2.3 just listed at $2075.An absolute steal at this price.I owned a 2.2 for many years and it easily bested Calypso,Mod wright,Cary,Sonic Frontiers.
Emotionally immediate from the moment it is powered up,It has a touch of romance and naturalness that are only heard in the best of tubes.

"The point is so many of these conclusions need to be taken in the context of the system."

Point taken, I hear they sound a lot better partnered with their own amplifiers too.

  I choose Manley Labs pre amp over BAT, Modwright, Mcintosh, Primaluna, over all these the BAT was so bad, I couldn't listen to my system at all. And it ran hot as hell!  


Matt M 

BAT only sounds as good as its front end tubes (6H30 in my case).

My VK-300SE doesn't shine unless NOS 6H30s are used ($600/pr from BAT).

You might be able to find an Atma-Sphere MP-3. It is tube, fully balanced and differential and features a direct-coupled output. There is one on here for under $3000 although it is lacking the remote option (which can be added). It also works well with the Pass Labs amplifiers.
Well Pal, have you made a decision yet? If so, what did you get? And why?
There is someone selling a $6,000+ Musica Bella LeAnna VTPS balanced preamp with remote for $2,500

(Disclaimer: I am associated with Musica Bella Audio but not selling this piece)
I pushed my price limit a bit and went with an Audio Research REF3. I received it last week and it sounds great. Thanks for all of the input.