Have you looked into the Rogue 99? Do some research on this preamp before you decide.
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Based on my limited listening to these three, I would strongly consider the BAT. That decision is based on my strong dislike for ANY grain in the high frequencies. Things may have changed since I heard each of these, and I never got to try any of these (except the ARC) with tube substitutions.
By the way David99, I have not heard the Rogue against these, so I cannot compare.
I recently sold my 5i. It only has balanced inputs and outputs which means you'll probably have to buy some XLR/RCA adapters to incorporate it into an HT setup.
I think different people mean different things when they talk about an HT pass-through. I think of it as a pair of preamp inputs for which you can preset the output volume level (as is found on the BAT VK-30SE). Volume for the HT system is then controled by the pre/pro. I've also heard of pass-throughs for which the preamp is essentially a conduit for the signal. The preamp does not boost the signal in any way, and the volume is entirely controled by the pre/pro that is upstream of it. By either definition, the 5i does not have an HT pass-through. However, it can still be incorporated into an HT system the same way any stereo preamp can--you just have to memorize and manually set the volume level each time to keep the volume of the mains proportionally balanced with the other speakers. But I wouldn't call the latter option an HT pass-through.
I have no experience with the other preamps to be able to compare them.
Try the Kora Pre Amp, it has all the features you are looking for, but you can buy it new for what these others are selling for used. The combination of the Kora Pre Amp with the Roland will give you the best of both worlds, tubes & solid state. This pre amp kicks!
You can find Kora at JC Audio .com. Joe is great to work with & is very knowledgeable.
I'm a big S/F Line 3 fan.. I've got one and love it. Yes on the HT pass thru, yes on the most outstanding remote both ergonomically and feature laden,yes for a superbly neutral sound (tailor your system w/other equip. or accessories...) and yes for both single ended and fully differentially balanced inputs and outputs... not to mention exceptional build quality and reliability. A top performer and exclnt. value. To me, it's an easy choice. Good luck
Supakit, I have the EAD Ovation Plus and I also have the SFI Line 3. It is nice set up. The Line 3 is the best for music. The only problem I have, and it could be only with my system, is when I use the HT pass thru, I get a noise that is like whisper from all speakers, it's some kind of interference, it is very annoying especially at quite scenes of the movies. I have been trying to get rid of it for sometimes now, but I couldn't. Even thu I have the PS-600 that is powering all equipment with the exception of the SFI Power 3 amps and the CRT projector. I have tried different cables, power cords, different outlets, nothing worked. My understanding is EAD is very sensitive. So my advice is to try them together first. I would appreciate anyone who can help with this noise I am getting.
A word of caution about the Kora Eclipse... I owned one for over a year and I loved the sound with my 2 Plinius SA-100 amps. However, I had a serious problem whenever we had a power failure and the Kora was turned on. The 4 input fuses in each plinius would blow. These are a real pain to replace. I tried all manner of power conditoner/supply changes, but ended up switching to another pre-amp when neither Plinius or Kora folks could identify the problem.