I chose a VTL 2.5, which can be had for around $750 here.(sometimes less). It has HT pass through, which I run my pre/processor through. Works well and is an excellent pre-amp at this price.
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I second Comsmic void's suggestion about a tube preamp. I have a the Audio Research LS 16 as part of my HT set up and love what it does for my stereo music listening. A used LS 16 is in the $1,500-range but I'm sure other Audiogon'ers can recommend more tube preamps w/pass through for your consideration.
I used the BAT VK-3i for a short period of time. It has a "unity gain" stage which effectively nulls the effect of the volume control. EXCELLENT sonics for music, and performed very well for HT as well. These can be had for $1000- $1300 here and on other classified sites. Just keep in mind that you're adding more interconnects to what should be a minimal circuit.