Used preamps under $500 better than Audiolab 8000C

I just got an Audiolab 8000C and i'm wondering if in the price range of $400-$500 can I get better sound? I'm an avid vinyl fan and need tone controls. It sounds good, just wondering if I can do better? Any w/remote?
Yes indeed. The Rotel RC-1070 is a superb choice. It meets all of your criteria (including remote) and is 450-500 new. It is an amazing overachiever. I'd buy new for the 3 yr warranty. I'm using this after having owned an SF Line 1 SE, and a Rowland Consonance. I have no regrets.
Parts quality is pretty good (Rubicon caps, Alps volume etc). And it is smoother than the Audiolab (which I auditioned some time ago).
Try to find Sunfire Symphonic Reference preamp.
It has an excellent phono section, tone controlls, external proccessor terminals(if you want to use an external EQ for instance), high-pass output(an excellent feature for biamplification) and finally it has a great remote as well.

It's out of production but you should find used items within $400.
how does rc 1090 stand up?
The RC-1090 sounded identical in my system to the RC-1070. I don't use balanced connections. But the 1070 seemed like a better choice to me - it has no digital display circuitry to add noise to the signal. And the circuitry is more simple. The 1070 also offers tone adjustments (defeatable).
Thanks for all your responses...I will look into all 3 of these. Up to now I really haven't considered buying Rotel since all the new stuff is made in China (or so I've heard) but my favorite shop here in chicago is a Rotel dealer so I'm gonna demo the rc-1070 and 1090 this weekend hopefully.
No tone controls but what about a passive pre-amp? I've been tempted to try passives before just never got around to it.
If you don't mind getting vintage tube gear, there are many choices under $500. Some of those out performs some $1500 to $5000 full functon preamps we owned in over five different setups.
S23chang...I'd love to get into old tube gear, but I really know nothing about them. I have searched audiogon's list of tube preamps however, but found them to be really expensive. Do you have any in mind you'd recomend or to keep an eye out for? matt