Which pre-amp?

I finally think I have come as close as I've ever been to my dream set up - Ayre 7e cd player, Audio Research VS55 amp and Hyperion 938 speakers. Currently I'm using an older Audible Illusions Preamp so I'm looking to upgrade to a new preamp. My choices are The new Modright SWL 9.0, The Music First passive preamp or the Supratek Chardonay preamp. All are highly acclaimed and similarly priced. One of my main considerations is to have balanced in for the Ayre cd player which I understand makes a big difference. The only pre that offers this is the Music First though Mick at Supratek said who could customize a quazi balanced in. Any suggestions appreciated.
for synergy's sake, an arc pre would be the ticket
Which AI pre are you using?
Odds are, you won't be able to match the warmth and open sound for a reasonable price. You should demo gear to test it against. NOS tubes for the AI are a lot cheaper than a new pre.
How about an Ayre K-5X? It has two sets of balanced inputs. I have one for sale on Audiogon.

I'm using the AI 2b.
The Music First (I use one) will pretty much add nothing and take nothing away. What you will hear will be the amp/ CD. It won't add warmth or whatever.

When I was selling my CJ Pv-10 I was demoing it to the buyer. I remember thinking, hey this sounds really good, why am I changing it. After he left I hooked the MF back up and I realised why. So much more good clean music and with twice as much bass !!

If you've got the front end to cope with it and don't need the gain I would strongly recommend the MF passive.