YBA 2 Alpha preamp and general preamp questions

I live in the middle of nowhere and have very limited options to actually listen to hi-end audio equipment, especially used.

1. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and I'm torn between going with a pre-owned high quality solid state preamp with a great phono section, and an Audible Illusions M3A (means messing with tube replacement, tube rolling, etc.) or similar highly regarded tube preamp with a phono section. But I've read using a tube preamp with a solid state amp is the way to achieve the best sound from both technologies.

Is anyone familiar with the YBA solid state preamps? A Stereophile review speaks highly of their phono section (which is what I'm primarily interested in).

Is there a significant difference between the YBA Alpha 2 and the Alpha 1 models (other than price;-)?

Are there any other reasonably priced (< $2000) solid state amps that would significantly better my PSE Studio SL? Or should I just stick with it?

2. For digital I'll be using the preamp I eventually keep/purchase with a Benchmark DAC 1. Is there a way to easily bypass a preamp's line stage other than disconnecting the preamplifier and cabling directly from the DAC 1 to the PSE Studio IV power amplifier(s) (a bit of a hassle).

Since I'm actually biamping a pair of AudioPhysic Virgos with a subwoofer, I don't know how I could use the Benchmark directly with two amps, unless a custom set of biamping cables could be used...

Any other thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

The only thing I know about the YBA pre is that it has a dual-mono design and that it has a decidedly solid-state presentation according to more than one reviewer. I've had the AA M3A in my system and it was killer good and dead quiet. I think the jury is still out on the idea that a tube pre/SS amp is the best combo. I think the opposite can sound just as good, and it depends on whether your Virgos like a lot of current or not. (I use a solid pre/tube monobloc set-up to really nice effect.) And if you're looking to bypass your pre, I would tread carefully, as this can result in worse sound. Fewer circuits doesn't always result in better sound IMO. Plus, you would need a volume control on your source (not your DAC) that would have a compatible output dB level so as not to overload your amp.
I went through many of the same trials and tribs in my search for great sound, and I agree heartily with Bojack above. The AA M3A is a fantastic preamp, it's what I ended up with after lots of auditions for the same reasons you want it - to mate with a SS Amp (in my case the Nuforce Ref 9 monos) to go with my Audio Physic Virgos and Velodyne Sub. IMHO, there's no better pre for the $$ than the Audible Illusions!
I also believe you will find that you do NOT want to run your Benchmark direct to your amp - the sound is far too bare and sterile. You'll WANT to go through the M3A. If you use the tape monitior inputs, you have a reasonably direct path. You can always try it and compare - I did - and I bet you go back to running through the M3A. It's that good, you won't WANT to bypass it!
Last thing, you do NOT have to mess with tubes or tube roll with the M3A to get great sound, although you can of course. I get my replacement tubes direct from Audible Illusions, and they sound wonderful. One day some day I'll tube roll, but I really don't feel the need with this piece, which, again, fits my needs and audio lifestyle.
The 3A is dead quiet, very musical, and fits my system to a "T".
Good luck!
...own the YBA Passion Integre amp with a phono section and have listened to the YBA 1 and 2 pre-amps.

I would strongly recommend YBA pre-amps. Have listened to numerous solid state and valve systems over the past ten years and in my humble opinion, YBA is all about the emotion of the music. I believe YBA products do not fall into the debate of solid state vs tube gear. The combine the best of both worlds, however the YBA presentation is leaner compared to full-bodied valve systems.

YBA simply play the music with inner detail, smoothness and natural timing. YBA delivers the essence of the music, its emotion. I bought my YBA amp 3 years ago, and since then I feel am in heaven, no need for upgrades any more.

As far as the phono section is concerned, its a bargain! Have tried alternative award winning external phono sections, and they were a disaster. You will have to spend a lot of money to get an equivalent or better external phono section.

Good luck!
if you don't listen to a component in your own system, you are gambling and subject to the risk of unwanted purchase decisions.

regardless of reviews, advice, posts on audiogon, the only opinion that counts is yours.

i have had an idea of doing an experiment, but have difficulty implementing it.

my hypothesis: getting advice prior to purchase, without a home trial does not increase the probability of a favorable outcome.

thus, given the basic facts about a component, available from the internet or other source, with or without opinions does not give an advantage with respect to satisfaction from a purchase.
Hi Demetris,

I still remember to this day, circa 1995, how a salesman did a demo for me on a system consisting of YBA cd 3, YBA pre 2, YBA amp 2, Apogee Slant 6, monster cables using the Chesky Ultimate demo disk. The other amp cycled in was Simaudio, I forget the model but it was one model up from 4070. When he put in the YBA amp 2 playing the Sara K. track the finesse and emotion just poured through glueing me to the chair. To this day have not heard a demo of its equal.

I agree, YBA is very musical and gives you great insight about a recording. I picked up an Audio Refinement Multi-2 as a summer back up and I am very impressed. Now I am thinking of upgrading to the YBA amps. YBA amps do benefit from having a tube pre, I am using a c-j 17LS2 which is also very musical, and full sounding cables like Cardas GC.