$1600. preamp

for $1600. would you buy a manley shrimp?  why not? what else then?
The Audio Research SP-14 is a nice pre-amp. It has a good tube phono stage in case you want to come over to the dark side sometime, and can be had for $1000-1200. 
No question about this recommendation, check out Don Sachs’ tube preamp. The preamp is custom-made, based on 6SN7 tubes and is the most satisfying amp I have ever had in my system, which include Modwright, Belles, Berning, and a upgraded HK-CI. It is detailed, transparent and has incredible extension on both the low and high end and a luscious mid-range. Google "Don Sachs" and you can learn more about his wonderful preamp, which is right in your price range. Support the boutique manufacturers, is my recommendation. Whitestix
I can second this.  I've been enjoying this amazing piece of gear for a couple of months now.  This hits WAY above its price point.  Highly musical, yet all the details are there.  Cymbals ring and shimmer, voices are "you are there" (they are here?).  PRAT reminds me of the better NAIM gear, except now add some richness.  I bet Don's amps are amazing as well.

I second the Jolida fusion pre. It's got a powerful exiting but smooth sound. iMO. Thinkin about the upgrade but not sure I need to.