Advice? Less than $4k, solid state preamp, neutral to gentle

There are many many posts about recommendations for preamps, so many to sift through that I thought getting a couple answers off the top of your heads might be ok to ask for.

Here's my situation: I am looking for a backup, solid state preamp to work with (a) Quicksilver mono block amps and (b) a Pass XA 25. I have (c) two DACs that I like, a Schiit Bifrost 2/64 and a modded-out MHDT Orchid. My speakers (d) are Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers w/RAAL tweeters, and I have three subs.

My current preamps are both tube -- one is a 6SN7 preamp similar to an Ultraverve 3 and the other is a Quicksilver Line Stage.

I like having solid state alternatives to tube gear both to hear different sonic presentations and also in case I want to give tubes a break or if a tube goes bad.

I have tried autoformer preamps (more or less a straight wire with gain) such as the Bent Tapx and I don't like it on my system. I need a bit more.

If money was no object, I'd probably go drop $5k on an Ayre KX-5. That is a bit steep for me at the moment.

So, the question is: What solid state preamp, less than $4k, used or new, would you recommend to give a fairly neutral to warm/gentle presentation? Or that you simply like for reliability, interface, etc.?



I would look for a used Sutherland Engineering N1 Preamp.  They don't come on the used market very often.  I auditioned this against an Ayre and chose the N1.

More versatile than the Ayre but strictly single-ended. Instrument grade quality and checks every box.

Good luck