Balanced Tube Preamp Recommendations for $2000


Hi All,

I'm looking for a balanced tube preamp, must have remote, xlr in and outputs and HT bypass, preferably used and would like to seek your advice.
Budget is $2000.

Have shortlisted the Aesthetix Calypso and Audio Research LS17 SE. Any other candidates I should think about?

Will be using it to drive a pass labs XA30.5. Primarily using it because I want to consolidate and use one set of speakers for both my HT and 2 channel listening. Was previously using my m2tech young dsd DAC to directly drive my amp.

Thank you for your advice in advance.
stgrim
Scratch the RP-1; it's all single-ended; which is what I prefer, but not what you're looking for.
Sorry about that.
If you could score a used Audio Research LS25 you'd be golden. All the inputs can be used as balanced or single ended, you set them at the front. The outputs are also single ended or balanced. The preamp is balanced from input to output, each phase has it's own gain path. It has a 0 gain processor bypass but the preamp has to be on to use it. An LS26 or 27 is newer but it might cost more than you budgeted.

As far as output impedance is concerned in practical use any load over 15k is fine, 10k is probably OK. I've used mine to drive an X350 and an Adcom GFA5802.
Thank you everyone for your advice. I appreciate it very much.

I took the plunge on an aesthetix calypso, paid $2160 all in.
I was also concerned about the impedance mismatch between the preamp and xa30.5 per the stereophile measurements.

However, listening to the combination now, I feel I am getting stronger bass with the calypso connected, compared to driving the xa30.5 direct with the m2tech young dac's internal preamp.

It could be that the speakers I am using, Focal Diablo Utopia, does not go down to 20hz where the output impedance from the Calypso hits 3900.

It could be also that there have been circuit board revisions since 2005, when stereophile posted the review, that have fixed the wide ranging output impedance problem.

Overall, it did introduce the tubey sound I am looking for, but not enough. Will be ordering some NOS 5751 RCA tubes to see if I can get an even warmer sound.

Once again, thank you everyone for your advice.