Best phono preamp? Want world class the best

I recently started to listen to vinyl, my set up is clear audio emotion table/arm grado cartridge. For phono stage I am using an ear834 deluxe.I was happy with what I was hearing on my merlins driven by sim w-5. Until I brought my ear to a show room to compare to new components, on first listening it appeared the same but then I realized there was a sense of life like sound on his $7000.00 martinson phono. This is just to high of a price for me. I am seeking to get the best sound out there, the martinson is solid state so I realized I don't have to go with tubes. My budget is up to $2000.00 for used, BUT I want the best sound possible. I will be upgrading table and cartidge soon.
Pedrillo, that phono stage you have is an excellent one. Are you sure you are not in that zone of "gotta have something else?" The reason I ask is that you didn't mention the rest of the system that you heard that $7K phono stage with. Could it be that it was the SYSTEM that convinced you to desire a COMPONENT and if so, perhaps upgrading your cartridge or other component could be the single most cost-effective means to improve your SYSTEM.

I too often get into that "mode" and am just trying to prevent you from falling into a situation I have found myself in more than once; the outcome that, after I installed an expensive component, I was sure would tremendously improve my system, I found myself asking, hmm, what have I done and, maybe I should have invested more wisely.

Hopefully that is not the case for you but just wanted to help if possible. $7K is a lot of money to drop on a phono stage alone, and believe me I pine for a Aesthetix Rhea or Manley Steelhead but for now, I'm gonna live with my lesser stages.
There are many to listen to. I like the BAT vk-p10se, and was very impressed with the EAR 324. You do not have to spend the most to get great performance.
The EAR is a decent unit and should not be hard to improve upon. At the highest levels of performance perhaps one would consider custom solutions tailored to your equipment and listening tastes.
Buy the Whest PS.20 Phono in the classifieds for $ 1900.00 and be done for a while. (considering your 2K budget now)
Buy a s/h Pass Xono. plenty of variable gain so will give you the choice of LOMC, unlimited loading choices and it sounds very very nice.