Best preamp for atma sphere m60 under $3000 used?

I considered the mp3 and the mp1, one is too expensive the other I will always wonder if I can do better. What preamp will bring me over the top?
I make my purchases very carefully and rarely sell anything, the m60 will not be going anywhere, and I would like to choose a preamp that I can do the same, hold onto for a long long time.
It needs to be balanced and with tubes. Also from a company that has a good reputation. I would welcome a remote too.
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I am looking for used and can spend up to $3000.00, but gladly would prefer to spend less. I am open to any brand.
I was wondering what will not be beaten by any other preamp. I really want the mp1, based on what I have read it was preffered to the arc ref3. That's quite a statement.
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Best preamp is usually no preamp:>

Irrespective of the budget, try the Placette passive. The closest to an attenuator without coloring the signal.

No relationship to the vendor!
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Jeff Rowland Capri might work here. However, I have heard the M60s with the MP3 and the combination was excellent. Might be worth sticking with Atma for synergy.
The Atma's are not sensitive enough IMHO for passives with typical sources, maybe with very sensitive speakers. I found it did not work so great for me with the Merlins). I think the MP-3 (w/Vac and Power Upgrade) with the M-60s sound better than the Dodd Battey Pre and Joule LA-150MKI which I did try with the M-60s. You will never stop thinking there is something better out there, there is, but this combination should really get you off the merry-go-round if you are ready to. You would continue to use an ecternal phono pre, right?
Thanks all for helping out.
regarding phono stages I already own three and would welcome atma' phono for comparison and options.
Of course the cost of an MP-1 is off-set somewhat by consolidation of separates into an integrated phono preamp. You can count on one hand the number of integrated phono preamps approaching the performance of MP-1, and on two fingers the number that are differentially balanced from input to output.
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If you are planning on using this preamp w/Merlins and BAM, then the passive pre suggestion is not applicable for you. The BAM will perform far better using the buffered output of an active preamp (covered in MANY OTHER threads in detail).

As an Atma-Sphere amp and Merlin owner, my experience has shown the Dodd battery-powered preamp and the Herron preamps to be the best performers TO MY EARS & IN MY RIG, out of many including the MP3, Joule LA150 I, CAT SL1Mk3, Cary SLP2002, and a few others. From a performance/price ratio perspective, I find the Dodd unmatched.
Caution, my opinions are based mostly on vinyl listening with a very good Vendetta phono stage, which certainly contributes to what I hear. Cheers,
I've been going back and forth with the Dodd and MP-3 and both are very good preamps (like Spencer, I have also owend CAT and Joule pres). I prefer the Dodd with my Music Reference RM9SE and prefer the MP-3 (latest version with V-Cap and Power Regulation upgrades) with the M-60s. I suspect, but don't really know, that the MP-3 linestage is better than its phono-stage. I guess you can't know till you try both, but the Dodd is certainly a REALLY good value, but for me there is a synergy between the ATMA pieces that work for me (as a line stage, unfortuantely I stopped using vinyl a while ago).
I am quite certain an atma preamp will be in my system in the near future.
It's just that I want to have the best(mp-1) and right now it's out of my budget.
So it'll end up being the mp-3 probably unless a miracle happens.
In my opinion, you couldn't do better than the combo of the BAT VK-31SE (used ~$3000) and the M60.

The third finger goes to Allen Wright's VSEI RTP5, which I have not heard.
Can anyone comment on bat's vk 3ix?
I read somewhere in a review it's good but lacks that last bit of transaprency.
If that is the case I will pass on it.
I forgot to mention I like to make lasting purchases, hence the million questions on matching preamp.
Also I really want to stick with true balanced design and would prefer to have remoted unit.
Also am considering the arc ls17 or cary slp03.
Out of all of these the mp3, arc ls17, aesthetix calypso, cary slp 03, bat vk 3ix, Jeff Rowland Capri, Pass x? Which one will give me the most?
Or should I wait and save up for the mp1 and live with my sim p-5 which I admire very very much?
If it were me and this was going to be a lasting purchase, the MP-3 and MP-1 would be the only preamps on my list.

As much as I admire the K&K phonostage, the benefit of consolidating the preamp and phono, along with the synergy between the preamp and amp, would be hard for me to pass up.

Just to put it in perspective, if I hadn't gotten a good deal on my VAC amps I'd be listening to the M60's and MP3.
I have not heard the Atma pre-amps, but I owned a BAT VK-3i. Unless the 3iX is 2 or 3 orders of magnitude better than the 3i, I can't believe it is playing in the same league. The 3i is IMO, the best balanced unit available for anywheres near the price, but it was easily bettered by First Sound and Joule (single-ended), and VAC Ren (balanced).
I like to make lasting purchases ... Or should I wait and save up for the mp1 ...

I say save up for the MP-1 and keep an eye out for a used one.
Darn, I was hoping the cary would be highly recommended. The cary is the least expensive of the bunch.
Just out of curiousity can anyone predict what the sim will sound like when paired with the m60's?
As of now it is the best pre I have ever had, but it is the only high end one I have owned. Prior to this I had an onkyo p304 and a nakamichi.
Thanks for the help :~)
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Reason I ask, is one option is to get an mp3 for the time being, but I'ld rather forego the buying and selling of a temporary preamp while waiting for the mp1 to show up at my price point and when the funds are there.
Also thank you all for the advice!
By a used MP-3, it will sell for what you paid for it and then get the MP-1 later on if you don't think the MP-3 does it for you. As a linestage, the MP-3 is outstanding, I chose it after and month or two of A/Bing the Joule LA150 MKII, and it was a tough choice as the are both outstanding; and I came to the Joule after hacing the CAT and Lamm preamps, in other words the MP-3 is darn good and an outstand pairing with the M-60s. As to its phono-stage versus the MP-1, that I know nothing abouth, but I expect that is where you would hear a worthwhile upgrade. I would also recommend the Dodd Battery pre, but alas it does not have a phono stage. What I feel fairly confident suggesting is that a quality tube pre amp is likely to be an upgrade from the SIM, so the question is how long you want to wait. Thanks to Agon, you can try this stuff with little risk you'll suffer financially. Theory is interesting, but not worth a darn compared to listining with you ears, with your music, in your room.
Well the m60's arrived safely(thank the life force) and I can't believe how good tubes sound my oh my, f#$% incredible, why didn't I go with tubes before??????????
Now I know I will be going with atma sphere preamp only!
The sim just didn't do what the atma sphere does!!!
The window was open as it is now,I didn't know I was lacking oxygen,.
I am very pleased, all this air and detail and bloom, and a nice grainy feel!
Pedrillo, it's not just tubes, I have had many top flight tube amps, it is the magic of Atma-sphere, OTLs, Class A, and triode. I've come to the conclusion that IF your speakers are OTL friendly, they are very tough to beat - of course OTLs won't shine with every speaker. Congratulations on your M60s, the MP3 will suprise you as well.
I haven't actually heard this combination, but, there seems to be some design similarities between the Atmasphere pre's and the Sonic Frontiers Line 3 SE (which can often be found here within your budget).
Another option with sonic similarity is the CAT preamp. There are a few used ones for sales on A'gon $¬2k

IME, your current phono stage is much quieter than the MP3, I know as I've owned them both. Although the MP3 has many attributes, take that into consideration. If you plan on using it mostly as a linestage, fine. IMO, it is worth comparing it to the Dodd.
Also remember that you'll want to use balanced cables from M60 to MP3. Cheers,
Hi Spencer. I do wonder if your "issues" with the MP-3 were based on the phono stage which seems to have some noise issues and seems to require very quiet tubes to work best. As a line stage I think it works very well indeed and it sound quite different with M60 than the Dodd (I own both)and preference here is a matter of taste, I prefer the MP3 with the M60, but love the Dodd with my Music Reference. It might very well be a good option to use the Dodd with a separate phone stage. You have a lot of experience with the MP-3's phono stage so it seems like fair warning.